ME/CFS and Supplements: 2. Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba is one of the supplements that’s had a very clear positive effect on me. However before I go into that I want to reiterate how this discussion is not meant to be a recommendation. Each of us must take responsibility for our own decisions and making sure that they are adequately informed. If in doubt consult your doctor or alternative health practitioner, and always consult your doctor if you have any other conditions and are taking any kind of medication.
Again, I would recommend that when you choose to take a supplement you introduce each new one, one at a time. I would also suggest that you record your symptoms and general state of wellbeing before and after to observe if and how they make a difference. Every few months, if you are well enough to experiment with not taking it, it’s a good idea to cut it out for a few weeks and see if there are any ill effects. If there are you can resume taking it with confidence, if not you might want to economise.
Ginkgo Biloba is an anti-oxidant but its particular talent seems to be that it improves blood flow to the brain.  It is generally thought to improve memory and speed of cognitive processing but research into its effects on healthy people have had mixed results. Clearer results have been shown in studies with Alzheimer’s patients, suggesting improvements in memory and a slowing down of deterioration for some patients. So far there has not been any conclusive evidence of any beneficial effects on ME/CFS. However some studies do suggest it can boost the production of ATP. This is the energy releasing compound found in our mitochondria. Problematic recycling of ATP is thought to be a key illness mechanism of ME/CFS.
For me there was absolutely no doubt of its benefit. One of my most obvious cognitive difficulties was a problem with finding my words. The worse my fatigue the more difficulty I had. Our household became fully versed in the language of ‘whatchamacallit’ and ‘thingymubob’ and on bad days I seemed unable to finish any of my sentences without help! After a week or two of taking ginkgo biloba there was a marked improvement in my word finding. After about a month my verbal fluency was no worse than the average persons and only on very bad days would I notice myself struggling to find a word. I later had a two week period without it and found my word-finding started to suffer again. So I now take it with conviction.
Have you tried this supplement? What effects did it have on you?
 

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