Ginkgo As A Herbal Remedy
For Depression

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Ginkgo As A Herbal Remedy For Depression

Ginkgo biloba has been found to be effective as a herbal remedy for depression.

Originally used by patients suffering from senile dementia and cerebrovascular insufficiency (age-related mental decline), Ginkgo biloba was observed to also bring about improvements in mood (as well as depression, anxiety, fatigue and other psychological and psychosomatic symptoms) in these same patients. [1, 2]

This coincidental discovery caught the eyes of researchers who then sought to determine the efficacy of ginkgo in treating depression.


Research on ginkgo and depression

Indeed, subsequent studies on ginkgo found that when used alongside standard antidepressants, the herbal extract (80mg, three times daily) was able to enhance the effectiveness of standard antidepressant drugs, especially in patients over 50 years old who are not responding to antidepressant drugs. [2]

In a study cited by naturopath Michael Murray, the elderly patients who were given this herbal remedy for depression together with antidepressant drugs experienced a drop in their scores on the Hamilton Depression Scale, from an average of 14 to 4.5 over 8 weeks, whereas those who were given a placebo in place of ginkgo experienced a much smaller drop in their scores, from an average of 14 to 13 over the same period. [2]


Ginkgo and sexual dysfunction

In addition, research by A.J. Cohen and B. Bartlik from the University of California, San Francisco, found that as a herbal remedy for depression, ginkgo can also alleviate the sexual dysfunction in both men and women caused by antidepressant drugs like Prozac. [1, 3]


Ginkgo and serotonin

A 1994 research sheds some light on the possible mechanism by which ginkgo relieves depression in the elderly. The study involving rats of various ages found that ginkgo increases the number of serotonin binding sites in the brains of older rats, while it had no such effect on young rats. [2, 3]

The results of this study suggest that Ginkgo biloba is able to counteract some of the age-dependent decline in the number of serotonin binding sites. Reduced serotonin binding sites or receptors mean that more serotonin is needed to produce a normal effect. [2, 3]

In other words, ginkgo appears to improve the brain’s ability to respond to serotonin, and as such serves as a herbal remedy for depression, especially in older people. [2, 3]

Murray attributed ginkgo’s effect to its ability to increase protein synthesis (and as such counter impaired serotonin receptor synthesis that increases with age) and as well as to its nature as a powerful antioxidant (and as such counter changes in cerebral neuronal membranes or receptors as a result of long-term free-radical damage) [2].


Dosage

The usual dosage for a ginkgo extract, standardized to contain 24% glycosides and 6% terpenes, is 40 – 80mg, 3 times a day. [1, 3]

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