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A new study published in the September 2009 Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine found that supplemental Ginkgo biloba extract appropriately enhances natural killer (NK) immune system cell activity. This could be important news during cold and flu season.

The study results suggest that it takes at least 14 days of supplementation to affect surface markers in human NK cells after initial ginkgo ingestion.

Ginkgo biloba has been used medicinally for thousands of years. Today, it is one of the top selling herbs in the United States. Clinical study suggests it improves retinal capillary blood flow rate in type2 diabetic patients with retinopathy, as well as provides neuroprotective effects on retinal ganglion cells in chronic glaucoma.

Ginkgo is also used for the treatment of numerous other conditions. Available evidence demonstrates Ginkgo‘s efficacy in the management of intermittent claudication, Alzheimer’s/multi-infarct dementia and “cerebral insufficiency” (a syndrome thought to be secondary to atherosclerotic disease, characterized by impaired concentration, confusion, decreased physical performance, fatigue, headache, dizziness, depression and anxiety).

Although not definitive, there is promising early evidence favoring the use of Ginkgo for memory enhancement in healthy subjects, altitude (mountain) sickness, symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and reduction of chemotherapy-induced end-organ vascular damage.

Ginkgo biloba, commonly used as an anti-dementia agent that enhances cognitive functioning and stabilizes mood in cognitively impaired elderly subjects, may also help treat anxiety related to cognitive decline, as suggested in one study.

Researchers from Germany conducted a study with 107 patients with generalized anxiety disorder (82 patients) or adjustment disorder with anxious mood (25 patients), according to the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. The patients were randomized to daily doses of 480 milligrams Ginkgo extract, 240 milligrams Ginkgo or placebo for four weeks.

Changes were significantly different from placebo for both treatment groups. Regression analyses revealed a dose-response trend.

The study authors concluded that the Ginkgo extract was significantly superior to placebo on all secondary outcome measures. It was safe and well tolerated and may be of particular value in elderly patients with anxiety related to cognitive decline. Ginkgo biloba, commonly used as an anti-dementia agent that enhances cognitive functioning and stabilizes mood in cognitively impaired elderly subjects, may also help treat anxiety related to cognitive decline, the  new study reports.

Ellen Troyer, MT MA

Biosyntrx Chief Research Officer