Aging, Anti-aging, and Longevity

Paul L. Reller L.Ac. / Last Updated: August 03, 2017

The Truth about Aging and Healthy Longevity

Today, as the baby boomer generation, of which I am a member, approaches the dreaded 'old age', the health industry is gearing up to provide supposed "anti-aging" therapy. This generation is told that they need to look good and appear healthy and active as they age to maintain their identity, and many therapies are being marketed to achieve the appearance of healthy aging. Unfortunately, the bulk of these supposed therapies now are steering a great number of patients toward cosmetic surgery, botox, and high testosterone treatments, combined with costly protocols that do not make efficient use of nutrient and herbal medicines for each individual. Cosmetic improvements do not equate with healthy longevity, though, and some of these cosmetic anti-aging treatments will actually take a toll on the overall and underlying health. Unfortunately, if your health deteriorates, no amount of cosmetic surgery or steroid pumping will make you look healthy. The trick is to stay healthy, prevent disease, maintain hormonal and metabolic homeostasis, decrease various stresses, and keep active in the right ways. We need to build health in aging, and longevity, from the foundation up, with healthy roots, and Complementary and Integrative Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine (CIM/TCM) has a long history of success with this, supported by a plethora of moder scientific evidence. When this course is taken one will look good for their age, youthful and not artificially young, and their health and vitality will be evident to all around them. An intelligent and comprehensive approach is the best prescription for successful aging, not trying to pretend that the same approaches to work, lifestyle, diet and health maintenance used in your youth will work to keep you healthy as you age. The choices are not between cosmetic treatments and an alternative approach medically, but attention to the whole person and complete health as the years go by. Understanding aging and longevity are fundamental to the process.

We are not making progress in healthy aging and overall longevity in the United States for the majority of people, only for richest members of our society, and women's health has been ignored in many ways. In 2010, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 80 percent of women 75 years of age and older had hypertension despite receiving medication, and 31 percent were told that they had heart disease, yet few women had considered cardiovascular health and preventive medicine for this most important threat to their longevity and healthy aging. It was reported that up to 21 percent of the total U.S. population were taking 3 or more prescription drugs between 2005 and 2008, and that prescription of synthetic testosterone had become the most popularly prescribed drug in the United States, despite alarming links to cardiovascular risk. Polypharmacy as a protocol in aging has created negative health outcomes and higher healthcare costs, and has been largely guided by concerns for profit rather than the most sensible health outcomes. The total spent on health care in the U.S. in 2008 was $2.3 trillion, or 16 percent of Gross Domestic Product, compared to 11 percent of GDP spent in France, the next highest spending country in the world, yet incidence of malignant cancer in those age 75 or older was 23 percent, with 70 percent of cancer deaths occurring in persons age 65 or older. Pharmaceutical spending per person in the U.S. is twice that of France and Germany, and largely driven by excessive polypharmacy to the aging population. In November of 2015, Harvard researchers, using a large national health survey from 1999 to 2012, found that nearly 40 percent of Americans over age 65 were now taking at least 5 pharmaceutical medications, an increase of 70 percent in 12 years. In a New York Times article of April 26, 2016, Dr. Eima Quato, of the University of Illinois at Chicago, an epidemiologist and pharmacist, stated that: "We're not paying attention to the interactions and safety of multiple medications. This is a major public health problem." The justification for this wdespread industry trend was the supposed concern by the various specialists to treat and prevent the various expected diseases in aging, and the lack of coordination between specialists, but the widespread ignoring of the negative drug-drug interactions that have been proven in clinical drug trials and extensively documented in all physician desk references (PDRs) and common databases shows that this concern is lacking. The focus in aging in the United States has not been on healthy aging and real preventive medicine, but more on increasing healthcare spending on the aging, and cosmetic medicine. The amount spent in the United States on real preventive care and Complementary and Integrative Medicine (CIM/TCM) was minuscule, despite the evidence of potential for disease prevention and healthy longevity derived from this inexpensive conservative healthcare. While polypharmacy is highly promoted, so is the spin on negative herb-drug interactions, which unlike the negative drug-drug interactions are not supporting by actual clinical harm or by sound scientific research.

A May 22, 2012 New York Times editorial by the health author Paula Span outlined recent findings presented to the American Geriatric Society by Dr. Amy Kelley of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. Her team tracked a random sample of persons from the national Health and Retirement Study who died between 2002 and 2008. Almost half of the sample of aging Americans had heart disease, a quarter had diabetes, and 20 percent had a diagnosis of dementia. Much of this could be prevented with a more holistic healthcare protocol.

The average age at death of the sample in this study was 84. During the final five years of their lives, 18 percent had accumulated out-of-pocket expenditures greater than their assets, and 33 percent had a medical debt exceeding their assets. The average out-of-pocket cost of their Medicare averaged $23,000 during the last five years of their lives. For a majority of these people, the health problems encountered with aging were overwhelming the capacity of the system of Medicare, Social Security, pension and retirement savings to provide. The time to start working on a real preventive health program proactively with aging is early in life, and the present system is obviously inadequate. Anti-aging protocols should not be the domain of the wealthy, and healthy longevity can be achieved by all economic groups if Complementary Medicine is integrated into our health system. The enormous amount of money now spent on chronic pharmaceutical prescription, cosmetic "anti-aging" therapy, and for those that can afford it, an expensive combination of steroid hormones and overprescription of nutrient and herbal medication, is not providing a healthy outcome for most aging Americans, and steadily overwhelming the capacity of the federal budget to provide the needed healthcare in aging without enormous deficit spending. Many Americans are now taking personal responsibility for their health, educating themselves, and seeking help by integrating Complementary Medicine into their healthcare. This strategy will not only benefit the individual, but will help the nation. There is growing proof that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) works comprehensively to address the key physiological aspects of aging, inflammatory imbalance, oxidant stress, and shortening of telomeres on the chromosomes of our cells, and a knowledgable Licensed Acupuncturist and herbalist can both help and guide a sound protocol supporting longevity and healthy aging. The first step in adopting an individualized protocol of anti-aging, or rather healthy longevity, is to become educated to the science.

In 2010, researchers at the Department of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Southern California (USC), in Los Angeles, California, stated in the medical journal Current Drug Discovery Technology that their years of research on longevity indicated that "in order to have healthy, productive and graceful maturing, it is necessary to maintain a dynamic balance between pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory loads. This may also help to prevent cancer as well as premature degeneration of various organ systems. Modern life style and food intake tends to overload pro-inflammatory factors. To overcome this it is desirable to regularly consume fresh fruits, vegetables and multiple grains, various beans including soybeans and/or minimally processed, unbleached products (whole grains). When this is not sufficient or possible, taking proper dietary supplements under the guidance of a knowledgeable health professional can be helpful." These USC researchers promoted "TCMS", or the medical specialty of Traditional Chinese Medical Science, meaning the professional treatment of the California Licensed Acupuncturist and herbalist (PMID: 20156138). A study link is supplied below in additional information. While the basics of healthy aging need to be followed, daily exercise, daily consumption of fresh vegetables and fruit, keep alcohol consumption to one or two drinks per day, and quitting cigarette smoking, much more can obviously be done, and periodic short courses of acupuncture and phyisiotherapy with individualized guidance with herbal and nutrient medicine is relatively inexpensive and now supported by some of the world experts on healthy aging. Healthy advice with diet and lifestyle can be very helpful, and information such as the balance of essential fatty acids in the diet to maintain the prostaglandins and other chemicals involved in inflammatory regulation, and the findings that healthy organically fed meats contain an average of 50 percent more of omega-3 essential fatty acids, show that the standard advice from TCM practitioners is proven to be sound. Medical Doctors still receive almost no training in diet and nutritional science in medical school.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a specialty that has a long history of Daoist (Taoist) influence and is famous for its ancient practices insuring longevity and health with aging. Much confusion over the centuries has existed concerning the Daoist "immortals" (xian), Shen Dan (alchemical) elixirs of long life, and even the popular prescriptions of Wai Dan, for the health of the aging and prevention of disease in old age. Like today, the general population in ancient China had a tendency to jump to conclusions and seek easy and dramatic answers to longevity, prompting the use of alchemical elixirs by the general public that were sometimes toxic if not prepared carefully, and led to the government regulation and bans on information and ingredients of some of these alchemical elixirs that purported to insure healthy longevity. On the other hand, the governments of China adopted many public health programs promoting healthy Daoist practices to insure health in old age, mainly to decrease the financial burden of the government and increase the productivity of the population as it aged. This development in Chinese alchemical medicine was called the practice of Nei Dan, and was the basis for modern practices such as Qi Gong, Tai Chi, nutritional medicine, and herbal practices to promote health and longevity. Like ancient China, our government today is faced with a daunting financial burden related to the aging population, and individual efforts to maintain healthy longevity will do much to ease the burden of government and the enormous costs of health care for the aging population. Some of these Wai Dan and Nei Dan practices adopted by ancient Chinese governments are becoming popular again today, including Tai Chi (Ji) and other Qi Gong practices, healthy dietary recommendations, herbal and nutrient medicines, probiotics, and lifestyle recommendations. A study of the history of these longevity practices in China shows that the challenges and public expectations were not so different from today. Longevity medicine need not be restricted to the rich, who are able to afford the overly expensive care at standard "anti-aging" clinics, but is accessible to everyone by utilizing Complementary and Integrative Medicine and the professional Licensed Acupuncturist and herbalist (CIM/TCM).

While medical doctors have created supposed anti-aging clinics that promote an often very costly program of drugs and supplements, usually not covered by normal health insurance, and often steer the patient toward cosmetic procedures such as botox and plastic, or cosmetic, surgery, patients that do their research find that a relatively inexpensive and individually tailored program of longevity can be achieved with a pro-active approach and utilization of the TCM physician, or Licensed Acupuncturist and herbalist. Indeed, many of the treatment protocols in anti-aging clinics were derived from Complementary Medicine, including bioidentical hormone therapies, nutrient medicine, and even herbal chemistry. The approach in TCM to longevity focuses not on superficial aspects of aging, though, but on the truly important issues of underlying health and optimal function. As the research at the University of Southern California cited above stresses, restoration of homeostatic balance, especially addressing the balance of pro- and anti-inflammatory processes, which TCM would refer to as a balance of yin and yang, is what is important, not botox and plastic surgery. Use of individually tailored herbal and nutrient medicine under professional guidance is the best way to help restore this homeostatic balance.

Anti-aging clinics now dispense many herbal and nutrient medicines to help with longevity, despite a lack of education in this aspect of medicine in standard medical schools, and the public is also now spending a fortune on self-prescribed over-the-counter herbal and nutrient supplements to try to maintain vitality. Dependability of herbal and nutrient medicines is finally becoming an issue in the United States, though, as the industry now approaches over $30 billion dollars per year, with a miniscule amount of this out-of-pocket spending going to professional products with an assurance of quality, safety and dependable ingredients and dosages. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has facilitated this misuse of natural medicines by keeping the United States one of the last developed countries in the world to not adopt international regulation and standards in herbal and nutrient medicine, allowing commercial products to routinely sell products that do not contain the actual product or dosage listed on their label. Products heavily advertised are the most suspect in an industry with almost no government regulation. The United States is one of the very few industrial countries that has not adopted international guidelines of quality control in the herbal and nutrient medical arena, and the public should be aware that to achieve results with longevity regimens, utilizing the professional whose specialty is herbal and nutrient medicine, namely the Licensed Acupuncturist or Naturopathic physician, is a sensible approach. Medical doctors rarely have any real medical training in these areas. This is why Integrative Medicine is now a popular notion, insuring that the public receives integration of complementary medical care that utilizes the correct specialists who integrate care to achieve the best outcomes and most efficient use of resources. One needs to adopt a complete and holistic program in longevity and optimal aging treatment to achieve the coordinated improvements in key physiological systems that is required, and not just depend on herbal and nutrient medicines with outlandish claims and suspect quality bought online or over the counter.

The first thing that the aging population needs to understand, are the goals of longevity, the definition of longevity, and the objective scientific facts, which support in remarkable ways the practices of the ancient Chinese programs in Daoist TCM practice and public health. Anti-aging is not the point, but optimal-aging is. Looking good and maintaining vitality in all aspects of life follows from optimal-aging and health maintenance. Restoring the respect for the elders in society involves showing the society that with age comes both beauty and wisdom, and this is the challenge facing an aging population.

The defining of aging, anti-aging, and longevity

Longevity is simply defined as a long duration of life, and aging is the process of becoming mature (fully developed). In medical dictionaries, longevity is defined as duration of a particular life beyond the norm for the species. Aging is medically defined as "the process of growing old, especially the failure of replacement of cells in sufficient number to maintain full functional capacity; particularly affecting cells (e.g. neurons) incapable of mitotic division." (Stedman's Medical Dictionary). Now, modern science has not proven to be a reliable source for the ultimate facts concerning aging. In recent years, we have learned that the standard belief in modern science that all neurons are incapable of replacing themselves in aging is false. Not all modern scientists have believed this standard "fact" in the twentieth century and beyond, but these scientists were ridiculed due to their failure to conform.

Since the brain is the most important part of our body that we want to age gracefully, and regulates the health of the rest of the body, attention to neural health in aging is very important. We now know definitively that some adult neurons positively do undergo the most fundamental type of replacement, mitosis, and that all neurons and neural support cells in the brain are capable of regeneration. The mistaken belief, or doctrine, in the past, was that once the brain matures, it could not produce more cells, because the space for growth was defined by the skull, and so the brain was complete at birth. Modern medicine believed that the healthy function of neurons involved prolonged maintenance of the cells we were born with, not regeneration of new cells. This type of apriori fact often afflicts logic and scientific exploration in modern science. We now know that at least olfactory (neurons associated with smell) and isolated parts of the human brain, such as the hippocampus, do positively undergo mitosis in the adult. Advanced imaging techniques have shown us that specific areas of the brain degenerate in size with specific health problems, and may also increase in size with the restoration of health. More importantly to the subject of longevity, neural support cells, or glial cells, do undergo mitosis, that communicating axons and myelin sheaths do regenerate, and that the main neurons, or neural cells, do replace components, and are subject to the same regulation of apoptosis (programmed lifespan and cell death) as are all of our aging cells. More importantly, we now know that increased oxidative stress with aging, and failure to adjust lifestyle and diet to decrease physiological stress with aging, is perhaps the main component to the neural degeneration that lies at the heart of aging.

So, individuals that are concerned with healthy aging should now understand two fundamental concepts. One, aging is not fundamentally about superficial appearance, but rather that one's appearance mirrors their underlying cellular maintenance as they age; and two, modern medicine is not infallible in their understanding and treatment of aging. As the individual looks at their own health maintenance with aging, choices must be made concerning how best to promote healthy skin, hair, muscle, joints, organs, and most importantly to aging, the brain. The key organs, or visceral systems that we need to understand and be concerned with, are the gastrointestinal system and the biota, the adrenal/kidney system, and the workhorse of our metabolism, the liver. When these systems are maintained, cardiovascular health will also be maintained, and if these key visceral systems are unhealthy, no amount of drugs to block cholesterol formation or high blood pressure will prevent degeneration of the blood vessels and heart. A holistic approach that keeps all of these systems vital, and addresses both the mind and body, substance and energy, that defines us as a living organism, is necessary to truly address longevity and nurturing of vitality in aging.

The kidney/adrenal system is very important to healthy function, and with aging, a gradual decline in kidney function occurs. Chronic kidney disease is now defined by a glomerular filtration rate (GFR) that falls below 60, with a healthy individual maintaining a rate of 120, and recent data suggests that in the United States that half of all older individuals may have a GFR below 60 for periods of over 3 months. The lifetime risk of kidney failure in the United States, which only occurs when kidney disease reaches an alarming stage, is estimated at 3.6 percent for Caucasians and 8 percent for African-Americans, but gradual degeneration of kidney function is obviously common, untreated, and contributing greatly to ill health and aging. A September 15, 2015 article in the New York Times, entitled A Diagnosis of Dubious Meaning, quotes notable experts in this realm, such as Dr. Michael Steinman, a geriatric expert at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), who stated: "Probably a majority of older patients we see have some degree of impaired renal function." The fear is that new guidelines in 2012, that use a one-size-fits-all approach to kidney disease, will lead to aging individuals receiving a diagnosis and treatment that will engender fear and stress without cause, and do more harm than good, though. Dr. Richard Glassock, a nephrologist at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) co-authored a paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) proposing that the normal GFR guidelines for kidney disease be lowered with aging, but other experts disagree, citing the increased risk of cardiovascular disease and increased risk of death from any cause in studies of kidney disease.

Dr. Andrew Levy of Tufts Medical Center and Dr. Joseph Coresh of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health authored a paper that suggested that the diagnosis of advancing kidney disease in aging should result in avoidance of medications that can harm the kidneys, such as ibuprofen and certain antibiotics, as well as dyes commonly used in CT scans. In 2016, a large observational study at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found a strong link between chronic use of Proton Pump Inhibitors, widely prescribed and now bought off the drugstore shelf as well to treat gastric acid and reflux, to Kidney disease risk as well. An editorial in 2015 by Dr. Adam Schoenfeld and Dr. Deborah Grady of the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) stated the these drugs are among the most widely prescribed in the U.S. and that up to 70 percent of the prescriptions "may have no appropriate indication for use." There is very little actual treatment for chronic kidney disease in standard medicine, and a preventive program usually involves adding blood pressure medications, anti-cholesterol medications, and drugs to treat diabetes. But loading the aging patient with more and more drugs obviously puts more stress on the kidney system, and some adverse health affects with chronic use may also damage kidney function. There is the potential to increase kidney health and function with Complementary and Integrative Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine (CIM/TCM), with a healthy holistic protocol that can be individualized for each patient, but this is rarely suggested. Research in recent years has shown the measurable benefits on kidney and adrenal function from short courses of acupuncture, as well as specific herbal and nutrient medicine, and some of this research is available in Additional Information at the end of this article. By resolving some common health issues with CIM/TCM, such as heartburn and acid regurgitation, more patients could reduce the harm from polypharmacy approaches that obviously create or contribute to problems associated with unhealthy aging.

Standard medicine has long approached longevity from the perspective of increasing the average life span of the population, and has accomplished much in this regard in the twentieth century. We may have reached our limit on how much public health and medical technology can benefit us, though. Average life spans of our species has increased in various cultures with the decrease in deaths from infectious bacterial disease with the use of antibiotics, with the decrease in early cardiovascular deaths through widespread availability of immediate medical treatment for stroke and heart attack, with improved community health programs and government sponsored health care, with improved education, and in most countries, with universal health care and insurance schemes. Presently, though, these admirable tactics of the past are not enough to continue the progress in public longevity, and attention to these big issues may have led the public to ignore the details of how to maintain the quality of life in aging, and to promote longevity and productivity in life in old age. An article in the medical journal Lancet in 2011 sums up these tactics, and the need for new strategies, even in Japan, the most successful country to achieve modern results with advancing the average life expectancy:

Now even in simple terms, longevity as a duration of life has not been factually and honestly reported. We have been told that life expectancy, or longevity, has increased dramatically in recent history due to the marvels of modern medicine. While this is true for life expectancy from birth, it is not true for life expectancy for those individuals that survived to age 50. Life expectancy from birth has, on average, more than doubled in recent centuries from lows in the past, but this is due to technology advancing public health and sanitation at the turn of the 20th century, and the present enormous industry of medicine, as well as the fact that the governments of wealthy nations now supply over half of all medical care, and subsidize a large portion of non-governmental health care, in the United States as well as the rest of the world. We do depend on socialized medicine, and it has come at a great cost. The public subsidy for hospital and clinical availability has dramatically increased the percentage of the population that survives to age 50, and the invention of chemical pharmaceuticals, particularly antibiotics, has dramatically decreased deaths in infants, children, teens and adults under the age of 50. Unfortunately, the rise of antibiotic resistance is now changing that scenario somewhat, and the number of aging patients dying from antibiotic-resistant infections obtained in our hospitals and clinics is an alarming situation that is dramatically downplayed in our modern civilization. We see an alarming decrease in the duration of life for those in lower income brackets in recent decades in the United States, and we see that too strong of an emphasis on polypharmacy rather than preventive and restorative medicine has reversed the gains made wtih increased standard health care in the last century.

The most important fact for the discerning aging public, though, is that the average total life expectancy for individuals surviving until age 50, is now higher than that of past centuries in the United States, but not the average total life expectancy for those that do survive to age 50. In other words, the population in the 1800s that did manage to survive to age 50 had a better time after that. While average life expectancy in the year 1900 was only about 50, this reflected the high infant mortality rate, and the high percentage of the population that died from infection, disease and malnutrition at an early age, and a lot of people met these fates without proper health care and government assistance. Even at the low point of modern life expectancy for our population, medieval Europe, the average life expectancy for those individuals that survived to age 21, was 64 years, while in 2010, the current average life expectancy from birth is 67.2 worldwide, only about 3 years better for those that managed to survive their infancy, childhood, and teens. In 2003, the United States ranked 18th in overall life expectancy at 76.8 years, a rise of 6.8 years of overall life expectancy since 1960, a few years after antibiotics became widely used, but the survival and health of the population that survives to age 50, and how they actually fared in old age, is not made clear in these statistics. How our aging population survives, and the quality of life and function, is finally being addressed in more recent studies. The United States is not doing so well, but we have managed to keep people alive longer after they reach the age of 80, pumping enormous resources into profitable healthcare and nursing facilities for the aging. The real issue, though, is not how to inflate the numbers with profitable geriatric nursing care, but how to insure that the aging population does this aging in a more healthy, productive, independent and graceful manner. Integrating holistic Complementary Medicine (CIM/TCM) could add much to the attaining of such a goal. Standard medicine has been essential to decrease infant mortality and common causes of death in the young individual, but has not supplied the means to insure a healthy aging. Here we need to integrate restorative and preventive medicine with CIM/TCM.

Longevity, the income gap, and a failure to deliver low-cost preventive health care

In 2012, studies have shown that the average life expectancy, or longevity, for the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population, poorly educated low income individuals, has fallen by over 4 years since 1990! The U.S. can no longer boast that we have the best health care system in the world, increasing our average life expectancy. The overall life expectancy, or longevity, is declining, although there are still gains in longevity, albeit slight, for educated and wealthy Americans, especially the 1 percent that now receives over 37 percent of the total wealth generated yearly in the United States. By 2014, an alarming gap had become apparent between wealthy Americans and those that were in the lower income brackets. A New York Times article noted the alarming difference in average life expectancy between two counties in Virginia, where the median income in Fairfax was over $100,000, while the average income in McDowell was under $23,000. The average life expectancy in the wealthy Fairfax was about 83, while the average life expectancy in the poorer McDowell was only about 67! This amazing disparity between the life expectancy, or longevity, of rich and poor, growing in the United States from about 3 years difference in 1970 to 14 years for men and 13 years for women in 2015 overall, was confirmed by a study at the Brookings Institution, showing that for 'baby boomers', or those born around 1950, this was now the average disparity in life spans between the rich and poor. That this statistic had to be determined by economists, not public health experts, is telling. The Public Health authorities released banal explanations, muttering that perhaps these poor people still smoked too many cigarettes! Obviously, the richest in the U.S. have a variety of aids to longevity that the poorest do not have, including healthy food, a healthy environment in which they live, and the money to afford healthy medical care that is still not paid for by their insurance and government healthcare plans.

The alarming rise in disparity in longevity related to income inequality was outlined in the Feb. 12, 2016 New York Times Health article entitled Disparity in Life Spans of the Rich and the Poor Is Growing. Public health experts, such as Dr. Elizabeth H. Bradley of Yale, stated that the many reasons for this disparity "are things that high-tech medicine cannot fix." The usual culprits, smoking, obesity, and lack of affordable health care, have been shown to have improved and leveled between rich and poor, but the "prescription drug epidemic" has now ravaged poor communities. In other countries, such as our neighbor Canada, the disparity in longevity between rich and poor has not been seen. The World Health Organization (WHO) stated in 2014 that the world life expectancy has increased mainly due to so many fewer children dying before their fifth birthday, according to Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO Director General, "but there is still a major rich-poor divide, with a child born in a poor country expected to live on average 16-19 years less than the average child born into a rich country. The rosy pictures painted of increased longevity due to the 'miracles of modern medicine' do not seem so rosy in this view. Cardiovascular and lung disease are still the top causes of premature death, and statistics have not improved signficantly with these health problems, despite the array of new technologies and vast increase in prescription drugs.

The United States constitutional protections of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are in question, and may be perceived now as less important than the right to own military style weapons and unlimited ammunition. The question is what our government and society can do to correct this disparity in longevity. Throughout the United States, white women without a high school diploma, or dropouts, showed a decrease of 5 years of average life expectancy since 1990! The stress of modern American life is increasing, but not the public health, and those in the most stressful position, poorly educated poor women, are showing the effects. In 2010, the United States fell to 41st in ranking for life expectancy of women. Large studies from Harvard and the University of Colorado Denver led by David Cutler and Richard Mietch have highlighted the declining life expectancy for the poorest and least educated, and have no clear explanation. Theories to explain this decline include poor access to health care and insurance, high rates of pregnancy and single parenting, increased prescription drug abuse, and of course, dietary changes. In the last decade, abundant research has shown that the amount of sugar consumed in the diet, as well as an excess of calories, are perhaps the most important factors in accelerated aging. The excess of processed sugars in the American diet, especially in low-income sectors, creates a glucose signaling cellular pathway that is correlated with an increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS), or oxidant stress. Increased public awareness and regulation of our food industry may create enormous economic dividends, as well as longer and healthier lives for our whole population.

In 2014, the average life expectancy for a male in the United States was 76.3 years of age, and the average for females was 80.9, with a growing gap between the rich and the poor. Studies noted that a rise in income for the poorest working sector in the U.S. of $10,000 led to a dramatic rise in life expectancy. The gap in life expectancy between those in the upper and lower income brackets who survived to age 60 increased five-fold for baby boomers, compared to those that were born in the early twentieth century. The United Nations World Population Prospects 2012 Revision noted that the average life expectancy in the world at present was 70.7 years of age, with the United States now ranking 35th on the list of nations. The world average had increased, but the ranking of the U.S.A. had decreased. In a look at life expectancy in the world, 32 countries had an average of only 60 years of age or less, and these were of course the poorest countries in the world.

Now, the demographic life expectancy is another extreme variable, with certain demographics in the United States having a much longer average life expectancy (wealthy educated Caucasians fairing much better than most). Gender differences are also evident, and still poorly explained, with women that survive childbirth consistently having longer average life spans (white females averaging over 80 years). A variety of factors account for these dramatic differences in demographic average life expectancy. Studies in the United States in recent years highlight the large differences in longevity between one area of a city and another, and between the poor in one city and the poor in another city, showing that local efforts to improve the environment, promote healthier diet and lifestyle habits, and provide access to healthcare are dramatically important. Factors such as local bans on public smoking and transfats, limits on easy consumption of sugary drinks, and improved local parks promoting safer access to daily exercise have been cited in these studies. Statistics, though, have been highly suspect in recent years. For instance, in Japan, which reports a dramatic rise in individuals surviving over 100 years of age, recent studies showed that a large percentage of these recorded centarians actually are not alive, but that relatives continue to report that they are to take advantage of government support services for the extreme aging population. In other words, when we look at the subject of longevity, we may be being sold a "bill of goods", or misleading promise or plan. Public support for government and the medical industry relies on these rosy statistics, and some, if not most, of these statistics on aging and life expectancy, may be suspect. As stated, the most important facts concerning longevity deal with the health of the population over age 50, not the average lifespan from birth. A dramatic increase in life expectancy in the first 5 years of life occurred between 1880 and 1940, but this was a long time ago. Today, the intelligent individual has learned to be skeptical of what they are being sold, and take a more proactive role in understanding and implementing goals of health maintenance for themselves as they age. This article is designed to help in this task.

The National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the U.S. Department of State, has released new studies on aspects of aging and longevity that address concerns with real health issues. The latest is a study entitled Why Population Aging Matters - A Global Perspective. The NIH, citing a study by the World Health Organization and the World Bank, entitled The Global Burdens of Disease, predicts that a very large increase in disability caused by age-related chronic disease in all regions of the world, including the United States, will soon eclipse the loss of health and life from infectious diseases, childhood diseases, and accidents. Presently, vehicular accidents have become the number one cause of death by category, but in the near future, age-related chronic disease and dysfunction will be the greatest cause of loss of health and death. The rosy superficial picture of rise in life expectancy from birth does not address the facts, and the aging population needs to seriously consider what healthy aging is all about and reverse this trend of increased age-related chronic disease that threatens our future. By holistically addressing the key issues of biotics, vitality, and neurohormonal health, chronic disease can be prevented, and optimal aging achieved. The human life span in the last century has reached documented heights of over 120 years, meaning that life after 50 could be the bulk of your lifespan, and attention to longevity may be the most important decision that you make concerning health and quality of life. At the core of this subject is the lifestyle and dietary choices, and types of health maintenance and preventive medicine, that we have adopted in recent decades, and how we can improve them.

Defining your real goals in aging and longevity

Is there actually such a thing as 'anti-aging'? In reality, we cannot really stop the aging process in a species, and programmed aging and death is a fundamental part of the species regulation. Of course, this has never stopped us from believing in immortality. The desire to beat death is an obsession that the human race may never give up. Our most popular religions today have at their core the triumph by a human over death. Our historians have perpetuated the false notions of mythical immortality as well. The famous "immortals" in ancient China are still a popular theme in movies and literature, but in reality the term Xian (the ancient Chinese Daoist "immortals") does not really mean immortal, or even living beyond the normal life span. Daoist cults did develop around this theme, and much mythology of supposed immortals did result, but the term Xian, according to the famed British historian of Chinese civilization, Joseph Needham, referred instead to the Daoist cultivation of optimum aging, or maintenance of the highest state of function into the normal old age, which was called yang sheng, or nurturing life. This is what the legacy of TCM provides for the individual today.

In ancient China, the Daoists were a group of scientists that played a fundamental role in shaping not only Traditional Chinese Medicine, but in the shaping of government policies as well, and social structure. In simple terms, Daoism, or the study of natural science and the universal patterns or laws, was a scientific perspective and philosophy that sought to help individuals understand that leading a life that was adhering to natural law, or universal patterns, would help create the healthiest and most productive life. As this philosophy progressed, great thinkers, such as Sun Si Miao, the physician philosopher of the Sung Dynasty (581 to 682 AD), called the King of Medicinals, extended the application of Daoism to the formation of a healthy civilization as well, and a general extension to the individual's realization of their role in the macrocosm. One of the key concepts in Daoism was that if the individual lived in greater harmony to their environment, adjusted their lifestyle and diet with seasonal changes, and understood the natural changes that came with aging, that longevity, or optimal aging, would occur for that individual. If the person then consumed the correct herbs and minerals, the results may be astounding, and these individuals that followed this Daoist prescription and consumed the "elixirs of life" would be unusually healthy and intelligent in their old age. These individuals were referred to as Xian, which is mistakenly translated into the English word immortals. In essence, the word xian is composed of the characters for human and mountain, and simply signified the sages that took up a life of healthy practices and contemplation outside of the urban environments. Helping the general public to achieve this optimal aging of the Xian insured that the society would achieve greater goals.

For the ancient Daoist Xian, the program to achieve optimal aging (yang sheng, or nurturing life) involved a holistic regimen that culminated in macrobiotic transformations within the body. This term, macrobiotics, became very distorted as a simplistic dietary regimen from Japan in the 1970s, but in essence signifies that concept of the organism creating a healthy biota and biotics. The term biota signifies the array of flora and fauna within the body, with the flora referring to the symbiotic microbial cells that actually make up the greatest number of cells in our bodies, and fauna referring to our human, or animal, cells. These microbial friends outnumber our human cells by about 40 to 1, and account for a large percentage of our nutrient chemical production in the body, as well as integrating with both overt functions and genetic expression of regulatory proteins. The healthy symbiosis of flora and fauna may be essential to optimal aging, and was certainly important to the macrobiotic concepts of ancient Daoists in China. The term biotics refers to the science of vitality, vital function, and the life functions within the organism. Macrobiotics is a term signifying the holistic enhancement of biotics for the purpose of prolongation of life, longevity, or actually ultimate aging. Any modern medical dictionary will have these precise definitions of biota, biotics, and macrobiotics, but they seem to be ignored in the arena of longevity in standard medicine. For the individual concerned with longevity and ultimate aging, understanding how to improve the biota and biotics is a fundamental task. Today, understanding of the individual biota and its relation to health has become the subject of much research, and the development of improved probiotic regimens and concern with antibacterials and the negative consequences on the human biota is finally occurring. To actually restore our biota, though, it may take more than just consumption of probiotics, depending on the individual and the health of their gastrointestinal system. A holistic and individualized approach creates the foundation for rebuilding a healthy biota and utilizing macrobiotics.

So we see that two areas of anti-aging, if you want to call it that, but what we might call optimal aging, and longevity, that are fundamental to the process, are biotics and neural health. While we might look at ourselves and judge aging mainly on appearance, even the health of our skin, hair and musculature depends on the health of these two most fundamental aspects, the gastrointestinal Biome, and the health of the central nervous system, or brain. The third fundamental area of concern in aging is the endocrine system, and especially the main endocrine axis between the adrenal (kidney system) and the hypothalamus (the command center at the top of the brainstem). By improving the functions of the adrenals and the hypothalamus, each of us, as we age, will be able to maintain our health and appearance much better, and insure optimal aging. Stimulating a physiologically normal balance of key hormones in the body for the individual and for the age cycle allows all of these key systems to work efficiently to maintain homeostasis, and a holistic approach is needed. Understanding how to use minimal bioidentical hormone therapy to restore the endocrine homeostasis is a key part of this optimal aging treatment strategy. With attention to what scientists now call neurohormonal immunobiology, the homeostatic balance of pro- and anti-inflammatory mechanisms can be maintained, insuring that the regulation of cell life and death, or apoptosis, and the all-important telomeres, of the strands of genetic code within those cells we call chromosomes, will be maintained. This is the most fundamental aspect of nurturing life, or yang sheng, that we call longevity, or anti-aging. While later parts of this article will concentrate on the herbal and nutritional medicines that will help cellular health and visceral functions, and the value of acupuncture and soft tissue physiotherapies (Tui na), in the whole program, first we should look at lifestyle and diet, as well as emotional health and a mind-body coordination.

Prescriptions for Longevity and optimal aging in ancient Chinese medicine and Daoism

Probably the most well known of the Daoist physicians that wrote of longevity was Sun Si Miao, in about the 7th century AD. In Chinese, the fundamental concept of optimal aging, or longevity, adhered to the concept of nurturing life, or yang sheng. This was approached with a holistic concept, nurturing both the mind and body. Dietary principles, Qi gong exercises and visualization, a quiet and contemplative lifestyle, and most importantly, steady activity and striving were keys to longevity in Daoist medicine.

Sun Si Miao wrote: "The Way of nurturing life consists of never moving nor standing for a long time, never sitting nor lying for a long time, never looking nor hearing for a long time. Extended looking (as in sitting at a computer without breaks) damages the blood, extended lying down (such as the 'couch potato') damages the qi, extended standing damages the bones, extended sitting damages the flesh (causing myofascial syndromes), and extended moving damages the sinews (tendons and ligaments). Avoid overeating, overdrinking, and heavy lifting. Avoid anxiety and worrying, great anger, sorrow and grief, great fear, jumping about (excitability), too many words and great laughter. Avoid eagerly jumping at your desires and avoid holding on to hatred. All of these are harmful to longevity. If you are not able to observe these (proscriptions), then you will not extend your health into old age. Therefore, a person who is good at preserving life constantly reduces excess thinking, ideas, desires, business affairs, speaking, laughter, worrying, joy, happiness, anger, likes and dislikes. If you observe the avoidance of these twelve reductions of excess, this is the essence of nurturing life. Excessive thought imperils the spirit and scatters the will, excessive desires muddle the will, excessive business affairs exhaust the physical body, excessive speech wears out the qi, excessive laughter damages the viscera, excessive worry intimidates the heart, excessive joy makes the intentions spill over, excessive happiness makes you forget mistakes and become muddled and confused, excessive anger makes the hundred vessels unsettled (cardiovascular and neural problems), excessive likes make you lose your concentration, and excessive dislikes make you haggard and dismal. If you fail to eliminate these twelve excesses, construction and defense (cell regeneration and immune function) will lose their measure, and qi and blood will flow frenetically (neurological and cardiovascular problems). This is the root to losing your life. Only a person who has neither too much nor too little (of these) is able to approximate the Way of Things (Daoism)." These words of the great Chinese physician-philosopher Sun Si Miao show that a mind-body harmony was considered all-important to the physical well-being and physiological optimum function of the person.

In 2016, modern scientific study confirmed the importance of the advice from Sun Si Miao. Experts at the University of Sao Paolo School of Medicine and the Federal University of Pelotas, in Brazil, conducted a meta-analysis of the effects of prolonged sitting in 54 countries and found that prolonged sitting time was responsible for nearly 4 percent of all-cause mortality. To see this study summary, click here: . This was the first such analysis of this kind. We can assume that all of the advice and treatment concerning longevity, or yang sheng, by Sun Si Miao should be considered.

So we see the importance of moderation in all things with this advice, avoidance of repetitive stress, avoidance of overreacting emotionally, avoidance of overthinking and overwork, and then, with the right diet, herbal medicine, healthy activities such as Qi gong, and living sensibly in tune with nature and the seasons, one may achieve the most in old age. This was the practice of the Daoist Xian, or sages, in ancient China, and became the role model for all of society as it aged. Sun Si Miao, and other Daoist physicians of note, stated that this prescription for life practices should be the foundation with which to build the medical protocols for longevity, and only when this foundation was established could the longevity protocols work with utmost effect. Discipline as we age provides productivity, healthy aging, and vitality, which can be achieved with just a modest effort.

A famous predecessor of Sun Si Miao was the medical sage Huang fu Mi, who lived during the transitions of the Han, 3 Kingdoms, and Jin dynasties of the third century AD. Huang fu Mi was born of a poor agrarian family, but became famous in his old age, and compiled the Canon of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, or the Zhen jiu Jia yi Jing, literally the abc's of acupuncture, arranged according to the Heavenly Ten Stems, an ancient system of numbers from the Yi Jing, or Book of Changes. Huang fu Mi, upon achieving a great scholarly reputation and medical expertise in middle age, tried the elixirs of immortality, of the Daoist alchemists, but nearly died with an overconsumption of these strong medicinals, that were taken when he was chronically ill with rheumatic disease. He learned that to properly make use of the elixirs, one must first prepare one's health with the Daoist prescriptions for healthy mind and body. His utilization of acupuncture to cure himself and restore health, so that he could prepare himself with Daoist lifestyle and practices and rightly utilize the elixirs of longevity inspired him to compile a complete clinical textbook of acupuncture prescriptions. Later, he achieved much in his old age, compiling not only the 12 volumes of acupuncture clinical knowledge and prescription, but 10 books of history as well, called the Records of Emperors and Kings. While not living to a particularly remarkable old age, he achieved much in the years after age 50, which he attributed to both the efficacy of acupuncture and the Daoist practices of the art of longevity, or yang sheng.

Now, while the fantastic stories of the immortals dominate the English history of Chinese alchemy, to a point where the obsession for prolonged life nearly defined our Western notions of Chinese alchemy and herbalism, and may even have enhanced the focus on spiritual immortality in Europe, or cultivation of the soul, as European Christian scholars went to China and tried to portray themselves as superior in knowledge and understanding, the real history of the art and science of longevity in China was much more practical. Sabine Wilms, Ph.D., an esteemed scholar and translator of ancient Chinese medical texts, describes this practice of longevity in Chinese medicine as Yang Sheng, or nurturing life. The character for yang in this context is no longer in standard Chinese dictionaries, but is similar to a simplified character with the meaning to support or cultivate, but which also means to heal, recuperate or maintain. In TCM English translations, we see the character signifying to nourish, and the character for sheng translated as to engender, grow, existence, life. A more commonly used term in TCM that sounds similar is yang sheng, with different characters, that could be translated as exuberant yang. We see that with the difficulties of the Chinese language, that the capacity to ascribe various meanings to these ancient Daoist medical terms is great. Slowly, modern civilization is getting past the notions that the ancient Chinese Daoist physicians were promoting shamanism, magic, immortality, etc. and coming to realize that these scholars and scientists were presenting practical medical science to cultivate a more productive and healthier aging to increase the capacity within a human lifespan to achieve.

The esteemed English historian from Cambridge, Joseph Needham, devoted the last published volume of his life work, Science and Civilisation in China, to biology and biological technology. This culmination of his study finally dispelled even his attachment to the fantastic notions of ancient Daoist physicians as crazy alchemists seeking immortality and using shamanism and magic in their practice. In this text, Dr. Needham attributes many of our most important medical discoveries to these Daoist physicians, such as the origins of immunology, or inoculation and vaccine to prevent disease, as well as the science of nutritional chemical deficiencies as a potential cause of disease. Dr. Needham translates the term for longevity practices, or yang sheng, as 'nourishing the vitality'. The term for the popularly promoted longevity programs, or Wai Dan, is clarified as well. While the character for Dan can be translated as cinnabar, or mercury ore, and often refers to alchemical preparations, or even alchemy itself, Dr. Needham, and his editor, Dr. Nathan Sivin, point out that this term Dan is used in many contexts outside of alchemical associations, and is used to refer to a wide number of herbal and nutrient medicines and formulas.

The public programs of healthy longevity in ancient China, called Wai Dan

Like many ancient Chinese terms, Wai Dan, or the program of healthy aging with external practices, has had a number of translated meanings, which have engendered considerable confusion as to the practice. As stated, the term Dan is used in Chinese alchemy and denotes both the essential mercury ore, or cinnabar, and the alchemical elixirs. In Qi Gong practice, the focus in the mind-body visualization is to the areas in the body called the Dan Tian, located deep to the mid to low abdomen near the spine. Loosely translated, Dan Tian means the 'cinnabar field', but in the context of this healthy practice, which was a part of the Wai Dan practice of longevity and health maintenance, Dan Tian surely refers to something other than an actual field of cinnabar in the body. The term Wai is used in contrast to the term Nei, as in Nei Dan, referring to the practices of ingesting medicinal formulas for health maintenance, and achieving a macrobiotic transformation to promote longevity. This term Nei was also used for the fundamental text of the medical science, now referred to as the Nei Jing. A simple translation of Nei and Wai are inner and outer, but this presents many questions concerning the true meanings of the terms in the above concepts. Dr. Needham, in his life, finally came to the conclusion that the term Nei in the medical usage referred to the corporeal, of physical body and substance. The term Wai may then refer to the non-corporeal, or energetic practices, as well as the health practices that provide external agents to affect the biochemistry of the body. In reality, the context of the term usage concerning Wai and Nei must have played a part in the use of the terms, as they do not seem to entirely fit the definitions in all usages.

Part of the practices of longevity medicine in ancient China involved formulas, described as dan, that achieved macrobiotic transformations in the body. Dr. Needham stated: "The macrobiotic preoccupation made Chinese alchemy, as it were, iatro-chemistry (medicinal chemistry), almost from the first, and many of the most important physicians and medical writers in Chinese history were wholly or partly Daoist." Dr. Needham stated that the main task of the Daoist was to "transform himself by all kinds of techniques, not only alchemical and pharmaceutical but also dietetic, respiratory, meditational and sexual, into a Xian (Daoist sage)." The Wai Dan were practices and formulas that were outside the body, or worked outside the body, or were non-corporeal, that achieved this goal of ultimate-aging, or longevity. The Nei Dan were formulas and elixirs that worked to transform within the body, to transform the substance of the body itself, to achieve this ultimate aging, and longevity. Today, we can apply these same theories to the array of practices that may achieve healthy longevity and nurturing of vitality. For example, bioidentical hormone creams are used to enter the bloodstream from the skin and affect hormonal stimulation, or transformation, within the body. Herbal formulas, taken as a pill or tincture, contain a set of chemicals that are created outside the body, but stimulate a set of physiological reactions. The distinctions are subtle, and for this reason, perhaps, the practices of Nei Dan fell out of favor in China. Nutrient medicines can usually be seen as Wai Dan as well. Of course, many Qi Gong forms of movement, as well as specific exercises, can be considered part of the Wai Dan practice, and meditational practices can be a mind-body, or non-corporeal, practice that enhances vitality without a chemical transformation within the body. The exercises that became famous, such as the animal forms, are now called Qi Gong, but were perhaps just thought of as calesthenics that promoted longevity at the time.

All of these practices of nurturing vitality, or longevity, revolved around the notions of balance, or yin and yang. In Daoist medicine, if the constant transformation of yin and yang is held in balance, the organism is free of disease and maintains optimum health. This concept suggests that there is no single static substance or activity that maintains health in old age, or longevity, but that the complex balance of activities and substances, yang and yin, in a fluid state, define our existence and our health. While the practices related to Nei Dan in the form of alchemical elixirs, eventually was no longer supported by public funds and laboratory study and development, the practices of Wai Dan, or promotion of Tai Chi, Qi Gong, exercise, dietary regimens, and medical practices of herbal formulary, topical herbs, Tui na physiotherapies, and acupuncture continued to be supported by the government to promote longevity. The science of macrobiotic transformations became more obscure. The alchemical practices related to mineral experimentation continued as commercial entities, producing industrial products, gunpowder, and even pharmaceuticals. The focus on these complex and holistic longevity practices have been preserved in the Chinese culture and civilization, but not in an overt manner, as they were in the height of Daoist science and culture.

The Daoist science of longevity became more and more complicated in theory, but the individual in the culture just wanted a set of things to do to maintain vitality in old age and prevent chronic disease. They were obliged with publicly promoted health regimens. Simplest among these were the physical activities, keeping busy, both mentally and physically, and practicing daily exercises. Even today, Americans may see Asian neighbors as they age get up and practice these exercises every morning, while their aging neighbors that are not attuned to this culture often lie on the couch and use the mechanized chair to get around. The Daoists used the aphorism "Running water does not stagnate, nor does a door-pivot become worm eaten, because they move. This is true of both the physical form and the qi (energetic form). If the physical form does not move, the essences (genetic expressions) do not flow freely; if the essences do not flow, the qi becomes static." Today, one may still visit Bei Jing and get up with the sun, go to the park, and see many aging individuals practicing Tai Chi or another form of Qi Gong exercise. Dietary habits promoting longevity are still presented even in restaurants. The corner store has a number of herbal medicines that are still true to ancient formulas of longevity. Individuals still seek out their acupuncturist, and often receive their tui na. The culture has made this complex holistic longevity program routine.

Hormonal deficiencies and imbalances in Menopause, Andropause, Somatopause, normal aging, and related health problems

Hormonal therapy is integral to modern anti-aging therapy in the United States now. Research in recent years has brought great clarity to the treatment of hormonal problems. The amount of knowledge from research in response to the failures and risks of the synthetic hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has finally brought these problems and the effective restoration of hormonal balance, or homestasis, into focus. In addition, we now see exactly how the hormonal deficiencies affect a wide variety of disorders. Estrogen deficiencies are a primary cause for problems with short term memory and attention problems, poor tissue healing, inflammatory disorders related to tissue calcification, and a variety of calcium related problems, including osteopenia and osteoporosis. Progesterone deficiencies create a relative estrogen excess even in estrogen deficient states, and are responsible for most menopausal and premenstrual (PMS) symptoms, and many cases of infertility, as well as the possibility of cancerous growth. Progesterone deficiencies are also related to male endocrine dysfunction, especially concerning testosterone receptor function, prostate health and balding. Hormone dysfunction is a prime contributor to metabolic disorders and creates an added stress that contributes greatly to insulin resistance, diabetes and weight gain. Male and female hormonal imbalances contribute greatly to poor cardiovascular maintenance, and overall affect the vitality. Research into the physiological mechanisms of the hormonal system has placed all of these hormones at the center of the mechanisms preserving cellular vitality. Since the hormonal system of regulation affects so much of our health, and operates via an elaborate feedback system, focusing on just one hormone is not the key to success.

By 2013, the acceptance of testosterone therapy as a widely practiced anti-aging protocol, and subsequent flooding of the market with advertising and products promoting testosterone supplementation or replacement, is commonplace, but is it safe, effective, or even warranted? There is very little study of the long-term adverse effects of testosterone supplementation, or of the numerous supplements that are advertised as "natural" testosterone boosters. After decades of assurance that hormone replacement therapy was perfectly safe for the menopausal aging woman, and subsequently, the findings of large cohort studies that this therapy created significant risk of disease and mortality, making the risk greater than the modest benefits for most women, the male population is now apparently accepting testosterone therapy without questioning the medical industry. A review of all scientific study in 2003 by the University of Washington School of Medicine in conjunction with the Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System, Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center, found that: "The long-term safety and efficacy of testosterone supplementation remain uncertain. Establishment of evidence-based indications will depend on further demonstrations of favorable clinical outcomes and symptomatic, functional, and quality-of-life benefits in carefully performed, long-term, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials." (see link to this study below in Additional Information). Since 2003, we see almost no such clinical trials yet producing the evidence to guide therapy.

A randomized, placebo-controlled human clinical trial of 207 men, age 60-80, with low to low-normal testosterone levels, conducted at the University of Utrecht, The Netherlands, in 2008, showed that 6 months of supplementation with testosterone undecenoate produced no affect on functional status or cognitive benefits, no increase in bone density, and no measurable improvement in quality of life, but did decrease healthy high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and increased risk of Metabolic Syndrome. A modest increase in lean body mass occurred, but no improvement in muscle strength or function. Insulin sensitivity increased, but a much higher incidence of Metabolic Syndrome occurred (see study link below). In effect, there appears to be no evidence of benefit from all of this testosterone supplementation, and as of 2013, no studies completed that evaluate long-term adverse health risks. This looks exactly like the situation in the 1990s with hormone replacement therapy for aging women. While there is a reported increase in sexual performance and vitality for approximately one third of patients with low testosterone provided supplementation, according to experts at the University of California specializing in such therapy, for 2/3 of patients with diagnosed problems of testosterone insufficiency, or hypogonadism, there is little to no noticeable short-term benefits. To further explore the subject of low testosterone and treatment, go to the article entitled Hormonal Imbalances, Causes, Consequences and Corrections on this website.

Most successful standard anti-aging and longevity clinics now focus on bioidentical hormonal therapies as the key to their programs. A few short years ago, bioidentical hormones were still vilified by most of standard medicine as both ineffective and dangerous. Now, suspicion arose, as with herbal medicine and acupuncture, over how bioidentical hormone therapy could be both ineffective and dangerously effective. Obviously, neither of these assertions were correct, but rather a middle ground. Bioidentical hormonal therapy, long the tools in alternative and complementary medicine, are now the foremost tools in the area of "anti-aging" medicine in the realm of standard medicine. This area of expertise has grown considerably with research, and now the means of bringing not only the sexual steroids into homeostatic balance, adjusted for the individual and their age, but also the means to affect the numerous growth hormones, as well as the pituitary hormones, and the thyroid and parathyroid hormones, as well as hormone receptors, has come into play. A key set of hormones related to healthy aging concerns the insulin-related hormones, including leptin, adiponectin, and the inflammatory cytokines that affect these considerably. The field of neurohormonal immunobiology has brought the knowledge of the important interrelationships between hormones, neurotransmitters, and inflammtory cytokines into focus. Today, holistic medicine is finally taking hold in standard medical theory and practice.

The use of bioidentical hormones, though, should be relegated to stimulation and normalization of the innate production of hormones, and achieving of the most optimum physiologically normal levels and balance in the system. While abnormal levels of such hormones as testosterone and estrogen may provide immediate effects related to muscle and skin tone, the long-term effects of abnormal levels may be deleterious to the health. It is a mistake to look for immediate gratitude and miraculous effects while ignoring the long-term consequences. Our bodies did not evolve such an elaborate system of homeostatic balance without good reason. Minimal use of bioidentical hormonal therapies to achieve stimulation of optimal innate production and balance in your body is the sensible goal in optimal aging therapy. Hormone replacement should not be the goal, but rather the restoration of optimal hormone production. As with the promotion of estrogen replacement in the past, testosterone replacement is now heavily promoted in male aging, but even standard medical guidelines now warn that the long-term risks versus benefits are not known with testosterone replacement, and like the ultimate outcomes of estrogen replacement, there is a strong fear that the future will reveal a variety of serious long-term adverse effects.

Testosterone replacement should only be tried when the level of testosterone in the body is tested and found to be pathologically low. The idea that all aging men can get a hitch in their giddy-up from testosterone replacement is promoted by advertising, but patently wrong. The website WebMD quotes Dr. Karen Herbst M.D. PhD, an esteemed endocrinologist at the University of California in San Diego, and a specialist in testosterone therapies, as stating that only about 1 in 10 patients receiving this testosterone replacement are thrilled by the immediate effects, and about 1 in 10 do not notice any effects at all, despite being diagnosed with low testosterone. A review of scientific study of testosterone replacement at St. Louis University in 1997 (Hajjar, Kaiser and Morley) noted that about one third of patients prescribed testosterone replacement quit taking the drug within a year due to adverse effects or lack of noticeable improvement in health. Testosterone replacement can worsen prostate pathologies, sleep apnea, and create excess blood cell production, or coagulation, increasing cardiovascular risk. These experts in testosterone pathology also noted that, contrary to past assumptions, most cases of low testosterone in aging can be attributed to problems in the hypothalamic-adrenal endocrine axis, not deficient function of the gonads, and many or most cases of low testosterone in the 50s appear to be associated with a temporary condition we now call andropause. Achieving normal physiological levels of testosterone is the goal, and restoring the more complex cycle of hormonal feedback is the best way to achieve this goal, not just trying to "fill the tank" with T. Holistic medical regimens can easily fulfill this goal, with no long-term adverse effects. The most common form of testosterone supplementation is the drug testosterone undecanoate or undecyclate, an ester of testosterone. Few studies of merit have evaluated this long-term safety and efficacy of this supplement, and some current research is exploring the potential of the drug as a male contraceptive. The first human clinical trial of this testosterone supplement in the U.S. was submitted in 2013 to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and the results will not be available for years. While there is no convincing evidence to date of long-term adverse effects of testosterone supplementation, the benefits are at best modest, and there have been no significant studies yet, in 2013, to prove long-term abscence of risk. The goal with restoration of testosterone production for the intelligent patient should be the restoration of natural production and optimal hormone balance, not hormone replacement.

Besides bioidentical hormone therapy to restore normal physiological production and regulation of sexual steroid hormones in aging, a number of lifestyle and dietary changes may also help to insure optimal hormonal balance. An important part of the Daoist holistic protocol to achieve longevity, or yang sheng, nurturing vitality, included advice concerning sexual practices in aging. The advice of Sun Si Miao and other Daoist physicians was to encourage sexual intercourse and orgasm for the female, but to limit the ejaculation, or loss of semen, from the male. Sun Si Miao wrote extensively on the importance of female sexuality, women's health, and health problems that could be related to the hormonal imbalances. His advice to men concerning longevity was to maintain a healthy sexual practice but to limit the loss of semen with aging, to preserve the vitality. Research in recent years seems to support this as a scientific principle as well. A research citation below, from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, lists the important chemicals being researched in relation to longevity, and includes the chemical spermidine, a component of semen. Spermidine is a polyamine that plays an important role in transcribing RNA and expressing DNA proteins, acting as a growth regulator, and slowing the rate of cellular aging by inducing autophagy, or the destruction and replacement of cellular components. The preservation of semen in old age, along with the stimulation of semen production through sexual practices, appears to have a proven effect in promoting longevity. This practice is mentioned in many cultures, especially in ayurvedic ritual, where brahmin were instructed in how to achieve orgasm but not let the semen escape the body, ejaculating inward so to speak. These sexual practices may seem strange in modern society, but the research with spermidine confirms that the Daoists and ayurvedic physicians were correct.

While holistic medical practices come with the challenges of complex treatment protocols and assessment, the results of bringing the body and mind into a greater natural balance and adherence to natural biological laws and patterns, which was the goal of the ancient Daoist physicians and Xian in China, and the key to the art of longevity, is worth the effort. The mature individual, with optimal aging and healthy longevity, will achieve the greatest goals and aspirations in their life in old age. While our modern society has led us to believe that only the youth is valued, as we approach age 50, and beyond, we must realize that this was just a marketing tool to sell things, not the reality of our existence in this life.

Research revealing the physiological mechanisms of longevity stimulated by chemicals in Chinese herbs and nutrient medicines

Resveratrol is a chemical found in quantity in the Chinese herb Polygonum cuspidatum, or Hu zhang (bushy knotweed). This chemical is also found in very minute quantities in grape skins, and thus in red wine. A number of Chinese herbs contain resveratrol, though, including wild rhubard root, or Da huang. The Chinese have long researched this remarkable chemical, and found that the trans-isomer had greater effects, standardizing this form for medical use. Resveratrol has been found to be very impressive in its effects, both as an antioxidant and neuroprotective agent, and is now widely used, even in standard medicine. The effects proven in scientific studies are so dramatic that the pharmaceutical companies have been spending much money on creating a synthetic analog, or altering the chemical in a way that is patentable. Beneficial cardiovascular effects, anti-inflammatory, insulin-like, anticancer, and antiviral effects have also been noted in scientific study. Specific longevity effects have been shown in laboratory studies, benefitting the health of aging study animals, but not specifically extending their lifespan. As we note from the article above, though, the goals of longevity are not necessarily extending the normal lifespan, but rather improving the vitality of the organism. Resveratrol helps accomplish this task admirably. In addition, an array of factors may alter the longevity effects of resveratrol, and thus a holistic treatment is needed. Studies cited below show that when the natural cellular autophagy is inhibited, resveratrol will not achieve its physiological effects as well.

Sirtuins are a class of proteins that have received much focus with the advance of longevity research related to resveratrol, the active chemical in the Chinese herb Polygonum cuspidatum, or Hu zhang. These proteins possess enzymatic activity that affects the life of genetic components of cells, the histones, which our DNA wrap around, and ADP-ribose (adenosine diphosophate ribose), which affects proper cell signaling. Histones are highly alkaline proteins that compress our DNA strands and provide orderly genetic expression. ADP-ribose regulates the TRPM2, or transient receptor potential cation channel, a cell signaling pathway that is very important to cellular genetic maintenance, especially in the brain. In the brain, TRPM2 has been found to be involved in the insulin hormone effects on cell maintenance and lifespan, mediation of responses to an important immune cytokine TNF-alpha, and regulation of the effects of toxicity of amyloid beta plaques, which are associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's. Sirtuins are also important to the functions of bacteria, and with aging, increased low-grade bacterial infections may play a significant role in chronic disease and expression of chemicals that interfere with normal cellular maintenance and apoptotic mechanisms. There are 5 known classifications of sirtuins (Sir), and Sir1 and Sir2 in the first classification have received the most attention. Sir2 affects the cytoplasm of the cells, or nuclear components, while Sir1 affects the nucleus and cytoplasm. The nucleus is the site of our cellular DNA. Sir2 affects the cell cycle (apoptotic and maintenance mechanisms) and tumorigenesis. Sir1 affects cellular inflammation and metabolism. While Sir2 has received more attention in pharmacological research to find a chemical modulator that may affect basic cellular aging mechanisms, Sir1 has been found to be activated, or stimulated by resveratrol. While the effects of resveratrol, and other active chemicals in Hu zhang, are broad, the focus in the news has been on Sir1.

Resveratrol has been proven to stimulate the enzymatic activity of sirtuin-1, a protein enzyme that deacetylates signaling proteins that contribute to cellular regulation, reaction to stressors, and longevity. Sirtuin-1 is downregulated in cells that have high insulin resistance as well, and it is believed that resveratrol increases insulin sensitivity to help regulate blood sugars and induce sirtuin-1 expression. Studies have shown that resveratrol increases the activity of sirtuin-1 via indirect activation that is still being investigated. A 2013 report by the most famous researcher, David Sinclair of the Harvard Medical School, supported by Clemens Steegborn at the University of Bayreuth, in Germany, showed that resveratrol does indeed activate Sirtuin proteins to stimulate increased mitochondrial function, but only in conjunction with a key amino acid, acting as an activator, such as the hydrophobic tryptophan. Again, the findings are that our bodies act holistically, within a quantum field, not in isolated chemical equations. Sirtuin-1 is shown to benefit the longevity mechanism when cellular autophagy (which we may call cell cleansing or parts replacement) occurs, and that activation of Sirtuin-1 by resveratrol or other means ignites this autophagy. The process of autophagy is also found to be enhanced with caloric restriction, and certain types of nutrient deprivation. This practice of fasting and nutrient deprivation was also discussed in Daoist longevity practices. Many references to Daoist Xian who fasted from cereal grains is found in reference to longevity systems. Here, too, we find proof of the efficacy of these ancient Daoist theories and practices. The modern individual may take a resveratrol pill, observe a short fast, or utilize a particular nutrient restricted diet, especially the avoidance of high caloric, high glycemic, simple carbohydrate foods and drinks. These refined carbohydrates, now a significant portion of the modern diet, may increase acidity in the body, and disrupt sugar, or carbohydrate, metabolism. We see from the study of sirtuins, that chronic acidity may damage histone function, and that an imbalance of our sugar metabolism may disrupt the ribose pathways and the ADP-ribose that also maintains genetic signaling health.

Other herbal and nutrient therapies that may stimulate autophagy include the isoflavones such as genistein and daidzein, found in the Chinese herb Psoralea coryfolia (Bu gu zhi), and the herb Red Clover, as well as the foods soy (fermented to insure healthy digestion), green bean, alfalfa sprout, mung bean sprout, kudzu (Ge gen), chick pea, and peanut. Isoflavones are a class of organic compounds found in foods and herbs that are related to isoflavonoids. Isoflavones have a broad array of beneficial effects, but the most publicized are the phytoestrogen and antioxidant effects in humans. Like resveratrol and the chemicals in Hu zhang and various foods, isoflavones have also demonstrated the ability to inhibit tumor growth in certain cancer cell lines, such as the LNCaP human prostate cancer cell line (Onozawa et al, 1998). Isoflavones were also shown to be able to potentiate chemotherapy in pancreatic cancer cell lines, allowing for less toxic dosages to be effective when the patients were pretreated with genistein (Li, Yiwei MD et al, 2004). A 2003 study cited below, at the University of Reading, UK, found that the isoflavones, genistein and daidzein, as well as their metabolites, exhibit potent antioxidant and free radical scavenging effects, and the breakdown of the herbal and food isoflavones in the human metabolism produces metabolites with even greater effects. Other isoflavones studied include luteolin and orientin, found in Berberis and Vitex, commonly used herbs in TCM, and also in millet. Isoflavones are also found in topical bioidentical hormone creams, delivering these valuable chemicals directly to the bloodstream.

The importance of cellular regulation in longevity and optimization of aging is increasingly studied. Autophagy, or the process of destroying and replacing cellular components to maintain function, is an important subject in anti-aging theories. As stated above, therapeutic protocols that stimulate autophagy increase the longevity effects of resveratrol, and isoflavones may help in this regard. Insulin is thought to be one of the major suppressive factors for autophagy, as well. Insulin resistance, or Metabolic Syndrome, often called a prediabetic state or diabetic type 2, is increasingly common in the population due to poor dietary habits and commercial foods with unnatural sugars and simple carbohydrates dominating. With insulin resistance, the need for increased insulin is acquired, and with increased insulin, the suppression of autophagy occurs. When this scenario plays out, the decline of cell function and integrity accelerates, and this is aging. Various immune cytokines and growth factors may also inhibit autophagy, including interleukin-3 (IL-3). Helping the immune system to achieve a balance of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory responses is very important and acupuncture and herbal medicine has been shown to provide such help. Clearly, a comprehensive and holistic protocol is needed.

To show how daunting the task is of scientifically assessing anti-aging and longevity enhancing effects of Chinese herbs, refer to the citation below in additional information resources on the herb Epimedium. Epimedium of the berberidaceae family is a genus of about 52 species, with many genus utilized in medicine, and much study of the more than 260 chemical compounds isolated from this Chinese herb. The review of these studies shows that Epimedium, or Yin yang huo, shows efficacy with anti-aging, antioxidant, anti-tumor, anti-atherosclerosis, hormone regulation, anti-osteoporosis, and immunological modulation. Not only this array of scientific studies, though, but empirical evidence from centuries of use should be utilized when designing protocol for the patient in TCM that is looking to enhance, or optimize health in aging. The list of Chinese herbs with proven anti-aging and optimization of aging effects in scientific study is growing, though, and showing that even standard therapy in TCM clinical practice has been providing anti-aging, or longevity effects for patients for a very long history. The patient need not wait until a story in People magazine tells them of specific current research findings.

The most popular and well studied nutrient medicines in anti-aging therapy are being thoroughly investigated, and promising benefits are being shown. Omega-3 fatty acids, Co-Q10, resveratrol, isoflavones, and other antioxidants, probiotics, and phytoestrogens (lignans e.g.) are the most promising supplements thus far. Herbal medicine may deliver concentrated dosages of these and other valuable chemicals, and they may be combined in formulas with nutrient chemicals. With serious questions of the quality and contents of commercial herbal and nutrient medicines in the United States, such as the 2015 New York Attorney General's investigation into the brand products of the 4 top drugstore chains, finding that a large percentage of these did not contain DNA evidence of the herbal chemicals listed on the label, obtaining these herbal and nutrient medicines from a professional source is all-important.

Historically, some of the herbal medicines that were purported to slow aging

The Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing is perhaps the most esteemed fundamental text of herbal medicine in China, and is one of the 10 premodern classics of medicine selected by the People's Republic of China for concentrated research of prehistoric medical information. Shen Nong was one of the three fundamental patriarchs of the modern Chinese civilization architecture, with Huang Di and Fu Xi, both of whom are also well known with their association to Traditional Chinese Medicine and what became Daoism. The Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing, or Shen Nong's Fundamental Herbal Classic Text, often called the Divine Farmer's Material Medica Classic, or the Divine Farmer's Almanac, for some reason, lists the slowing of aging, or promotion of longevity, as one of the key qualities of a number of classic herbs. While modern research is still pursuing this efficacy in the chemistry of these herbs, and some of them may not seem particularly dramatic in their so-called "anti-aging" effects, we might consider them as part of a more complex holistic regimen. Most of these herbs are in the general category of Kidney and Adrenal tonics, showing that astute knowledge of these ancient Daoist physicians, recognizing that the kidney and adrenal system deteriorates with aging.

In modern times, the focus of research into herbal medicine to promote healthy aging, or longevity, called Yang Sheng in Daoist history, has been more focused on adaptogenic and yang tonic herbs such as Rhodiola rosea, Siberian ginseng, Ganoderma lucidum (LIng zhi or Reishi mushroom) and Panax Ginseng, with much research proving the benefits of chemicals in these herbs to achieve a variety of goals in healthy aging. Ayurvedic herbs such as Withania somniflora (Ashwaghanda) and Bocopa monieri have also been much studies and proven to benefit healthy aging. A more comprehensive and holistic approach has been found to be most effective, though, and this is reflected in the use of herbal formulas in Chinese Herbal Medicine, with an array of chemicals and effects acting synergistically. Intelligent formulas to promote healthy aging address neuroprotective concerns, hormonal balance, adaptation to stress of all types, cardiovascular health, and improved immune function with better control of inflammatory cytokines. A number of gentle but effective herbs have a long history of inclusion in this comprehensive strategy, as do a number of nutrient medicines discovered in modern research.

Since the prescriptions for these herbs in the Shen Nong Manual called for prolonged taking of the herb, formulas may be devised, obtained from a professional TCM herbalist, and prepared with a classic double-boil extraction method. In this preparation, the herbs would be placed in a one pint jar filled with water, with a tight lid, that is then placed into another pan of water that also has a tight lid. The water in the outer pan is brought to a near boil, and then kept at a very low temperature, or flame, for a few hours, bringing the water in the jar to a near boil, but not with the high heat that would break down the herbal chemistry dramatically. The complete herbal chemistry is water extracted this way. Many older patients in China still use this method for longevity herbal formulas, and sip the water in the pint jar daily. The patient and the physician could choose from the classically prescribed herbs below to find an individualized formula for prolonged taking. Some of these herbs are bitter, and honey may be added to the water to improve taste, although the taste of the herbal medicine is not the point, but rather the effects. Modern research has recommended such herbs as Rhodiola rosea (Hong jin tian), Astragalus (Huang qi), Ginseng, and Cornelian cherry (Shan zhu yu) as well, to slow cellular aging, and these types of tonic herbs may be added to enhance effects.

The following are translated excerpts from the esteemed early Chinese herbal classic named after the patriarch Shen Nong:

  1. Chrysanthemum morifolii, or Ju hua, is a flower that is bitter and balanced, and is used mainly to treat the pathologies of the head, such as dizziness, headache, eye pain, and swelling. The classic text states that prolonged taking of Ju hua may aid circulation, make the body light, slow aging and prolong life. This genus of chrysanthemum grows in rivers and swamps.
  2. Achyranthis bidentatae, or Niu xi, is a root that is bitter and balanced, mainly treating rheumatic disorders and chronic pain of the knees and legs with stiffness. The classic text states that prolonged taking may make the body light and slow aging. The genus of Achyrathis grows in rivers and valleys, and is also called Bai bei, or hundredfold.
  3. Angelicae pubescentis, or Du huo, is a root that is bitter and balanced, and is used mainly to relieve pain and stiffness, but also problems with the central nervous system, and in females fibroids and other conglomerations. Prolonged taking may make the body light and slow aging. This genus grows in rivers and valleys.
  4. Cimicifugae, or Sheng ma (Black cohosh is an analogue), is sweet and balanced, and mainly treats toxins, especially parasitic toxins. Prolonged taking may prevent premature death from chronic disease, make the body light, and lengthen life. This genus grows in mountains and valleys.
  5. Artemisia keiskeanae, or An lu zi, is the seed of a genus of artemesia, and mainly was used to treat blood stasis in the main organs, swelling and edema of the abdomen, and rheumatic illness. Prolonged taking may make the body light, prolong life, and prevent senility (dementia). This genus grows in rivers and valleys.
  6. Artemisia argyi, or Bai hao, or Ai ye, is a leafy herb that is sweet and balanced, and mainly treats antigens in the main yin organs, supplements deficiency, promotes hair growth and restoration of hair color, and treats anxious depression with constant hunger but reduced appetite. Prolong taking may sharpen the vision and hearing, and prevent senility.
  7. Plantaginis, or Che qian zi, is the seed of the plantago, and is sweet and cold, mainly used to treat urinary difficulties and swelling. Prolonged taking may make the body light and slow aging. This genus grows in plains and swamps.
  8. Cuscutae chinensis seed, or Tu si zi, is acrid and balanced, and is mainly used to supplement insufficiency, boost the qi and physical strength, and regain lost weight. Prolonged taking may improve the vision, make the body light, and prolong life. This genus grows in mountains and valleys.
  9. Junci baltici, or Shi long chu (also known as Dipsacus, or Cao xu duan), is a bitter and cooling herb that treats chronic parasitic disease, urinary difficulties, and rheumatic pain. Prolonged taking may make the body light, sharpen the vision and hearing, and prolong life. (Dipsaci are thistles).
  10. Vacarriae segetalis seed, or Wang bu liu xing, is bitter and balanced, and mainly treats wounds, bleeding, and pain. Prolonged taking may make the body light, slow aging, and increase longevity. This genus grows in mountains and valleys.
  11. Eupatorii chinensis, or Lan cao (may be analogous to boneset), is acrid and balanced, and mainly is used to treat chronic parasitic diseases and difficult urination. Prolonged taking may make the body light, slow aging, and better communicate with spirit light. Its other name is Shui xiang, or Water fragrance, and is grows in pools and swamps.
  12. Sesame seed sprouts, Sesami indici, or Qing xiang, is sweet and cold, and mainly treats antigens in the yin organs and arthritic pains, strengthening the tendons, ligaments and joints. Prolonged taking may sharpen the hearing and vision, prevent senility, and increase longevity. Sprouting the black sesame seed may be most beneficial.
  13. Artemisia capillaris, or Yin chen hao, is a bitter herb that mainly treats joundice and liver disease. Prolonged taking may make the body light, boost the qi, and slow aging.
  14. Abutilonis seu malvae, or Gu huo (also Dong kui zi), is a seed that is sweet and warming, and mainly treats chronic pain and swelling. Prolonged taking may make the body light, increase life span, and slow aging. This genus grows in rivers and swamps.
  15. Magnoliae liliflorae, or Xin yi hua, is a flower that is acrid and warming, and is used mainly to treat inflammatory conditions, dizziness and headache, and black patches on the face. Prolonged taking may make the body light, brighten the vision, increase longevity, and slow aging.
  16. Lycium chinensis, or Gou qi zi (wolfberry), is a small red fruit that is bitter and cooling, and is used mainly to treat deep internal heat, diabetes, and general infirmity. Prolonged taking may benefit the tendons and joint tissues, make the body light, and slow aging. The root of this plant may be the beneficial part in this recommendation, which would indicate the Chinese herb Di gu pi. Numerous studies have shown Lycium fruit has chemicals that are cardioprotective, immunomodulatory, neuroprotective, and exhibit anticancer benefits. Studies of Di gu pi have shown inhibitory activity against pathogenic bacteria and fungi.
  17. Zanthoxylum peperiti pericarp, or Qin jiao, is acrid and warm, and maintly treats arthritic complaints, chronic toxins and antigens, and benefits the growth of hair, teeth and brightens the vision. Prolonged taking may make the body light, render a good facial complexion, slow aging, and prolong life. This genus grows in rivers and valleys.
  18. Zanthoxylum bungeani pericarp, or Shu jiao, is acrid and warm, and mainly treats chronic disease of the lung, and rheumatic disease. Prolonged taking may keep the hair from turning white, make the body light, and increase the life span.This genus grows in rivers and valleys.
  19. Sclerotium polypori umbellati, or Zhu ling, is sweet and balanced, and mainly treats malaria, other chronic parasitic disease, and inhibited urination. Prolonged taking may make the body light, and slow aging.

Preserving the health of our genes, and specifically the ends of the chromosomes, which are called Telomeres

Telomeres are sequences of amino acids, or nucleic acids, on the ends of the strands of chromosomes that make up our genetic code. These repeating sequences of the nucleic acid pairs thymine-adenine and guanine-cytosine have the same sequence on all cells of all people, and appear to be an evolved trait to protect the chromosomes from degrading, or getting too short to be able to divide in mitosis. As we age, these telomeres become shorter, putting our genetic information at risk of malfunction, and in some cancers, the telomeres lengthen, preserving the life of the cancer cells and contributing to spread of cancer. In humans, the average length of the telomeres at birth is about 8000 sequences, while the average length in old age is between 1500 and 3000 sequences of base pairs. The telomeres appear to shorten consistently with repeated cell division, or mitosis, which continuously replaces old cells with new ones. In some parts of the body the cells do not divide and replace as often, such as the heart and brain, and telomeres do not shorten as much on these vital cells. In cancer cells, the mutated cells divide more often than normal, causing tumor growth, but the cells produce a specialized enzyme called telomerase that prevents the expected rapid shortening of telomeres.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, or Daoist medicine, the theories existed that our cells are born with a quality that ancient Daoists called Jing, commonly translated as essence. The preservation of Jing was integral to the ideas of longevity, and many medical practices were devised to preserve the Jing. In the modern study of telomere shortening on the essential aspects of our cells, the DNA strands of chromosomes, are primarily shortened beyond expectation by increased oxidative stress, or accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), or oxidants. One big cause of excess oxidative stress is an imbalance of inflammatory processes, where our immune systems do not keep up with the constant task of using pro-inflammatory mechanisms to clean up cells and fight infections and toxins, and the anti-inflammatory mechanisms to prevent excess damage from the pro-inflammatory processes. Another source of damage to our DNA and telomeres comes from excess glycation, and accumulation of advanced glycation endproducts, which are complexes of sugar, protein and fat molecules that create a sticky binding that inhibits normal cell functions. Our modern lifestyle and diet generates a lot of these reactive oxygen species, or oxidative molecules, as well as advanced glycation endproducts. A less stressful lifestyle, as well as a more natural diet, and adherence to a life that is more in harmony with natural law allows the body to do what it is programmed to do, maintain homeostatic balance and decrease oxidative stress and accumulation of advanced glycation endproducts that speed up the shortening of our telomeres and aging of our cells. The ancient protocols in Daoist Medicine are now shown to achieve just these tasks, with the array of herbs, nutrients, and lifestyle practices, such as the practive of Qi Gong, utilized in Daoist Yang Sheng protocols, now proven to provide antioxidants, decrease advanced glycation endproducts, and preserve telomere length on healthy cells as they age.

While the study of telomeres in aging has achieved much recognition in the last decade, more than a decade of research has revealed that specific acupuncture stimulation shows beneficial effects on modulating healthy telomere regulation in scientific study (see study link below). In fact, the study of the effects of acupuncture and electroacupuncture on telomeres was one of the early surprising findings that stimulated more interest in the potential to preserve normal telomere length, as well as decrease telomere preservation in cancer cells, to design new therapies of anti-aging and cancer therapy. While there is no drug or therapy that can indefinitely preserve telomere length, scientists have found a number of ways to decrease the rate of telomere shortening, or aging of cells. So far, most of these successful means have been related to herbal and nutrient chemicals used in longevity treatments in Complementary Medicine. While allopathic medicine is exploring the means to block the production of telomerase to treat cancer, this type of therapy also comes with the adverse effects of telomerase blocking, shortening the life span, impairing fertility, and inhibiting wound healing and the production of new healthy blood cells and immune cells in bone marrow. On the other hand, increasing telomerase activity may increase risk of cancer. A modulating protocol, utilizing the complex mechanisms built into the organism, or homeostatic controls, is the answer to the this conundrum, and Complementary Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, provides such a therapeutic protocol already.

In 2009, the New York based company T.A. Sciences announced that it had produced the only lab tested pharmaceutical to decrease telomere shortening. The drug, call TA-65, sought approval from the U.S. FDA, and was a biologic developed from chemicals in the Chinese herb Astragalus, or Huang Qi, which has long been used to improve immune function. The chemical TA-65 is produced at low levels in the astragalus plant, and the company found a way to purify and concentrate this substance, which encourages the enzyme telomerase to maintain and lengthen cell telomeres. The U.S. FDA stated that this TA-65 was not a drug, because it did not cure a disease, and so it was termed a nutritional supplement, which requires no FDA approval, and for which there is almost no FDA regulation. On the other hand, our laws state that governmental and insurance health payments are not available for nutritional supplements, so TA-65, which costs about $14,000 per year, would be prohibitively expensive for most people. On the other hand, a comprehensive protocol of healthy diet and lifestyle changes, herbal and nutrient medicines, including Astragalus, and acupuncture, could provide proven effects to preserve or lengthen telomeres for relatively little money. The public can make the sensible choice if they understand the science.

One source of advanced study into the modulation of telomeres is the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), which is pioneering much of this advanced research. On May 22, 2013, the UCSF website announced that famed researcher Dr. Ownen Wolkowitz, discovered that increased shortening of the telomeres is also associated with Major Depressive Syndrome. Research has shown that with anxiety and depression that size of the hippocampus, a part of the brain associated with mood and neurohormonal regulation, actually decreases, and the UCSF researchers linked this hypotrophy of the hippocampus to the amount of telomerase activity, and shortening of telomeres, measured in white blood cells. These researchers also found that when depression resolved, the telomerase activity increased, and the patients with depression that were studied showed that those with a lower telomerase activity at baseline were most likely to benefit from treatment. The longer the patient had suffered from Major Depressive Disorder the shorter the telomeres were. Wolfowitz's team of researchers have also studied the effects of low-grade chronic inflammation and oxidative stress on depression and found a strong correlation. Such study confirms that benefits of a holistic protocol with Complementary Medicine to resolve depression and anxiety, and in the process provide the potential for anti-aging, and anti-cancer effects. While pharmaceutical research will surely explore the potential for new types of drugs that treat depression by affecting telomerase, such allopathic treatment will come with adverse effects along with the beneficial, and will not affect the whole array of mechanisms. The advantages of integrating Complementary Medicine into such protocol is obvious.

An Array of Goals Are Important to Healthy Aging

To intelligently design a protocol to help with longevity and healthy aging, the various goals of therapy must by individualized, and a thoughtful and realistic course of care must be designed to suit the needs of the individual. Here are some of the improtant goals and treatments studied to achieve the them. Cardioprotection, neuroprotection, inflammatory regulation, protection of genetic telomeres, aiding kidney function, metabolic aid, tissue maintenance, adaptation to stress, and aiding hormonal balance are all important goals, and many studies, some of which are cited below with links, are available to provide evidence for CIM/TCM. Such care, along with improved diet and lifestyle advice, can be accomplished with short courses of acupuncture and physiotherapy, and a step-by-step approach with herbal and nutrient medicine.

Additional Information: Information Resources and Links to Scientific Studies

  1. A chart of the 10 most common causes of death in the United States shows real health concerns that need to be considered to prolong life, and the progress that we have made since 1960. Integrating real preventive medicine to improve these issues is most important:
  2. A 2014 conservative review of the growing problem of polypharmacy in treatment of the aging population in the United States, by experts at Duqusne University and the Mylan School of Pharmacy, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. shows that there are insufficient controls and considerations on the risks and excesses of this approach, creating much harm to the aging population that is largely unnecessary. Integration of Complementary Medicine, still heavily fought in standard practice, and improved preventive medicine that is more holistic could help decrease polypharmacy and healthcare costs dramatically:
  3. A 2014 comprehensive review of the benefits of Complementary and Integrative Medicine (CIM) in the care of the aging population, by experts at the University of Stratchlyde School of Medicine, in the United Kingdom, and various University Medical Schools in Malaysia, concluded that CIM medical care is proven to be beneficial in managing chronic conditions, relieving pain, improving the quality of life, and encouraging a self-empowerment and a more proactive approach to individual health:
  4. A 2003 meta-review of all scientific study of testosterone supplementation by the University of Washington School of Medicine and Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Geriatric Research and Clinical Center found that while there was little evidence of short-term significant negative health risks, other than increased PSA and hematocrit, the few studies evaluating benefits and risks were insufficient to confirm long-term safety, and were not recommended for patients other than those with moderate to severe low levels of circulating testosterone:
  5. A 2008 randomized controlled study of the effects of testosterone supplementation for aging men with low to low-normal testosterone levels, age 60-80, at the University of Utrecht Medical Center, The Netherlands, found that 6 months of supplementation with testosterone undecenoate did not affect or benefit cognitive or functional status, or bone density, had mixed metabolic effects, decreasing healthy high density lipoprotein cholesterol, and resulted in a higher risk of Metabolic Syndrome, while providing no measurable improvement in quality of life. The only positive measurable effects were increased lean body mass and a slight reduction in insulin resistance:
  6. A 2006 study of the correlation between symptoms associated with male aging and sex steroids, such as testosterone, by experts at the University of Fukui School of Medicine, in Fukui, Japan, found that symptoms of mild testosterone deficiency in the aging male are not significantly related to levels of circulating total or free testosterone on blood tests, or to DHEAS, growth hormone, estrogens, luteinizing hormone, or follicle stimulation hormone in blood tests. The widespread prescription of testosterone for "Low T" appears to be based on false assumptions. The level of male progesterone was not measured, but has been linked to many male aging symptoms, such as prostate hypertrophy and sexual dysfunction:
  7. A 2014 review of scientific studies at Biotropics Malaysia Berhand, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, found that an extract of the Chinese herb Eurycoma longifolia (Tongkat Ali), has been found to exert significant effects to stimulate testosterone production, without adverse effects, and has also been found to improve bone health, modulate blood sugars, and provide anticancer cytotoxic effects for prostate cancer cell lines:
  8. A 2009 review of scientific studies of the pro-aging effects of processed sugars and a high caloric diet was presented by PLOS Genetics, and headed by Dr. Antoine E. Roux of the University of Montreal, Canada, and Manal A. Alaamery of Boston College in the United States. This review revealed how high sugar intake, and expression of glucose receptors, as well as high caloric intake associated with excess sugar in the diet, promotes accelerated aging in many species by increased oxidant stress, reduction of resistance to oxidant stress, and lowered respiratory rates:
  9. A 2007 study of aging and the importance of antioxidants and cofactors to counter common disease states with aging, by Dr. Khalid Rahman, of the Liverpool John Moores University School of Biological Sciences, provides a succinct explanation of the most studied and important antioxidants and cofactors and their relation to specific diseases:
  10. A number of herbal and nutritional chemicals, and synthetics are being investigated for their longevity-producing effects, as well as caloric restriction diets, and a study at Cambridge University Institute for Medical Research, in the UK, found in 2011 that inhibition of the natural autophagy, or natural degradation and replacement of cellular components, compromises these longevity agents, and that these agents often stimulate cellular autophagy. These longevity stimulators include resveratrol (from the Chinese herb Polygonum cuspidatum, or Hu zhang), sirtuin 1 activation, inhibition of insulin and insulin-like growth factor, spermidine, and rapamycin:
  11. Research in 2010 at INSERM, in Villejuif, France, showed that resveratrol, a chemical in the Chinese herb Polygonum cuspidatum (Hu zhang), activates an enzymatic chemical Sirtuin-1 that is required for the cellular autophagic response (clearing and replacing of cellular components), and that caloric deprivation, of patterns of fasting, will play a significant role in this autophagic response that appears at the heart of longevity mechanisms. This research suggests that all of these components play a symbiotic role in a holistic treatment protocol for longevity:
  12. Research in 2011 at the University Center for Advanced Neurotoxicity, Dept. of Biomedical Sciences, Iowa State University, found that resveratrol significantly protected brain cells from methamphetamine-induced dopaminergic neuronal damage via caspase-3 activity, and partiall reduced apoptotic (programmed) cell death of the neurons:
  13. Research in 2014 at the University of Lodz, Lodz, Poland, found that a nutriceutical formula containing CoQ10, L-selenomethionine, hormone Vitamin D3 cholecalciferol, Omega-3 essential fatty acids, and a number of polyphenol antioxidants increased the level of telomerase on genes, a marker of anti-aging, of 66 human subjects by more the 25 percent, and reduced markers of oxidative stress on red blood cells dramatically:
  14. Claims of amazing longevity attributed to a comprehensive protocol of herbal medicine, Qi Gong practices, and diet and lifestyle habits in Chinese history abound. The most amazing is the documentation of Li Ching-Yuen, who records show was a famed practitioner of such Nei Dan Daoist practices of Yang Sheng and a famed professional herbalist who traveled widely and personally harvested many herbs. Li Ching-Yuen may have lived to be 256 years old, and obituaries in 1933 in Time Magazine and many international publications documented the renown he held by many famous personages, research organizations and experts on aging in China. Such a lifespan would mirror that of a number of famous Xian in Chinese history:
  15. A 2011 review of research on the herb Epimedium, or Yin yang huo, finds that 52 species of this genus have been studied, with over 260 isolated chemicals from the herb, and that a number of effects have been shown to benefit the optimization of aging, including anti-aging cellular effects, antioxidant, anti-osteoporotic, hormone regulating, immunomodulating, anti-tumor, anti-atherosclerotic, and anti-depressant activities:
  16. A 2009 study at Taiwan University Institute of Food Science and Technology found that the Chinese herb Astragalus (Huang qi), which is usually prepared with a classic bacillus subtilis natto-fermented processing in TCM, significantly stimulated cellular production of hyaluronic acid in skin cells to promote healthier skin with aging:
  17. A 2007 study at the University of California Irvine found that the Chinese herb Rhodiola rosea (Hong jin tian) exhibited significant longevity and anti-aging effects in study:
  18. A 2015 study of the Chinese herb Rhodiola rosea, or Hong jin tian, by experts at the Nanjing University School of Medicine, showed that a combination of Rhodiola rosea and Schisandra berry (Wu wei zi) could significantly reduce markers of stress and exert positive effects on the adrenal-hypothalamus axis, measured on laboratory animals with induced stress. These measured effects included lowering of elevated corticosl, c-Fos and Fra-2 in both the brain and peripheal circulation:
  19. A 2015 study at the Columbia University School of Medicine and the New York Medical College found that the Chinese herb Rhodiola rosea, or Hong jin tian, showed numerous scientific studies confirming that this herb is potentially a potent selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM) that could prevent, delay of mitigate maneopause-related cognitive, psychological, cardiovascular and osteoporotic conditions:
  20. A 2010 study at the University of Fukui Department of Applied Chemistry and Biotechnology found that chemicals and metabolites in the Chinese herb Cordyceps militaris exhibited benefits with anti-aging, antioxidant, immunomodulation, steroidogenic hormonal, anti-inflammatory, anti-fibrotic, and anti-cancer effects:
  21. A 2009 randomized placebo-controlled human clinical study at Seoul National University in Korea demonstrated that an herbal formula with red ginseng (Ren shen), Torilus and Corni fruits (Shan zhu yu), significantly improved facial wrinkles and increased collagen synthesis to improve aging skin. This was an internally taken herbal extract:
  22. Nutraceutical studies were reviewed in 2010 at Zagreb University in Croatia, and found promising beneficial effects related to anti-aging with omega-3 fatty acids, Co-Q10, probiotics, phytoestrogens, and other antioxidants:
  23. A study in 2014 at Manipal University and the Indian Institute of Science, in Bangalore, India, found that a standardized extract of pomegranate may be a significant aid to healthy aging in humans, after pomegranate supplement showed a variety to effects in the enhancement of healthy and longevity in the Drosophila, which is most often used to study genetic health effects. The combination of Pomegranate extract and Resveratrol showed increased benefits:
  24. A study in 2003 at the University of Reading, United Kingdom, found that the metabolites of isoflavones were even more effective with antioxidant and free radical scavenging effects in the human body, showing that oral consumption of these chemicals in herbs and foods produced potent beneficial effects:
  25. A 2013 study at the Chinese Culture University, in Taipei, Taiwan, studied the ability of 6 common Chinese herbal extracts to protect against oxidative damage to DNA, finding that an alcohol extract of Houttuynia cordata (Yu xing cao) was most effective as measured by the trolox-equivalent antioxidant capacity (TEAC), and that both alcohol and water extracts of Houttuynia and Mentha arvensis (Bo he) showed excellent inhibition percentages for tail DNA percentages, or telomeres, and significantly suppressed oxidative damage to lymphocyte DNA:
  26. A study in 2012 at the Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, Lucknow, India, found that the herb Premna integrafolia (or serratifolia), called Agnimantha, contains a chemical iridoid called 10-O-trans-p-Couraroylcatalpol (OCC) that extended the life of animals in studies, as well as showing a number of beneficial effects, including decreasing alpha synuclein, a protein implicated in Parkinson's disease, as well as reducing oxidative stress and promote gene transcription factors associated with longevity. :
  27. A 2016 study at the Peking Union Medical College and Harbin University, in China, provided further proof that key chemicals in ginseng, such as Gypenoside 17, provide neuroprotective benefits that enhance autophagy and lysosomal breakdown of Amyloid-beta plaques that are a key part of the pathology of Alzheimer's disease:
  28. Some government health research is taking the subject of herbal and nutritional medicines to promote healthy aging, or longevity, seriously. Here, we see that Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia, is conducting a large randomized trial of a combination of pycnogenol and Bacopa monieri extract to examine the beneficial effects on cognitive performance, as well a cardiovascular and other biochemical aids to the aging population:
  29. A 2011 study at National Taiwan University in Taipei, Taiwan, China, found that the now well-known constituent of Chinese herbal medicine, Curcumin, increased lifespan and achieved significant antioxidant benefits in laboratory studies. Much research has revealed the medicinal benefits of curcumin, especially in reducing chronic inflammation and preventing cancers, and an optimized Curcuma has been patented to deliver more of this herbal chemical to target tissues, called Long Vida:
  30. A 2010 study at the Monash University School of Medicine, in Melbourne, Australia, noted that research in recent years has found that a number of factors may influence genetic telomere stability and remodeling, as well as telomere length, and that hormones, immune cytokines, vitamins and herbal chemicals have been shown to significantly influence telomerase activity and remodeling of telomeres:
  31. A 2014 study at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) David Geffen School of Medicine, in the U.S., Tianjin Medical University and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, in Beijing, China, showed that the Chinese herbal formula Tian sheng yuan (TSY-1), used to treat bone marrow deficiencies, can both modulate telomerase activity to protect telomere length on genes, and exert significant hematopoietic activity (formation of new healthy blood cells) via this mechanism. This Chinese herbal formula increased red blood cells, hematocrit, and platelet count in peripheral blood circulation, and this may be a central mechanism:
  32. a 2015 study at the University of South Alabama and University of California at Irvine, in the U.S. found that an herbal formula called SC100, composed of herbal chemicals shown to modulate genetic health, showed a striking and signficant effect on extending the life span in Drosophila in the laboratory, as well as reduction of physiological stress that contributed to an earlier death. Such study shows that there is proven potential for herbal medicine in aiding longevity and healthy aging. SC100 consists of Astragalus (Huang qi), Pycnogenol (Pine bark standardized OPCs and lignans), Polygonum multiflorum (Ye jiao teng), Schisandra berry (Wu wei zi), Polygonum He shou wu, Drynaria rhzome (Gu sui bu), Perocarupus marsupium (Indian kino tree, or Bijaka), L-theanine, and green tea extract. These herbal and nutrient medicines are widely used in various TCM formulas and protocols:
  33. A 2013 study at the University of Western Sydney School of Science and Health, in Australia, showed with an in vitro study that the herbs most commonly usd to promote healthy aging and longevity in TCM practice, Rhodiola rosea (Hong jin tian), Polygonum multiflorum (He shou wu), Ganoderma lucidum (Ling zhi), Schizandra chinensis (Wu wei zi), Polgygonum cuspidatum (Hy zhang) and Glycyrrhiza glabra (Gan cao) showed significant in vitro effects, with Hu zhang and Wu wuei zi inhibiting induced cell apoptosis by 30-50 percent, neuroprotective effects, and signficant antioxidant effects on brain cells:
  34. A 2010 review of longevity study by the University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles, California, U.S.A, found that the key to longevity is maintaining a healthy homeostatic balance between pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory factors, and a holistic approach with a plant-based diet and herbal and nutrient medicines supplied by a knowledgable TCM physician (Traditional Chinese Medicine) or Licensed Acupuncturist and herbalist can be very helpful:
  35. A 2009 study at Hubei College of Chinese Medicine, in Wuhan, China, found that electroacupuncture stimulation at 2 points, DU4 and ST36, produced upregulation of T-cell proliferation and and anti-inflammatory cytokine expression in laboratory animals, explaining the traditional anti-aging effects attributed to this point combination:
  36. A 2014 study at the People's Liberation Army General Hospital, in Beijing, China, showed that electroacupuncture stimulation at ST36 significantly reduced the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, including plasma TNF-alpha, and benefited multisystem organ functions in laboratory animals exposed to bacterial LPS with chronic pro-inflammatory imbalance. The benefits were attributed to activation of the autonomic nervous system and cholinergic pathways which stimulated an improved anti-inflammatory response:
  37. As far back as 1998, studies such as this at the Heart Disease Research Foundation of New York, U.S.A., found that acupuncture and shiatsu (myofascial trigger point release) at the acupuncture point ST36 had a modulating effect on the telomere length of cell genes, a much studied aspect of aging, as well as cancer progression. This acupuncture stimulation resulted in lengthening of telomeres on healthy normal cells, and shortening of the telomeres on cancer cells:
  38. A 2013 study of all published scientific studies of the effects of acupuncture on brain health at the Kyung Hee University College of Korean Medicine showed that acupuncture stimulation at the common points ST36 and DU20 induces neurogenesis by promoting upregulating expression of neuotrophic factors, basic fibroblast growth factor, and Neuropeptide Y in the brain, as well as vascular function:
  39. A 2014 randomized controlled study in China showed that a course of acupuncture performed daily for a month significantly improved kidney function in laboratory animals with induced kidney disease, suppressing chronic renal disease (CRF) induced serum creatinine (Scr), blood urea nitrogen (BUN), and renal beta-catenin protein expression, the main markers for kidney failure. Such study demonstrates the potential for short courses of acupuncture to benefit aging individuals with degenerating kidney function. The points used were SP6, K3, and UB23, which are commonly used:
  40. A 2007 randomized controlled human clinical trial of 130 patients with diabetic nephropathy (kidney dysfunction), at the Tianjin Hospital of TCM, in Tianjin, China, showed that the acupuncture treatment improved kidney function GFR, renal blood flow, decreased excess urinary albumin, and helped regulate blood sugar and lipid profile. The points used in the tretment group included LI11, SJ6, LI4, SP10, ST36, SP9, ST40, SP8, SP6, LV3, ST25, UB43, UB23, Ren12, and Ren 3, and treatment at the hospital was administered twice per day for a short course. This treatment was compared to another selection of points with acupuncture, providing improved guidelines for treatment. Such study shows that proper treatment with acupuncture is proven to benefit kidney function, and this can be applied in a modified way to prevent kidney dysfunction in aging, with short courses of acupuncture perhaps twice a week for a few weeks improving kidney function and benefiting health and longevity:
  41. A 2015 study at the Chongqing Medical University, in China, showed that both electroacupuncture stimulation and mild moxibustions stimulation at the acupuncture points UB23 and DU4 near the lumbar spine increased serum testosterone in laboratory animals with mild androgen deficiency:
  42. A 2005 study at the Heart Disease Research Foundation in New York found that the adrenal hormone DHEA (dehydroepiandosterone) affected telomere length and the proper level of this hormone produced anti-aging effects. Contrary to standard anti-aging protocols, though, these researchers found that large supplemental dosage of DHEA, as is typically prescribed in standard anti-aging clinics, did not benefit the patient, and that a much smaller increase in DHEA, with a fourth of the dosage that was usual, achieved the maximum effect on normal cell telomere lengthening. Such research demonstrates that this should be just part of an anti-aging protocol, and the use of the bioidentical plant hormone pregnenelone, the precursore to DHEA, could provide the patient with the bioavailability of chemistry to achieve this normalization of DHEA in aging:
  43. A 2013 study at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) found that telomere shortening not only correlated with aging, but also with major depression:
  44. A 2013 study at the Women's Wellness Center of Tyler, Texas, found that 300 women with perimenopausal symptoms given bioidentical hormone therapy in the form of pharmaceutical compounded estriol and/or progesterone for 8 weeks, then a follow-up therapy with compounded bioidentical DHEA and testosterone if needed, resulted in no measurable adverse physiological effects, and a wide number of beneficial outcomes, including relief of menopausal symptoms, decreased anxiety and depression, improved metabolism, and improvements in cardiovascular biomarkers, inflammatory factors and immune signaling factors. Such studies are now numerous and reveal that low-dose bioidentical hormone creams, usually derived from plant hormones, provide the aging patients with remarkable health benefits compared to the array of risks and adverse effects associated with synthetic hormone replacement therapies:
  45. A 2012 study by Greenpharma SAS, Orleans, France, found that a chemical in the Chinese Herb Magnolia (Hou pou), honokiol, is shown to be a significant modulator of 5-alpha reductase types 1 and 2, as well as an inhibitor of aromatase, thus acting to regulate hormone conversions in the tissues, especially with testosterone deficiency and excess conversion of testosteron to estrogen locally. This would benefit the aging individual. In this case, the effect would be to help with agin skin in men with declining testosterone levels, but other effects could be in tissue maintenance, anti-cancer, etc.:
  46. A 2015 study of a common tonic herbal formula in Chinese Medicine, at the National Taiwan Normal University, in Taipei, Taiwan, showed that this B401 formula significantly resolved the underlying pathological factors that contributed to erectile dysfunction in aging, increasing nitric oxide production for healthy vasodilation, decreasing oxidative stress, inflammation and apoptosis in cells, and alleviating manganese toxicity, a heavy metal accumulation. This formula is composed of Ginseng (Ren shen), Dang gui (Angelica sinensis), Shu di huang (Rhemannia glutinosa), Huang qi (Astragalus), Nu zhen zi (Ligustrum lucidum) and Han lian (Eclipta prostrata), all very common herbs in many Chinese formulas: