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Linné on line arrow Linnaeus and Pharmacy arrow Plants are important arrow Ginkgo


The Ginkgo or maidenhair tree, Ginkgo biloba, has been called a living fossil. The tree evolved around 250 million years ago and has no close living relative. A characteristic of the young leaves is that they have two lobes which is why Linnaeus gave the tree the epithet biloba – the two-lobed. The tree is originally from China and Japan. In 1730 the first samples came to Utrecht but the tree soon spread to the rest of Europe. Linnaeus didn’t use gingko medicinally, but it has been used for centuries in China.

Maidenhair tree or Ginkgo – one of our 'modern' medicines which comes from nature and which has been used for more than 500 years in China.
Photo: Håkan Tunón.

In the 1930s a group of substances called ginkgolides was isolated. However, it took until 1967 to discover their chemical structure. Ginkgolides have been shown to increase the blood flow in the brain which helps old people symptoms such as memory loss, tiredness and tinnitus. They have also been shown to have positive effects treating shock, burns and inflammatory skin diseases.

Bruhn, J G 1996. Ginkgo biloba – en översikt. Svensk Farmaceutisk Tidskrift 100(2):42-45.