Anti-Aging Therapies
Table of Contents

 

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Deprenyl

Brain Deprenyl is another chemical name for Selegiline hydrochloride. It is available in the U.S. under the name Eldepryl. It is also available by mail from offshore companies. In a number of clinical trials, deprenyl has improved the condition of both Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. In controlled studies, however, its long-term use for Parkinson's disease was called into question. Evidence that deprenyl may slow aging includes studies showing it protects brain neurons from neurotoxins (in tissue culture), elevates levels of antioxidant enzymes, reduces levels of the dopamine-degrading enzyme monoamine oxidase-B, and extends the lifespan of both mice and rats.


Human Growth Hormone

CoupleHuman growth hormone helps maintain the immune system and builds youthful muscle power and strength. Growth hormone levels decline progressively with advancing age. Scientists have demonstrated that restoring youthful levels of growth hormone via regular injections can rejuvenate aging men and women. A provocative study at North Dakota State showed significantly greater survival than controls among elderly mice receiving growth hormone injections. This study was not carried through to completion because the researchers ran out of growth hormone. To help assess the anti-aging potential of growth hormone, the Life Extension Foundation, as part of its Rejuvenation Project, will soon be funding a lifespan study of the effects of growth hormone on aging mice at the University of California at Riverside. Another method of boosting growth hormone levels is to take growth-hormone-stimulating nutrients such as arginine and ornithine. Several pharmaceutical companies are developing oral secretogogues, which stimulates growth hormone release.


DHEA

Muscle DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is an adrenal hormone that is the precursor for steroid hormones such as testosterone and estrogen. DHEA declines precipitously with advancing age in both men and women. There have been many studies showing that oral DHEA can improve neurological function, immune function, stress disorders, and that it can be protective against some types of cancer and cardiovascular disease. In one clinical study at the
University of California at San Diego, 50 mgs a day of DHEA taken daily over a 6-month period increased lean body mass and muscle strength and the perceived physical and psychological well-being of both men and women. One lifespan study with DHEA has been conducted in mice at a major university. Verbal reports indicate that DHEA was not successful in extending lifespan, but the results of that study have not yet been reported.

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Melatonin

SleepMelatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland, which is located beneath the brain. Melatonin is a highly potent antioxidant, which has been described as the pacemaker of the aging clock in humans. It is released every night as part of our time-dependent biorhythms to help induce sleep and recuperation from fatigue. Melatonin has been shown to have anticancer effects. In animal studies in Italy, melatonin and transplants of pineal gland tissue from young animals extended the lifespan of old animals, however the mice used in these studies had suboptimal lifespans. The Life Extension Foundation is funding a study to further assess the effects of melatonin on aging and lifespan in mice.


Acetyl-L-Carnitine

Heart Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALC) is an energy-stimulating compound similar to an amino acid. It has been shown to improve cognitive function in both normally aging individuals and Alzheimer's patients, and to strengthen the heart muscle. The basis for theorizing that ALC may be able to slow aging comes from evidence that ALC improves mitochondrial function in several ways. Mitochondria are the power plants of the cells, where energy for all life processes is generated. Scientists have speculated that the decline in mitochondrial function may be a cause of aging in humans.

Coenzyme Q10

CoupleCoenzyme Q10 (coQ10) is a cardioprotective, energy stimulating compound that has been shown to be effective as a means of preventing and treating certain forms of cardiovascular disease and cancer. In a study by Bliznakov, the lifespan of mice was increased by 50% by injections of coQ10. In another study at UCLA Medical Center, the mean but not maximum lifespan of mice was increased by very high oral doses of coQ10. In both studies, mice receiving coQ10 looked especially good and healthy at advanced ages. coQ10 is being assessed further for its effects on aging and lifespan in mice.

 

Alpha Lipoic Acid

Alpha Lipoic Acid, also known as lipoic acid, is a highly potent antioxidant that counteracts reactive free radicals in the mitochondria, the power plants of cells where energy for all cellular activities is generated. Some scientists believe that mitochondrial free radicals play an important role in human aging, and have theorized that extra amounts of free-radical inhibiting compounds such as alpha lipoic acid may be able to slow aging. alpha lipoic acid is also effective in recycling other antioxidants such as Vitamin E back into their original form after they detoxify free radicals. There also is evidence that alpha lipoic acid can reduce glycation damage due to excess glucose in the blood, which may be involved in aging, and that it can improve patients with diabetes, which has been described as an accelerated form of aging.


Cysteine and Procysteine

Cysteine is a nonessential sulfur amino acid used for protein synthesis. An early study in Romania showed that cysteine could extend the lifespan of laboratory animals, but there has been no follow-up to this study. Procysteine is a modified form of cysteine that is believed to be safer and more potent than cysteine. Both cysteine and Procysteine play a role in the synthesis of glutathione, a potent antioxidant found in every cell of the body, which is involved in folding proteins into their correct structure, and which declines in concentration with advancing age.


NADH

Energy NADH is a form of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, a coenzyme that assists enzymes involved in energy production within mitochondria, the power plants of the cell. NADH plays an important role in the generation of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the body's energy currency, and has been found to be effective in Europe in treating Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. NADH is also needed for the regeneration of glutathione after it has become oxidized.

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Lycopene

Tomatoes Lycopene is a member (along with beta-carotene) of a family of plant pigments called carotenoids. There are more than 600 different carotenoids, but lycopene and the carotenes are the most important ones. They are the pigments that give leaves, tomatoes and other plants their bright colors. Lycopene is the best anti-aging candidate of this class of compounds because it is the most efficient quencher of an especially dangerous free radical called singlet oxygen. Equally important is the fact that lycopene is regenerated after quenching singlet oxygen, and can then detoxify dangerous molecules without being destroyed. Lycopene levels drop off with age, even if we continue eating the fruits and vegetables that contain it. Lycopene has been shown to increase the survival of irradiated mice, and to decrease the incidence of various types of cancer in mice. It is now the subject of study in The Foundation's Lifespan Project.


Vitamin E

Grains Vitamin E is the major fat-soluble compound that protects our cell membranes against oxidative damage. It can break the self-perpetuating chain of oxidative reactions in unsaturated fatty acids in membranes. Vitamin E also helps maintain the antioxidant activity of selenium, and works with this trace mineral to help boost immune function. There have been highly persuasive studies in humans showing that regular vitamin E intake can reduce the risk of heart attacks in both men and women, and that it can protect us from several types of cancer. In one study, the combination of vitamin E and vitamin C reduced death from all causes. (FYI: Not taking at least your daily requirement of Vitamin E has been compared to the equivalent of smoking Cigarettes).


Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)

Pool In 1958, biochemists Roger J. Williams and Richard Pelton fed large amounts of vitamin B5 to male and female mice. They found that the treated mice lived an average of 19% longer than controls. A previous study had found that B5 increased the lifespan of fruit flies. The major biochemical role of vitamin B5 appears to be as a constituent of coenzyme A, which is involved in many chemical reactions essential to life, including the detoxification of many dangerous substances. When high doses of vitamin B5 were given to rats they were able to survive in cold water twice as long as controls. Similar results have been found in humans.


Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

Life In an experiment conducted at NASA's Ames Research Center in a long-lived strain of mice already in middle-age (18 months of age), the scientists found an 11% increase in lifespan in animals fed vitamin B6 compared to controls. Vitamin B6 plays an important role in many life processes. It is needed for the metabolism of amino acids such as tyrosine and phenylalanine, and is an essential cofactor (along with vitamin B6 and folic acid) in the body's defense against elevated homocysteine levels, which have been linked to arteriosclerosis, heart disease and stroke.


Synthetic Antioxidants

Denham Harman In the 1950s and 60s, Denham Harman of the University of Nebraska Medical Center, the originator of the free radical theory of aging, conducted a series of experiments in which he extended the lifespan of short-lived mice with various synthetic antioxidants. The antioxidants included BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), Ethoxyquin (dihydroethoxytrimethylquinolone), 2-mercapto-ethylamine (2-MEA), and NDGA (nordihydroguaretic acid). Dr. Harman found mean lifespan increases of up to 61% with these compounds. Subsequent studies confirmed the lifespan-extending ability of Ethoxyquin and NDGA. These supplements have never become popular because of concern about adverse effects from their chronic use.

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Levodopa (L-Dopa)

Running In 1977, George Cotzias, et al. reported a 50% increase in the mean lifespan of rats fed very high doses of L-Dopa, the precursor to the neurotransmitter dopamine. In another study in rats, it was shown that the incidence of movement disorders among aged rats were almost totally reversed by L-Dopa, which enabled the rats to swim almost as well as young rats. L-Dopa is used to treat Parkinson's disease patients, with major improvements usually occurring for several years followed by a steep decline in function coupled with adverse side effects. The problem with L-Dopa as an anti-aging drug is its side effects at high doses, which include abnormal heart rhythms, movement disorders, mental disturbances, and a greater risk of at least one type of cancer.

Calorie Restriction

Life Span Curves Since the 1930's it has been known that a diet restricted in Calories, but otherwise rich in nutrients, dramatically extends the life span of experimental animals. Over two thousand studies have confirmed the effectiveness of Calorie restriction (or "undernutrition without malnutrition, " as Roy Walford calls it) in a wide variety of species. The diet is currently being studied in monkeys, as well as in humans. While the effectiveness of this anti-aging regimen is likely far greater than others currently available, the difficulty of the regimen for most people is also far greater. Serious life-extensionists should nevertheless consider trying at least a mild version of the diet.

Selenium

There has never been a study to test the effects on lifespan of the trace mineral selenium, but an early study, which examined the toxicity of selenium (and other minerals) found, by accident, that it extended the lifespan of laboratory mice. There have been dozens of studies showing that dietary selenium can help to prevent a wide variety of cancers, and that it may be useful in the treatment of cancer. Anyone taking selenium on a daily basis for antiaging purpose should be careful to keep their doses low to avoid the possibility of toxic side effects.


Procaine (GH3 And KH3)

The two most popular antiaging drugs in the world are Gerovital-H3 from Romania (GH3) and KH3 from Germany. The active ingredient in both these drugs is procaine, which is also the active ingredient in the numbing dental drug Novocaine. The benefits of procaine were initially touted by Romanian physician Ana Aslan, who claimed that her GH3 formula could be used in the treatment of virtually all the diseases of aging. Subsequent studies in Europe and the U.S. with both GH3 and KH3 showed that these drugs are effective antidepressants, and that they may be useful in treating arthritis. A large animal study conducted by Aslan showed that GH3 extended the lifespan of laboratory mice by 20%. A subsequent, much smaller study, using higher doses of GH3, did not show prolongation of lifespan.


DMAE

In three experiments, the drug DMAE, sold in the U.S. and Europe under the names Deaner and Lucidril extended the lifespan of mice up to 49.5% when given in the animals' drinking water. In the early 1980s, Riker Laboratories, the manufacturer of DMAE decided to withdraw the drug from the market because of poor sales for its FDA-approved use (hyperactivity in children). Since then, a similar version, commonly sold under the name DMAE has become available as a dietary supplement. The combination of DMAE and the herb gingko has become popular as a cognitive-enhancing therapy or "smart drug".


Centrophenoxine

Centrophenoxine extended the mean lifespan of laboratory animals, in one study, perhaps through its active component, dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE). It has also been shown to be effective in treating neurologic impairment due to aging, and in reducing the age-associated accumulation of pigmentation in neurons, muscle cells and skin cells. Studies in humans have shown that Centrophenoxine can improve both learning and memory, and, as a result, it is commonly used as a "smart drug".

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Aminoguanidine

Glycosylation is the pathological binding of glucose to an amino acid that results in the formation of a non-functioning structure in the body. Diabetics suffer from an accelerated rate of glycosylation, and many of the premature degenerative diseases common in Type I and Type II diabetes is attributed to the glycosylation process.

As organisms age, glycosylation becomes a major factor in the development of aging-relating diseases. Some gerontologists believe that glycosylation is the most significant biologic event responsible for the degenerative diseases of arterial system, the eye and the brain. Those seeking to add healthy years to their lives have a significant interest in interfering with the glycosylation process.

Oxidative damage plays a role in the glycosylation process, which helps to explain why antioxidant supplements have shown benefit in preventing diseases associated with diabetes. It requires a lot more than antioxidants, however, to adequately block age-related glycosylation.

While a number of antiglycating agents are in the development stage, aminoguanidine has been available to Life Extension members for many years.

When reports of toxicity were reported in a FDA-sanctioned human clinical study conducted two years ago, The Life Extension Foundation sought to ascertain what dose of aminoguanidine was causing toxic reactions. The company conducting the studies, and the FDA, refused to provide this information.

After two years of painstaking investigation, The Foundation has learned that when 300 mg of aminoguanidine where administered three times a day (900 mg/day) to diabetic patients, toxicity was noted. When the dose was lowered to 200 mg three times a day (600 mg/day), the signs of toxicity vanished. These results confirm The Foundation's previous recommendations, based on extrapolations from the published literature, that healthy adults may consider taking 300 mg of aminoguanidine a day (or every other day), while diabetics could consider a maximum dose of 600 mg a day. Semi-monthly CBC-chemistry blood tests should be considered in order to protect against any unknown liver or kidney toxicities.

As more European suppliers have begun offering aminoguanidine, the cost has declined sharply, making this an inexpensive addition to one's life extension regimen.


Hydergine

Hydergine is another "smart drug", which has been shown to improve learning and memory in both young and old men and women. In clinical trials, Hydergine has been shown to improve blood supply to the brain, increase the amount of oxygen available to the brain, enhance metabolism in brain cells, prevent free radical damage in brain cells, increase ATP levels in the brain, and enhance the use of energy-generating glucose in the brain. Hydergine is available as a prescription drug in the United States, but is available at higher doses in Europe.


Piracetam

Piracetam is the foremost of the so-called nootropic "smart drugs". It is a derivative of the amino acid GABA that increases the sensitivity of receptors involved in learning and memory in brain neurons. Studies in both animals and humans have shown that Piracetam can improve memory, increase attention and concentration, and improve spatial learning. Piracetam is, perhaps, the most potent of the "smart drugs", and is used commonly to increase intelligence, information processing ability and creativity. Piracetam has been shown to harmonize and synchronize the spheres of the brain by modulating electrical activity within the brain.

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Vinpocetin

Vinpocetin is another of a new class of "smart drugs", whose effects are similar to that of Hydergine. Among the clinical benefits of taking vinpocetin, which have been demonstrated in humans, are therapeutic benefits for dizziness, headache, poor hearing, poor eyesight, insomnia, mood instability, vertigo, irritability and nervousness. Vinpocetin improves blood circulation to the brain, which improves cognitive function and protects against stroke. It is not available in the U.S., but can be obtained from offshore companies offering unapproved drugs to Americans for their own personal use.


Chromium Picolinate

This patented form of the trace mineral chromium has been shown to lower blood glucose (sugar) and is considered a potential antiglycosylation agent. In one study, supplementation with chromium picolinate reportedly extended the lifespan of laboratory rats. After 41 months, 80% of rats receiving chromium were still alive, while all the control rats had died. There was also a reduction in AGES (Advanced Glycation End products) in the animals receiving chromium. In human studies, chromium picolinate has been found to decrease body fat and enhance lean body mass, while lowering blood cholesterol levels. Other studies with chromium picolinate have not produced the same kind of results.

 


Dilantin (Phenytoin) And Phenformin

In 1980, Russian scientists reported that the drugs Dilantin (phenytoin) and Phenformin had extended animal lifespan by 25% and 23% respectively in a strain of mice prone to autoimmune disease. Dilantin is an FDA-approved drug commonly prescribed to normalize electrical activity in epilepsy patients. Studies around the world have shown that Dilantin is useful for a wide variety of conditions including depression, headache, and neurologic disorders. Phenformin is a prescription antidiabetic drug, which lowers blood sugar in patients suffering from this disease, which suggests that it might have antiglycosylation effects. Both drugs have serious side effects, which makes them relatively poor candidates for long-term use.

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Picamilon

The hottest new "smart drug" is the Russian therapy Picamilon, which has been shown to be better than Hydergine and Vinpocetin in improving blood flow to the cerebral vessels in the brain, as well as reduced oxygen flow (ischemia) to the brain. Picamilon is sold as a pharmaceutical in Russia, but is really a vitamin-like compound, consisting of a niacin analog (N-Nicotinoyl) bonded to GABA. This combination creates a molecule that readily penetrates the blood- brain barrier to enhance cerebral and peripheral circulation, and improve cognitive function.


Pyritinol

Recent evidence suggests that a European medication called Pyritinol may be an effective treatment for Alzheimer's disease. When compared Hydergine and placebo, Pyritinol produced continuous improvement in cognitive function, which was more pronounced than in the Hydergine group. Pyritinol is used in Europe for the treatment of a wide variety of neurologic disorders. The Pyritinol molecule is structurally similar to Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine), but functions in a different way within the body. Pyritinol is not available in the U.S.

 


Pregnenolone

Pregnenolone is known as the "mother hormone" because it is the precursor of a number of of hormones including DHEA, Testosterone and estrogen. Studies have demonstrated that the neurosteroid Pregnenolone has a potent stimulatory effect on memory, and that it can be taken to improve several types of cognitive function. Because there have been no studies on the effects of Pregnenolone on aging and lifespan, these are being investigated in The Lifespan Project.


Testosterone

The hormonal stimulus for sex drive in both men and women is Testosterone, which declines with advancing age in both sexes. Testosterone also plays an important role in maintaining muscle mass and strength and bone density. The hormone is often administered to aging men and women as a topical cream, but also is available in oral and injectable forms.


Estrogen and Progesterone

The "female" steroid hormones estrogen and progesterone play important roles in maintaining bone density and strength, sexual function, mental function and, in women, in countering the effects of the menopause. Recent studies indicate that estrogen may be an effective treatment for Alzheimer's disease, and that estrogen supplementation may protect women from Alzheimer's and other neurologic diseases. Both estrogen and progesterone are available in a variety of forms -- natural or synthetic, oral or topical. There is considerable interest in the use of plant-derived phytoestrogens, which have weak (but safe) estrogenic activity as a possible replacement for drug forms of estrogen. One product, Natural Estrogen, has been specially designed for this purpose.

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