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The History Of The Ginkgo Biloba Tree: A Living Fossil, Symbol Of Longevity, And Medicinal Marvel

If you’ve wondered about ginko biloba and how it was discovered, you may be surprised. This natural medicine that today is known as a natural source of healing was found more than millions of years ago. To learn more about ginko biloba, the history behind it, and how it is beneficial in the health world today, keep reading.

The ginkgo biloba tree has been widely used throughout history as a source of food and medicine. The ginkgo tree is the only member of the order Ginkgoales that has survived, which is a group of trees that dates as far back as 270 million years ago. The ginkgo tree disappeared from North America’s fossil record nearly 7 million years ago. It also disappearaned from Europe’s fossil record about 2.5 million years ago. Therefore, the ginkgo was thought to be extinct, although the tree survived in China. In China it was cultivated by Buddhist monks beginning around 1100 AD.

From China, the seeds of this species of gymnosperms later spread to Korea and Japan. Then later the tree was rediscovered by Engelbert Kaempfer, who was a German naturalist and physician. Kaempfer carried the seeds back to Europe with him in the early 1700’s. Meanwhile the ginkgo seeds were also carried to America in the late 18th century. Because the ginkgo has been around over a thousand years, the tree is an important part of culture in China, Japan, and Korea.

Ginkgo Biloba’s Role in Religion, Art, and Culture: 
The ginkgo tree is very sacred to Buddhists and is often planted near or inside Buddhist temples. The world’s oldest and larges ginkgo tree stands to be nearly 60 meters in height at the Yon Mun Temple, which is located in South Korea. The ginkgo tree is still around today due to its constant growth by the Buddhist monks over time.

The ginkgo tree and leaf also have reflective symbolism in both China and Japan as well. In China, ancient artists portrayed the ginkgo as Buddha’s Dragon Tree. In Japan, the ginkgo leaf today is often integrated into art and design because of the beauty of it’s fan-shaped leaf. The ginkgo tree is a profound symbol of endurance and longevity in Japan because the tree usually lives to be thousands of years old, Moreover, four ginkgo trees survived the bombing of Hiroshima during World War II and continue to thrive, which adds to their symbolism in Japan. Ginkgo biloba also has a long history in another aspect of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean culture and society, which is medicine.

Different Parts of Ginkgo Biloba Have Been Used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for Hundreds of Years: 
The Chinese discovered early on that the seeds of the ginkgo tree have anti-cancer properties, treat respiratory ailments such as bronchitis, and aid in digestion. Extracts of ginkgo biloba improve the circulatory system, prevent blood clotting, and act as an astringent of the heart and lungs, shrinking mucous membranes and exposed tissues. Thanks to the findings in Ancient Chinese Medicine, ginkgo biloba is being used today in Modern Western Medicine.

Citations:
  • ginko biloba image via plantextractok.com

Paige One enjoys writing health articles that reveal where medicine and natural remedies came from. Continue to learn more about ginkgo biloba and use it to benefit your health today.


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