Gingko Biloba and phosphatidyl choline could hold the key to halting the cognitive decline that is common to many neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.
With over 1,000 published research studies to date, Ginkgo Biloba is one of the best known, well-documented nutritional supplements available. In numerous clinical trials involving geriatric patients, remarkable success has been demonstrated using Ginkgo extract to treat cerebral insufficiency (insufficient blood flow to the brain).
In animal studies, Ginkgo extract increased the ability of acetylcholine, a brain chemical, to bind to a receptor site. Reduced receptor binding of this neurotransmitter has been reported in Alzheimer’s disease. Ginkgo’s partner, phosphatidyl choline is also a major source of acetylcholine.
Phosphatidyl Choline Studies
Phosphatidyl choline, an active ingredient found in soy lecithin, is one of the most important nutrients for the human body. Every cell membrane requires it.
Nerve and brain cells in particular need large amounts of PC for repair and maintenance because it is a major source of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is used by the brain on areas that are involved in long-term planning, concentration and focus. It also controls the rate of stimuli entering the brain, motor activity, learning and memory, stimuli input during sleep, sex and other functions.
Supplemental PC increases the amount of acetylcholine available for memory and thought processes. Increasing acetylcholine levels has been shown to improve mental performance in a variety of tests.
Numerous studies have demonstrated that dietary supplementation with PC increases central neurologic activity. One study of 10 normal, healthy volunteers established the positive effects of a single oral dose of choline by radically increasing both short-term memory and conceptual vocabulary recollection in test subjects.
In another double-blind study, students at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston were given three grams of choline a day. They showed improved memory performance – learning longer lists of words than control students who had received placebos.
The symptoms of cerebral insufficiently include short-term memory loss, dizziness, headache, ringing or buzzing in the ears, lack of alertness and depression. In several studies of gingko without a control group, the symptomatic improvement was found to be 60 to 78%. In double blind studies, results were equally impressive with an improvement rate, which ranged between 44 and 92%. Participants who took placebos showed a 14 to 44% rate of improvement.
Ginkgo biloba has certain active components to which its beneficial properties are attributed. A consistent pharmacological action can be expected when a 50:1 concentration made from the leaf is standardized to contain 24% ginkgo-flavon-glycosides and 6% terpene lactones. The terpene lactones are made up of ginkgolides and bilobalides.
Most research on Ginkgo has focused on the complex molecule Ginkgolide B, the terpine lactones believed to be responsible for many of the plant’s potent healing properties. The principle mechanism for the therapeutic action on Ginkgolide B appears to be its ability to inhibit PAF (platelet activating factor). PAF has been implicated in asthma and other allergic reactions. From the scientific evidence so far, it is clear that Ginkgo biloba should be a daily addition to the lives of those who suffer from diminished mental function.
In long-term studies, Ginkgo produced no side effects and there was no decrease in its effect over time. Like nature, however, Ginkgo is slow in acting, taking four to eight weeks before benefits may be noticed. Improvements are gradual, but continue for up to a year or more
Five years ago, over five million Ginkgo prescriptions annually were written throughout Europe. These sales are miniscule in comparison to today’s figures; five million prescriptions a year are sold in Germany alone.