Brain Health Benefits of Ginkgo Biloba Extract

Ginkgo biloba extract is derived from leaves of the Ginkgo tree, which is considered the oldest living tree and dates back more than 200 million years. This hardy species that once flourished around the world survived the last Ice Age only in remote eastern China. European explorers and traders brought its seeds from China to Europe, where its uniqueness and remarkable resistance to pollution, insects, and disease made it a popular ornamental plant.

Ginkgo’s amazing history

Ginkgo trees may look like ordinary trees, but nothing could be further from the truth. Named for their fan-shaped, two-lobed leaves, Ginkgo biloba is the last surviving species of the many types of Ginkgo that once flourished on the earth, and is, in fact, a living fossil.

Ginkgo trees, of which there were then numerous species other than biloba, have been around for more than 200 million years. This hardy species thrived during the Age of the Dinosaurs but survived only in remote eastern China by the end of the last Ice Age.

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According to records dating back to 2,800 B.C., the Chinese made medicinal preparations from dried Ginkgo leaves for many of the symptoms of aging, including memory loss, poor circulation, and general mental decline. Eventually, European explorers brought Ginkgo seeds back to Europe where the trees became a popular feature of cultivated gardens because of their uniqueness, and because of their resistance to disease, pollution, and pests.

Today, thanks to man’s intervention, Ginkgo trees grow all over the world, line U.S. streets and boulevards. And in return for saving this ancient tree, we have all been offered the chance to benefit from the secret that Ginkgo biloba has kept hidden in its leaves for hundreds of millions of years—unique phytochemicals with a variety of health benefits that nobody could have expected to come from just one plant!

Ten tips for brain longevity

  • Take an excellent Ginkgo biloba extract supplement to support healthy blood circulation to the brain.
  • Alpha lipoic acid and L-Acetyl carnitine taken in combination have been shown to be powerful longevity boosters by revitalizing the mitochondria—the powerhouses in our cells—thus strengthening our cells’ ability to produce the energy necessary for slowing or even reversing the effects of aging, and maintaining brain power.
  • Use it or lose it! Engage in activities that utilize thinking skills to keep your mind sharp. Do crossword puzzles; play chess or bridge; learn to use the computer or video camera; play a musical instrument; square dance; play tennis; study a foreign language; write a poem. Your brain needs to be stimulated, challenged and exercised, just like the rest of your body!
  • Sleep well. Health experts agree that 7-8 hours of sleep is best. Less than 6 1/2 hours is insufficient to completely restore the body and brain, and without adequate sleep you simply can’t concentrate.
  • Keep your heart pumping. Just like your heart, your brain needs clean arteries to carry fresh blood and oxygen—so exercise and eat well!
  • Reduce stress. Studies show that the stress hormone cortisol may actually shrink the hippocampus, a part of the brain that’s important to certain types of memory. (Marilyn Albert, Ph.D., Keep Your Brain Young: The Complete Guide to Physical and Emotional Health and Longevity. Wiley, April, 2002) Practice meditation, yoga, or simply turn off the phone and lie down for 20 minutes every afternoon.
  • Eat more blueberries! Their active antioxidants have been shown to protect and restore brain function. One recent study revealed that feeding blueberry extracts to mature mice partially reversed some signs of brain aging. (Delicious!, December, 2000.)
  • Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water to keep your body hydrated and to flush out toxins. The brain is 85% water when fully hydrated. When it is dehydrated, neurotransmission—which is heavily dependent on water—is impaired, resulting in poor memory, concentration and impaired abstract thinking.
  • Avoid alcohol. People who drink too much alcohol often show shrinkage or atrophy of the cerebral cortex, the seat of memory, learning, reasoning, intelligence, and emotions. (
  • Avoid smoking. Smoking constricts blood vessels, making less blood, oxygen, and nutrients available to the brain. It also replaces oxygen with carbon monoxide, a chemical that damages brain cells.