An interesting article recently revealed the discovery of life-extending effects for six plant-derived extracts in experiments involving S. cerevisiae, a variety of yeast that is frequently the subject of aging research.
Six new groups of molecules from plant extracts you most likely have heard of were found to slow down the aging process.
Researchers found that extracts of black cohosh, valerian, purple passion flower, Ginkgo biloba, celery, and white willow bark extended the life span of S. cerevisiae.
Do Plants Really Extend Life Span?
In the case of white willow, the average and maximum life span increased by over 300%, which is greater than effects that have been found for rapamycin, a drug that has been associated with extended life span in other studies.
Further research pointed out that the extracts also inhibited the rise in cellular damage that occurs with aging.
This research is promising for life extensionists, as the results provide new insights into the mechanisms through which certain plant extracts can slow biological aging.
The Six Life-Extending Plant Extracts
1. Black cohosh is a common ingredient in formulas designed to support menopause and perimenopause, due to its estrogenic action.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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. 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.
5. 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.
6. White willow bark was 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.
The Bottom Line
While there are many factors that contribute to the aging process, these six plant extracts have shown potential to slow it down. And since they have additional health benefits, they’re a win-win all around.