Ageing is a natural biological process that is caused by a continuous functional decline in tissues and organs which eventually leads to death. There is no stopping it and we all do it. What causes the human body to age and is there anything we can do to help slow the process down? In this paper will be discussing a few new ideas of ageing and ways to possibly slow down the process.
We will start with cells. Cells are the basic unit of organismal structure and function. Mitochondria are the energy and metabolic center of the cells. Within the nucleus of each cell are chromosomes that are made of protein and a single molecule of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). At each end of a chromosomes is the telomere which is a region of repetitive nucleotide sequences, which protects the end of the chromosome from deterioration or from fusion with neighboring chromosomes when the cell replicates its self. They are like a cap that keeps the chromosomes from falling apart. Think of the tip on the end of a shoe lace.
Cells use a special enzyme called telomerase. Telomerase is a nucleoprotein that contains RNA and adds repeat sequences to the end of the telomeres. Human T-cells (critical to the immune control over infections and cancer) activate the telomerase enzyme which binds to telomeres. Telomerase activity is exhibited in gametes and stem and tumor cells. Telomerase plays a vital role in maintaining the length in telomeres and aids in stabilizing chromosomes during cell division. With telomerase, dividing cells can replace lost bits of DNA and even repair cells to allow for healthy cell division to continue. The longer the telomere strands are the better the cell health and replication they provide. However, as people age the production of telomerase decreases and consequently cell replication and health decline. As telomeres get shorter the telomeres eventually get too short to do their job causing our cells to age and stop functioning properly. There is growing evidence that telomere shortening can inhibit stem cell function, cellular regeneration, and organ maintenance.
The importance of telomerase production and telomere rejuvenation to combat ageing has been shown in a number of studies. In one study using 913 sets of twins it was found that the twin with the stronger telomerase production looked younger and had better health than its sibling. In another study done with 38 people who were 100 years old or older; the healthiest participants had the strongest and longest telomeres.
With this information the next question is how do we maintain our telomerase production and continue to lengthen our telomeres? There are several supplements and life style changes that may help with this.
The first one is Omega 3, fish derived. In 2010 there was a study done on 600 patients that shows higher blood levels of Omega 3 acids in patients with coronary heart disease had longer telomeres.
In 2008 there was another study that used 2400 twins and compared the telomeres of those that exercised versus those that didn’t. After one year the telomeres were compared and those that exercised were biologically younger and their telomeres were up to 200 nucleotides longer than the least active of the group.
Vitamin D3 or sunshine also has an influence on the length of telomeres. It has been found that higher vitamin d concentrations are associated with longer telomeres.
Astragalus is a common Chinese herb. It is known for its immune boosting abilities by increasing the telomerase activity in human Tcells. The molecules that do this are produced at very low levels in the astragalus root. The cycloastragenols and the astragalosides molecules are extracted, purified and concentrated. There are now 2 patented formulas using the Astragalus compounds known as TA-65 and TAT2. TA-65 is probably the best known because there have been several double-blind placebo studies. One of these studies showed that when 117 people took the TA-65 for one year their telomeres were longer. The TA-65 requires no approval from the FDA because it is marketed as a supplement not a drug. The potential benefits from the supplement seem to outweigh the risks.
The other helpful question is what is causing us to age faster rather than how do we age slower? Again, we hear the common advice for good health; hormonally balanced nutrition, practicing stress management, exercising, minimize sugar and alcohol intake, quit smoking, restore sleep patterns, and eat your veggies!
An exciting new field of research is being done in the field of peptides. Peptides are proteins consisting of less than 50 Amino Acids and there are literally thousands of them. These Amino acids are linked together in a specific process to create a protein (by removing a molecule of water) and a specific reaction in the body. They have many functions from signaling and messaging to acting as neurotransmitters or hormones. Some are naturally occurring and others can be artificially synthesized in a laboratory. The body uses these proteins or peptides as signaling molecules facilitating the cell to cell communication and allowing the body to switch certain cells on or off. They bind to receptors on the cell surface and tell the other cells and molecules what to do. They regulate many different functions at a cellular level. Peptides are very specific which makes them safe and well tolerated. This is because peptides work very smartly by targeting specific genes. They can control sleep, regeneration, skin properties, libido, inflammation, infection response, and the length of telomeres among many others. They differ from other drugs and medicines in that they don’t flood the entire body and have hundreds of different effects (not all good) on our organs and biological systems.
One particular peptide has been being studied for its ability to lengthen telomeres for 35 years. Vladimir Khavinson is a Russian professor and genealogist whose research is focused on peptide preparations that restore various organs with the intent to prevent and reverse the ageing process. His studies started with a natural peptide called epithalamin extracted from the pineal glands of calves. Because of limitations in production he created a synthetic terra peptide made of four amino acids; alanine, glutamic acid, aspartic acid, and glycine. It is called Epithalon in injection form or Endoluten in capsule formulation. It works in the pineal gland of the brain. Its primary role is to increase the natural production of telomerase. There have been over 100 pieces of published research and 6 clinical studies on humans.
In human clinical studies Epithalon significantly increased telomere lengths in the blood cells of patients aged 60-56 and 75-80. After prolonged peptide treatment the life expectancy of the subjects increased 25-40%,
It appears to restore melatonin secretion by the pineal gland in both aged monkeys and humans. In a small study of 14 elderly people Epithalon improved melatonin production and altered its cycle and peak concentrations to resemble that of young people. In monkeys it stimulated evening melatonin secretion and reestablished the circadian rhythm and cortisol release. This could be very helpful to older people because around 50 years of age the melatonin production slows. Epithalon could improve sleep quality and immune strength.
It may increase enzyme activity. In both young and old rats, it increased the activity of enzymes that digest protein and sugar with the affect being more pronounced in the aged rats.
In many studies on rats and mice it has shown to inhibit the development of cancer and tumors and induces cancer cell death.
In a clinical trial with humans, Epithalon improved the degenerative damage of retinal cells (due to retinitis pigmentosa) by preserving their structure and preventing degeneration in 90% of the patients.
It also appears to improve antioxidants and their ability to counteract the effects of free radicals. Free radicals are damaging molecules that are missing their electrons. One of the most potent antioxidants produced by the human body is melatonin. It is what helps your brain detox at night when you sleep. Epithalon also seems to increase the antioxidants you take as well as what you naturally produce. In one study with rats; the total antioxidant capacity increased 36%, with superoxide dismutase (SOD a powerful antioxidant produced by the human body) going up 19%.
Some of the other effects Epithalon seems to have are; regulating the neuroendocrine system, increasing hypothalamic sensitivity to endogenous hormonal effects, normalization of T cells, normalization of uric acid levels, normalization of cholesterol, rejuvenation /strengthening of immune system, and tumor prevention.
There are no reported side effects of Epithalon in any of the studies or experimental trials. There a no adverse reactions reported on any of the internet forums where people have been documenting repeated courses every 10-15 days for years.
Dosage depends on the purpose and severity of the problem that is being treated.
Oral Epithalon (Endoluten) is the least effective as peptides are broken down in the digestive track and are then unable to enter the bloodstream intact where they can exert their effects. That being said a higher dosage is taken, 400-600 mg per day (split between 2-3 servings) for 10-20 days.
Nasal or oral Spray or drops have medium effectiveness and are taken for 10-20 days with 15-30 mg per day split into 3 servings a day.
Injectable Epithalon is believed to the most effective, is taken for 10-20 days 5-10 mg a day with 1 injection per day for a low dose and 2 injections a day for higher dose.
There is also a cream to apply on the skin that is being worked on.
For all of the above the 10-20-day course is followed is followed for a 4-6 month pause and then repeated. This can be done indefinitely.
While the pre-clinical studies look very promising there is still a lot of research that needs to be done on healthy and diseased individuals. Epithalon is not FDA approved.
Ageing is a natural biological process. How you age is determined by genetics and our choices of lifestyle. Exercise or lack of, eating a balanced healthy diet or junk food, the choice to smoke or not, whether or not to include alcohol and sugar in our diets, all play important roles in the process of how we age. When we understand that it is our choice and we can make changes, we can change the cycle. It is exciting to know that we have other choices we can try and that science is continually looking for ways to enhance our abilities to help us to live a longer healthier life.