Ginkgo Improves Antioxidant Activity
Oxidative damage to the brain caused by the production of free radicals is thought to play an important role in the progressive cognitive impairments characteristic of Alzheimer's and other age-related dementias. Free radicals are produced abundantly inside brain neurons and every other cell in the body when energy is generated by glucose metabolism, but natural antioxidant mechanisms for keeping them in check are always at work. In certain diseases, such as Alzheimer's, however, free radicals are produced in even greater amounts then normal and can cause significant damage to the brain and body, including neuronal death.
A large study in 1997 that examined 442 elderly patients in Basel, Switzerland, found a direct correlation between the blood levels of two common antioxidants (beta-carotene and alpha-tocopherol) and memory retention.10 A review article in 2000 reported that in the autopsied brains of patients with Alzheimer's, there were many hallmark pathological changes caused by free radical activity, including DNA damage, protein oxidation, and lipid peroxidation.11 An even more recent study examined the antioxidant activity of a ginkgo extract on brain cells.12 The authors found that a standardized ginkgo extract effectively increased the levels of antioxidant enzymes and decreased the levels of lipid peroxidation.
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