Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Gotta go with ginkgo

(Biloba, that is. Liquid gold. Brain power.)

If you heard the Beverly Hillbillies theme and rhythm in your head as you were reading that, you’re as twisted as I am. Welcome.

The point of this was supposed to be telling you about a great sale on Ginkgo Biloba at Puritan’s Pride.  So there ya go.  There’s an awesome sale. Buy 1 get 1. Or even better buy 2 get 3.  Yeah. That’s my kinda deal.  Just ordered me a sweet fivesome a couple days ago. Today’s the last day of this current sale!!

But I figure I can’t really just throw out that there’s a sale, that I ordered 5 bottles, and then not tell you why we would stock up like that.  That’s just not fair, now is it.

Back in the fall, I once again looked at the option of ginkgo.  I’ve heard parents talk about it, and I know some adults with no particular disability or diagnosis who love it for it’s help with maintaining a sharp memory.  I found several bloggy friends who use it with their kids, most preschool or early elementary age, and I talked to a few of them in detail.  I also did my own research about what it had to offer, how the different brands were different. (Found that the main two brands I found are, in fact, not different at all. Hence my going with the less expensive route. The route I linked to above.)

Combining that with what I’ve learned about GABA from DS researchers and conference speakers, I decided that we were going to give it a try.

The nonscientific summary is that there’s too much of something in the brain in kids with DS and ginkgo is effective in inhibiting or absorbing that excess.  This allows for better connections in the brain.  (I’ll include some more scientific links at the end.)

For us, it’s been like seeing Braska connect what she knows with the ability to DO it.

I began her on GB and didn’t tell anyone. Not her teachers, her therapists, or even her dad.  The teachers and therapists commented after only a few days that her attention seemed to be better, that she was communicating a bit better, and that she seemed more “on.”

That’s a recurring sentiment around here.  She is just “on,” or “with it,”  or “sharper” when she has GB in her system consistently.

M wasn’t initially as convinced, once I told him about it and what her team had said.  I noticed a difference, too, but I didn’t want it to just be my perspective, since I knew, and the psychological element of *thinking* I was seeing a change was possible.

And then one day he mentioned how “out of it” she was.  She was kind of zoned out.  She wasn’t as responsive, as quickly, anyway.  And I told him she’d been without the GB for about 4 days.  As a trial to see if we saw regression back to the former state. 

And we definitely did.  I was pretty impressed, I admit.

So she’s consistently been on it ever since.  Save for a day here or there that I forget, when the schedule is different in the morning or something. 

Braska’s speech has always been her strength. Still is.  Her articulation is great, and her vocabulary is very good as well.  But until these past several months, her language—the actual usage of all those words—was still lagging behind.  She could identify anything, label like crazy, but she didn’t USE the words in sentences, asking questions, spontaneously.

She is kind of blowing me away lately.  The spontaneous sharing of info.  What did you do today? Where did you put your shirt?  How was school?  Who did you see at Y-school today?  She can actually answer the questions now.

She just randomly comes to share thoughts with me… 

“Mommy? I need some milk.”  I ask her if she wants a drink or wants it in her belly (via g-button).  She’ll tell me whatever her whim is at the moment.  And then she’ll tell me when she’s full. 

“Mommy? Belle Belle go outside?”  When she sees the dog by the backdoor.

“Mommy?” (See a pattern?  Everything starts with a questioning tone to Mommy.) “I wanna watch Welcome to School.” (Signing Time DVD)

When leaving the house or school or anywhere, “Mommy? Please give me your hand.” She stops walking and reaches up til I comply.

Just today, after her napping in the car for a bit after we arrived home from running errands, she came to me in the house and said, “Mommy? I need put on play shoes. Go outside and play, please.”  She knows that we don’t play outside in our “go out nice” shoes, so she came to tell me to change her shoes and why.  Not bad.

It’s most interesting to watch the concepts that she grasps and can now articulate.  Abstract concepts are notoriously difficult for kids with DS to get.  At least, according to the people who study such things and most of the parents I know.  She still struggles with many things, but she has definitely made great strides in some new conceptual areas.

It’s hard to give great examples, I guess.  But those who have seen the before and after all seem to agree.  For Braska, it makes a difference. For Braska, it has brought new comprehension and connection between concept, understanding, and appropriate related action. 

I can’t make any guarantees, and I’m not pretending to do so.  But I can share what’s worked for us, so that you can make a more informed choice should this ever come up on your radar.

A few more links on the subject of Ginkgo Biloba…
Ginkgo FAQ
Ginkgo Info (This is not an endorsement of the Changing Minds Protocol!)
Ginkgo and DS (a parent perspective)

I’d love to hear if you have tried GB, what you thought about it, and/or what brought you to that decision/conclusion.


  1. I am glad you share your experience about GINKGO BILOBA. I have been debating between Ginkgo and Green Tea.

    In 2009 Jean-Maurice Delabar’s University of Paris Diderot team demonstrated that inhibiting an additional enzyme on chromosome 21 (the enzyme Dyrk1A) improved cognitive symptoms in affected mice. The researchers discovered a natural inhibitor of this enzyme: epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, a powerful antioxidant found in green tea. It is a natural substance producing no secondary effects, which can also be administered orally.

    The only problem with the green tea is that is has fluoride, which makes that the pituitary gland stops secreting a hormone known as TSH that stimulates the thyroid gland. My son has hypothyroidism, but I have found an organic Green Tea without fluoride.

    We should talk more about it. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I am on the fence too, and glad to read your feelings about how it has helped Braska...I think I will be talking with Violette's doc at her 4 year b-day about it. The biggest thing holding me back has been the issues I have heard about sedation/blood issues and ginkgo...did you have any concerns about that?

  3. Good to know. I will probably start our girls on it when we get Dariya home.
    How much do you give Braska?

  4. I have never heard of this before. My biggest question..how is this pronounced? :) I am going to do some more research on it! Thanks for sparking my interest..as usual! :)

  5. Thanks for the reminder. I need to order some more!

  6. As usual, RK, you blow me away. I love how you are always your girls' advocate!!!

    Just out of curiousity, did you tell her teachers what was likely causing the difference? If so, what was their response?

  7. just wanted to wish Braska bear a good luck in her surgery... You know where we are if she needs any 'irish medicine' I hope it will all go really well for her... we'll be thinking of her.....

    love Louise and Family xxxxxx ( your Irish Friends) xxxxxx

  8. How much do you give her? We've never tried it...

  9. We've used with Georgia and I have noticed a difference, but...like you said, I sometimes wonder if I am "making it up." Alex feels he's noticed a difference, too, but he also feels skeptical sometimes. That said, we stopped a few months ago b/c we ran out, but I COULD NOT pass up this sale. Will be starting G again once it gets here! :) Thanks for the head's up!

  10. P.S. Cherish that language, I am longing for the day. We have tons of vocab, ok articulation (nothing compared to Braska, though), but that darn language. It breaks my heart.]

    WTG, B!

  11. I'm gonna have to follow your blog so I don't miss another good sale! We have been giving Goldie gonkgo since she turned two. Last year I switched to the Honeycombs brand and we started seeing huge gains in speech. I have her PLS-4 scores to prove it! Like you, I didn't tell anyone. My husband and mother both commented about the changes after a couple weeks.


Thanks for commenting!! I only ask that we all keep it positive, respectful, and clean. Comment moderation is on for now. (As this is my blog, I reserve the right to delete any comment I deem inappropriate for any reason.) If you use the anonymous option, be sure to sign your name. Thanks!!

Make it a great day!!