Members often ask us to tell them which life extension nutrients and drugs we consider most important.
They ask us because of the vast number of nutrient and drug products available through The Foundation—a number that is constantly increasing as we come across exciting new products. Members want us to provide them with a list of these products in order of importance because they cannot afford to take everything of benefit to their health, or because they don't have the time to take everything they'd like to take.
We published our top ten life extension nutrient list in the August 1993 issue of Life Extension Update. We had hoped to publish our top ten life extension drug list soon afterwards, but so many new findings were coming out that we simply didn't have the time to put together such a list.
Since the FDA calls natural hormones "drugs", we have included hormone replacement therapies in our top ten list. We've also included several nutrients that are sold as "drugs" in other countries as treatments for some of the consequences of neurological aging.
In evaluating these drugs, we considered several important criteria. The first is whether there is any evidence that the drug has extended mean and/or maximum lifespan in laboratory animals. The problem with this measure is that there have been relatively few lifespan studies conducted with potential anti-aging therapies.
For example, there is evidence that deprenyl, melatonin, and centrophenoxine can extend lifespan in animals, but this evidence (except in the case of deprenyl) is sparse and far from definitive. On the other hand, there is no evidence that DHEA can extend lifespan in animals, but no such study (to our knowledge) has ever been conducted, although one is now underway at the V.A. Hospital at the University of Wisconsin (You'll be hearing more about this study later.)
Two other factors in our analysis are availability and affordability. Some drugs were lower on our list than they might have been because they are costly and difficult to obtain. For example, we have omitted potential anti-aging drugs such as low dose RU-486 because of the difficulty in obtaining it for clinical use.
What are the most Important life extension drugs?
In considering this list, it is important to understand that all the drugs included on the list are there because there is solid evidence that they have significant benefits for health and longevity. It's also important to note that new findings about these drugs are pouring into our offices at an unprecedented rate, which could lead us to change our opinion about the order of the list at any time.
10. SYNTHETIC HUMAN GROWTH HORMONE
Injections of synthetic human growth hormone have been used by geriatric physicians to rejuvenate aging men by increasing their muscle mass, strength, flexibility, and coordination.
Growth hormone deficiency is a major cause of the decline in immune function and protein synthesis with advancing age in both muscle and neurologic tissues. Recent findings suggest that growth hormone may be an effective treatment for early-stage Alzheimer's disease as well as early senile dementia caused by a decline in brain cell energy metabolism. We will soon be reporting on clinical benefits reported with growth hormone therapy in both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's patients.
If growth hormone were not artificially overpriced because of the FDA restriction of its sale in the United States, we might have placed it higher on our list. It doesn't cost any more to synthesize growth hormone than it does to synthesize insulin. Without FDA interference, most aging Americans could easily afford injections of growth hormone in an attempt to slow aging. The need to inject growth hormone also limits the availability of this highly potent life extension drug.
The current cost of synthetic human growth hormone ranges from $12,000-225,000 annually. If you want a referral to a doctor who offers growth hormone therapy.
The most frequently used offshore drug to boost short-term memory and overall cognitive function is piracetam.
There are more than 800 published studies documenting the ability of piracetam to promote youthful neurologic function, including enhanced cellular protein synthesis and interhemispheric and intercellular communication.
Stroke victims might avoid paralysis and death if given drugs like piracetam after entering the hospital. Even in patients who suffered stroke-induced brain cell injury years ago, there is evidence that piracetam may help to improve the functioning of these damaged cells.
Piracetam can be ordered from Europe. If we succeed in abolishing the FDA, piracetam, like every other drug and nutrient product you buy, will be reduced immediately in price by at least 50%.
Because of some recently published studies in elderly humans, the news media have been touting the multi-faceted anti-aging benefits of DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone).
DHEA is now fulfilling much of the promise indicated in the animal studies that Saul Kent and The Life Extension Foundation have been informing our members about since 1975.
For those suffering from adult-onset diabetes, atherosclerosis, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease, or any form of autoimmune disease such as multiple sclerosis or lupus, DHEA replacement therapy is highly recommended.
DHEA can be expensive for people who need high doses, but for most people it is reasonably priced. We recommend blood tests to measure the effect that DHEA supplementation has on your DHEA serum level. While these tests currently cost $55-$110, they can save you money by enabling you to lower your daily dose of DHEA. Men should also have more regular PSA (prostate specific antigen) tests to make sure they do not have prostate cancer.
It is regrettable that we have had to advise men with prostate cancer to avoid DHEA because it could increase testosterone (and subsequently dihydrotestosterone levels), which could accelerate the proliferation of prostate cancer cells. For all men taking DHEA, we suggest supplementation with SERENX (saw palmetto extract) to block the conversion of testosterone into the more dangerous dihydrotestosterone.
SERENX (also called PERMIXON) has not been listed in the top ten because it is not an appropriate therapy for most women. However, for men over 40, we strongly recommend the daily intake of 1 -2 capsules of low cost SERENX to prevent benign prostatic hypertrophy and possibly prostate cancer.
If DHEA was completely free of side effects, and did not require blood testing, we might list it higher. It is a well substantiated life extension therapy that can help to protect us against many of the degenerative diseases associated with aging, and may have an effect on aging itself.
These two drugs provide a wide range of anti-aging effects in brain and other cells that you cannot easily obtain with any other therapy.
Vinpocetine and/or Hydergine have been shown to:
- improve blood supply to the brain
- increase the amount of oxygen delivered to the brain
- increase oxygen use by the brain
- enhance metabolism in brain cells
- protect the brain from damage during periods of decreased and/or insufficient oxygen supply
- slow the deposit of age pigment (lipofuscin) in the brain
- prevent free radical damage in brain cells
- increase intelligence, memory, learning, and recall
- enhance the use of glucose by brain cells
- increase ATP levels in the brain
- stop blood from becoming sticky
- raise brain levels of serotonin
Vinpocetine is rather expensive (at 20-40 mg a day), which is one reason we don't list it any higher. Vinpocetine has been on the world market since the early 1980s, but as far as we know, has yet to be entered in the FDA's new drug approval quagmire. The cost of this periwinkle herbal extract would be very little if the FDA didn't interfere with the shipment of drugs from overseas companies. We are currently seeking a standardized periwinkle extract that we could sell as a low cost nutrient just as we do with acetyl-l-carnitine and melatonin.
Hydergine is more affordable at effective dose ranges of 4 to 12 mg a day. Most generic brands of ergoloid mesylate are comparable to the Sandoz "Hydergine" brand.
If money is no object, you should consider ordering Vinpocetine from Europe. Cost conscious members should stay with Hydergine.