Herbal remedy ginkgo biloba ‘can help stroke recovery’
The herbal remedy, available in health food shops and some pharmacies in the UK, is used in China to aid memory and fight depression.
In a trial of 330 stroke patients over six months in China, the supplement was linked with better cognitive skill scores on tests.
Experts say the evidence for ginkgo is too weak to recommend it.
Those behind the small study – published in the online journal Stroke & Vascular Neurology – admit that larger, longer and more robust trials are needed.
It was carried out by Nanjing University Medical School, with patients from five Chinese hospitals.
All 330 participants began the trial within a week of having an ischaemic stroke. The average age of the patients was 64.
Roughly half of them were given 450mg of ginkgo biloba daily, in addition to 100mg of aspirin, while the remainder were given only the aspirin.
During a stroke, the blood supplying vital parts of the brain is interrupted, often leading to impaired memory and a decline in organisational and reasoning skills among stroke survivors.
Researchers wanted to see if combining ginkgo biloba with aspirin might help lessen or halt the cognitive decline.
Previous experimental studies in animals have suggested that ginkgo biloba protects against the nerve cell death associated with blood clots in the brain, possibly by increasing blood flow in the cerebral arteries.
Strokes – the definitions
Transient ischaemic attacks (also known as mini-strokes) – symptoms resolve within 24 hours but the majority resolve within 10-60 minutes.
Minor stroke – symptoms last more than 24 hours but often resolve within a few days – and are usually relatively mild
Major stroke – usually taken to mean some permanent symptoms remain
Source: Peter Rothwell, University of Oxford
All the participants took a neuropsychological test (Montreal Cognitive Assessment) at the start of the trial, and then 12, 30, 90 and 180 days later, to check for any cognitive impairment.The results showed that those taking the combination of aspirin and ginkgo biloba had higher scores for cognitive skills, including memory and reasoning, than those who weren't. Click To Tweet
Speech problems and muscle strength also improved more rapidly, with indications of improved functional capacity 12 and 30 days after the start of treatment. However, both the clinicians and the patients knew which treatment they had been assigned to, which may have skewed the results, and the monitoring period was not very long.
Ginkgo BilobaGinkgo biloba is one of the oldest living tree species. Click To Tweet
Researchers say the extract used in the study contained more protective, and fewer harmful, chemicals than the extract typically used in previous studies.
Few side-effects were reported during the trial.
The participants were subsequently monitored for nearly two years, with little difference in the vascular health of the two groups: 16 people in the combined treatment group, and 20 in the aspirin group had further problems, including recurrent stroke and aneurysm.
However, longer term studies looking at stroke severity are necessary, before any more definitive conclusions can be reached.
Dr David Reynolds, Chief Scientific Officer of Alzheimer’s Research UK, criticised the methodology used in the trial: “The researchers were able to tell which participants received the ginkgo biloba extract and which didn’t – a set up that can strongly influence results.
“There have been extensive trials investigating the effects of this herbal extract in people with dementia and they have not shown convincing evidence of a benefit.”
How to recognise a stroke
- Face – has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?
- Arms – can they raise both their arms and keep them there?
- Speech – is their speech slurred? If you notice any of these symptoms it is…
- Time – time to call 999 if you see any single one of these signs
Additional symptoms of stroke and mini-stroke can include:
- Sudden loss of vision or blurred vision in one or both eyes
- Sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body
- Sudden memory loss or confusion
- Sudden dizziness, unsteadiness or a sudden fall, especially with any of the other symptoms
Source: Stroke Association
Ginkgo Biloba: An Ancient Herb That Protects The Brain From Neuronal Damage And Improve Recovery From Stroke
What Is Ginkgo Biloba?
Ginkgo biloba or maidenhair is a tree native to China. It has been used as a source of food and in traditional medicine. It is a popular supplement and one of the top selling herbal medicines that are associated with several health claims and uses, most of which focus on brain function and blood circulation.
The nuts and leaves of the tree have been known to have high nutrient content which has positive effects on the brain and nervous system. Ginkgo biloba extract is collected from the dried green leaves of the plant and is available as liquid extracts, capsules, and tablets.
Due to its therapeutic properties, the plant is used for a variety of health issues such as memory problems, blood disorders, improve eye health, enhancement of cardiovascular function, dizziness, tinnitus, glaucoma, diabetes, eye problems, sexual dysfunction, headache, vertigo, anxiety, multiple sclerosis, and premenstrual syndrome.
Despite this plant’s numerous benefits to our health, one should refrain from using it on self-medication, particularly for severe symptoms. It is important to first consult a health expert or a licensed herbalist before taking ginkgo biloba or any other herbal remedy.
Ginkgo Biloba Against The Effects Of Ischemic Stroke
For the study which was led by Dr. Yun Xu from the Department of Neurology at the university, 348 participants suffering from ischemic stroke were involved. Each of them was given either a 450-milligram ginkgo biloba extract in three doses plus 100 milligrams of aspirin (179 people in total) or 100 milligrams of aspirin alone (169 in the control group). One week after being admitted to the hospital due to stroke, the dosage was prescribed every day for six months.
Researchers made their assessments on the 12th, 30th, 90th, and 180th days of the trial using a test that measured attention, memory, and language skills. At the end of the study, better test scores were obtained by those participants who took ginkgo biloba together with aspirin. This combination had helped lessen cognitive and neurological deficits after an acute ischemic stroke without increasing the occurrence of negative vascular effects.
Ischemic stroke is the most common type of stroke. It is caused by a blood clot that blocks or plugs a blood vessel in the brain. This keeps blood from flowing to the brain. Within minutes, brain cells begin to die. It can also be caused by stenosis, or narrowing of the arteries in the neck or in the head which happens because of atherosclerosis, a disease wherein plaque builds up in the arteries. This type of stroke has two types: Thrombotic and embolic. In a thrombotic stroke, damaged arteries are blocked by blood clots within the brain. Meanwhile, an embolic stroke is caused by a clot which was formed outside of the brain.
Here are some of the early warning signs of stroke before it happens:
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg (especially on one side of the body)
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
82-Year-Old Woman With Dementia Gets Her Memory Back After Changing Her Diet
Recently, an 82-year-old woman who suffered from dementia, who couldn’t recognize her own son has miraculously got her memory back after changing her diet.
When his mother’s condition became so severe that for her own safety she had to be kept in the hospital, Mark Hatzer almost came to terms with losing another parent.
Sylvia had lost her memory and parts of her mind, she had even phoned the police once accusing the nurse who were caring for her of kidnap.
A change in diet, which was comprised of high amounts of blueberries and walnuts, has proven to have had a strong impact on Sylvia’s condition that her recipes are now being shared by the Alzheimer’s Society.
Sylvia also began incorporating other health foods, including broccoli, kale, spinach, sunflower seeds, green tea, oats, sweet potatoes and even dark chocolate with a high percentage of cacao. All of these foods are known to be beneficial for brain health.
Mark and Sylvia devised to diet together after deciding that the medication on it’s own was not enough, they looked into the research showing that rates of dementia are much lower in Mediterranean countries and copied a lot of their eating habits.
According to Mirror.co.uk“
Mark, whose brother Brent also died in 1977, said: “When my mum was in hospital she thought it was a hotel – but the worst one she had ever been in.
“She didn’t recognise me and phoned the police as she thought she’d been kidnapped.
“Since my dad and brother died we have always been a very close little family unit, just me and my mum, so for her to not know who I was was devastating.
“We were a double act that went everywhere together. I despaired and never felt so alone as I had no other family to turn to.
“Overnight we went from a happy family to one in crisis.
“When she left hospital, instead of prescribed medication we thought we’d perhaps try alternative treatment.
“In certain countries Alzheimer’s is virtually unheard of because of their diet.
“Everyone knows about fish but there is also blueberries, strawberries, Brazil nuts and walnuts – these are apparently shaped like a brain to give us a sign that they are good for the brain.”
There were also some cognitive exercises that Mark and his mother would do together like jigsaw puzzles crosswords and meeting people in social situations, Sylvia would also exercise by using a pedaling device outfitted for her chair.
Mark said, “It wasn’t an overnight miracle, but after a couple of months she began remembering things like birthdays and was becoming her old self again, more alert, more engaged..
“People think that once you get a diagnosis your life is at an end. You will have good and bad days, but it doesn’t have to be the end. For an 82-year-old she does very well, she looks 10 years younger and if you met her you would not know she had gone through all of this.
“She had to have help with all sorts of things, now she is turning it round. We are living to the older age in this country, but we are not necessarily living healthier.”
The Body’s Ability To Heal Is Greater Than Anyone Has Permitted You To Believe
This story just goes to show how resilient our bodies really are if given the right environment. Most of these types of diseases are often related to diet in the first place so that means that they can indeed be reversed with a proper diet. Sure, some of them are genetic and you might be a carrier of the gene, but that is not a guarantee that it will become active, there are things you can do to minimize the risk. Our health is our greatest wealth. We have to realize that we do have a say in our lives and what our fate is.
We have covered the topic before of how aluminum build up in the brain is directly related to dementia and more specifically Alzheimer’s disease, being able to identify this as a cause is important because recognizing this means we can do our part to limit the exposure and to also detoxify our brains and bodies from this damaging heavy metal.
In an article titled, Strong evidence linking Aluminum to Alzheimer’s, recently published in The Hippocratic Post website, Exley explained that:
“We already know that the aluminium content of brain tissue in late-onset or sporadic Alzheimer’s disease is significantly higher than is found in age-matched controls. So, individuals who develop Alzheimer’s disease in their late sixties and older also accumulate more aluminium in their brain tissue than individuals of the same age without the disease.
Even higher levels of aluminium have been found in the brains of individuals, diagnosed with an early-onset form of sporadic (usually late onset) Alzheimer’s disease, who have experienced an unusually high exposure to aluminium through the environment (e.g. Camelford) or through their workplace. This means that Alzheimer’s disease has a much earlier age of onset, for example, fifties or early sixties, in individuals who have been exposed to unusually high levels of aluminium in their everyday lives.”
His most recent study, published by the Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology in December 2016, titled: Aluminium in brain tissue in familial Alzheimer’s disease, is one of the many studies that he and his team have conducted on the subject of aluminum over the years. However, this study in particular is believed to be of significant value, because it is the first time that scientists have measured the level of aluminum in the brain tissue of individuals diagnosed with familial Alzheimer’s disease. (Alzheimer’s disease or AD is considered to be familial if two or more people in a family suffer from the disease.)
According to their paper, the concentrations of aluminum found in brain tissue donated by individuals who died with a diagnosis of familial AD, was the highest level ever measured in human brain tissue.
Professor Exley wrote:
“We now show that some of the highest levels of aluminium ever measured in human brain tissue are found in individuals who have died with a diagnosis of familial Alzheimer’s disease.
The levels of aluminium in brain tissue from individuals with familial Alzheimer’s disease are similar to those recorded in individuals who died of an aluminium-induced encephalopathy while undergoing renal dialysis.”
He explained that:
“Familial Alzheimer’s disease is an early-onset form of the disease with first symptoms occurring as early as 30 or 40 years of age. It is extremely rare, perhaps 2-3% of all cases of Alzheimer’s disease. Its bases are genetic mutations associated with a protein called amyloid-beta, a protein which has been heavily linked with the cause of all forms of Alzheimer’s disease.
Individuals with familial Alzheimer’s disease produce more amyloid beta and the onset of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are much earlier in life.”
The First Step Towards Change Is By Raising Awareness
As more and more awareness grows involving the true causes of these neurodegenerative brain disorders, the more we can do our part to prevent and even treat them and hopefully, eventually eliminate things such as aluminum and other chemicals in our foods to prevent this disease from happening altogether.
Please share this article with anyone you know who knows someone who is suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s.
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