Did you know that the oldest living tree on Earth is Ginkgo biloba
? This legendary tree has survived many disasters over the centuries, including the nuclear explosion at Hiroshima on 6 August 1945. It owes this incredible longevity to its unique properties. Studied for many years, the leaves of Gingko biloba
have been shown to contain natural, powerful antioxidants which not only protect the tree itself, but also offer a number of beneficial effects for human health. Hence the interest of a group of Egyptian scientists in the tree’s potential to protect against aluminium chloride, an aluminium salt that has proved highly controversial in recent years. Here we explore the findings of their study published in the prestigious journal Nutrition1
Evaluation of ginkgo’s protective activity
The study had a dual objective: to measure the impact of aluminium chloride on the body, and to evaluate the potential of a ginkgo extract to counter its toxicity. A number of studies have shown that this aluminium salt, present in some deodorants, poses a risk to human health. In assessing ginkgo’s effect against this harmful chemical, the researchers divided 24 adult male rats into four groups:
- 1st group: control group, fed a normal diet
- 2nd group: supplemented with Ginkgo biloba, at a dose of 200mg/kg bodyweight.
- 3rd group: given 10mg of aluminium chloride per kg/bodyweight.
- 4th group: given aluminium chloride plus Ginkgo biloba supplements, both at the same doses as groups 2 and 3.
Health risks of aluminium chloride
Firstly, the results confirmed the toxic effects of aluminium chloride. Its administration was found to produce a number of harmful biological effects:
- a greater level of oxidation, responsible for cell damage;
- decreased levels of several antioxidants such as glutathione, catalase and superoxide dismutase in the brain and testes;
- a reduction in levels of neurotransmitters such as noradrenaline, dopamine and serotonin in brain tissue;
- decreased serum copper and zinc and increased serum iron;
- increased serum alkaline phosphatase and acid, indicative of disease;
- lower testosterone levels.
Histologic examination also showed some degenerative changes in both brain and testes tissue as a result of administering aluminium chloride.
Ginkgo’s protective effect against aluminium chloride
Supplementation with ginkgo produced highly positive results against the damaging effects of aluminium chloride. Unlike the rats given the aluminium salt only, animals that received a Ginkgo biloba
extract in addition to the aluminium salt displayed no biological or histological changes.
Supplementing with ginkgo may therefore help combat the accumulation and toxicity of aluminium chloride in the body. According to the researchers, ginkgo’s protective effect may be linked to the antioxidant activity of its active principles. While further studies are needed, these preliminary findings provide yet further evidence of the positive effects of Ginkgo biloba
. Present in the Chinese pharmacopoeia for centuries, extracts of this tree now feature in natural dietary supplements.
> Source :
1. Naglaa El-Shahat Mohamed, Abd El-Moneim, Ginkgo biloba extract alleviates oxidative stress and some neurotransmitters changes induced by aluminum chloride in rats, Nutrition, March 2017, Volume 35, Pages 93–99.