Dr. N.Solaiyappan a senior practitioner and research scholar presents
here in detail about the usage of Ginkgo biloba in other systems of medicine
and also the applicability in Homoeopathy.
Maiden Hair Tree is the common English name of the Ginkgo biloba. Botanists
fondly refer to the Ginkgo tree as a living fossil because it is not only
the sole survivor of the Ginkgo family but also the oldest living tree
species, with a 200-million year history. The Ginkgo, with its fan shaped
leaves that resemble those of the Maiden Hair Fern, first flourished in
China, where, it is thought, Buddhist monks deemed it sacred because they
planted it near their temples.
From earliest times the Chinese held the tree in high regard for its medicinal
properties. They used an extract of the fruit to ward off tuberculosis,
the seed kernel for bronchial congestion and kidney infections, and an
extract of the leaves to treat depression, senility, toxic shock, and
The Ginkgo biloba was first introduced into America in 1787, not for its
medicinal value but as an ornamental tree for a Philadelphia Estate. Because
the Ginkgo is attractive but nearly impervious to insects, disease, and
pollution, it has since become a popular and familiar city tree. Its soft
green foliage enhances urban streets in spring, and its golden leaves
add an ornamental touch in autumn; but, then, unfortunately the rotting
fruit of the female tree emits an offensive odor.
Ginkgo biloba extract has a complex range of activity because of presence
of various biologically active natural constituents. Experimental evidence
has shown that Ginkgo biloba extract limits membrane damage by its free
radical scavenging effect and inhibition of platelet activating factor.
It also affects other factors, which contribute to cerebral insufficiency,
disruption of vascular tone and altered cerebral metabolism. The major
pharmacological effects of Ginkgo bilioba extract are :-
(i) Inhibition of Platelet Activating Factor (PAF): Platelet activating
factor (PAF) a phospholipid mediator released from cell membrane, is considered
to cause a variety of effects on vascular system including platelet aggregation
and arterial thrombosis. PAF is a likely factor in the development of
cerebral thrombosis and multiple infarcts leading to cerebral impairment
and dementia in the elderly, Ginkgo biloba extract has been demonstrated
in both animal and human experiments to inhibit PAF by antagonism at PAF
membrane receptors and to inhibit PAF induced platelet aggregation. Ginkgo
biloba extract exerts beneficial effects in cerebral impairment presumably
by reducing PAF induced cerebrovascular changes.
(ii) Improvement in Microcirculation : Ginkgo biloba extract increases
blood flow IN-VIVO partly due to its effects on vasculature and partly
due to haemorrheological effects. Ginkgo biloba extract normalises arterial
and venous tone which is impaired in hypoxic areas, by its effects on
catecholamine release and break down. It has an arterial relaxant effect
medicated via stimulation of production of vasodilatory substances like
prostacycline and endothelium derived relaxant factor (EDRF). Ginkgo biloba
extract decreases aggregation of erythrocytes and improves blood flow
in cerebral and peripheral circulation, improves tissue perfusion and
protects tissues from hyproxic injury. Vascular disorders are one of the
common factors in both cerebral impairment and peripheral vascular diseases.
Ginkgo biloba extract through its effects on platelet aggregation and
circulation improves peripheral circulation and total cerebral perfusion
leading to its clinical efficacy in ameliorating symptoms of peripheral
vascular diseases and cerebral impairment.
(iii) Scavenging of Oxygenated free radicals: Oxygenated free radicals
are implicated in a wide variety of conditions involving degeneration,
inflammation and ischaemic injury. Ginkgo biloba is a potent inhibitor
of oxygenated free radicals. It thus exerts beneficial effects in limiting
or preventing free radicals mediated cellular damage in both degenerative
and vascular conditions of the brain.
(iv) Effects on Cerebral Metabolism: Cerebral metabolism is altered in
ischaemic areas of the brain resulting in decrease in glucose uptake,
electrolyte imbalances and consequent oedema and aggravation of hypoxia
. Ginkgo biloba extract has been shown to normalise cerebral metabolism
in ischaemic conditions by improving glucose uptake and consumption and
limiting electrolyte imbalances, thus reducing and preventing cellular
(v) Effect on receptors and neurotransmitters: Reduced muscarinic receptor
binding in the brain appears to contribute to age-related cognitive disorders
and concentrations of norepinephrine in some areas of the brain are depleted
in patients with Alzheimer’s disease . Ginkgo biloba extract in
animal experimentations has shown to increase the population of muscarinic
receptors in the hippocampal region of brain. It also increases the turnover
of norepinephrine in the cortex. This could be the mechanism responsible
for improving cognitive function in senile or multi-infarct dementia.
Ginkgo biloba extract is therefore, beneficial in disorders in which some
or all of the above pathological mechanisms are implicated.
Some recent research indicates that the preparations using the leaves
may be effective against asthma. Clinical study shows that Ginkgo may
be helpful in treating tinnitus, and cerebral disorders. Now, in India,
many allopathic pharmaceuticals started manufacturing Ginkgo extract and
is being prescribed by many physicians and surgeons.
Ginkgo biloba In Homoeopathy
First time the Homoeopathic proving was done in the year 1933 by Dr. E.A.Maury
with the M.T. on seven subjects ( 5 men, 2 women) then six persons and
Dr. KORSAKOFF on two men. An auto experimentation was undertaken by Dr.
E.G.IVOR of New Zealand in 1971. Homoeopathically proved main symptoms
are given below:-
· General lameness with chill.
· Unreasonable fear with rapid flow of words.
· Suppressed anger.
· Intellectual weakness.
· Heaviness of the frontal region of head.
· Sensation of troubles vision with a veil before the eyes.
· Buzzing in ears.
· Vesiculous eruptions, burning, prurigious.
· Great muscular weakness.
Here, it is interesting to know, that many Homoeopathic pharmaceuticals
in India and abroad have spearheaded research on Ginkgo biloba and Ginkgo
biloba Mother Tincture is being used globally for Cardio- Vascular disease,