Take berberine, live 80 percent longer
If you respond just as well to berberine as lab mice, you can extend the number of years you are allowed to walk around this planet by 80 percent. No, that doesn't mean that berberine will prevent you from being abducted by aliens and sold into slavery on another planet. Berberine extends life. That's all.
Berberine is a substance that is present in relatively high concentrations in plants such as barberry or Berberis vulgaris. Traditional Asian healers have used berberine extracts for centuries against a variety of ailments, and scientists in countries such as China, Taiwan and South Korea hope that berberine can slow down aging processes.
The supplement industry uses berberine in products that should, among other things, improve cholesterol levels and accelerate weight loss.
Pharmacologists at Peking University wondered if berberine supplementation could extend lifespan and protect health as the aging process progresses. In a publication in Aging Cell, they describe in vitro and animal studies that should provide more clarity about this.
When the researchers gave lab mice of 18 months old - they were middle aged - feed containing a little berberine for 4 months, they found that the animals had healthier fur at a young-old age of 22 months than mice in the control group. This indicates that the mice were healthier.
If the mice had been humans, they would have taken 400 milligrams of berberine every day. This amount of berberine is contained in a capsule of a well-dosed supplement.
As the brains of mice age, their coordination capacity diminishes. They are more likely to tumble from a spinning rod. However, if the mice from above were given berberine, their coordination capacity remained stable. You can see this above.
These experiments suggest that berberine increases health span.
In another series of tests, the researchers were able to show that berberine also extended the life span. When mice at 18 months were given berberine for 4 months, the number of days they could still live increased by as much as 80 percent.
The human equivalent of the dose tested was again about 400 milligrams per day.
A molecular marker of aging is the activity of the enzyme senescence-associated beta-galactosidase. Medicines such as doxorubicin make that enzyme more active. At the bottom right you can see that berberine reduces the increase in the activity of senescence-associated beta-galactosidase by doxorubicin.
Mice on long-term doxorubicin do not live that long. They can therefore serve as models for people who age at an accelerated pace for whatever reason. If you also give those mice berberine, their lifespan will increase.
"Thus, the use of berberine at low doses may result in restoring the loss of health due to natural aging," the researchers summarize.
"Therefore, this molecule may be a candidate as an anti-aging drug for the treatment of age-related diseases that are, at least in part, driven by senescence."
Aging Cell. 2020 Jan;19(1):e13060.
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