Ginkgo biloba may protect brain against dementia by promoting neural stem cells growth

Ginkgo biloba has a long history of use in treating blood disorders and memory issues.  In Chinese traditional medicine, Ginkgo biloba is often used for cognitive enhancement or to alleviate cognitive decline.  The extract of the Ginkgo biloba is rich in antioxidants such as flavonoids and terpenoids.  Laboratory studies have shown that the extract improves blood circulation by opening up blood vessels and making blood less sticky.

A recent study, published in Neural Regeneration Research, provides one additional explanation for the herb’s cognitive enhancing function.  It seems that Ginkgo biloba is capable of promoting neural stem cells growth and therefore combat cognitive decline and impairments due to old age.

Led by Professor Jiwei Wang from Weifang Medical University, the research team studies the effect of Ginkgo biloba extract using a rat model with vascular dementia.  In the experiment, rats were supplemented with Ginkgo biloba extract at 50mg/Kg per day for a period of time.  Over the course of the treatment, the rats learning and memory abilities were assessed using the water maze.  In addition, the endogenous neural stem cells in rats’ brain were measured.

Researchers found that Gingko biloba extract significantly improve learning and memory in the rats.  In addition, the analysis showed that the number and proliferation of neuronal stem cells were significantly higher in rats given the extract. The researchers concluded that Ginkgo biloba extract may be used to treats memory loss and cognitive impairments in patients with senile dementia.

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Journal Reference: Wang JW, Chen W, Wang YL. A ginkgo biloba extract promotes proliferation of endogenous neural stem cells in vascular dementia rats. Neural Regeneration Research, 2013; 8 (18): 1655-1662 DOI: 10.3969/j.issn.1673-5374.2013.18.003

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