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A SURVEY ABOUT APPROACHES TO ANTI-AGING AND REJUVENATION
Rejuvenation is taking away aging symptoms and restoring the property of a jouthful body. Anti-aging is a more wide term. It encompasses both the prevention of aging symptoms and remending an aged body to restore juvenile properties.
What is aging
Aing is a combination of several types of damages to the body:
One key part is the reduction of the structures at the end of chromosomes, the so called telomere chains. This reduction occur every time a cell divide. However, these structure is built up again by processes using the enzyme telomerase. This restoration is however not completely effective in all cells, and therefore the telomere chains tend to shorten to a point where the cell cannot divide any more. As ine ages, the restoration process also tend to slow down, probably due to genetic mutations so that the aging loss of the telomere chains accelarate.
Another key part is genetic damage by free radicals and oxidative processes. In the skin ultraviolet light also damage the genome, partly by first producing free radicals. The body has enzymatic repair processes also for this type of damage, but they are not entirely effective. The body also has processes to kill cells that are too much damaged to be repaired, or has gone so far to be cancer cells.Some of these processes ae actions by the immune system and some are internal destruction processes done by enzymes that are firmly stored in cell sytructures and released upon certain signals. But damaged cells that should be killed do not always get eliminated.
A third key component is damage of structure proteins between the cells, for example the proteine collagen. Again free radicals play a key role to effect this damage. An important type of such damage is the cross-linking of protein molecules by bridges made of sugar units. Ultraviolet light and environmental impacts also trigger these types of damages. Also here, the body has repair processes where the immune system play a key role, but again the repair is not entirely effective.
The forth component is the loss of cells, because of damage that is so hard that cell dies, All cells in the body divide to replace lost cells. Some cells also or only is replaced by dividing of more primitive stem cells. Also nerve cells divide or are replaced by division of stem cells, even though this long was thought not to occur. But agiain, the replacement process is not entirely effective.
A fifth component is aggregation of vaste between the cellc in the body. The immune system can tidy away such vaste, but do not manage to do it alltogether.
As seen, the body has processes to eliminate all the components of the aging process and repair the damage done, but people age because this repair process is not effective enough.
Also the proteins and the genes for proteins taking place in the repair process is damaged by several types of impact, for example by free radicals, oxidative processes and in the skin by ultraviolet light. The repair processes that are very effective when a person is young, but tend to be less so as one ages, because the repair mechanisms themselves are hurt by several types of impact.
Rejuvenation in myth and tradition
For a long time it was believed that magic could restore the youth of an individual. A common belief was also that there existed some natural objects with the power of restoring youth, either by having magical properties or by having some special natural properties.
Some of the myths tell about the Spring of jouth or Fountain of Youth, with the property that people bathing in the spring or drinking water from it will get young again.
Other objects believed to be able to restore youths was pearls or stones hidden somewhere, or special plants growing in some secret places.
These ancient myths are not without any reality. There exist really plants or natural objects that have shown to help againts certain aging symptoms, for example Ginseng and the arctic plant Rodiola Rocea. The assumption that there may be even more powerfull plants growing at some hidden places is therefore quite logical.
The myths about these jouth restoring objects made people go on long expeditions to find these, or people having power sent out expeditions to look for them.
These expeditions continued well into the 16th century, or perhaps continues to this day, but nowadays in a more scientific fashion. A famous Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León led the expedition around the Caribbean islands and into Florida to find the Fountain of Youth. Led by the rumours, the expedition continued the search and many perished. The Fountain was nowhere to be found as locals were unaware of its exact location.
Most religions believe in a life after death, either for all people or as a revard for having lived a good life. If such a life shall be good, a rejuvination must also take part when the person is resurrected. Therefore most religions believe in the possibility of ethernal youth after death.
Since the emergence of philosophy, sages and self-proclaimed wizards always made enormous efforts to find the secret of youth, both for themselves and for their noble patrons and sponsors. Surely some of these had really valuable knowledge of how to taken away symptoms of aging and restore youthful properties of the body and mind, but others were only charlatanes.
Such philosophers have allways, however, tended to hold theur knoledge secret and only reveal it for specially chosen disciples or for powerful people that could pay well for it. Such philosophers also generally have the tendency to only reveal such information to people they regard as suited for getting such information. Sometimes this is an honest concern, and sometimes just a hide to be able to sell the infromation to people payingfor it. Sometimes also powerful people forbid the wisemen to reveal the information for the general public.
Another commonly cited approach was attempting to transfer the essence of youth from young people to old. Some examples of this approach were sleeping with virgins or children (sometimes literally sleeping, not necessarily having sex), bathing in or drinking their blood.
The quest for rejuvenation reached its height with Alchemy. All around the Europe and also beyond alchemists were looking for the Philosopher's Stone, the mythical substance that, as it was believed, could not only turn lead into gold, but also prolong life and restore youth. Although the set goal was not achieved, Alchemy paved the way to the scientific method and so to the medical advances of today.
A myth is not necessarily only untruthful. There may be something right in some of the myths, even though they are propagated in a form not useful for practical purposes. The alchemists may have found something that later on has been lost or dismissed as bare superstition, or has been suppressed by those having power, and did not want ordinary people to gain the power of prolonging life and quality of life.
Modern developments and practically useful methods of rejuvenetion
According to modern science, there are no natural laws preventing successful rejuvenation. Aging is an accumulation of damage to macromolecules, cells, tissues and organs. If any of that damage can be repaired, the result is rejuvenation.
There have been many experiments which have been shown to increase the maximum life span of laboratory animals, thereby achieving life extension. A few experimental methods such as replacing hormones to youthful levels have had considerable success in partially rejuvenating laboratory animals and humans.
Hindering damage by protectie sybstances
Anti-oxidants hinder damage by catching compounds capable of oxidatively attacking cell and tissue structure. Howeer, also the processes of life are oxidative processes, and the anti-oxidants used should specifically hinder bad processes without hindering the good ones. Many vitamins, like vitamin C and E are anti-oxidants. A lot of compinds in berries and ruits hae this specific anti-oxidant abilities. Such substances are typically brightly colored.
Stimulation of genetic repair in the cell
The cells in the body actually have mechanisms to repair the end of the telomere chains and to repair genetic damage. A key component for this process is the enzyme telomerase. If it is possible to increase the effectieness of this enzymatic process, the cells of the body wil not age and die.
Some cells in the body actually have this ability, namly the cells that divide and produce the reproductie cells in both sexes. Also cancer cells have this ability. Therefore there is a certain fear of effectiizing the genetic repair mechanisms. This fear is probably nonsense, since cancer cell also have lost the normal controle of divitionm which normal cell posess.
There are two possible approaches of doing this. One approach is to stimulate the production of telomerase by means of drugs, either of natural origine or pharmacologically synthehic drugs.
The other approch is to alter the genetic structure of people so that the activity of telomerase and related enzymes is increased.
Genetic repair by molecular engineering processes
The science of molecular engineering and the science of virology is deeloping rapidly. This will at some time make it possible to produce molecular machines that go into the cells and reoair the damaged telomere chains and other damages.
Such machines will in many respects resamble and work in the same way as viruses but in a benficial way. They will enter the cells as viruses do. They will bring with them enzymes to repair the telomere chains and they will find damaged parts in the genome and repair those damaged parts. To do the repair process in a proer way, they must probably bring with them some kind of template that help to compare damaged parts with the normal standard.
Rejuvenation by cytostatica
Cytostatics to treat cancer are generally very harsh against the body tissues. However, in some cases they seem to stimulate a rejuvination process. People haing lost their hair through cancer treatment by cytostatics often grow hair back which is stronger and darker than before.
The rejouenation probably takes place because the cytostatics kill aged cells, and then cells still haing their youthful properties diide and replace the killed cells.
Hormonal stimulation of rejuvenation processes
There are at least eight important hormones that decline with age and could help in a rejuvenation program: 1. human growth hormone (HGH); 2. the sexual hormones: testosterone or estrogen/progesterone; 3. erithropoietin EPO; 4. insulin; 5. DHEA; 6. melatonin; 7. thyroid hormones; 8. pregnenolone.
In theory, if all or some of these hormones are replaced, the body will respond to them as it did when it was younger, thus repairing and restoring many body functions.
Stem cell implantation
Another approach is mplantation of stem cells from a culture into an existing tissue structure . The cells used to intiatiate the culture is typically taken from the individual itself in the first place and let proliferete in a tissue culture outside the body.
The tissue culture can before use also go through a cleaning process that takes out aged stem cells and the cells used can also possibly go through a genetic engineering process that repair all damagedsfound before being used. Nerve cells for example can be replaced by this method.
Stimulation of organ repair
The damages and reductions of tissue strenght occuring through aging on the organ level can be repaired by stimulating the proliferation of new cells, the growth and development of cells. Such kind of stimulation is actually allready a standard medical procedure by certain diseases and injuries, and special medical fields allready have an effectie arsenal for such kind of stimulation.
There is a however reluctance in the medical community to use such approaches as a remedy for aging.
Stimulation of tidying processes
The brekdown and tidying out of vaste and junk that has accumulated between the cells and off colling out abnormal cells is still another component of an anti-aging therapy. The immune sytem is generally tidying the body tissues in this way an d specific immune-stimulating approaches can be useful to enhance inner tissue tidying.
Rejuvenation through mental and neurological stimulation
The fourth principle of effecting rejuvenetion is mental, neurological or psychological stimuliation and stress reduction. The brain controls the production of hormones. By proper stimulation of the brain, the production of growth hormones, sex hormones and other tissue stimulating hormones can be increased. Stress has shown to be bad for the nervous and hormonal regulation of the body, and proper stress reduction can thereby help the body to rejuvenate itself. Meditation, yoga, special kind of musik or sounds and hypnosis are nethods of value for this kind ov rejuvenation stimulation. There is a special blending of sound frequencies, called white sound, that might have a profond stress reduction effect.
During deep relaxation and stress reduction, mental suggestion to the brain of starting a process of growing young can perhaps give great effects. By mentally commanding the brain this way, the brain might send commands further to the various body tissues to begin regeberative processes.
Yet another option involves cosmetic changes to the individual to create the appearance of youth. These are generally superficial and do little to make the person healthier or live longer, but the real improvement in a person's appearance may elevate their mood and have positive side effects normally correlated with happiness. Cosmetic surgery is a large industry offering treatments such as removal of wrinkles ("face lift"), removal of extra fat (liposuction) and reshaping or augmentation of various body parts (abdomen, breasts, face).
Natural rejouvinating therapies
There are many natural substances and remedies that can help rejouvenate the body in arious ways. Molst of these therapies work in seral of the aboe mention ways simultanously and are therefore difficult to classify under specific types of approches.
Many spices lik cayenne stimulates tissue repair by cell proliferation and development, but generally also work as anti-oxidants. Lecithine is a natural nutrient that stimulate all kind of reoair processes in the body because lecithin conmtains working substances that both the nerous system and hormonal system uses. Lecithin also gies important building blocks for the nerous system.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is nutritional in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. This notice is required by the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.