Ginkgo biloba (Chinese maidenhair)

Ginkgolide B and Bilobalide

Ginkgo is the last survivor of a primitive family which existed over 270 million years ago. The trees are native to China and are also common in Japan. They are considered sacred and are often grown near Buddhist temples.
The outer layer of the seeds produced by the female trees contains butyric acid. This smells unpleasant and has resulted in a preference for male trees to be grown. Consequently, the species is considered at risk of loss of biodiversity.

Ginkgo leaf extracts contain a class of compounds known as ginkgolides, including ginkgolide B, which are believed to be at the root of the trees longevity. Ginkgolide B reduces the aggregation of platelets so has potential use in the treatment of many cardiovascular, renal and respiratory diseases.

Leaf extracts have shown beneficial effects in improving memory and thinking and ginkgo is often taken as a supplement for this reason. The compound bilobalide, obtained from ginkgo leaves, shows neuro-protective properties.

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