Did you know that Gingko Biloba is the oldest living tree species? The species has existed for more than 200 million years. Probably the earliest fossil date back about 290 million years. It’s even called a living fossil.
When you hear “gingko”, what comes to your mind? Is it good for heart health? Is it brain boosting herb? Or is it yummy, Gingko nuts in your dessert? There’s even a fourth thing: It’s good for your skin.
In any case, Gingko Biloba is a herb recognised for its medicinal value, taken as a health supplement, or considered a delicious treat. In short, as something generally good for your health when consumed.
The tree Gingko Biloba is native to China. Now, it’s also cultivated in other parts of the world. It usually grows to a height of 20-35 meters and can live for over 1000 years. It has quite distinct leaves shaped like a fan with a notch.
Even though the tree is native to China, the name “Gingko” suggests Japanese origins – but it’s a spelling error. Engelbert Kaempfer, a German naturalist, was the first western scholar to investigate and describe the tree in 1690 when he visited Nagasaki. This city was then the only port in Japan open to Dutch and Chinese ships. The name “Gingko” stuck, even though the Japanese word is “Gin Kyo”, silver apricot (gin=silver, kyo=apricot).
The tree has gained a reputation for being tough in that it can live in difficult environments as well as resist disease and insects. But it’s a bit of a paradox because it grows best in soils that are well-watered and drained.
History of Gingko
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Gingko plays an important role. The first use of it as a medicine is recorded in Ben Cao which was originally published in 1590 in China. The leaves are used to treat heart and lung ailments, as well as skin infections. The Gingko nuts are used to treat lung disease, alcohol abuse, bladder infection, and various skin conditions.
Gingko was the first known herb that western medicine took interest in. Western science found that its leaves have 40 different phytochemicals like flavonoids, terpenoids, sterols. Unique to only Gingko, it also has gingko biflavones, gingkolides and bilobalides.
Ginkgo Biloba prevents many signs of ageing both inside and outside your body. It’s the subject of many studies trying to get to the ground if it’s effective in easing Alzheimers symptoms, treating dementia, migraines, mood swings, tinnitus, and more. The jury is still out for its effectiveness in these ailments. Still, In Germany, Gingko is admitted to treating dementia, glaucoma, elderly vertigo, and tinnitus.
While the results are not yet conclusive, Gingko leaves contain many beneficial phytochemicals such as flavonoids and terpenoids. These are known for their strong antioxidant effects and may help may protect the health of cells and DNA.
Benefits for your skin
The main phyto therapeutic substances of Gingko leaves are flavonoids and terpenoids. When you apply skin care formulated with Gingko leaves extract it has several effects on your skin. It improves microcirculation and helps get rid of waste products, all the while moisturising and protecting as an antioxidant.
The high concentration of antioxidants such as flavonoids means that it helps protect your skin from the damage of oxidative stress caused by free radicals. These are highly reactive particles that are produced in the body during normal metabolic functions, such as converting food to energy. But they’re also caused by environmental factors such as UV exposure, pollution, and smoking.
Say, when you’re exposed to the sun unprotected, free radicals will react with whatever’s around and can cause havoc with important cellular components within your skin, such as DNA, the cell membrane, mitochondria, and collagen.
This leads to signs of ageing: the skin starts to sag, fine lines and wrinkles develop. The flavonoids as antioxidants go around and neutralise the free radicals, helping to keep your skin firm and restoring elasticity lost to free radical damage.
The other side of the coin is that Gingko enhances collagen production. It stimulates the fibroblasts in the skin that produce both protein fibres that are important for a youthful complexion. The protein collagen is what holds your skin together. As the name suggests, elastin is what gives your skin its elasticity.
As already mentioned, UV exposure can produce free radicals. But it also damages the elastin fibres in your skin. When these fibres are damaged, you’ll see your skin sagging or that it has lost its ability to spring back when stretched. That’s why it’s important to always wear SPF. When Gingko https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21520309/ leaves extract is combined with sunscreen, it enhances the filter performance.
Gingko has a skin soothing effect in that it reduces inflammation. Quercetin is one of the flavonoids found in Gingko leaves which is also known for being anti-inflammatory. It also is anti-bacterial, so it can help with acne, eczema, or other kinds of redness and inflammation.
When we age, blood cells become constricted. This means they’re starved of the badly needed oxygen and nutrients. Gingko enhances microcirculation, opening blood vessels so blood and oxygen can move more freely among the body’s cells carrying with it the much needed nutrients. This may speed up healing.
Moreover, it has a regulating effect on the skin’s immune system, soothes allergic reactions, and improves cell metabolism.
Ginkgo is generally considered safe as a skin care ingredient. As for supplements, always consult your physician beforehand.
Gingko Biloba goes by many other names. These are Eun-haeng, Fossil Tree, Ginko Biloba, Ginkyo, Bai Guo, Yin Xing, Kew Tree, Maidenhair – just to name a few.
There’s always the debate if you should eat or apply a skin care ingredient. As always, when you eat something like Gingko, your body metabolises most of it before it reaches your skin. So, you’d think if you really want to reap the benefits, your only option is to apply it directly to your skin.
Which is true, since it goes where it’s needed to do its work. But, when you ingest Gingko leaves extract or simply eat the nuts, you still get a ton of benefits that may not be only related to your skin but are to your general health.
As Gingko prevents many signs of ageing externally and internally it has earned its moniker as the “Tree of Youth”.