Gingko biloba. Photo: Thinkstock
Studies have shown that ginkgo improves short-term memory and alertness. It works by increasing blood circulation to the brain. Use an extract standardised to contain a guaranteed percentage of the active ingredients, flavone glycosides and terpene lactone. The usual dose is two to four 60 mg tablets daily.
Warning: don’t take ginkgo if you’re also taking a blood-thinning medication such as warfarin (Coumadin).
Some current research supports the idea that this Indian herb helps boost memory and improve learning capabilities, probably by improving blood flow to the brain and aiding the production of neurotransmitters. The usual dose is 200 mg of a standardised extract three times a day.
Before you start taking any herb, be sure you understand what it’s for, how much to take and whether it’s safe for you to use. Check with your doctor to make sure it won’t interact with any medications you take. Here are a few more tips:
• Unless you’re an expert herbalist, don’t pick herbs in the wild. You could easily mistake a useless or even dangerous herb for one that’s helpful. Moreover, fresh herbs are much less potent than dried ones.
• You may have to take some herbs for days, if not weeks, to feel their effects. Never exceed the maximum recommended dose in the hope of getting faster results.
• Stop using the herb if you experience an upset stomach, diarrhoea, headache, skin rash, hives or other unpleasant symptom within two hours of taking it.
• If you’ve taken a herb for the recommended time and you haven’t noticed any improvement, stop taking it and consult your doctor.
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