Aging Well: Botanical and Nutritional Support for Vitality and Longevity
Anne Salazar RH (AHG)
Aging is a natural process; although we manage to survive longer than preceding generations, we often gain time without being healthier in those extra years. We can’t prevent aging or death. But with the use of specific botanical and nutritional agents and lifestyle practices, we can slow the aging process, thus supporting graceful aging while adding healthy years to our lives. Longevity and vitality come naturally when the body is in harmony. This harmony (or balance) is an ongoing process, shifting as our lives and bodies change.
All prevailing theories around aging involve the concept of a loss of the body’s ability to adapt to environmental conditions successfully. Modern models of aging include wear and tear, free radical damage, enzyme depletion, and accumulated genetic error. These theories involve the shift to a catabolic (breaking down) dominant metabolic process as indicated by:
- Declining hormone levels
- Less efficient hormone response
- Hormone resistance and desensitization
- Reduced ability to utilize food for energy
- Increased inflammation and waste products, and
- Slower recovery time
You can see how these metabolic changes can make it harder to function optimally. When we combine modern-day chronic stress with the natural aging process, we see accelerated aging.
The bottom line is that through a combination of herbal adaptogens, nutritional compounds, an appropriate diet (read more on these here and here), exercise, and lifestyle, we can significantly ameliorate the aging process, reverse premature aging, and optimize our quality of life.
Adaptogens are an essential part of this approach: They are unique in that they assist in handling short-term stressors by providing more energy and decreasing physiological damage while simultaneously delaying negative metabolic changes that might otherwise occur (1). Adaptogens combat the adverse effects of stress, improve health and well-being, and enhance athletic performance capacity. They increase the body’s vitality and reserve and are a key component of any comprehensive longevity program. They are revered because they enhance the “life-force”, encourage natural harmony, strengthen one’s adaptability, and as a result generate resilient health.
Oxidation (a natural component of metabolism), when not modulated, can lead to inflammation which is also a critical factor in rapid aging. The new term for this aging process is “Oxi-Inflamm-Aging” (2). Fortunately, in the universe of botanical medicine, there are multiple helpful allies. Rather than suppressing symptoms, these phytonutrients quench inflammatory oxidation, allowing for natural relief of symptoms (3). High quality and well formulated botanical formulas can be used for daily foundational oxidation support and more potent form are well suited for short term acute situational support. Potent and effective botanicals and nutrients work at the cellular level to encourage a healthy inflammatory response.
We cannot discuss vital longevity without mentioning the importance of physical activity. For example, one theory suggests that rather than trying to repair aging processes, we can trick the body into thinking it is younger. That way, the body will work to repair itself. One way to trick the body is to continue to be physically active. The less we do, the faster we age. Research shows that the cells of those who sit more than 10 hours per day are biologically eight years older than those who are less sedentary (5). Signaling the body to continue to grow muscle, renew cells, move blood and oxygen, is key for continued renewal (4). If you do not move the body, stagnation kicks in. Stagnation tells the body that cellular renewal is not necessary, that things are slowing down, and regeneration is not required. Movement is good however, there is such a thing as overdoing it. In our modern lifestyle, we tend to think if something is good, more is better. There needs to be a balance between anabolic (building, renewing) exercise and catabolic (breaking down) exercise. Rest and regeneration is required between intense physical activities!
Specific Nutrients and Botanicals for Healthy Longevity
Bathe the Cells in Phytonutrients- Polyphenols and Antioxidants!
Polyphenols are micronutrients that naturally occur in plants. They act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. They protect the body’s tissues against oxidative damage. Regular consumption of these phytonutrients is an excellent practice for supporting healthy longevity!
Herbal Tea - one very easy, inexpensive, and pleasurable way to get your daily dose of polyphenols/antioxidants is to imbibe in a daily cup or two of herbal tea. This article will give you more information on the benefits of tea making and consumption.
If you want to facilitate the ant-inflammatory action of herbs, Turmeric (Curcumin) is your ally. In simple terms, curcumin helps to neutralize free radicals, the cell-damaging molecules that are at the root of many degenerative diseases, including inflammatory conditions, heart disease, and cancer (6). In addition, turmeric inhibits excessive blood clotting, which is a contributing factor in cardiovascular disease and inflammatory disorders. A favorite formulation of mine that contains turmeric is Botanical Treasures, which combines multiple powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, such as Turmeric, Green Tea, Resveratrol, Holy Basil, etc.
Adapt to Life’s Stress with Adaptogens
As mentioned already in the article, adaptogens are powerful protectors against life’s stressors. We rely significantly on this category when assisting our clients at the pharmacy in handling many health challenges. Well formulated products (versus “singles”) are your best bet when getting the full benefits of this important category. Herbs such as Ashwagandha, Ginseng, Rhodiola, Eleuthero, etc., all have specific benefits. When combined with expertise, they work much better together then alone - synergistic amplification! Adaptogens can (and should) be taken long-term. It can takes months of daily adherence to start seeing the benefits in how you feel (and even in your lab work). Some of our go-to formulas here are Stress Care, Vital Adapt, and AdrenalRx.
Medicinal Mushrooms as Multi-Taskers
Medicinal mushrooms are key players in the category of antioxidants and powerful phytonutrients. Consuming and utilizing these powerhouses in your food and supplementation will protect and support the body’s homeostatic systems (7). Although each medicinal mushroom has particular benefits (including being adaptogenic), they are all generally supportive. One that we love is the jam-packed MyCommunity by Host Defense. If you are interested in learning more on Mushrooms, make sure to stay tuned to our newsletter to get an invitation to our upcoming lecture on Medicinal Mushrooms.
Calm Down and Enjoy the Moment
Unfortunately, the world we live in encourages a stressful and continuously ‘productive’ life- meaning we can never get enough done in a day, and we need to constantly stimulate ourselves to do more. This is a sure-fire way to speed up the aging process. Instead of constantly looking for ways to stimulate and energize ourselves, we would be better off looking for ways to calm ourselves down. Our nervous systems need rest and rejuvenation, and without it, our bodies are signaling rapid breakdown. Herbal nervines are a category of botanical medicine that provide an excellent pathway to quieting and rebuilding frayed nerves. These include oatstraw, chamomile, lemon balm, and lavender (8). Fortunately, these leafy, flowered plants make great infusions (teas); a daily practice of calming yourself that has multiple benefits (including pleasure)! Check out our Remedy RestRx Tea to get you started on a tasty and calming daily tea ritual.
Key Supplements for Sustainable Longevity
Along with the herbs focused above, nutraceuticals also play a big role in regenerative medicine. They work by some of the common principles explained with the herbs above. They can certainly be combined with herbs for extra support or used by themselves.
CoQ10- A highly studied, powerful and far-reaching antioxidant (8).
Alpha Lipoic Acid- An antioxidant which recycles the immeasurably important glutathione, as well as reduces inflammation and skin aging, promotes healthy nerve function and lowers heart disease risk factors (9).
Magnesium - This micronutrient builds cellular energy and is massively important to all metabolic processes in the body. It is one of our favorites and we have dedicated a full blog post on this lovely supplement (read full article here).
Rest assured, here at Remedy we have what you need to balance and sustain a healthy lifestyle; not only in botanicals and supplements, but in knowledge and experience. You can always personalize your experience with a consult with one of our staff clinicians. We look forward to seeing you. Meantime, take good care of yourself!
- Panossian A, Wikman G. Effects of Adaptogens on the Central Nervous System and the Molecular Mechanisms Associated with Their Stress-Protective Activity. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2010;3(1):188-224. Published 2010 Jan 19. doi:10.3390/ph3010188
- De la Fuente M, Miquel J. An update of the oxidation-inflammation theory of aging: the involvement of the immune system in oxi-inflamm-aging. Curr Pharm Des. 2009;15(26):3003-26. doi: 10.2174/138161209789058110. PMID: 19754376.
- Ghasemian M, Owlia S, Owlia MB. Review of Anti-Inflammatory Herbal Medicines. Adv Pharmacol Sci. 2016;2016:9130979. doi:10.1155/2016/9130979
- Gremeaux V, Gayda M, Lepers R, Sosner P, Juneau M, Nigam A. Exercise and longevity. Maturitas. 2012 Dec;73(4):312-7. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2012.09.012. Epub 2012 Oct 11. PMID: 23063021.
- Hadyab AH, Macera CA, Shaffer RA, Jain S, Gallo LC, LaMonte MJ, Reiner AP, Kooperberg C, Carty CL, Di C, Manini TM, Hou L, LaCroix AZ. Associations of Accelerometer-Measured and Self-Reported Sedentary Time With Leukocyte Telomere Length in Older Women. Am J Epidemiol. 2017 Feb 1;185(3):172-184. doi: 10.1093/aje/kww196. PMID: 28100466; PMCID: PMC5391715.
- Hewlings SJ, Kalman DS. Curcumin: A Review of Its Effects on Human Health. Foods. 2017;6(10):92. Published 2017 Oct 22. doi:10.3390/foods6100092
- Venturella G, Ferraro V, Cirlincione F, Gargano ML. Medicinal Mushrooms: Bioactive Compounds, Use, and Clinical Trials. Int J Mol Sci. 2021;22(2):634. Published 2021 Jan 10. doi:10.3390/ijms22020634
- Garrido-Maraver J, Cordero MD, Oropesa-Ávila M, Fernández Vega A, de la Mata M, Delgado Pavón A, de Miguel M, Pérez Calero C, Villanueva Paz M, Cotán D, Sánchez-Alcázar JA. Coenzyme q10 therapy. Mol Syndromol. 2014 Jul;5(3-4):187-97. doi: 10.1159/000360101. PMID: 25126052; PMCID: PMC4112525.
- Salehi B, Berkay Yılmaz Y, Antika G, et al. Insights on the Use of α-Lipoic Acid for Therapeutic Purposes. Biomolecules. 2019;9(8):356. Published 2019 Aug 9. doi:10.3390/biom9080356