Can These Compounds Help You Live Longer? New Longevity Drugs

Friday Jan 30 | BY |
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Geroprotectors Image

Since the 1990s, I’ve been studying the biology of aging and traveling the world looking for ways to reverse the effects of aging.

When we’re in our twenties, our vivid childhood imagination overlaps with adult reasoning, so we can’t imagine that we’ll ever grow old. It’s as if old people have always been old, and we believe we’ll always remain young.

Is there a biological basis for this belief?

Since the 1990s, while researching material for my book, Prolonging Health (2002), I’ve been studying the biology of aging and traveling the world looking for ways to reverse the effects of aging. Along the way, I found a few gems.

The secret of longevity, a wise Chinese Taoist told me in an ancient temple in the pine-shrouded mountains of Chengdu Province, was to never get old.

I took his cryptic aphorism to heart, and intensified my research. The Chinese hold to a practical, time-honored, wisdom, but they keep secrets, and I was determined to discover some of them.

The Secret Longevity Elixir

Is there a secret elixir that prevents aging? Modern scientists believe there might be.

Geroprotectors are a class of compounds—mostly manmade drugs, but also some fascinating natural products—that affect the root cause of aging. Many of them are common and relatively cheap medicines that are readily available. Some are even in your bathroom cupboard. Others are expensive and not so easy to come by.

This new class of longevity drugs influences several of the modifiable factors of aging. I wrote about these factors in Prolonging Health. None of these factors influence the biology of aging in ways that directly extend lifespan, however. Geroprotectors, at least some of them, may hold the key to direct modification of the mechanisms of aging.

Geroprotectors 2

High Tech Chinese Medicine

Among geroprotectors, one of the most interesting compounds is derived from the traditional Chinese herbal medicine Huang Qi, Astragalus membrenaceus. Astragalus is traditionally used to “tonify qi,” the intrinsic energy of the body. It’s reported to lessen fatigue, boost immunity, and normalize blood pressure.

These effects have been well-studied by scientists who agree that astragalus improves physiological functions of the body that help us adapt better to the environment and resist disease. Could it also slow the aging process?

Chinese researchers found that two ingredients in astragalus may hold the key. Scientists believe that Astragaloside IV and Cycloastragenol work by activating an enzyme, telomerase, that protects telomere length—the bioactive tips of chromosomes that have a protectant effect on our DNA.

It seems that the longer our telomeres, the longer our life.

One company in New York, T.A. Sciences, holds the patent on a natural, plant-based compound call TA-65 that is reported to rebuild telomere length. A generic version, Astragaloside IV, is available on the Internet. No one knows which of the two works best, or at all.

However, people will find out. With the availability of new, accurate telomere laboratory testing from Life Length and Telomere Diagnostics, you can measure your telomeres and track the progress of the effects of diet, lifestyle, and the benefits of geroprotectors.

This is one of the first times in history that non-scientists are taking medicines and testing a specific marker, telomere length, as well as recording their personal progress to see if they actually life healthier and longer.

We won’t know right away. But, give it twenty years and we’ll have better science concerning whether geroprotectors like Astragaloside actually work.

Dr. J. E. Williams


Dr. Williams is a pioneer in integrative and functional medicine, the author of six books, and a practicing clinician with over 100,000 patient visits. His areas of interest include longevity and viral immunity. Formerly from San Diego, he now resides in Sarasota, Florida and practices at the Florida Integrative Medical Center. He teaches at NOVA Southeastern University and Emperor’s College of Oriental Medicine.

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  1. June Hanson says:

    Great article Doctor, but, I, am a walking example of your research. For years, you have helped me with immune system, inflammation. Using natural anti-aging products and therapies.

    Wow, have I, ever gotten great results. Wherever, I go, people cannot believe my age. All agree, I look 20 or more years younger. When they hear only part of my story, they are truly amazed. From dying, hopeless, full of pain, gasping for breath to an active, happy life.

    It takes determination, discipline, to make the decision to change life style. Slow down aging process. Keep your brain sharp. Be different, watch what you eat, most of all, get out and move it every day. Enjoyable exercise. Not getting into a rut. Caring about others.

    Sacrifice, other things in life to follow a routine, that you advise. Taking faithfully, Physician approved supplements. Acupuncture, that is unique, only to you. Changing the way we think about aging. Getting rid of the phrase, “Oh, I”m just getting old”. Well, do something about it!

    Twenty years? Nah, my dear Doctor you are doing it NOW!!

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