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Gingko Biloba Protects Against Cognitive Effects of Heavy Metals



Ginkgo biloba, one of the oldest living tree species and best selling herbs, also protects the brain from the toxic effects of aluminium chloride exposure, which has been linked to diseases such as Alzheimer's and other cognitive impairments.


Solid research has been performed on extracts of ginkgo biloba, which contain antioxidant compounds that protect cells from free radical damage within the nervous and circulatory systems. The protective effects of Ginkgo biloba was clearly observed, said researchers.

Ancient Chinese medical manuscripts indicate that at least 5000 years ago, extracts of the leaves of the ginkgo tree were being used to treat a variety of medical conditions, including asthma, Raynaud's syndrome (a circulatory disorder affecting the hands and feet), and age-related memory loss.

Even though the well-designed German studies showed that ginkgo had significant positive effects on the mental functioning of Alzheimer's patients, many physicians in the United States were still skeptical of ginkgo's usefulness, perhaps because of the long tradition in Europe of being more open to alternative therapies.

The Study
Researchers showed in the Journal Nutrition that its antioxidant properties were key in protecting the brain neurons of rats from oxidative stress caused by aluminium chloride (AlCl3) intake.
"The toxic effect of AlCl3 caused significant histologic changes in brain and testis tissues which is in agreement with other data that found accumulation of Al metal in neurons which cause ultra-structural changes," wrote researchers from the Atomic Energy Authority in Egypt wrote in Nutrition Journal.
"Administration of Ginkgo biloba extract (GbE) with aluminium chloride improved some biochemical and histologic changes observed in the brain and testis of male rats."
Overexposure to aluminium, a potent neurotoxin, could be a possible factor in several neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer's disease, say researchers.
GbE on the other hand, has antioxidant and free radical scavenging properties. It has been used to help treating cerebral disorders that result from ageing and hypoxia. Previous studies also highlighted its ability to regulate neurotransmitters and exert neuprotective effects.
"Due to the properties of Ginkgo biloba, it was selected as a subject to investigate the potential capacity of its leaf extract as a protector against the possible toxic effects of AlCl3 on the brain and testis of male rats," researchers wrote.
In this study, 24 male rats were divided into four groups. Group one served as control and received distilled water. Group two was dosed with GbE (200mg), and group three with AlCl3 (10mg).
Group four was given GbE (200mg) first, followed by AlCl3 (10mg).
Cell damage
All dosages were given daily for three months, after which all rats were sacrificed and the brains and testes examined.
The rats given AlCl3 showed significant cell damage as indicated by the increase of thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) in the brain and testis. There were also a huge decrease in the level of serum testosterone.
On the other hand, rats with GbE + AlCl3 had lower TBARS, and more of the antioxidants superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT) and glutathione (GSH) in both brain and testis tissues.
"The histologic examination showed some degenerative changes in both brain and testis tissues (of AlCl3 rats), while significant improvement in biochemical and histologic changes were observed in the GbE + AlCl3 group," the study noted.
The study concluded that the protective effect of GbE may be attributed to its antioxidant properties.
"The protective effect of GbE was clearly observed in testis and brain tissues treated with GbE before AlCl3 treatment," researchers added.

Fortunately, with help from Ginkgo biloba, a tree that was flourishing long before humans walked upon the earth, there is real hope to be seen amid the darkness of this disease. With the abundance of information on ginkgo now available, it should be clear to the most skeptical of mainstream doctors that the use of Ginkgo biloba should be part of the treatment regimen for every Alzheimer's patient.

This article first appeared in Prevent Disease


Cannabis Prevents Brain Aging



Memory performance decreases with increasing age. Cannabis can reverse these aging processes in the brain. Low doses of the active ingredient in cannabis, THC, has the opposite effect on the elderly, reversing brain aging and restoring learning and memory.




This was shown in mice by scientists at the University of Bonn with their colleagues at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel). Old animals were able to regress to the state of two-month-old mice with a prolonged low-dose treatment with a cannabis active ingredient. This opens up new options, for instance, when it comes to treating dementia. The results are now presented in the journal Nature Medicine.

* 5 Diseases Proven To Respond Better To Cannabis Than Prescription Drugs *

Like any other organ, our brain ages. As a result, cognitive ability also decreases with increasing age. This can be noticed, for instance, in that it becomes more difficult to learn new things or devote attention to several things at the same time. This process is normal, but can also promote dementia. Researchers have long been looking for ways to slow down or even reverse this process.
Scientists at the University of Bonn and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel) have now achieved this in mice. These animals have a relatively short life expectancy in nature and display pronounced cognitive deficits even at twelve months of age. The researchers administered a small quantity of THC, the active ingredient in the hemp plant (cannabis), to mice aged two, twelve and 18 months over a period of four weeks.
Afterwards, they tested learning capacity and memory performance in the animals - including, for instance, orientation skills and the recognition of other mice. Mice who were only given a placebo displayed natural age-dependent learning and memory losses. In contrast, the cognitive functions of the animals treated with cannabis were just as good as the two-month-old control animals. "The treatment completely reversed the loss of performance in the old animals," reported Prof. Andreas Zimmer from the Institute of Molecular Psychiatry at the University of Bonn and member of the Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation.
Years of meticulous research
This treatment success is the result of years of meticulous research. First of all, the scientists discovered that the brain ages much faster when mice do not possess any functional receptors for THC. These cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptors are proteins to which the substances dock and thus trigger a signal chain. CB1 is also the reason for the intoxicating effect of THC in cannabis products, such as hashish or marihuana, which accumulate at the receptor. THC imitates the effect of cannabinoids produced naturally in the body, which fulfil important functions in the brain. "With increasing age, the quantity of the cannabinoids naturally formed in the brain reduces," says Prof. Zimmer. "When the activity of the cannabinoid system declines, we find rapid aging in the brain."
To discover precisely what effect the THC treatment has in old mice, the researchers examined the brain tissue and gene activity of the treated mice. The findings were surprising: the molecular signature no longer corresponded to that of old animals, but was instead very similar to that of young animals. The number of links between the nerve cells in the brain also increased again, which is an important prerequisite for learning ability. "It looked as though the THC treatment turned back the molecular clock," says Zimmer.
Next step: clinical trial on humans
A low dose of the administered THC was chosen so that there was no intoxicating effect in the mice. Cannabis products are already permitted as medications, for instance as pain relief. As a next step, the researchers want to conduct a clinical trial to investigate whether THC also reverses aging processes in the brain in humans and can increase cognitive ability.
The North Rhine-Westphalia science minister Svenja Schulze appeared thrilled by the study: "The promotion of knowledge-led research is indispensable, as it is the breeding ground for all matters relating to application. Although there is a long path from mice to humans, I feel extremely positive about the prospect that THC could be used to treat dementia, for instance."

This article first appeared in Prevent Disease