Ginkgo is a popular herbal medicine, derived from one of the oldest species of tree on earth and is widely marketed as a 'memory booster'. Ginkgo biloba does help combat age-related memory loss, but whether it is a 'smart pill' meant for everyone remains to be seen. Whilst ginkgo is probably the herb most associated with memory, there are several others that are also regarded in this area including lemon balm, sage and rosemary.
The medicinal form of the herb is extracted from the fan-shaped leaves of the ancient ginkgo biloba tree, a species that has survived in China for more than 200 million years. A concentrated form of the herb, known as ginkgo biloba extract (GBE), is used to make the supplement. GBE is obtained by drying and milling the leaves and then extracting the active ingredients in a mixture of acetone and water.
The fact that ginkgo aids blood flow to the brain - thereby increasing its oxygen supply - is particularly important to elderly people whose arteries may have narrowed with cholesterol build-up or other conditions. Diminished blood flow has been linked to Alzheimer's disease and memory loss, as well as to anxiety, headaches, depression, confusion, tinnitus and dizziness. All may be helped by ginkgo.