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Friday, July 27, 2007

Ancient Use History - Ginkgo Nut, not Ginkgo Leaf

You probably have heard of ginkgo biloba, as it is now in many herbal or nutritional products. Actually, Ginkgo biloba is a tree, considered as a living fossil, known only from cultivation. It is widely cultivated as an ornamental tree, especially in Japan and northern China. Traditionally the seed, also known as ginkgo nut, is eaten in moderation, as it is toxic, usually cooked in soups and stews; it is considered lung soothing and is prescribed in TCM for bronchitis, asthma, cough, and numerous other conditions. The recorded use of ginkgo seed in China for food and medicine dates back 2,000 years. That of the leaf, however, dates back only about 500 years (which is still a respectable number, especially by Western herbal standards), and with limited applications, such as for diarrhea and externally for freckles and chilblain. The current popular use of ginkgo leaf extract in cerebral and peripheral vascular diseases, short-term memory loss, heart disease, tinnitus, depression, and other conditions, is a direct result of modern research and clinical use of the leaf extract in Europe over the past 20 years only. It is basically a modern medicine, with well-documented modern data. Yet in their promotional literature, some manufacturers and marketers date this use back to ancient times. They are either ignorant or are purposely misleading the public into believing that ginkgo biloba leaf has an ancient use history, yet in fact, only ginkgo seed does. When one sees such a claim in a company's promotional literature, one should be skeptical about its products.

These and more herbal remedies are available from the volumes of Dr. Leung’s newsletter, of the same name as this blog ( Leung’s Chinese Herb News). This newsletter was published and sent to subscribers (most were industry-insiders) from 1996 to 2004. The collected works now serve as an excellent reference work, created with Dr. Leung’s frank, honest opinions and down-to-earth communication style.For more information about Dr. Leung and his writings, visit www.earthpower.com. To order the newsletter containing the remedies mentioned above, visit the bookstore, click “Buy Now” on the newsletter, and select Issue # 5 from the drop down list.

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