These 6 Anti-aging Plant Extracts Increase Lifespan, Say Scientists
You need to know about the 6 anti-aging plant extracts that scientists used to substantially extend the life of yeast, and why they should be part of your diet too (even though you’re not a single-cell microscopic fungus; presumably).
Updated February 7, 2021
A few years ago, the Internet was buzzing from the conclusions of a study published in the online journal, Oncotarget, about anti-aging plant extracts that greatly extend the lifespan of yeast. Since then many more studies have underscored how vitally important are the flavonoids and phytonutrients of plants to extend healthspan, and possibly lifespan as well, for humans.
For instance, in 2020 Harvard Health summarized two such meta studies (studies that analyze and synthesis an aggregate of studies), which found:
- Getting 3% more of total calories in the form of plant protein (like beans, nuts, and whole grains) lowered people’s risk for premature death by 5%.
- Shifting just 3% of calorie intake from animal protein (meat, poultry, fish, or dairy products) to plant protein corresponded with a 10% decrease in death from any cause over that period, for bot
- Replacing eggs and red meat with plant proteins appeared to reduce death risk by as much as 24% in men and 21% in women.
And earlier this year (2021), two Italian researchers published a study showing that plant phytonutrient intake was effective at ameliorating several age-related phenotypes (observable characteristics or traits of an organism), including oxidative stress, inflammation, impaired proteostasis, and cellular senescence — which are among the Hallmarks of Aging.
But now back to the Oncotarget study about anti-aging plant extracts and yeast.
What do slow-aging yeast have to do with you, and just which anti-aging plant extracts are we talking about here, you ask?
Well, to answer the first question, strange as it may sound, concerning the genes that govern lifespan, we have a lot in common with yeast, as well as worms, flies and mice. This is because in all of those species, and many others, the genes and cellular pathways linked to aging are said to “conserved“; meaning, they’re fundamentally the same among the animal kingdom, and have been throughout evolution.
Regarding the second question about the anti-aging plant extracts, please read on and find out what you should be adding to your diet to improve your health over the long run, so says science.
In this article, you'll discover:
Let’s start with what the scientists discovered, per the Oncotarget abstract:
- They discovered six plant extracts that increase yeast chronological lifespan to a significantly greater extent than any of the presently known longevity-extending chemical compounds.
- One of these extracts is the most potent longevity-extending pharmacological intervention yet described.
- They show that each of the six plant extracts is a geroprotector, which delays the onset and decreases the rate of yeast chronological aging by eliciting a hormetic stress response. (See the graph below.)
- They also show that each of these extracts has different effects on cellular processes that define longevity, which include:
- Increased mitochondrial respiration and membrane potential;
- Augmented or reduced concentrations of reactive oxygen species;
- Decreased oxidative damage to cellular proteins, membrane lipids, and mitochondrial and nuclear genomes;
- Enhanced cell resistance to oxidative and thermal stresses; and
- Accelerated degradation of neutral lipids deposited in lipid droplets. Our findings provide new insights into mechanisms through which chemicals extracted from certain plants can slow biological aging.
Now to the four statements presented above and how they’re relevant to your quest to live a long and healthy life, even though you’re not, presumably, yeast.
Statement #1, Yeast and Anti-aging Plant Extracts
Yeast cells were used in the experiment, because their aging rate is similar to that of human cells. In fact, most metabolic and cellular pathways thought to occur in humans can be studied in yeast.
This is true despite your spot-on perception that you’re not one of these single-celled microorganisms; yet, strangely, we humans share some important biological similarities with yeast. For instance, an important feature of yeast that make them such useful organisms for studying biological processes in humans is that their cells, like ours, have a nucleus containing DNA packaged into chromosomes.
(More about yeast and humans here.)
What this distills down to is that scientist can infer that the effects of certain biochemical manipulations on yeast might pertain to humans as well. So when it’s discovered that certain plant extracts measurably extend the lifespan of yeast, scientists get all giddy-like, because they think it could also be true for us brainy bipeds.
Statement #2, The Most Potent Extract
I’ll just tell you straight away that the most potent extract the researcher found among the six is White Willow Tree extract. It was the only one mentioned in several of the articles I read about this study. For some reason, none of the other five were mentioned, till I dug deeper. More on that below.
Statement #3, Geroprotection and Hormesis
The next thing you might be wondering about is what the heck is a “geroprotector”?
That’s a new word for me, too, so I looked it up and immediately liked it.
According to Wikipedia,
a “geroproctector” is a senotherapeutic (therapeutic agents and strategies that specifically target cells that no longer can divide) that aims to affect the root cause of aging and age-related diseases, and thus prolong the life span of animals. Some possible geroprotectors include melatonin, carnosine, metformin and delta sleep-inducing peptide (short-chain amino acids that induces deep sleep).
So, what the plant-extract study reveals is that the extracts affected some of the basic causes of aging, and did so by stimulating a hormetic stress response.
Which then begs the question, “What’s a ‘hormetic stress response’”?
“Hormesis is a biological phenomenon whereby a beneficial effect (improved health, stress tolerance, growth or longevity) results from exposure to low doses of an agent that is otherwise toxic or lethal when given at higher doses.”
The following graph presents the conceptual understanding that some things (chemicals, foods, drinks) can either be beneficial to an organism (like you) or harmful depending on the dose. This reminds me of prevailing consensus that one glass of red wine per day is good, but drinking a case of before the sun rises is toxic.
Hormesis postulates that low doses of ROS (“Reactive Oxygen Species”) are beneficial and have a physiologic role, while increasing doses (yellow line) will cause toxicity. This is in contrast to the traditional view that all levels of ROS (dotted line) will have a harmful effect.
Statement #4, The Biological Processes Pertinent to Longevity (or the lack thereof)
This part gets into the nitty gritty of several of the reasons that aging happens. The chemicals extracted from certain plant extracts apparently slow-down biological aging by:
- Increasing the capacity of the part of the cell (mitochondria) where the biochemical processes of respiration (converting macronutrients to energy) and energy production occur;
- Harmonizing the production of oxidative stress (reactive oxygen species) and thermal stress to levels most suitable to longevity; and
- The biosynthesis, storage and lipolysis of neutral lipids that emergent evidence suggests are longevity assurance processes.
As mentioned, scientists learned how to slow the chronological age of yeast in lab experiments. They did the study at Concordia University and Idunn Technologies, and published in the journal Oncotarget.
Using six plant extracts, they decelerated the aging process in samples of yeast. The researchers discovered compounds that inhibit the yeast’s pro-aging pathways and proteins. Although no human trials have commenced, the same anti-aging plant extracts used in the yeast experiments are available on the market in supplement form, as I’ll show you below.
Yeast cells were used in the experiment, because their aging rate is similar to that of human cells. The wild yeast strain Saccharomyces cerevisiae was cultured in flasks at a temperature of 30 degrees Celsius. The plant extracts were added one at a time with 2% glucose into the yeast cultures.
The scientists then monitored the rate of chronological aging in the yeast as they responded to each plant extract. This process was measured at the cellular level.
Scientists were measuring pro-aging and anti-aging processes. Each plant extract gave different readings, but the extract from the White Willow tree (Salix alba) was the most potent at slowing the aging process down in the cultured yeast.
According to Worldhealth.net, lead researcher and senior author of the study, Vladimir Titorenko, says the
yeast have nutrient-sensing pathways that accelerate their aging under normal growth conditions. The chemical compounds in the anti-aging plant extracts obstruct these pathway signals and are responsible for the measured delay in aging of the yeast.
The most surprising observation was that human post-mitotic cells (those no longer capable of mitosis; basically, division of the nucleus) are also affected by similar nutrient sensing pathways, suggesting that pharmaceutical manipulation of these beneficial plant compounds may lead to decelerating old age and diseases in humans.
(I say, forget about waiting for the drug companies… I want those plant extracts now, which I’ll be getting to below.)
Co-author of the study Éric Simard hypothesized that inhibiting the pathways of post-mitotic cells in humans could delay and slow the growth of many chronic diseases. Some of the diseases noted include heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, stroke, and cancer.
Titorenko explained that the six extracts used to slow aging in yeast, are commercially available and approved for human consumption by Health Canada. Five of the extracts have been approved for use in health supplements.
But nobody in the Worldhealth article, or in several others divulged what these extracts are. They did, however, identify the yeast strain and the six extracts.
The yeast strain used in the experiments:
- Saccharomyces cerevisiae
Six extracts were obtained from the following plant groups:
- Cimicifuga racemosa
- Valeriana officinalis
- Passiflora incarnata
- Ginkgo biloba
- Apium graveolens L.
- Salix alba
Kinda worthless info if what you want to do is go on Amazon.com and buy some anti-aging plant extracts.
So, as mentioned, I had to dig some more, and eventually I found two articles that listed the anti-aging plant extracts I sought, Plant Extracts Slow Yeast Aging, Could Work in Humans and 6 Plants That Can Extend Your Life.
Without further adieu, here’s the six plants described in the Life Extension Foundation article whose extracts may just be able to tickle a few more healthy years of life out of you, whether you’re yeast or not:
- White Willow Bark is associated with the strongest life extension effect among the six extracts. White willow bark is a source of salicylic acid which, when synthesized, gives us the anti-inflammatory pain reliever known as aspirin, that has been associated with remarkable benefits, including protective effects against cancer and cardiovascular disease. Salicylic acid targets a protein known as HMGB1, which is associated with rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, sepsis and inflammation-associated cancers, leading some researchers to suggest that the compound be called “vitamin S,” due to its tremendous benefits.
- Black Cohosh is a common ingredient in formulas designed to support menopause and perimenopause, due to its estrogenic action.
- Valerian Root has been used for many years to bring on and ensure sound sleep. A recent trial found valerian superior to a placebo in maintaining postoperative cognitive function, which is often impaired during the weeks following certain procedures. The researchers attribute valerian’s benefit to its anti-inflammatory property and ability to stimulate serotonin receptors.
- Purple Passion Flower is also used to induce calmness and sleep. It is a source of the flavone chrysin. In addition to other properties, chrysin reduces the conversion of testosterone to estrogen, which enhances free testosterone levels.
- Ginkgo Biloba is a popular herb, particularly for the enhancement of cognitive function. In 2002, a standardized extract of ginkgo leaves extended the life span of C. elegans by an average of 8%, while increasing their resistance to oxidative stress.7 When components of the extract were tested, a flavonoid known as tamarixetin was found to extend median life span by an average of 25%.Other research has found that ginkgo protects against age-associated oxidative damage to mitochondrial DNA.
- Celery is, of course, known to all. The vegetable is a good source of apigenin, which has anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic properties. Apigenin has been shown to improve neuron formation and connectivity. Celery additionally contains the flavonoid luteolin, which also has anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects.
Now the question ping ponging around in my mind is,
“Just what is a plant extract in this instance?”
It’s not the plants themselves in their natural form, as in pluck it out of the ground (or off the tree) and start chewing. Instead, the extracts are the powdered form of the plants, either in capsules or powders, or distilled into tinctures.
What follows are links to an assortment of brands from each of the six plant extracts. My suggestion is to choose the extract form that you’re most likely to use.
Given that I consume a smoothie on most days (see below), my preference is to get the extracts in powder form and add each to my drink. A close second for me would be to use the tinctures — they could easily be dropped into a warm glass of pure water each morning.
Warning: Some of these plant extracts in powder form are very bitter — you may gag.
Anti-aging Plant Extract
High Amazon Ranked Selections
|White Willow Bark|
|Purple Passion Flower|
How Much To Take?
What we don’t know from the anti-aging plant extract study is what dosage to take. We’re really ahead of the curve here, given that human studies haven’t been done. I suggest you begin with some fraction of the dosage suggested on the label of each extract, and slowly increase it until you’re consuming the amount on the label.
Frequent readers know that I’m a fan of the Indian herbs, Ashwagandha and Amla. I wrote about Ashwagnadha at length in More Muscle, Testosterone and Calm with Ashwagandha.
There’s much to know about Ashwagandha, and I encourage you to read the article, and consider adding it to the plant extracts you consume. Here’s a snippet:
Herbs like Ashwagandha are called adaptogens because of their unusual ability to “adapt” their function according to our bodies’ specific needs. It’s subtle and may take a month or so, but after a while it dawns on you that you’re somehow feeling better about things, less frantic — that all is fine in the world.
Amla is also called “Indian Gooseberries” and can work better than pharmaceuticals to lower blood sugar, as can several other supplements that I wrote about in Eight Steps To Get More Sex and A Longer Life By Supercharging Your Blood.
On his site NutritionFacts.org, nutritional expert Dr. Michael Greger says this about Amla/Indian Gooseberry:
Am I recommending people treat their diabetes with gooseberry powder? No, I recommend curing your diabetes… Why treat anything when you get at the root cause and reverse it in the first place.
In his book, How Not To Die, Dr. Greger got almost giddy, it seems, writing about his use (and seeming affection) for Amla:
“The standard American diet (SAD) isn’t exactly antioxidant packed. Here is the antioxidant content (in modified FRAP assay daμmol antioxidant units) of some typical American breakfast foods: bacon (7) and eggs (8), a bowl of corn flakes (25) with milk (10), an Egg McMuffin (11), pancakes (21) with maple syrup (9), and a bagel (20) with cream cheese (4). A typical breakfast may average about 25 antioxidant units.
“Compare those to the smoothie I had for breakfast this morning. I started with a cup of water (0), a half cup of frozen blueberries (323), and the pulp of a ripe mango (108). I added a tablespoon of ground flaxseeds (8), along with a half cup of fresh mint leaves (33) and a palmful of bulk white tea leaves (103).
“While the typical SAD breakfast may give you only about 25 antioxidant units, my breakfast smoothie offered more than 500. And, when I add the final ingredient, a single teaspoon of amla, I get an additional 753 antioxidant units. That’s about four cents’ worth of amla, and it just doubled the antioxidant content of my entire smoothie. Before I’ve even fully woken up, I’ve already consumed more than 1,000 antioxidant units. That’s more than the average person may get in an entire week. I could drink my smoothie and eat nothing but doughnuts for the rest of the week, and most people still wouldn’t catch up. Notice that even though I packed the blender with amazing foods like blueberries and tea leaves, fully half the antioxidant power came from that single, four-cent teaspoon of powdered gooseberries.”
Even if you eat a diet aimed at maintaining insulin sensitivity and thus rarely eat high glycemic carbs that spike blood sugar (like fruit juice, potatoes, processed grains), your blood sugar will naturally increase as you age (along with a corresponding desensitivity of insulin, meaning that your pancreas has to pump out more), as this graph indicates:
A Longevity-packed Smoothie
Dr. Micheal Greger shared his smoothie recipe, and I’ll do the same.
The ingredients in my smoothie vary, given that I cycle in and out of herbs/supplements. Lately, here’s what’s in it:
- Pure water
- Almond milk
- Keifer (coconut water or goats milk)
- Protein powder (whey if after exercise; otherwise, pea, hemp, or sprout protein)
- Maca powder
- Broccoli sprouts
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Ginger root
- Pepper (1/4 teaspoon to make the turmeric more bioavailable)
Use the amounts you prefer or what’s suggested on the labels. The amount of liquid will either make it watery or thick. The veggies and blueberries are either fresh or frozen. I suggest you begin with just a few ingredients and add more as you become accustomed to it.
My intention is to add the six plant extracts.
I have added some the the six anti-aging plant extracts; namely:
Before you click away, remember these four takeaways about the anti-aging plant extract study:
- Scientists have discovered six plant extracts that substantially increase the longevity and vitality of yeast.
- Although you’re not yeast, their aging rate is similar to that of human cells, which why they’re used in aging studies.
- These plant extracts have been identified, but we do not know how much to take, nor if they will really be useful in prolonging human lifespan. That said, we do know that these plant extracts do convey specific health benefits if regularly consumed.
- Two recommended ways to ingest the plant extracts is via powders added to smoothies or tinctures added to warm water.
Please feel free to type in your comments or questions in the Comments section below.