Mind and Body
It’s one of the most ancient trees on earth… it can live to be 1,000 years old… and it could help YOU live a longer and healthier life.
I’m talking about ginkgo biloba.
The fan-shaped leaves of the ginkgo biloba tree have been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine for everything from aiding memory to fighting depression.
And now, according to the latest findings, we can add something else to that list — because ginkgo biloba appears to also improve brain function in those who’ve had a stroke.
In a new study out of China, over 300 people who’d already suffered a stroke were divided into two groups. Over the course of six months, half took a daily combination of ginkgo biloba and aspirin, while the other half took only the aspirin.
By the end of the study, it turned out that those taking ginkgo and aspirin scored HIGHER on tests of cognitive and language skills than those taking only aspirin.
Now, as you probably know, strokes happen when clots block blood flow to your brain, leading to damage in your gray matter.
All kinds of strokes — even so-called “mini-strokes” (a.k.a. transient ischemic attacks), as I shared with you this morning — can leave you with damage that’s bad enough to impair your memory and abilities to think and speak.
The theory is that ginkgo biloba can keep your brain sharp by guarding against the death of nerve cells and increasing blood flow to the arteries inside your noggin, as previous studies have shown it can do.
But ginkgo biloba’s healing potential isn’t just limited to your brain — because another new study shows that the Chinese herb may prevent colorectal cancer cells from spreading (a.k.a. “metastasizing”).
Taken together, these two new studies suggest that ginkgo biloba can help protect your health from the top of your head… to the “end” of your gut!
Even better, this ancient remedy has virtually no side effects.
You can easily find ginkgo biloba at your local drug store, health food emporium, or online.
Talk to a doc well versed in integrative medicine about the right dosage for you.
Ah, stress. Sometimes, it seems like there's no escape from it.
No matter how much you’ve organized your life… how much wisdom you've gained... and how much you try to "accentuate the positive"… it can feel downright impossible to maintain any sense of “zen” in the midst of modern-day chaos!
You don’t need me to tell you how stress can affect your brain. And you can’t always “think” your way out of it.
Fortunately, according to a new study out of Germany, there's a natural way to help your brain cope with the aggravations of modern life.
When life gives you lemons, head for the trees!
Based on MRI brain scans and cognitive test results, researchers found that those who lived in cities close to a forest had healthier brain structure AND function than city dwellers who didn't.
Specifically, they looked at levels of activity in the amygdala, a part of the brain that plays a role in stress response.
Think of the amygdala as the tiny part of your brain that never evolved from when we were cavemen and cavewomen. It can trigger a “fight or flight” response that would’ve come in handy if your prehistoric ancestor were running from a tiger.
But while MOST of our modern-day stresses don’t warrant that severe of a response, the tiny “caveman brain” inside our modern, evolved skulls can’t recognize the difference.
Now, this wasn't a controlled experiment -- so it's possible that the people with healthier amygdalas in the study simply CHOSE to live closer to nature.
And we don’t know how pollution might come into play here.
But since previous research has shown that the environment around you can literally shape the structure and function of your brain, it's entirely plausible that access to the great outdoors has a direct impact on the stuff between your ears.
And since stress can contribute to so many health concerns – from high blood pressure to gut issues – anything that can calm your caveman brain is a good thing.
Not surprisingly, previous studies have even shown that the more trees and birds a neighborhood has, the less likely its residents are to suffer from depression and anxiety!
At the same time, the new study found that a few trees planted in a parking lot can't substitute for the peaceful silence of nature.
Now, if you don't live close to a bona fide forest, "planting" yourself at a local park might be enough to do the trick.
As you’ve read right here in eTips, I travel the world looking for natural therapies that can help beat back some of the most devastating diseases that afflict my patients and readers. But with as many exotic locales as I visit, my travels always take me back to China. The East is thousands of years ahead of the West in...
We're just a couple of weeks away from Labor Day -- which means that we're almost at the "unofficial" end of summer. And soon enough, those peaches, plums, and other delicious summer fruits will disappear from your local farmers market. But there's one stone fruit in particular you don't want to miss before summer's close. Cherries are not only delicious...
Imagine forgetting your way home... the names and faces of those you know... and even some of your cherished life experiences. When you've got Alzheimer's disease, the changes that happen in your brain can devastate your memory. And once it takes hold, there's no pill you can swallow to get your memories back. But according to a new study, there's...
Another heat wave is about to sweep through the American West... and Japan just experienced its hottest day in recorded history. Here in the Northeast – neither a barren desert nor a tropical climate – it’s been so hot and humid that when you take one step out the front door, your face starts dripping. Even if your mouth doesn’t...
It's summertime -- and the living is easy. Well, at least that's how the song goes. But even though the skies above are sunny... and the general mood is carefree... the summer season is certainly no guarantee against one of life's lemons landing in your lap. And when it does, it can screw up your sleep and digestion… not to...
When I tell patients to "exercise," it tends to make them run... straight for the door! And believe me, I understand why. When you're on the older side, all of that huffing, puffing, and sweating can feel like a real chore. But exercising doesn’t have to mean joining a gym or even “working out.” Because according to a new study...
It’s the No. 1 epidemic facing seniors in America: brain fog. And in my own clinic here in the Boston area, it’s the top complaint I hear among 60- and 70-year-olds. But they’re far from alone. I’ll be honest -- as a 60-something myself, I’ve experienced my fair share of “senior moments.” But when you start forgetting the names of...
If you've been reading my eTips for a while, you know that I've sung the praises of walnuts many a time. They've been proven to slash your risk of cardiovascular disease ... improve your learning skills, memory, and coordination... and even protect your gray matter from Alzheimer's. But as good as these crunchy nuts are for your heart and brain...