For a new study published in the journal Aging, researchers sought out herbal remedies that mimic the benefits of two common drugs. And they found several natural remedies that work even better than drugs in slowing down the aging process.
I was pleased to see this study for several reasons…
For one, it’s always good to take fewer drugs. The side effects alone can cripple your health. In fact, one of the first things we learned in pharmacology in medical school is that “any drug can have any effect.” The message was, at least in part, meant to warn us against prescribing too many drugs.
Unfortunately, too few mainstream doctors today heed that basic lesson, and “polypharmacy” is an increasingly common problem, especially as you get older, as I report in the upcoming February 2018 issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter. (Not yet a subscriber? Sign up today.)
By comparison, vitamins, minerals, and herbal remedies can possess various benefits beyond the uses for which they’re best-known. Indeed, ongoing science shows many natural substances can prevent — and even reverse — chronic diseases.
This concept is totally foreign to mainstream medicine, which develops specific drugs to treat specific diseases. Yet other, different drugs supposedly prevent these same diseases by addressing “risk factors.” In this big pharma model, you wind up taking more and more and more different drugs. On and on it goes, and before you know it, you’re stuck on a dangerous merry-go-round of meds.
But you can generally avoid all those problems (and save yourself a lot of money), simply by opting for natural solutions.
The hunt is on for natural alternatives to drugs — finally!
In the new study, researchers went looking for natural alternatives to the well-known Type II diabetes drug metformin and rapamycin, a lesser-known drug prescribed to kidney transplant recipients to help prevent organ rejection.
Of course, I was pleased to see them focus on metformin, which originally derives from an ancient European folk remedy called French lilac or goat’s rue. (The USDA classifies it is as a “noxious weed.”)
Metformin is the only drug I ever recommend for controlling blood sugar and Type II diabetes. (You can find more natural approaches for preventing and reversing Type II diabetes in my brand new online learning protocol, the Integrative Protocol for Defeating Diabetes, set for release tomorrow — stay tuned!)
It’s also the only Type II diabetes drug shown to prevent cancer and help manage a healthy weight. Metformin also helps keep your eyes, heart, kidneys, and peripheral nerves healthy.
Even more impressive, metformin and rapamycin have been shown to inhibit cellular aging. In other words, these drugs slow aging on the cellular level. And that’s a pretty remarkable benefit. It certainly makes sense that researchers (outside of big pharma) would want to find natural remedies offering the same benefits.
Using statistical modeling, the researchers screened more than 800 natural compounds for their ability to mimic, or even exceed, the effects of the two drugs.
As it turns out, an active ingredient called withaferin A found in the natural remedy ashwagandha came out on top. It mimicked — and surpassed — the actions of these drugs to slow the aging process on a cellular level.
This finding didn’t surprise me…
As you know, I write about ashwagandha quite a bit. In fact, if you search my archives on www.DrMicozzi.com, you’ll find dozens of articles on this ancient Ayurvedic herb. Ashwagandha, along with boswellia (frankincense) and curcumin, belong to my ABCs of joint health.
Other top-ranking youth-promoting compounds included:
–ginsenoside (an active component in ginseng)
–allantoin (found in yams)
–gamma linolenic acid, or GLA (an omega-6 fatty acid)
–apigenin (found in many botanicals including chamomile)
–epigallocatechin gallate (ECGC, most commonly found in green tea)
In addition, the researchers found that, in some cases, the compounds worked even better together. For example, the combination of withaferin A, ginsenoside and GLA showed particular promise.
While this study did come away with some good findings, I believe the researchers’ approach misses the forest for the trees…
It’s backwards to study a drug and try to find individual, natural compounds that mimic its effects. Instead, we should start with the natural compounds and study their unique and powerful effects.
Or, better yet, avoid relying on isolated, active ingredients for some kind of magic-bullet cure. While individual ingredients and supplements have their place, it’s always best to consume active ingredients in their natural whole food matrix whenever possible. You reap even greater benefits by combining whole ingredients.
For you, this means following a healthy, balanced diet to begin with, that provides a variety of natural compounds. Incorporate flaxseed into your smoothies for a great source of omega-6s. Eat yams for the allantoin. Season your food with parsley, cloves, oregano — all great sources of apigenin. Drink ginseng tea. (A simple internet search can provide you with a long list of food sources for any compound you want to get more of.)
Granted, you’re probably not going find whole ashwagandha root at the supermarket. But you can find it as a supplement. And I suggest looking for it in combination with curcumin and boswellia as I mentioned above, to unleash all its natural healing power. (I recommend taking between 400 – 500 mg each daily.)
“Towards natural mimetics of metformin and rapamycin,” Aging 2017 Nov 15; 9(11): 2245-2268