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Ginko biloba not only for memory, but advantageous in Anxiety and Adjustment Disorders

Posted Sep 01 2011 12:00am

Now that I am on a counseling shift this quarter, diagnosis of psychiatric disorders is going to be more prevalent than on a patient care shift. Counseling and mental health is a major aspect of Naturopathic Medicine, as well as all types of medicine, despite how much other doctors would love to dispute this claim, saying that mind and body are two separate entities. News flash, they are not. The mental state of the individual more often than not manifests physically, simply seen from the effects of stress alone: hypertension, loss of sleep, malabsorption and altered digestion, skin rashes, and hair loss, to name a few.

One interesting patient that I manage at the clinic has a clinically diagnosed Adjustment Disorder, according to the DSM-IV (soon to be revised to the DSM-V). What this means is basically what it says: the person has difficulties adjusting to certain life situations, compared to the general population. Typically the onset is immediate, with a duration of about 3 months, post-event. Triggers can include losing a job (as in many cases), losing a loved one, changing careers, changing schools or majors, losing a friend, losing a pet, etc. The overarching theme of this problem is that there is some type of loss involved, where the individual is having a hard time processing the event, the loss, and moving on from this point in their lives.

Its a fine line between grieving and having an adjustment disorder, in some situations. How long is it “normal” to grieve a loss? This usually should not pose an issue, as long as functioning within society, sexual identity, class/work, and interpersonal relationships are not extensively affected. The more that this does occur, the more that you, as a primary clinician, needs to look into the mental status of that individual. Some differential diagnosese that are important to rule out are Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Acute Stress Disorder, some type of Personality Disorder, or under the general heading of Not Otherwise Specified Disorder (yea, I know, really specific, but sometimes thats just how the cards are dealt and you are not sure).

So, what can we do, other than correctly diagnosing a mental disorder when presented? We can support their bodies: make sure that they are taking in correct amounts of food and water, make sure they are sleeping well, making sure they have a support group, and making sure that they come to see you to talk about their issues and their struggles on a daily life.

One interesting study looked at Ginko biloba in treatment of patients with Adjustment disorders with anxious mood and Anxiety disorder, compared to placebo. This study showed that high dose (480 mg) compared to low dose (240 mg) was more effective, and most effective against placebo when comparing self-assessment of anxiety and lifestyle adjustments. This was a great study to show the potential effectiveness of this herb not only for memory problems, but also for anxiety disorders, including adjustment disorder.

Why Ginko, you may ask? Well, Ginko is a well studied herb for the treatment of loss of memory and brain functioning, particularly in dementia patients. Ginko is high in glycosides and flavinoids, making them potent antioxidants. Ginko (traditionally and currently) works mainly to increase plasticity of the brain by increasing circulation to the brain tissue itself, stabilizing lipid membranes, and decreasing oxidation of tissues.

Some effects of Ginko include that it can help with depression, tinnitus, headaches, short term memory loss, and overall lack of vigilance. Some other conditions (but not limited to) that Ginko can be used for include > Alzheimer’s disease
> Cochlear deafness and Ototoxicity
> Senile macrular degeneration
> Diabetic neuropathy
> Peripheral arterial insufficiency
> And more.

This is in no way intended to be medical advice.


American Psychiatric Association. Task Force on DSM-IV. Diagnostic And Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders, DSM-IV-TR.. American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc., 2000. .
Pizzorno, Joseph, et. al. “Textbook of Natural Medicine”

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