Terpene Lactones In Ginkgo Biloba Help Arterial Disease


The Ginkgo Biloba tree is one of the oldest species known to man and nearly all of its known relatives have died off as well. Each tree can live up to 1,000 years old and some, such as the tree in the Daoist Temple in China is said to be 10,000 years old. The medicinal properties of the tree have been used for many thousands of years leading to many different extracts that are used for quite a few different purposes. The two most common uses of the Ginkgo extract are for better memory and enhanced blood circulation. However, there are more than 40 different components of Ginkgo that have been identified even though the main two, flavonoids and terpenoids, are the usual focus of medical research.

Peripheral Occlusive Arterial Disease Shows Improvement

This is a disease where the arteries have either narrowed or become blocked, most of the time in the legs. Then, due to a lack of sufficient blood flow, the legs can cramp during exercise. The problem can be quite painful at times depending on the amount of claudication or blockage in the arteries.

During a test of patients, using double-blind study techniques, a large group of patients with this disease were given doses of Ginkgo Biloba extract containing high concentrations of terpene lactones, the ingredient thought to be responsible for the anti-clotting response in the blood.  At various intervals patients were re-tested to see how far they could walk on a treadmill and remain pain-free.  Many of the patients receiving the doses of real extract, and not the placebo, showed significant improvement in their ability to walk longer distances without pain.

Ginkgo Biloba With Terpenes Shows Effectiveness In Treating Stroke Victims

In another double-blind study of recent stroke victims half were given the Ginkgo extract and the other half a placebo. After a 4 month period of receiving the extract 58% of the patients were had reduced their deficit score (a way of measuring stroke recovery improvement) while the placebo group had only improved 18%. This was a better improvement than many pharmaceutical drugs costing many times more money. Again, the main ingredient thought to be beneficial to the blood circulation is the terpene lactones that help improve blood flow and reduce the stickiness between platelets.

Another study involving reducing arteriosclerosis prophylaxis for the purpose of increasing longevity showed that those taking Ginkgo were able to avoid myocardial inferctions and strokes at a higher level than the control groups. It was determined that the free radical scavenging properties of the extract were able to reduce the formation of nanoplaques in the blood. These are microscopic plaques that cause the blood platelets to stick together and raise the risk of cardiovascular disease especially in certain high-risk patients.

The Two Most Important Terpene Lactones Are Ginkgolides and Bilobalide

Bilobalide has been found to be a beneficial protector of the brain where it helps to stop the mitochondria from degradation due to free radicals in the body. Stopping the damage to the mitochondria is thought to prolong life and enhance the health, giving users of the extracts a longer healthy life. Bilobalide is also thought to play an improvement role in the prevention of cell death in certain Alzheimer’s patients.

Since not all Ginkgo extracts contain sufficient quantities of certain compounds, it’s important to learn which ingredients you need for your purposes and find the extract that has the proper percentage to be useful. Bilobalide is one of those more rare components, however, it also works far better when used in conjunction with Ginkgolides. You should look for an extract with at least a 2% level of Bilobalide if combating aging or Alzheimer’s is your  goal.

There are many hundreds of uses for Ginkgo Biloba and its various extracts. To get the most out of your use of the extracts it’s important to find the exact components that you need and then look for them on the label. Not all extracts are created equal and careful attention to the details on the label will ensure that you get the ingredients that you need.