Herbs For Longevity

Keep that youthful glow with rejuvenating botanicals famed for their contribution to longevity.

We all want to live long, healthy lives. Holistic health practitioners believe that many of the diseases that are conventionally accepted as being part of ‘getting old’ are actually largely due to an unhealthy lifestyle rather than a consequence of chronological ageing. But it’s never too late to change, even if we are advanced in years!

So how do we live well into our twilight years and, more the point, still enjoy radiant health? Here at Indigo Herbs we would answer: by taking advantage of the empirical knowledge of the ages. That is, with a wholefood diet, adequate sleep, exercise, relaxation, stress management and emotional/spiritual fulfilment – and by changing bad habits for good ones (you know the ones we mean!).

To boost our efforts there are many tonic and ‘rejuvenating’ botanicals – see the list below. Some of these substances have an ancient pedigree (several sacred scriptures refer to them) but only recently have scientific studies shown us why they are so good for us. Sometimes it is due to high levels of antioxidants, other times because the plant builds our resilience to the stresses and strains of daily life.

All our botanicals are pure, so you can be sure than what you put in your body will not add to the environmental toxins we are already exposed to in modern life.

 

Ashwagandha

(Withania somnifera)
Ashwagandha Benefits

This Ayurvedic herb has been used for over 3,000 years in India as a rejuvenating tonic to improve overall health, vitality and longevity. With mental decline being amongst the most common signs of aging, many people are turning to the ancient wisdom of herbs to slow down or even reverse this process. Research studies in Japan have shown that Ashwagandha can regenerate nerve cells and dendrite growth throughout the brain and the body. New dendritic growth allows for faster and smoother neural communication, providing more "processing power" in the brain. This potent herb also improves communication between nerve cells and stimulates the body to heal nervous system damage. 

As well as powerfully stimulating the immune system, Ashwagandha elevates levels of Super-oxide Dismutase (SOD) and Glutathione Peroxidase - two of the most powerful antioxidants known. Many world renowned researchers, scientists and anti-aging experts agree that a diet rich in antioxidants is the nutritional secret to a longer and healthier life. 

 

 

Astragalus

(Astragalus membranaceus)
Astragalus Benefits

Astragalus has been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine for longevity, to invigorate qi (vital energy) and to strengthen the body. New and exciting research is currently being conducted that shows that Astragalus does, indeed, have powerful anti-aging properties, slowing the aging process at a cellular level.

Astragaloside IV - a saponin of this powerful herb - has shown benefits in reversing cell damage and in activating telomerase, this addresses telomere shortening and slows down cellular aging. Telomeres are the protective ends of chromosomes that slowly shorten and wear out each time cell division occurs in the body - a process central to human aging. The theory is that telomeres act as a kind of countdown clock, so when they wear out, cell division stops and tissues quickly degrade and die. Telomerase enzymes work to renew telomeres, although they are not produced as the body ages over time.

Another saponin of Astragalus that is being extensively studied for its anti-aging effects is Cycloastragenol (CGA), thought to have even more activating potential on telomerase. Research suggests that CGA may have a wide use in the treatment of degenerative diseases as well as for aging. 

Astragalus root is most effective when taken long term, providing many benefits that can contribute to a longer, healthier life. 

 

 

Chaga Mushroom

(Inonotus obliquus)
Chaga Mushroom Benefits

The Siberians used Chaga Mushroom to boost physical stamina and attain a long life – it has been noted by contemporary Russians that in the districts where Chaga was used, there was no cancer. In looking at their close neighbours the Inuits (who did not use Chaga), their average life span was 40 – 50 years in contrast to the people from Siberian tribes who regularly lived to be 90 – 110 years old.

Chaga Mushrooms are also especially high in Super-Oxide Dismutase (SOD), this is an enzyme which reduces the damage done to cells by “super-oxide”, the most common free radical in the body. Studies have shown that SOD acts as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, with researchers now investigating its benefits as an anti-aging treatment as it is known that, as we age, SOD levels drop whilst free radicals increase. 

 

Cordyceps

(Cordyceps sinensis)
Cordyceps Benefits

Cordyceps has long been esteemed in Traditional Chinese Medicine for ability to improve energy, stamina, endurance and for its anti-aging effects. Powerfully antioxidant, Cordyceps increases the action of Super-Oxide-Dismutase (SOD), a potent antioxidant in the body. SOD will quench the free radicals and other toxins that can cause premature aging and degenerative diseases. 

Many world renowned researchers, scientists and anti-aging experts agree that a diet rich in antioxidants is the nutritional secret to a longer and healthier life. 

 

Fo-ti (Ho Shou Wu)

(Polygonum multiflorum)
Fo-Ti

This legendary herb is hailed as the "Cure for Old Age" in Traditional Chinese Medicine, with many tales attached to its age reversing super-powers. However, in more recent times, credible scientific studies into Fo-ti have found that it does indeed contain many substances that promote longevity. 

The Fo-ti root increases the production of the body’s master antioxidant, superoxide dismutase (SOD). Levels of this important antioxidant decline with age, leaving the body open to damage by one of the most dangerous free radicals – superoxide. Preventing this damage addresses the fundamental cause of aging - damage to the DNA by oxygen-free radicals.

To further boost antioxidant activity, it also contains the powerful antioxidants "stilbene glycosides". Combining these with the increased production of SOD is possibly the most significant function that fo-ti has for enhancing longevity.

Lastly, Fo-ti inhibits the MAO-B enzyme naturally. Many age related, degenerative diseases are associated with elevated MAO-B levels in the brain. Research shows that inhibition of this enzyme not only prevents age related biological changes, in one study it extended the average life span of rats by 39%. 

 

Ginkgo Biloba

(Ginkgo biloba, Salisburia adiantifolia, Salisburia macrophylla)
Ginkgo Biloba Benefits

The mighty Ginkgo Biloba tree is sometimes referred to as "the World's Oldest Anti-Aging Secret", and with very good reason too. So old that Charles Darwin called it a living fossil, Ginkgo is one of the most clinically studied botanicals having been evaluated in over 120 clinical trials. A high percentage of these studies examined the effects of Ginkgo on various age-related degenerative conditions. 

Many of these studies have shown Ginkgo to improve cognition and general mental health in healthy older adults. Its effect on cognition is due in part to the powerfully antioxidant "flavone glycosides" it contains - these plant flavonoids can alter the release and uptake of certain neurotransmitters and relax blood vessels, allowing for an increase in circulation and blood flow to the brain. 

More serious conditions such as Alzheimer's are thought to be caused by the breakdown of acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter. A new meta-analysis compared Ginkgo extract and pharmaceutical “cholinesterase inhibitors” in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers concluded that Ginkgo extract is a desirable treatment option for patients who do not tolerate cholinesterase inhibitors or would prefer a natural alternative.

 

Goji Berries

(Lycium barbarum)
Goji Berries

Once China's best kept longevity secret, the cat is out of the bag with the benefits of Goji Berries to health and longevity! They contain fatty acids, which can stimulate collagen production and retain moisture, resulting in younger-looking skin.

Goji Berries are also rich in antioxidant vitamins and phytonutrients that can support eye health. Zeaxanthin and lutein contained within these berries can be beneficial in protecting the retinal tissues, making them a great nutritional supplement for age related eye diseases such as macular degeneration - the leading cause of blindness in older adults. 

As we age our bodies produce less Human Growth Hormone (HGH), Goji is the only fruit that naturally stimulates HGH production. A 70 year old man only produces around 1/10 of HGH than is produced by a 20 year old, with this reduction being responsible for physical changes such as; muscular atrophy, fat deposition and less vital force. Goji Berries also contain sesquiterpene compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties and stimulate the pituitary gland and the pineal gland to produce growth hormone.

 

 

Gynostemma

(Gynostemma pentaphyllum)
Gynostemma Benefits

People in the original local region of China where Gynostemma was traditionally taken were found to have longer life spans, less disease and greater vitality than just about any other people in the world. This discovery prompted Chinese and Japanese researchers to seriously study this herb, finding that certain plant saponins known as "gypenosides" seem to be responsible for the many benefits of Gynostemma. 

A combination of compounds in Gynostemma appear to stop the DNA from being degraded and broken down too quickly. Gynostemma has been found to stop and even reverse the process of erosion of the telomeres. Telomeres are the ‘end caps’ on strings of DNA, and the remaining length of telomeres is a major factor governing your remaining life span.  The effects of Gynostemma on telomeres make it one of the most powerful longevity substances ever known.

 

Mucuna / Kapikachhu

(Mucuna pruriens)
Mucuna Pruriens Benefits

Mucuna's main longevity benefits stem from the L-Dopa content in this herb. This amino acid helps to produce dopamine in the brain which not only elevates the mood, it stimulates the production of the Human Growth Hormone (HGH). It is extremely important to keep on producing this hormone if we wish to remain youthful and vibrant - most people have stopped producing it at around 50 years of age. 

Mucuna Pruriens also stimulates the production of melatonin and seratonin. A new study shows that melatonin is able to correct many of the age-associated malfunctions that stress induces in immune cells from older people. In fact, whether cells are from a person who is young or old, melatonin is highly protective against stress inducing cell death. Melatonin also stimulates HGH, making Mucuna a wonderful herb to take at bedtime for a restful nights sleep and the production of HGH. 

 

Oyster Mushroom

(Pleurotus ostreatus)
Oyster Mushroom Benefits

Along with most of the medicinal mushrooms, Oyster Mushrooms are prized in Asia for their contribution to glowing health and longevity. Several studies involving this mushroom have found that it contains compounds which can prevent shortening of telomeres. In a nutshell, long telomeres protect the DNA, preventing the chromosones from fraying and fusing together, keeping genetic information intact. Genetic instability can lead to a whole host of life threatening, age-related diseases including Alzheimer's, atherosclerosis and high blood pressure. Research suggests that longer telomeres lead to a longer, healthier life. 

Oyster Mushrooms naturally produce vitamin D, with research showing that people who are deficient in this important vitamin have a life expectancy of 5 years less than those who have sufficient levels. 

 

Reishi Mushroom

(Ganoderma lucidum)
Reishi Mushroom Benefits

Known as the "Medicine of Kings", one of the earliest known uses of the Reishi Mushroom was as a special tonic for emporers seeking immortality. Modern science has verified what the emporers knew thousands of years ago, that this mushroom is a powerful ally in the quest for a long and healthy life. Containing the compound "ganoderma lucidum peptide", this unique protein is potently antioxidant and triggers a number of actions that are thought to be responsible for its promotion of longevity. 

With many studies published on Reishi Mushrooms, this extract is known to protect mitochondrial DNA and the mitochondria themselves from oxidative damage. Mitochondria produce the energy currency of the cell (ATP), oxidative stress makes them inefficient at producing energy - a well known cause of aging. This miracle mushroom supports the entire body in many ways against aging, environmental toxins and age-related, degenerative diseases. 

 

Rhodiola Rosea

(Rhodiola rosea)
Rhodiola Rosea Benefits

A well known adaptogen and all round tonic herb, Rhodiola Rosea has been extensively studied for its promising effects on anti-aging and longevity. Research suggests that its key active constituents; salidroside and several rosavin compounds are responsible for this herb's longevity effects. Salidroside has been found to protect human cells from premature aging when exposed to oxidative stress. This is especially true of skin cells, it preserves aging skin cells' ability to divide thus maintaining healthy glowing skin. 

Rhodiola works through various pathways to naturally energise and give the immune system a boost. Recent studies suggest that Rhodiola also prevents endothelial dysfunction - a process that can lead to high blood pressure and athersclerosis (hardening of the arteries). 

If you want to stay mentally sharp well into old age then Rhodiola Rosea's adaptogenic qualities supercharge the brain and nervous system, helping you to stay strong not only physically but mentally and emotionally too. 

 

Schizandra

(Schisandra chinensis)
Schisandra Benefits

Often used in Traditional Chinese Medicine longevity formulas, the Schizandra Berry has long been known to maintain vitality and support healthy cellular function. It is a fantastic liver detoxifier - the liver is largest elimination organ in the body and keeping the liver in tip-top condition plays an important part in how well we age. Schizandra actually works to deactivate free radicals that attack liver cells. 

Schizandra is also a natural beauty tonic, protecting the skin from environmental stress, toxins and over-exposure to extreme weather, thus reducing the appearance of fine lines. Its astringent quality helps the skin to retain moisture and builds the immune defence energy that flows beneath the surface of the skin. This adaptive quality helps to open and close the pores, promoting the healing of various skin issues and helps skin to retain its elasticity, hence why it has been used for millennia by Asian women to enhance and preserve a youthful appearance.

 

Shiitake Mushroom

(Lentinula edodes)
Shiitake Benefits

The Shiitake Mushroom has long symbolised longevity in Asia, with Chinese legends referring to it as the herb that gives eternal youth and immortality. Containing the powerful beta-glucan, "lentinan", this compound has been found to stimulate the immune system to specifically clear the body of tumour cells. 

Several of the compounds in Shiitake have been found to help to lower cholesterol and prevent plaque from sticking to artery walls, a major pre-cursor to heart disease. 

Shiitake Mushrooms naturally produce vitamin D, with research showing that people who are deficient in this important vitamin have a life expectancy of 5 years less than those who have sufficient levels. 

 

Triphala

(Emblica officinalis, Terminalia bellirica, Terminalia chebula)
Triphala

Triphala is from the Rasayan (rejuvenation) branch of Ayurveda said to engender a youthfulness to both physical and mental health and increase happiness. This combination of three powerful Indian fruit powders promotes vibrant health and longevity by maintaining balance, supporting digestion and detoxification.

As a rejuvenator, Triphala works to provide optimal nutrition and an environment for cells to repair damage and to thrive, this in turn allows our bodies to age gracefully and with vitality. 

For Triphala to exert the most effective "rasayana" effect, it is recommended to take it with fat and something sweet - such as ghee and honey.