This article is a brief overview of the medicinal applications of the herbs ginkgo biloba, echinacea and goldenseal and their possible side effects.
Ginkgo Biloba (Often mistaken to be spelled as “Gingko Biloba”)
One of the best-studied and most popular extracts in Europe, ginkgo is prescribed more than five million times a year in Germany alone. Numerous studies have shown that ginkgo can increase blood flow in the brain and the extremities, alleviate vertigo and ringing in the ears, and improve mild to moderate dementia. Often advertised as a smart pill, there’s a catch: “If you have a normal brain, it won’t improve your cognitive functions. But if you are elderly and are suffering some memory loss, ginkgo is worth a try. The evidence of its safety is solid. A number of clinical trial reports that adverse side effects such as stomachache, headache or skin rash are very rare– and completely reversible. But be sure to ask your doctor if ginkgo is right for you. The dose ranges from 120 to 240 mg. daily. You may have to use ginkgo six weeks before seeing results according to the Herb Research Foundation. According to experts, the most effective ginkgo formulations are those extracted form the leaves using a strictly controlled process developed in Germany. The standardized dry extract is widely available.
Echinacea and Goldenseal
These herbs are frequently used together to fight off infection and speed the healing of wounds. Studies of echinacea suggest it boosts the immune system by increasing the activity of white blood cells. (Because it increases such activity, echinacea may do more harm than good if you have an auto-immune disease.) Goldenseal, often used in combination with echinacea, works differently. It’s okay as an antiseptic for sores but claims that it stimulates immunity are yet to be proven. Experts also say that it works as topical antibacterial agent for wounds, and taken internally, it eases stomach and intestinal irritation, including traveler’s diarrhea. Though there have been no long term clinical trials of goldenseal, numerous studies have been conducted on its active ingredients, and experts agree it’s safe. Pregnant women, however, should avoid the herb. As a general rule, before trying any of these and other medicinal herbs, it is best to consult with your doctors first. The last thing you would want to happen, of course, is having ill-effects from these herbs. Also, a bit of research on your own wouldn’t hurt, and you’re probably doing just that since you’re reading this. Until next time, stay healthy!