The Nature of Aging
other area in alternative health is more subject to
over-promising and under-delivering than anti-aging.
We're talking about every magic bullet under the sun
from face cremes to human growth hormone supplements.
And what with the baby boomer generation now approaching
the age where immortality no longer looks like a
birthright, the market is exploding exponentially.
Ah, if only it were that simple! But alas, it isn't.
Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet.
The simple fact is that aging is not the result of any
one single factor, but is the cumulative result of a
number of factors, including:
• Cell senescence, or the aging of cells
• Diminished telomerase activity
• Protein degradation
• Advanced Glycation End Products
• Excess sugar activity
• Progressive systemic inflammation
• Progressive dehydration
• Accumulated toxic build-up in organ tissue
• Reduced circulation
• Reduced cellular energy production
• Changes in hormone levels and hormone balance
• Impeded energy flows in the body
• Excessive body weight
• And, of course, good old wear and tear
The above list is hardly complete. We could add stress
or the accumulation of free radicals in the body or the
results of cumulative poor nutrition, etc. The key here
is not to identify every single factor (an impossible
task), but to understand that if you want to slow the
aging process, you have to look at more than a magic
bullet approach involving one or two supplements. The
only way to maximize health and lifespan is to use a
Baseline of Health type whole-body systemic approach. In
other words, you need to do everything all at once.
And that's actually good news. While there may not be a
single magic bullet you can take, there are definitely a
series of steps that you can implement that will help
retard the aging process and keep you more youthful and
more energized for longer than you ever thought
The Categories of Aging
Our premise that aging is not the result of any one
single factor, but is the cumulative result of a number
of factors. The upshot is that if that were true,
looking for a magic bullet to make us "eternally young"
was pretty much a non-starter. In this section, we're
going to begin taking on some of those aging factors we
touched on last issue and talk a little about what we
can do to slow down and, in some cases, even reverse
But first, we need to separate the aging factors into
three distinct categories. This is important because the
three categories give us clues as to how to handle the
factors contained within them. The three "primary"
categories that affect how we age are:
• The things we do to ourselves and which are easily
correctable (relatively speaking)
• The micro level factors programmed into our very
cells, which until a few years ago seemed impossible to
• The macro level factors programmed into our body as
we age such as hormonal changes, many of which can
indeed be modified
In a moment we're going to begin discussing these
categories in a little more detail. But before we begin,
there's one more important concept that must be
understood. Biologically speaking (genetically speaking,
that is), aging and death have a purpose.
The Purpose of Aging
Although it may not seem so from an egocentric point of
view, aging and death are good things for the species.
The concept is simple -- adaptation and evolution. It's
the reason that so many people who live in Sweden, for
example, are blond and fair skinned and so many people
who live in Africa are dark skinned.
In order to ensure the survival of the species, nature
selects those traits most useful for the survival of a
species in a particular environment and passes them on
to the next generation -- evolving over time so that the
species becomes more and more capable of surviving in
its environment. Light complexions in areas where sun is
in short supply and dark complexions where the sun is
overabundant is just one example.
Okay, that part makes sense, but why do "we" have to die
after passing on our genetic information? How does that
advance the genetic cause? Would it spoil some vast
eternal plan if we could hang around and watch the
genetic parade march on by? And the answer, from a
genetic point of view, is quite simple. If the older
generation didn't die off, it wouldn't allow the species
to advance because the older generations would continue
to procreate and advance the "older" gene pool
generation after generation. It's only by eliminating
the older gene pool that the species advances.
How Nature Ages Us and
Kills Us Off
In order to accomplish its purpose, nature has
programmed our bodies with certain time bombs.
• For example, at the micro level nature allows our
cells to replicate only so many times before the cells
become non-functional and die off.
• Nature programs certain macro level changes into
our bodies so that once our "biological" usefulness has
been fulfilled, aging is accelerated. Menopause is a
The benefits of this process of the old dying off and
being replaced by the new is not just reserved for the
next generation. Although it may not seem so, it
provides immediate benefits for us too. We can see it at
work in our bones for example. Our bones grow when older
generations of bone cells die off and are replaced by
new cells. Without this mechanism, we wouldn't be able
to repair broken bones. If all we had were one set of
immortal cells, we wouldn't be able to repair breaks.
Actually, there was a cute movie based on this premise
called Death Becomes Her in which Goldie Hawn and Meryl
Streep are immortal. They cannot die, and the cells in
their bodies cannot die. But without death and
replacement, there is no mechanism for repairing damage.
So, by the end of the film, although they are both
alive, their bodies have suffered ghoulish comic damage.
The bottom line is that this whole mechanism of death
and replacement works. And if it weren't such a personal
issue when we ourselves die, we'd all be pleased with
It's worth noting that the only "immortal" cells in our
bodies are aberrant cancer cells.
Isn't It Tampering with
A number of people have suggested to me that trying to
change this process is contrary to the laws of nature
and shouldn't be attempted. I don't think so.
I would like to submit to you an opposing "genetic"
point of view. If the purpose of the whole process is to
advance the species, then with man we have a new
element. No other species relies on its brain, on
"thinking" if you will, for its edge in the world. That
means that other species advance strictly by improving
their gene pool in terms of physical adaptation. But
humans advance not just according to physical traits,
but according to what they know and how they think. (If
that were not true, then why are so many computer nerds
now moving to the top of the gene pool?) That means that
knowledge and experience are becoming far more important
for the survival of mankind than for any other species.
Books and computers can capture the knowledge of an
individual, but not their experience. The longer we can
hold onto that experience, the greater our species'
chances of survival.
And I believe that nature supports this premise. As our
knowledge grows, we are now learning that we can indeed
manipulate and alter some of the limiting factors that
nature built into the "early prototypes" of our bodies.
In a sense, at the point knowledge has become
fundamental to our survival, nature is allowing us to
view and alter some of her previously hidden secrets.
And with that in mind, let's start talking about some of
those things we've learned.
The Things We Do to
These, of course, are the easiest things to
The Immune System
One of the major causes of death in the elderly is the
collapse of the immune system as we age. This makes us
susceptible to everything from pneumonia to cancer. Some
of this is inevitable, of course, but it is amazing how
much of it can be prevented and even reversed. This has
been covered in detail in previous newsletters so I
don't need to cover the details here.
• Your Immune System and the Flu, Part 1
• Your Immune System and the Flu, Part 2
Chronic inflammation is a major aging factor and a
primary contributor to premature death. It is implicated
in everything from lung problems to chronic heart
disease, and even cancer. There are a number of things
we can do that help reduce inflammation far better and
more safely than taking an aspirin every day. Probably
the two most important are:
• Regular intake of proteolytic enzymes.
• Bringing the ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty
acids back from the 20 to 1 (actually often as high as
40 to 1) where it now sits closer to the 1 to 1 ratio
where it needs to be.
Every day we are exposed to over 100,000 "new" chemicals
that have been released into the environment over the
last 100 years. Many of them are chemical estrogens
potent in amounts as small as a billionth of a gram.
Cleansing those toxins out of our bodies with colon and
liver detoxes and neutralizing estrogen imbalances in
the body are essential for maximizing health and life
Circulation and energy
Proper circulation in the broad sense (blood, lymph, and
energy) is essential for maximized life span.
If there is any restriction of blood circulation (caused
by anything from narrowing of the arteries to tension in
the surrounding muscle tissue) several problems arise.
Sufficient oxygen can no longer reach key areas of
Sufficient nutrients can no longer reach every cell
in the body, thus starving them, weakening them, and
making them vulnerable to mutation.
material produced by the cells can no longer be
efficiently removed. The build-up of toxic waste in
the cells eventually leads to cell mutation and
Your lymph is your body's sewer system, removing dead
cells, waste, toxic matter, heavy metals, bacteria, etc.
from body tissue. Unfortunately, the lymph system has no
pump of its own. If for any reason your lymph is
stagnant, you end up poisoning yourself. This
accelerates the aging process and the onset of
age-related diseases such as cancer.
Fundamentally, our bodies are pure energy systems. As
you look more and more closely at the subatomic
structure of all matter, the physical world begins to
disappear. All that's left is a series of force fields
and probabilities that create the illusion of matter as
we know it. Certainly, we have to deal with this
illusion (the physical world) as we see it, but we also
have to deal with the consequences of the world of
energy that remains unseen—but is nevertheless the true
reality behind all physical matter. The bottom line is
that a major factor in the aging process is when these
energies in our body become unbalanced or diminished in
• Free Radicals
Scientists now know that free radicals play a major role
in the aging process as well as in the onset of cancer,
heart disease, stroke, arthritis, and possibly allergies
and a host of other ailments. The link between free
radicals and the "aging diseases" is one of the most
important discoveries since doctors learned that some
illnesses are caused by germs. The use of a
full-spectrum antioxidant supplement at a maintenance
level may provide the ultimate defense against the
premature aging effects of free radicals. At therapeutic
levels, antioxidants may actually play a significant
role in reversing many of the effects of aging and
• Exercise and Wear and Tear
No one likes to hear this, but it's true. If you don't
move, you die. Exercise fundamentally changes every
system and function in your body. And the older you get,
the more important it is -- and the more pronounced the
As reported in the
Journal of the American Medical Association,
two 45-minute weight (strength) training sessions a
week can improve bone density, muscle mass,
strength, balance, and physical activity in older
women (ages 50-70). After one year of strength
training, women emerged physiologically younger by
15-20 years than when they began. Other studies have
demonstrated the same results for men who weight
People in their 70s and 80s can
experience strength gains of as much as 180%
in a matter of just a few weeks.
exercise includes weight bearing exercise, aerobic
exercise, and the almost universally forgotten
The operative words when it comes to exercise are
balance and common sense. If you overdo it, the benefits
start to reverse, and you're looking at long term
disability from ligament and cartilage damage.
Diet and Nutrition
This is a big topic -- bigger than we can cover in this
report. If you haven't already done so, you can download
your free copy of Lessons from the Miracle Doctors at
www.jonbarron.org and read Chapters 6 and 7. The key
thought to remember is that you can't build the same
life expectancy into your body with pepperoni pizza,
beer, and ding dongs that you can with healthy living
What You Think
And speaking of Miracle Doctors, one of the most
important chapters in the book is also one of the most
ignored. Everyone loves to read about detoxes and
supplements, but most people skim right over Chapter 15,
The Thought That Kills. What you think absolutely
matters -- not just mentally, but physically. Stress and
depression are major aging factors.
I don't really have to talk about this, do I? Smoking
not only shortens your life, it makes you look older in
Calories and Sugar
Of all the things one can do to increase longevity, only
one has been proven to actually extend life across the
board: caloric restriction (CR). Caloric restriction is
the only means of retarding aging that is both
well-researched and proven. (Note: CR is not the same as
dieting or starvation. It entails the reduction of
caloric intake while maintaining the optimal intake of
essential nutrients, especially vitamins and minerals.)
What effects does CR have on the body that extend life?
It appears that its effects are threefold:
Lowers body temperature
2. Raises DHEA levels
3. Lowers plasma insulin levels.
enough, lowering plasma insulin levels also tends to
lower body temperature and increase DHEA levels,
indicating that insulin may be a prime factor in the
aging process. And in fact, this was supported by
studies that showed that the glucoregulatory agent,
metformin, might be just as effective as CR in reversing
aging and rejuvenating the elderly -- thereby resulting
in Life Extension's article indicating that regular use
of metformin might be the "Most Significant Anti-Aging
Discovery in Medical History."
So what's the reality?
First, although, as far as drugs go, metformin is
relatively benign, it is not totally without side
effects. It occasionally causes death from lactic
acidosis, for example, which is not insignificant for
those who die.
But more importantly, it is quite likely that some minor
changes in lifestyle and the use of natural supplements
can offer the same benefits with no negative side
effects and at less cost.
way back on your intake of high glycemic foods.
(This is the positive side of the low carb craze.)
• Use natural glucoregulatory herbs with your
meals. These include herbs such as:
o Konjac mannan
o Gymnema sylvestre
o High galactomannan fenugreek extract
o Banaba leaf extract
o Bittermellon extract
o Blueberry leaf extract
use of these herbal extracts will significantly
reduce the amount of simple carbs your body absorbs
and minimize the insulin response from those that
get through. In effect, they will mimic the effect
of metformin, without the side effects.
One final note. It's never too late to start. Studies
have shown that CR is just as effective in extending
life span late in life as it is early in life. In fact,
many of the major benefits can be received in as little
as four weeks on the program.
Aging - Turning Back the Clock
I’m not a big believer in magic bullets. Everything I’ve
ever learned says that you’re only as strong as your
weakest link. That’s why I’ve always preached that the
key to health is raising your entire Baseline of Health.
But that said, I have to admit that what we’re talking
about here today is a uniquely important anti-aging
What Is Aging?
As we have already discussed in the first two sections,
there are actually many factors that contribute to old
age (free radical damage, hormonal changes,
environmental factors, etc.), but of all of the things
that make us “old,” two things stand out because until
now, they have been so untouchable:
• The glycation of proteins
The Hayflick Limit
The Hayflick Limit is named after the person who
discovered it almost 40 years ago. A quick description
is that all cells have only a limited capacity to
continue to divide through the course of our lives.
Those numbers are different for each type of cell in our
body, and by early adulthood, half of those divisions
have been used up. By mid-life, maybe only 20-39% of
those divisions are left. At that point, old age starts
taking over – then death.
This limited capacity of a cell to perpetuate itself is
called the Hayflick Limit. In effect, the Hayflick Limit
determines life span at the cellular level. With each
division, a cell becomes less likely to divide again,
until finally it stops dividing altogether and becomes
what we call senescent.
Cell senescence is the final step before cell death.
Senescent cells are still alive and metabolically
active, but they’re no longer capable of dividing. More
importantly, though, senescent cells exhibit all of the
characteristics that so bother us about old age, such as
the difference between the supple skin of a child and
the wrinkled skin of the elderly.
How does that happen?
As cells approach the Hayflick Limit, they divide less
frequently and become aberrant. They take on wildly
irregular forms. They no longer line up in parallel
arrays; they assume a granular appearance, and deviate
from their normal size and shape. This distorted
appearance, called the senescent phenotype, is
accompanied by a state of declining functionality that,
UNTIL RECENTLY, was thought to be irreversible.
As it turns out, not only can we reverse the aging
process at the cellular level now, and actually do it
quite simply AND QUICKLY – but we can also reverse aging
at the system level and the organ level. And for that
matter, we can reverse it in terms of how we look and
feel – and by that I mean our skin and hair and energy
levels. And then, of course, we can even reverse it in
terms of lifespan.
What’s the Secret?
The substance I’m talking about is L-carnosine.
It’s a naturally occurring combination of two amino
acids, alanine and histadine, that was discovered in
Russia in the early 1900s. Because much of the research
was done in Russia, it has been largely unavailable in
the United States until recently. Now, though, there
have been a number of studies and experiments in other
parts of the world verifying everything done in Russia –
Most notably, there were a series of astonishing
experiments done in Australia that proved that carnosine
rejuvenates cells as they approach senescence. Cells
cultured with carnosine lived longer and retained their
youthful appearance and growth patterns.
What’s probably the most exciting result of the studies
is that it was discovered that carnosine can actually
REVERSE the signs of aging in senescent cells.
The Reversal of Aging
When the scientists transferred senescent cells
to a culture medium containing carnosine, those cells
exhibited a rejuvenated appearance and often an enhanced
capacity to divide. When they transferred the cells back
to a medium lacking carnosine, the signs of senescence
As they switched the cells back and forth several times
between the culture media, they consistently observed
that the carnosine medium restored the juvenile cell
phenotype WITHIN DAYS, whereas the standard culture
medium brought back the senescent cell phenotype.
Increased Cell Life
In addition, the carnosine medium increased cell life
span -- even for old cells. When the researchers took
old cells that had already gone through 55 divisions and
transferred them to the carnosine medium, they survived
up to 70 divisions, compared to only 57 to 61 divisions
for the cells that were not transferred.
This represents an increase in the number of cell
divisions for each cell of almost 25%.
But in terms of cell life, the increase was an
astounding 300%. The cells transferred to the carnosine
medium attained a life span of 413 days, compared to
just 126 to 139 days for the control cells.
This is mind-boggling. But so far, all we’ve talked
about are cells. What does carnosine mean for actual
A new Russian study on mice has shown that mice given
carnosine are twice as likely to reach their maximum
lifespan as untreated mice. The carnosine also
significantly reduced the outward “signs of old age.”
In effect, it made the mice look younger. 44% of the
carnosine treated mice had young, glossy coats in old
age as opposed to only 5% in the untreated mice. This
represents 900% better odds of looking young in old age.
Another important difference between the treated and the
untreated mice was in their behavior. Only 9% of the
untreated mice behaved youthfully in old age, versus 58%
of the carnosine treated mice. That’s a 600% improvement
in how they felt.
Quite simply, carnosine is one of the most
powerful antioxidants known. It’s a great heavy-metal
scavenger. It’s a powerful auto-regulator. And it stands
alone when it comes to preventing and reversing protein
glycation or cross-linking.
Carnosine has the remarkable ability to throttle down
bodily processes that are in a state of excess, and to
ramp up those that are under expressed.
For example, carnosine thins the blood of people whose
blood tends to clot too much and increases the clotting
tendency in those with a low clotting index.
Another example is that carnosine suppresses excess
immune responses in those who have “hyper” immune
systems, whereas it stimulates the immune response in
those with weakened immune systems – such as the aged.
And carnosine even seems to have the ability to
normalize brain wave functions.
Glycation is the uncontrolled reaction of sugars with
proteins. It’s kind of like what happens to sugars when
you heat them and they caramelize. In effect, glycation
is what happens when excess sugars caramelize the
proteins in your body. It’s a major factor in the aging
process – and it’s particularly devastating to
Your body is mostly made up of proteins. In fact,
proteins are the substances most responsible for the
daily functioning of your body. That’s why anything that
causes protein deterioration has such a dramatic impact
on the body's function and appearance.
Thanks largely to the destructive effect of sugar and
aldehydes, the protein in our bodies tends to undergo
destructive changes as we age. This destruction is a
prime factor, not only in the aging process itself, but
also in the familiar signs of aging such as wrinkling
skin, cataracts, and the destruction of our nervous
system – particularly our brains. Studies show that
carnosine is effective against all these forms of
As I said, aging is associated with damage to cellular
proteins. But carnosine protects cellular proteins from
damage in at least two ways.
First, it bonds with the carbonyl (or aldehyde)
groups that if left alone will attack and bind with
2. Second, it works as an antioxidant to prevent
the formation of oxidized sugars, also called
Advanced Glycosylation End-products or AGEs for
short. That’s really the caramelization thing that I
mentioned earlier. The bottom line here is that the
less AGEs, in your body, the younger you are.
Both of these
processes have important implications for anti-aging
therapy. The key is that carnosine not only prevents
damaging cross-links from forming, it eliminates
cross-links that have previously formed in proteins,
thus restoring normal membrane function.
Carnosine has been proven to reduce or completely
prevent cell damage caused by beta amyloid, one of the
prime protein risk factors for Alzheimer’s. The presence
of beta amyloid leads to damage of the nerves and
arteries of the brain. Carnosine blocks and inactivates
beta amyloid. In effect, it protects neural tissues
against dementia. The key is that carnosine not
only prevents damaging cross-links from forming in
proteins, it eliminates cross-links that have previously
formed in those proteins, thus restoring normal membrane
function in cells. This is true not only in the brain,
but in all the organs of our body – our skin included.
Keep in mind that the damage you see in the skin is not
just a cosmetic question.
The Reversal of Age
Carnosine levels in our body directly correlate
with both the length and quality of our lives. And since
carnosine levels decline with age, supplementation with
carnosine represents one of the most powerful things you
can do to hold back the ravages of old age.
While it is true that many people who supplement
with carnosine are going to notice everything from
younger looking skin to more energy, the bottom line is
that you really shouldn’t look for any short term
benefits from carnosine supplementation. If any
short-term benefits are noticed, you should consider
them an added bonus.
The reason you want to supplement with carnosine is for
the long term, not for the short-term benefits that you
may or may not notice. You supplement with carnosine to
protect against the long-term ravages of aging.
Some experts recommend using only 50-100 mg of
carnosine a day. Others say that if you don’t take
1,000-1,500 mg a day it won’t work because your body
metabolizes the first 500 mg or so.
The key here is that all of these experts are ignoring
the simple fact, that different people need different
amounts. For example:
older you get, the more you need.
• If you eat a mostly vegetarian diet, you need
• If you’re diabetic, or just have trouble with
blood sugar, you need more.
I think most
people will do best on 500-750 mg a day.
If you’re young and healthy and include meat in your
diet, then 250 mg a day makes sense. As you get older,
and if you’re starting to show signs of aging or
glycation (such as cataracts), then you’d want to think
of increasing the dosage up to 1,000 mg a day – maybe
even as high as 1,500 mg a day.
In studies, carnosine has been proven safe in amounts as
high as 70, 80, or even 100 grams a day, although a
small number of people have noticed some minor muscle
twitching at doses as small as 1,000 mg. The bottom line
is use what you need, and you won’t have any problems –
As I mentioned earlier, I don’t believe in magic
bullets. Everything I’ve ever learned says that you’re
only as strong as your weakest link. I still believe
that improving your entire Baseline of Health is the key
to good health and long life.
But that said, I think that once you actually understand
what carnosine does – once you understand the role it
plays in preventing and potentially reversing all of the
signs of old age in the body (and we’re talking about
everything from wrinkled skin to cataracts to
Alzheimer's) – heck, once you understand the role it
plays in extending life itself – then you’re left with
the unmistakable conclusion that supplementing with
carnosine may represent one of the single best things
you can do to help "turn back your biological clock."
A Missing Link
As important as carnosine is, there is a "gap" in
its usefulness. It's called lipofuscin.
Lipofuscin is the age pigment commonly found in aging
brains and in other tissue such as the skin. By itself,
it is not dangerous. It is merely a byproduct of harmful
reactions that have already taken place. For example,
one of the byproducts of free radical damage and
protein/aldehyde damage (both conditions that carnosine
addresses) is lipofuscin.
When you supplement with carnosine, however, something
different happens. The carnosine quickly binds with the
aldehydes, preventing them from damaging the proteins.
The byproduct of this reaction is lipofuscin. So once
again you have inactive lipofuscin compounds, but this
time as the result of PREVENTING protein damage. In a
sense, with carnosine you trade protein damage for
As I said before, by itself, lipofuscin is not harmful.
However, if enough of it accumulates over time (and this
process is accelerated when you supplement with
carnosine), it can interfere with proper cellular and
organ functions. So the bottom line is that however it
is produced (as a result of protein damage, or as the
result of taking sacrificial carnosine to prevent
protein damage), you want to get rid of it.
By any definition, DMAE is the perfect companion
to carnosine in an anti-aging formulation. First, it
reinforces carnosine’s own anti-aging properties. Then,
it provides a whole series of complementary benefits of
What Is DMAE?
DMAE is short for (dimethylaminoethanol), a
naturally-occurring nutrient that enhances acetylcholine
(ACh) synthesis. Adequate levels of ACh are important
for proper memory function. Normally found in small
amounts in our brains, DMAE has been shown to remarkably
enhance brain function when used as a supplement in
It Reinforces Carnosine
One of the prime actions of DMAE is that it flushes
accumulated lipofuscin from your body – from the neurons
in your brain, from your skin, and from all other
organs. It also complements carnosine in that DMAE on
its own has been shown to inhibit and reverse the
Cross-Linking of proteins and extend lifespan.
Many people have heard of the anti-aging results that
Romanian scientist, Ana Aslin, achieved using something
called GH3, or procaine. What most people do not know is
that GH3 breaks down in the body to form DMAE (after
first metabolizing into DEAE) and PABA. In other words,
DMAE is the key active component in Ana Aslin’s
Numerous scientific studies now show that DMAE can help:
Increase Acetylcholine levels and RNA levels in the
• Stimulate mental activity
• Increase attention span
• Increase alertness
• Increase intelligence (especially in children)
• Improve learning and memory
• Increase energy levels
• Provide a mild, safe tonic effect
• Stimulate the central nervous system
• Relieve anxiety
• Elevate mood in general
• Alleviate behavioral problems and hyperactivity
associated with Attention Deficit Disorder
• Increase motivation and reduce apathy in
persons suffering from depression
• Induce sounder sleep
• Over time reduce the amount of sleep required
by about 1 hour per night
• Intensify dreams tremendously. (Even more so
when you take it along with a large dose of
phosphatidyl choline -- a key component of lecithin)
• Cause dreams to become more lucid
• Increase willpower
• Decrease the incidence and severity of
hangovers in people who consume excessive amounts of
And It’s Safe
Clinical studies of DMAE have used up to 1,600 mg per
day with no reports of side effects. In some cases, some
people may experience slight headaches, muscle tension,
or insomnia if they take too much too soon.
These effects are easily eliminated if intake is reduced
and then gradually increased. Although there is no
direct connection, many manufacturers recommend that
women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, anyone who
suffers from convulsions, epilepsy, or seizure
disorders, and people with manic-depressive illness
should avoid using DMAE.
This is probably more of a legal issue than a medical
Like DMAE, acetyl-L-carnitine is a perfect
complement to L-carnosine.
Although your body can synthesize L-carnitine in the
liver, it depends on outside sources (meat being a
primary source) to fulfill its requirements. This can
present a problem for vegetarians since L-carnitine
performs several key functions in the human body. For
one, it can improve the functioning of the immune system
by enhancing the ability of macrophages to function as
phagocytes. And it can improve the functioning of muscle
tissue. In fact, it has been shown to increase running
speed when given prior to exercise. It also plays a
major factor in cellular energy production by shuttling
fatty acids from the main cell body into the
mitochondria (the cell’s energy factories) so that the
fats can be oxidized for energy. Without carnitine,
fatty acids cannot easily enter the mitochondria.
There is, however, a specialized form of L-carnitine
known as acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC) that is often
deficient even in meat eaters and that performs
virtually all of the same functions – but better. For
example, in terms of cellular energy production, in
addition to shuttling fatty acids into cell
mitochondria, ALC provides acetyl groups from which
Acetyl-Coenzyme A (a key metabolic intermediate) can be
regenerated, thereby facilitating the transport of
metabolic energy and boosting mitochondrial activity.
But beyond that, the addition of the acetyl group makes
ALC water soluble, which enables it not only to diffuse
easily across the inner wall of the mitochondria but
also to cross all cell membranes more easily. In other
words, ALC reaches parts of the body where L-carnitine
cannot go. In particular, ALC readily crosses the
blood/brain barrier, where it provides a number of
specialized neurological functions. For example, it can:
Facilitate both the release and synthesis of
acetylcholine, a key brain biochemical.
• Increase the brain's levels of choline
• Enhance the release of dopamine and improve the
binding of dopamine to dopamine receptors.
• Protect the neurons of the optic nerve and the
occipital cortex of the brain.
In addition, studies have shown that
acetyl-L-carnitine can inhibit the deterioration in
mental function associated with Alzheimer’s disease
and slow its progression. Part of this is a result
of its ability to shield neurons from the toxicity
of beta amyloid protein. As a result:
• ALC improves alertness in Alzheimer’s patients.
• Improves attention span.
• And it increases short term memory.
action on dopamine (a chemical messenger used between
nerve cells) and dopamine receptors, ALC seems to play a
major role in preventing and/or minimizing the symptoms
of Parkinson’s disease.
enhances the release of dopamine from dopaminergic
neurons and improves the binding of dopamine to
• ALC retards the decline in the number of
dopamine receptors that occurs as part of the normal
aging process and (more rapidly) with the onset of
Parkinson's disease. In fact, many researchers
believe that Parkinson's may be caused by a
deficiency of dopamine.
• And ALC inhibits tremors.
And acetyl-L-carnitine may even play a role in
helping with MS.
• ALC inhibits (and possibly reverses) the
degeneration of myelin sheaths
But most of all, ALC just helps slow down the aging
process of the brain.
• ALC retards the inevitable decline in the
number of glucocorticoid receptors that occurs with
• It retards the age-related deterioration of the
• It retards the inevitable decline in the number
of nerve growth factor receptors that occurs as we
• It stimulates and maintains the growth of new
neurons within the brain (both independently of
Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) and as a result of
preserving NGF) and helps to prevent the death of
• ALC protects the NMDA receptors in the brain
from age-related decline.
• ALC inhibits the excessive release of adrenalin
in response to stress and inhibits the depletion of
luteinising hormone releasing hormone and
testosterone that occurs as a result of excessive
• And ALC enhances the function of cytochrome
oxidase, an essential enzyme of the Electron
boosting effect of acetyl-L-carnitine is often noticed
within a few hours -- or even within an hour -- of
supplementing. Most people report feeling mentally
sharper, having more focus, and being more alert. Some
find a mild mood enhancement. More specifically:
improves learning ability along with both short term
and long term memory
It improves mood by 53%.
• It both improves the quality of and reduces the
need for sleep.
• It improves verbal fluency.
• And ALC improves hand eye coordination by some
acetyl-L-carnitine helps flush lipofuscin from the body
-- especially from the brain.
Based on everything we know, supplementing with a
combination of L-carnosine, DMAE, and Acetyl-L-carnitine
is one of the simplest, most effective, and safest steps
we can take to help turn back the clock and optimize our
Hormonal Changes Programmed into Our
Bodies as We Age
Testosterone is a key aging hormone. It is responsible
for maintaining, among other things:
• Zest for life
• Muscle mass
The problem is
that as we age, free testosterone tends to bind to
globulins in the blood instead of stimulating cell
receptor sites throughout the body. This is a problem
not only for men but also for women -- in fact,
especially for women. Yes, in larger amounts, it's what
causes men to beat each other up at English soccer
matches. But in smaller amounts, it's what gives you
that zest for life. And women have so little of it to
begin with that when that small amount "binds" and
becomes unavailable, women find they've lost their zest
for life (and for sex, for that matter).
Taking supplemental testosterone is not necessarily the
best way to raise testosterone levels. Certain plant
extracts, most notably wild oats, nettles, saw palmetto,
muira puama, and maca can unbind testosterone and safely
raise the levels of free testosterone in the body.
Human Growth Hormone
Who doesn't know about HGH? It's probably the 4th
highest spam subject on the worldwide Internet after
discount pharmaceuticals, bogus loan rates, and
The rejuvenating powers of Growth Hormone are no secret
to the wealthy. Unfortunately, for the last 30 years, GH
has been available only from doctors, required two
injections a day, and cost approximately a thousand
dollars a month. Recently, however, several alternatives
for the rest of us have become available. And while I
could never recommend the injections (for a variety of
reasons), I can endorse the alternatives.
Many claims are made for the effects of Growth
Hormone—some bordering on claims of "almost" immortality
and "almost" eternal youth. Would that it were so!
Although the effects are more subtle, for most people,
than pronounced, they are nevertheless wide ranging, and
include things such as:
14.4% loss of fat on average after six months
• Elimination of cellulite
• Higher energy levels
• Enhanced sexual performance
• Regrowth of heart, liver, spleen, kidneys, and
other organs that shrink with age
• Greater cardiac output
• Superior immune function
• Increased exercise performance
• Better kidney function
• Lowered blood pressure
• Improved cholesterol profile, with higher HDL,
and lower LDL
• Stronger bones
• Faster wound healing
• Younger, tighter, thicker skin
• Hair regrowth
So which HGH should you
Well, first of all, you can no longer actually buy true
Human Growth Hormone. Technically, only actual growth
hormone taken from human beings can be called Human
Growth Hormone. And in fact, 30 years ago, that was the
sole source of Growth Hormone—human cadavers, that is.
But that was abandoned when it turned out that growth
hormone taken from people had a major downside (in
addition to cost)—and that was that it occasionally
caused the human equivalent of mad cow disease. Not
good, as they say.
Fortunately, at around the same time it was determined
that true Human Growth Hormone was not an acceptable
alternative, recombinant DNA technology came into its
own. The bottom line is that scientists learned how to
alter the DNA of a single-cell yeast plant so that it
would produce large amounts of Growth Hormone
(molecularly, absolutely identical to real Human Growth
Hormone) safely and inexpensively. Because this growth
hormone is identical to HGH, people often use the terms
Growth Hormone and Human Growth Hormone interchangeably.
Technically, however, it should be referred to as a
plant-based Growth Hormone and not Human Growth Hormone.
Nevertheless, many companies deliberately try and cross
Anyway, given that there now exists a good, inexpensive
source of Growth Hormone, another problem remains. It
turns out that the Growth Hormone molecule is so large
(containing 191 amino acids) that it cannot be absorbed
orally. This means it can only be administered by
injection. This, of course, requires a doctor and is
very expensive—costing between $1,000 and $1,800 a
The only alternatives to this for years have been
precursor formulas (also called secretagogues) that
allow your body to produce and release more HGH.
Although not as powerful as HGH injections, these
formulas can be quite effective (provided your pituitary
is still functioning) and carry none of the downside of
the injections. The key ingredients in these formulas
tend to be arginine (an essential amino acid) and GABA.
Although arginine, an essential amino acid, has been
proven an effective HGH stimulator when administered
intravenously, the results of oral supplementation are
more questionable. And at doses sufficient to stimulate
HGH production in the body, it tends to produce
significant intestinal distress.
GABA, on the other hand, is far more interesting as a
supplement. GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is an amino
acid/neurotransmitter found in the brain, where it helps
induce relaxation and sleep. In addition to its calming
effect, GABA also stimulates the anterior pituitary,
leading to higher levels of HGH. Many studies have been
done on GABA that show it can promote a significant
increase in plasma growth hormone levels -- up to a
fivefold increase within 90 minutes of oral
supplementation of 5 grams of GABA. (Note: research
shows that at least 2-5 grams of GABA should be taken
for it to be effective.)
Note: Build your dosage of GABA slowly. Some people
experience mild tingling around the face and neck or
notice a mild change in heart rate or breathing patterns
when supplementing with GABA. These effects quickly
disappear and are not harmful.
Within the last few years, two alternatives have
appeared on the market that actually use real Growth
Hormone (the plant-based variety). One is homeopathic GH.
This makes use of real GH, diluted down to homeopathic
levels. The jury is still out on homeopathic HGH, but
the early indications (anecdotally) are that it works at
least as well as the secretagogues.
And several years ago, a new form of GH that can be
absorbed orally was introduced. This again works as well
as a secretogogue for most people. Its advantage is that
this version will work for those few whose pituitaries
are dead and no longer capable of producing HGH, whereas
a secreatogogue will not. Its downside is twofold.
First cost, as it is the most expensive of the
alternatives (but still far less costly than the
• Second, it is now the focus of so much spam
marketing that the market has been flooded with
high-priced garbage formulas so that it is almost
impossible to track product quality. If you find a
formula that works for you, use it. But at this
point in time, I have no brand recommendations.
Let me digress
for a moment and explain exactly how GH works.
HGH is produced in the pituitary gland. It is released
in a series of 9-24 microscopic "pulses" throughout the
day (mostly in the evening), and it signals a number of
body functions relative to aging and the production of
other hormones such as DHEA and Melatonin and various
parts of the endocrine system, including the
hypothalamus (considered to be the master gland).
Interestingly enough, the release of GH at "pulse"
levels stimulates the pituitary to produce even more GH.
However, its most important function is telling the
liver to produce Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF-1).
That's the main key to anti-aging. Specifically, the
benefits of HGH can be measured in terms of how much it
increases the body's production of IGF-1. Any number
above 20% starts to be significant in terms of
effectiveness for anti-aging.
Most of the formulas on the market will increase IGF-1
levels by a minimum of 20%—some even approaching 100%.
Keep in mind, however, that one 30 minute aerobic
session can easily increase IGF-1 levels by a good 100%,
and a solid session of weight training can increase
levels by an incredible 400-800% -- and at no cost.
In animal studies DHEA supplementation bordered on the
miraculous. It seemed to:
Extend life by 50%
• Protect against heart disease, cancer,
autoimmune diseases, obesity, and diabetes
• Boost the immune system
• Reverse the effects of stress
turns out to be somewhat less.
I am not a big fan of DHEA supplementation (at least
without a blood workup) for several reasons. First of
all, the oral DHEA commonly used is composed of
particles that are too big to be directly used by the
body; therefore, it has to be sent to the liver to be
Unfortunately, since the liver is unaccustomed to
receiving DHEA in this form, it ends up converting most
of it into androgens (sex hormones). It is these
androgens that can cause the growth of facial hair in
women and may contribute to prostate disorders in men.
The second problem with standard oral DHEA
supplementation is that there is strong evidence it
reduces the body's own production of DHEA. And finally,
DHEA supplementation (usually in doses greater than 10
mg a day) is often accompanied by side effects that
• Acne and excessive oiliness
• Growth of face and body hair in women
• Irritability or mood changes
• Over stimulation and insomnia
As we mentioned earlier, the oral DHEA commonly
available is composed of particles that are too big to
be directly used; therefore, it is sent to the liver,
which ends up converting most of it into androgens.
What's left is converted into 7-Keto DHEA, the useful
portion. 7-Keto DHEA seems to provide most of the
benefits of regular DHEA; but since it can't be
converted to active androgens (e.g., testosterone and
estrogen), it is safer and has minimal side effects.
Many people use supplements containing Mexican Wild Yam
(Discorea villosa) as a DHEA supplement. The theory is
that Wild Yam contains diosgenin, a DHEA precursor,
which your body uses to produce its own DHEA.
Unfortunately, there is no evidence that, in fact, your
body converts any Wild Yam into DHEA. All benefits
related to Wild Yam appear to be from its phytoestrogen
Pregnenolone is the ultimate hormone precursor.
Virtually every hormone in the body can be produced by
your body, as required, from pregnenolone. Again, as
with all of the other hormones that we've talked about,
pregnenolone levels decline precipitously as you get
The prime benefit of pregnenolone is that it helps
balance out your other hormone levels as required. In
addition, though, it does provide specific benefits,
Extremely powerful memory enhancement and improved
• Supports the adrenals
• A strong anti-fatigue agent
• Significant benefit in rheumatologic and
connective tissue disorders such as rheumatism,
osteoarthritis, scleroderma, psoriasis, lupus, and
• Repair of the myelin sheath structure
• Improved immunity
• Reduced PMS and menopausal symptoms
• And it just makes you "feel" really good
pregnenolone has shown no serious side effects even at
very high doses of up to 700 mg. However, at the high
dosage level, there has been some occurrence of minor
side effects, including over stimulation and insomnia,
irritability, anger or anxiety, acne, and headaches.
Melatonin is a natural hormone made in the pineal gland.
Since its first discovery in 1958, melatonin has been
studied extensively and has been shown to be widely
beneficial to the body. As with all of the other
hormones we're discussing, melatonin levels decline
significantly as we age. An interesting note on
melatonin is that the trigger for production of
melatonin is darkness—total darkness. Any light in the
room will inhibit production of your body's melatonin.
Today, however, living in a world with nightlights in
the bedroom, or streetlights sneaking through the
window, we actually have an epidemic of people with
insufficient melatonin production, even at a very young
age. Now here's the really interesting part. The problem
doesn't just come from light falling on our eyes while
we sleep, but from light falling on any part of the
body. Even if you wear an eye-mask, so that you are in
total darkness, if light is falling on your arms or
chest or feet, that's enough to stop melatonin
The benefits of supplementation include:
Better Sleep: Lowered levels of nighttime melatonin
reduce the quality of sleep resulting in the need
for more sleep. If your pineal gland does not
produce adequate melatonin early enough in the
evening, both the quality and quantity of your sleep
may suffer. Lack of melatonin may make it difficult
for you to fall asleep, or may cause you to wake up
too soon. Too much melatonin and you will feel
yourself feeling exhausted, or "drugged" throughout
the day. If secretion does not continue, you may
wake up too soon. By taking melatonin instead of
other so-called sleeping aids, rapid eye movement
sleep (REM=dreaming) is not suppressed nor does it
induce "hangover" effects when used as directed.
• Enhanced Immune Function: Many people report
that supplementation with melatonin has
significantly reduced their incidence of colds and
infections. The exact way in which melatonin affects
the immune system is not known. However, since much
of the activity of the immune system takes place at
night, some researchers have proposed that melatonin
interacts with the immune system during sleep,
helping to buffer the adverse effects of stress on
the immune system.
• Powerful Antioxidant Capabilities: Melatonin is
one of the most powerful antioxidants produced in
the bo body. In addition, since it is both water and
fat soluble, melatonin can reach almost every single
cell in the body. On the down side, however, since
it cannot store in the body, it must be replenished
daily. This would normally not be a problem, except
for the fact, as we've already mentioned, that
constant exposure to artificial light has
significantly reduced production of melatonin in our
• Mood Elevator Nighttime melatonin levels are
low in people with major depressive and panic
disorders. Individuals with noticeable mood swings
or who are melancholic also have depressed melatonin
levels. Both seasonal affective disorder and
non-seasonal cyclic depressions are related to the
peaks and valleys of melatonin levels.
• Cancer Fighter
• Helps the Heart
• Relieves Asthma Symptoms
Testosterone: Extracts of wild oats and nettles can
safely help increase testosterone levels in the body by
releasing the bound testosterone already there and
helping to prevent conversion of testosterone to
dihydrotestosterone in men. For men, zinc
supplementation of approximately 50 mg a day is also
advisable to help prevent production of
dihydrotestosterone in the body.
HGH: Supplementation with a secretagogue such as GABA, a
homeopathic HGH formula, or a sublingual polymer matrix
HGH makes sense for anyone over 35. All of these are
okay to use on a daily basis as they do not suppress the
body's own production of HGH. At one time, my
recommendation was to use the polymer matrix HGH, but
quality and cost issues have convinced me that GABA
based secretagogues are the best choice. You also might
want to try increasing your exercise levels. Aerobic
exercise can double HGH levels in the body, but weight
training can increase levels by as much as 400-800%.
DHEA: Supplementation with 7-Keto makes sense. Be sure
and take periodic breaks as supplementation may suppress
the body's own production of DHEA.
Pregnenolone: Start with 5 mg a day and increase by 5 mg
a day (to a maximum of 30 mg) until you "feel" really
good. Then try backing it down to the lowest level that
still produces that same feeling. Finally, start backing
off on the days that you use it until you are using it
only 2 or 3 times a week (so as not to suppress your
body's own production). As needed, as you age, you can
increase the days and dosage. The final recommended
dosage is age dependent. If you're younger than 50, you
might consider dosages in the range of 10-20 mg 2 to 3
times a week. If you're over 50, you may end up using
15-30 mg daily.
Melatonin: Melatonin, in small doses, several times a
week (so as not to suppress your body's own production),
makes sense for supplementation. There's virtually no
downside; it can help restore optimum sleep patterns,
and it's a powerful antioxidant and immune enhancer. As
you get older, you can increase the amount and frequency
as needed. There is, of course, another option. Use
black-out curtains in the bedroom, and turn off any
nightlights. Try to get the bedroom as close to total
darkness as you can get. This will help increase your
body's own melatonin production. And when you wake up in
the morning, expose yourself to sunlight ASAP to cut
melatonin production and wake yourself up.
• There are several cautions that should be observed
when supplementing hormones.
• Pregnant or nursing mothers should not supplement
without guidance from their doctors
Likewise, women trying to conceive would be advised to
check with their doctor first. Anyone being treated by
a doctor for a pre-existing condition should check with
their doctor. This would include conditions such as:
Mental illness or depression
Anyone on prescription steroids
should check with their doctor first.
In fact, it
probably makes sense to check with an anti-aging
specialist before starting a program of hormone
supplementation. Yes, Matilda, there's now such a thing
as an anti-aging specialist.
from the 3-part series by Jon Barron