Gingko biloba trees are native to China. This species is often referred to as a living fossil as it is the only living relative of a group of trees which predate the dinosaurs. Individual gingko biloba trees can survive for thousands of years.
Gingko seeds are used in Chinese and Asian cuisine, but the tree has come to be noticed in recent decades for its health giving properties.
Gingko contains flavonoids, which help to protect nerves, the heart and the retina from damage by free radicals. It also contains terpenoids, which are known to dilate blood vessels, thereby improving blood flow, and to reduce the stickiness of platelets.
Thought to be effective in treating circulatory disorders, gingko biloba is widely available as a supplement. Its neuro-protective properties appear to be particularly impressive, with some studies showing that gingko biloba works as well as some prescription drugs to delay the development of Alzheimer's.
Many people like to take gingko biloba as an all round brain tonic, believing that it helps to promote concentration and focus, and acts as a cognitive boost. It may also help to reduce the symptoms of anxiety, and it appears to have a protective effect against macular degeneration and other related eye conditions.