Anti-Aging – Telomerase Activation
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Astragalus and in particular the species used in Phytozon (A. membranaceous) is a very well-studied botanical, native to China and used for centuries as a mainstay in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). As such it has been used to treat respiratory and cardiovascular conditions; to enhance the immune system; as a hepatoprotectant (liver); and, even to cure the common cold. As with TCM or in general, ethnomedicines, it is recognized as being safe because of its long history of use by typically millions of people.
One of the most interesting finding regarding Astragalus has to deal with its apparent ability to act in aging and life extension. Studies have shown that it can regenerate nerves and heart, bone and muscle cells. In essence, as we age, our cells are not as readily repaired and replaced – a normal sign of the process which leads to those diseases and features associated with aging.
Part of the aging process itself deals with DNA, the software that runs our bodies. Just as in computers, over time, the software becomes corrupt and ineffective but unlike computers, the DNA software cannot be replaced. In 2009, the Nobel Prize for medicine was awarded to three researchers who discovered that aging, aging DNA, was directly related to the telomeres.
DNA is bundled together in chromosomes and at the end of each chromosome is a cap, the telomere. It can be likened to shoestrings that have plastic caps on either end. Over time, through use, the plastic caps breakdown and at some point, the shoestring itself. Similarly, as we age, the telomere shortens and at some point, it becomes too short; the chromosomes unravel and become ineffective, no longer able to create new cells. The Nobel was awarded because the key to telomere viability is a protein, known as telomerase that rebuilds telomeres.
Astragalus has been shown to activate telomerase, allowing it to repair telomeres and indeed, in animal studies, telomeres grew. This may well explain Astragalus’ ability to aid in the regeneration of cells – in particular those of the nervous system. In any case, there is a growing body of evidence that Astragalus is effective in attenuating the aging process by turning-on telomerase, reversing senescence.
For this reason and this reason alone, it was included in the current formula. Although some have claimed otherwise, it may not be something that is readily noticed but with time, its benefits will become apparent.