The leaves are very rich in flavonoids. Most importantly kaempferol glycoside, quercetin glycoside, the bitter ginkgolides A, B, C, J and M, and bilobalide.
The herb also contains tannins, phenols, bilobol and few potentially harmful substances like ginkgotoxin (4-O-methoxypyridoxine) and ginkgolic acids.
Ginkgo reduces the platelet activity factor (PAF) in the blood, similar to the action of aspirin on blood thinning. Excessive PAF has been linked to cardiovascular disease, brain damage, hearing disorders and other immune and inflammatory diseases.
Ginko biloba increases the body’s production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the main source of energy at the cellular level. ATP has been shown to enhance brain´s ability to convert glucose into energy and to increase the electrical activity.
The ginkgo flavonoids soften the thin capillaries, which has a positive effect on all the body’s organs, especially the brain.
Because of the herb’s potential antioxidant properties, it can be beneficial for the brain, retina and cardiovascular system which can lead to less damage by free radicals, age-related decline of brain function and naturally slowing down the aging process.
It may also increase metabolism, regulate neurotransmitters, and boost oxygen transport to the brain.
Many clinical trials have been conducted on the effectiveness of ginkgo biloba as a medicinal herb for treating Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. While some clinical trials have shown promising results other have found the herb ineffective.
It was originally used in ancient Chinese medicine as a treatment for asthma.
In Germany, gingko biloba has been regarded for some time to have potential in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Some studies have shown that the herb may reverse brain damage caused by exposure to toxic chemicals and that it has a long-acting positive effect on the metabolism of sugar and oxygen in the brain.
Numerous European studies indicate that ginkgo increases both short-term and long-term memory in people with age-related memory impairment or impairment in learning ability.
Clinical trials suggest that the herb could increase the activity of brain waves called alpha waves, and lessen the activity of theta waves.
These brainwave changes indicate that ginkgo might have the ability to enhance brain activity, resulting in increased mental acuity and improved concentration and memory which has led to the belief that the plant might have its uses as a medicinal herb for ADHD and ADD.
Ginkgo has been used to treat depression in the elderly in injunction with synthetic medicine and depression that could not be treated with conventional antidepressants and some trials have shown that ginkgo combined with ginger (Zingiber officinale) may reduce anxiety.