On an otherwise ordinary day in 1990, I made a discovery that changed the way I practice medicine forever.
I had just finished reading an article in the journal Nature about this new telomere technology that promised to turn everything we know about disease and aging on its ear.
If you’re a regular reader, you know telomeres are the tiny caps at the end of each chromosome… similar to the plastic caps on the end of your shoelaces.
Each time your cells divide, a bit of each telomere is used up. The process happens slowly, over the course of your life, but it makes your cells older and weaker.
If 70% to 80% of your telomeres get too short, your cells Become permanently damaged. Critically short telomeres set in motion what Boston Ivy League researchers call a “death spiral” in your cells.1,2
In a previous Doctor’s House Call, you learned about biomarkers and how I measure the health of each organ and system in your body.
A biomarker tells us how “old” a particular function of your body is… regardless of your chronological age. You may be 60 years old according to the calendar, but the feedback we get from your bloodwork may tell a different story.
Protecting and lengthening your telomeres is one of the ways I reverse your biological age.
Let me explain.
Young Cells Have Long Telomeres… Old Cells Have Short Telomeres
Two stUdies published in the journal Nature provide the evidence:
Telomeres get shorter with age, with losses ranging from between 30 and 150 nucleotide pairs per replication, depending on cell type.
Cell division and telomere shortening continues until a “critically short” telomere length is reached, at which point the cell dies.
Now we know that cells with longer telomeres behave like younger cells.
And cells with shorTer telomeres behave like older cells.
Here’s the takeaway: When you lengthen your telomeres your cells become younger.
And younger cells means a younger brain, a younger heart… and a younger immune system.
Longer Telomeres Reversed Immune Age By 20 Years
My own research was enough to convince me you can improve your immunological age which gives you the immune power of someone much younger. But there are other peer-reviewed studies that back my results.
One of the landmark studies comes from researchers at TA Sciences. That’s the company that licenses TA-65, one of the first compounds proven to activate telomerase and lengthen telomeres.
For the year-long study, researchers tested TA-65’s effects on the immune system of 100 volunteers. They measured the number of white blood cells that looked old, as well as the number that looked young.
Then one group took TA-65, while the other group got a placebo.
Their breakthrough study found that the telomerase activator in TA-65 reduced the percentage of short telomeres in immune cells.
But that’s not all…
After just three months, the telomerase activaTor lengthened the telomeres of their immune cells, and reversed their immune system to that of someone 20 years younger.3
In 2010, I was honored to become the first U.S. doctor licensed to administer TA-65 to the general public. I’ve had a front row seat in this exciting new field of telomere science and its impact on age reversal.
In the early days, it was an expensive process. It would cost $20,000 to $30,000 to take a patient through the entire protocol.
While TA-65 was the first compound ever discovered that “flips the switch” and turns on telomerase to extend the life of your telomeres, it’s not the only molecule that activates telomerase.
Over the last 10 years, I identified at least 123 nutrients, vitamins, and other natural compounds that have the ability to alter telomere metabolism. Many work just as well as TA-65 without the high price tag.
Here are two tOp performers you can use right away.
Astragalus Extract — The First Proven Telomerase Activator
Biotech researchers discovered the first telomerase activator in the root of the herb astragalus.
An extraction process was patented to isolate the rare molecule cycloastrogaloside, also known as TAT-2.
Cycloastrogaloside is a naturally occurring molecule from the herb astragalus and activates the hTERT gene.
In one study, the immune systems of people supplementing with astragalus for three months acted up to 20 years younger.4
It can increase telomerase activity, and has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immunoregulatory, anticancer, hypolipidemic, antihyperglycemic, hepatoprotective, expectorant, and diuretic effects.5
Buying Tips: Look for a supplement made from astragalus root powder, standardized to at least 70% polysaccharides. Take 500 mg to 1,500 mg a day. Another option is looking for the active molecule 98% astragaloside. There are absorption issues unless you find nano-sized particles.
Silymarin Boosts Telomerase Activity 300%
This herbal extract from the milk thistle plant is effective for detoxificatioN but was recently discovered to activate telomerase.
Published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology, researchers discovered silymarin:
- Increased telomerase activity 3-fold
- Reduced the number of senescent cells
- Increased the activity of endothelial progenitor cells by up to 64%
Silymarin is estimated to be 10 times MORE powerful than the first telomerase activator developed from astragalus root.6
Buying Tips: Silymarin is the active ingredient in the herb milk thistle. Look for supplements with milk thistle extract and pay attention to the extract ratio. The higher the ratio, the more concentrated the silymarin. I recommend a minimum extract ratio of 4:1, and some products go as high as 50:1. Higher concentrations also improve absorption and bioavailability.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD, CNS
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Sources & References
1. Sahin E, et al. “Telomere dysfunction induces metabolic and mitochondrial compromise.” Nature. 2011;470(7334):359-365.
2. Richards J, et. al. “Homocysteine levels and leukocyte telomere length.” Atherosclerosis. 2008;200(2):271-277.
3. Harley C, et al. “A natural product telomerase activator as part of a health maintenance program.” Rejuvenation Res. 2011;14(1):45-56.
5. Ping L, et al. “Anti-aging implications of astragalus membranaceus (Huangqi): A well-known Chinese tonic.” Aging Dis. 2017;8(6):868–886.
6. Parzonko A, et al. “Silymarin inhibits endothelial progenitor cells’ senescence and protects against the antiproliferative activity of rapamycin: Preliminary study.” J Cardiovas Pharmacol. 2010;56(6):610-618.