Ginkgo Biloba
3:46 PM | Author: Atie
Ginkgo Biloba has a long history of medicinal use in traditional Chinese medicine, where the seed is most commonly used. Botanical name: Gingkoacea. The extract of ginkgo leaves is used medicinally in North America, where it's one of the most popular medicinal herbs, and many other countries around the world. Other names for ginkgo include Maidenhair tree, Kew tree, and Japanese silver apricot.

Plant Description

Ginkgo biloba is the oldest living tree species. A single tree can live as long as 1,000 years and grow to a height of 120 feet. It has short branches with fan-shaped leaves and inedible fruits that smell bad. The fruit has an inner seed, which may be poisonous. Ginkgos are tough, hardy trees and often seen as a large tree in parks and gardens. 

Some of these can easily be grown in a small garden. All are very well suited to container growing where they will live happily for many years with minimal attention and occasional feeding.The leaves turn brilliant colors in the fall.

Growing your Ginkgo in a container
Many Ginkgos do very well in containers or pots placed on a patio amongst other plants and with correct feeding and watering, can live happily in a pot for many years.  To pot up your Ginkgo:

  • Use a pot no more than twice the size of the pot the plant is bought in, do not over-pot.  Use a good quality multi-purpose compost and add 10% grit to this
  • Top up each spring with a small amount of slow release fertiliser.  Make sure the pot has good drainage holes and stand the pot on feet or tiles to allow free drainage through the bottom of the pot. 
  • Remember to keep container grown plants well watered when they are in full leaf. Do not rely on the rain as most of the water will be shed away from the pot by the tree’s leaf canopy.
  • Properly pruning a ginkgo tree is essential to its health and appearance.

Although Chinese herbal medicine has used both the ginkgo leaf and seed for thousands of years, modern research has focused on the standardized Ginkgo biloba extract (GBE) made from the dried green leaves. This standardized extract is highly concentrated and seems to treat health problems (particularly circulatory problems) better than the non-standardized leaf alone.

Top 5 Health Benefits of Ginkgo Biloba
More than 40 components of the ginkgo biloba tree have been isolated and identified, but only two of them -- flavonoids and terpenoids -- are believed to account for Ginkgo biloba’s beneficial health effects. Flavonoids are plant-based antioxidants, and studies have revealed that flavonoids protect the nerves, heart muscle, blood vessels, and retina from damage. Terpenoids aid blood flow by dilating the blood vessels and reducing the stickiness of platelets.

Ginkgo biloba’s natural health benefits have been recognized by practitioners of traditional medicine. They use the health benefits to treat circulatory disorders and enhance memory. The top five health benefits of ginkgo biloba are:

1) Dementia and Alzheimer's disease: 
Ginkgo biloba was used originally to regulate blood flow to the brain. Further studies revealed that it may protect nerve cells damaged by Alzheimer's disease. Many studies reveal that ginkgo biloba can improve memory and thinking in people affected by Alzheimer's or vascular dementia. Consumption of Gingko everyday helps in fighting signs like depression, performance anxiety, poor concentration, confusion, dizziness, headaches, absent-mindedness and more. This is because one of the main reasons for reduced cerebral capacity has been reduced blood flow to the brain. And by helping the arteries dilate and expand, the herb helps better blood flow to the brain.

2) Intermittent Claudication: 
For people with intermittent claudication, it is very painful to walk. Published studies reveal that people taking ginkgo biloba can walk roughly 37 yards more than people taking a placebo. 

3) Glaucoma: 
According to one study, people with glaucoma who took 120 mg of ginkgo biloba daily for eight weeks realized that their vision had improved.

4) Memory Enhancement: 
Ginkgo biloba is popular as a "brain herb." Studies have proven that it can improve memory in people with dementia. Ginkgo biloba is commonly added to nutrition bars, soft drinks, and fruit smoothies to boost memory and enhance cognitive performance.

5) Macular Degeneration: 
It is a progressive, degenerative eye disease that impairs the retina. It is one of the most common causes of blindness in the United States. The flavonoids found in ginkgo biloba may help cure or alleviate some retinal problems

6) Others:
Ginkgo leaves are believed to contain compounds that thin blood and help to improve muscle tone in the walls of blood vessels. This may enhance blood flow. In saying this, there have been reports of Ginkgo greatly improving memory recall when being taken before exams, due to the increased blood flow in the brain.

Ginkgo Biloba also has a very powerful effect on the circulatory system so if you get cold hands, feet, and head, this is the herb for you.  It also assists the heart and helps prevent and treat strokes by preventing formation of blood clots.

Another useful effect of Gingko is that it can help cannabis smokers restore short-term memory by sending more oxygen to the brain.

Heart disease is one of the biggest killers in the world and in an ideal world medical practitioners would recommend Ginkgo Biloba to all people over the age of 50 due to its ability to dilate blood vessels, allowing improved blood flow to the tissues and inhibiting the clumping of blood platelets which contribute to heart problems, strokes and artery conditions.

Ginkgo Biloba is a unique species of tree with no close living relatives and is one of the best-known examples of a living fossil. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required) and are pollinated by wind. The plant is not self-fertile. The leaves are best harvested in the late summer or early autumn just before they begin to change colour. They are dried for later use.

Precautions / Contraindications
Because of the nature of the herb it should not be taken if on heart medications. Gingko also may increase the risk of bleeding in people who take anticoagulant medicines such as warfarin and anti-inflammatory medicines such as aspirin. Constituents in ginkgo leaves may affect blood clotting, so ginkgo leaf extracts shouldn't be used by people with bleeding disorders. People with epilepsy (or anyone with a history of seizures) should avoid ginkgo, because it may increase the frequency of seizures.

Ginkgo leaf products may affect blood sugar levels, so people with diabetes should only be used under the supervision of a health care provider. The safety of ginkgo in pregnant or nursing women and children isn't known. Other than that it is wonderfully safe especially for our irreplaceable brain. 

What are the Side Effects of Ginkgo?
Side effects of ginkgo leaf include excessive bleeding. Rarely, seizures have been reported in people using either the ginkgo leaf or seed. Other side effects include digestive problems, headaches, allergic skin reactions, or muscle weakness.

People should not consume fresh ginkgo seeds. Roasted ginkgo seeds may cause diarrhea, nausea, indigestion, vomiting, or allergic skin reactions. Side effects of fresh ginkgo seeds or over 10 roasted ginkgo seeds may include difficulty breathing, seizures, unconsciousness and death.
Kaffir Lime (Limau Purut)
6:00 PM | Author: Atie
 Kaffir Lime or Citrus hystrix or Citrus amblycarpa belongs is a type of lime native to Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. It is popularly known as makrut in Thailand and limau parut in some regions of Southeast Asia.

It is best known as an essential ingredient in Thai cuisine. The leaves are known as bai makrut in Thailand and you may see the tree referred to as a Makrut lime. Kaffir limes are relatively small trees in their natural habitat growing only 3m to 4m in height.

They have bright evergreen leaves with a characteristic bilobed appearance and a wonderful aroma when crushed. They have the typical tiny white flowers seen on most citrus with an accompanying citrus fragrance. In tropical areas kaffir lime trees are an intrinsic part of the landscape as well as the cuisine. The Thai's believe that the bai makrut wards off evil spirits, and kaffir lime trees are commonly planted at property entrances for this purpose.

Kaffir lime leaves are perfect for adding flavour to Asian cuisine. They are highly aromatic and add their own elegant flavour to stir-fry, curry, salad and fish cake dishes. Some examples for use include:

  • Thai curry dishes and soups, such as Tom Yum
  • Indonesian curry dishes
  • Thai fish cakes, e.g., Tod Mun and steamed fish dishes, e.g., Haw Moak
  • Kaffir lime and lemongrass in chicken stock Asian bouquet garni - make up with kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and ginger as the bouquet garni ingredients and use to flavour stock
  • Krueng - a paste using Kaffir lime leaves as the base
  • Flavour rice - When cooking your rice, throw in a few leaves. The flavour will be imparted to the rice.
  • Add to a marinade - suitable for chicken, pork or lamb dishes.
  • Make a syrup - add a kaffir lime leaf to sugar overnight and use the sugar to make a syrup the next day.

The leaves however are the richest part of the plant They are easy to store since they can be frozen for many months without losing flavor Just one or two are enough to flavor a pot full of soup The leaves can be rubbed on to gums and teeth for total dental health The essential oil in the leaves is extracted and used for various purposes It is a used in many bath products such as soaps and shampoos The oil is a great hair and scalp cleanser The aroma of the leaves is rejuvenating; add a few drops of oil or a few crushed leaves to your bath and you will feel your negative thoughts ease away It is believed to have a positive effect on the mind and the body and leaves one with positive thoughts The oil is also infused in deodorants and body sprays for that extra zing The oil is also used in tonics which aid in digestion and purify the blood Air fresheners with the kaffir lime aroma freshen up rooms and give a feeling of a freshly cleaned room.

Kaffir Limes Trees - Care and Cultivation

The Kaffir Lime tree is a fairly easy plant to grow and they are grown for the leaves, they require much the care and same conditions as other citrus trees.

Like most citrus trees Kaffir Limes like a sunny position in a well drained soil. They can be grown in pots and containers and once established are a reasonably tough tree. The leaves are what the Kaffir Lime is valued for, very fragrant and used widely in Indonesian and Malaysian cooking.

Try growing Kaffir Lime Trees in a pot, they will reach nearly 2m, however if you keep picking the leaves for cooking they will stay a lot smaller. In the garden they can get to 4 metre. A regular citrus fertilizer will be sufficient and keep moist but not wet.

Once established these trees require little care or pruning other than to keep in shape or maintain a smaller size. Take care when transpanting or cultivating around the root zone as they do not like to have the root system disturbed.

Mulch to retain moisture taking care not to build up mulch to close to the trunk of the tree itself as this can cause diseas and collar rot. Water every week in dry spells. In pots water more often.

Great in taste and abounding in various benefits, this plant is a great choice for your backyard and if you don't have a backyard, reserve some room for the leaves in your refrigerator.

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