Al Sears, MD, CNS – Recently, the Institute for Aging Research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine announced they’re starting a six-year study to test the life-extending properties of metformin on 3,000 older adults.
As someone who is interested in health and longevity, I’m sure you’ve heard that some anti-aging specialists hail this diabetes drug as an “anti-aging miracle.”
Not only do I disagree, I warn my patients not to take it.
And I certainly don’t consider [a] popular diabetes drug to be any kind of anti-aging miracle.
Like many drugs, metformin works in the short term. But most diabetic patients end up taking it forever…
Metformin comes with a long list of side effects — ranging from mild to severe. These include nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, fatigue, sinus infection, heart failure, muscle pain and flu-like symptoms.
And over time, metformin blocks your body’s ability to absorb vitamin B12.1 B12 is critical to your health.
So why would someone willingly take a pharmaceutical when they don’t need it? Many people — including doctors — believe metformin is an anti-aging powerhouse because it can boost levels of an enzyme called AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK).
AMPK truly is an anti-aging wonder. Found in every cell in your body, it functions as an energy sensor… and turns on when your cellular energy levels are low. It’s often referred to as your “master metabolic switch.”
Your body produces energy in its mitochondria. This energy is called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. It fuels everything your body does.
As the energy-creating process gets going, ATP is converted into AMP (adenosine monophosphate), which tells the cell it needs more fuel. That’s when AMPK gets moving, jumpstarting the transport of glucose and fats to your mitochondria so it can make more ATP.
The problem is that as you age, AMPK activation slows down. That means less ATP and more malfunctioning cells, which leads to inflammation and disease.
Low ATP production is the reason you slow down as you age. But when AMPK is activated, your cells jump into survival mode.
Your body no longer stores new fat, but burns fat already in storage. It also boosts insulin resistance and pumps glucose into cells from the blood so they can make more ATP. That’s why AMPK is such a powerful weapon against diabetes.
At the same time, it builds new mitochondria to provide your cells with even more energy. This, in turn, boosts cellular efficiency and improves the function of organs and tissues. AMPK has also been shown to:
- Improve cognitive function
- Reduce cancer risk
- Lower inflammation
- Protect against cardiovascular disease
In an animal study at the University of California, scientists found increasing AMPK lengthened lifespan 30%. And the animals stayed energized, healthy and active much longer!2
But there are much better ways to boost AMPK than by taking a synthetic drug.
I recommend my patients supplement with the “vine of immortality” — a member of the cucumber family known as Gynostemma pentaphyllum.
In China, researchers discovered that a tea made from G. pentaphyllum is key to the surprising number of centenarians on one region.3 Today, we know it works by promoting AMPK activity. I recommend taking 150 mg a day in capsule form. Or you can drink the tea like the centenarians do…
Live Better, Longer With “Immortality” Tea
- Bring water to a boil
- Add 6 grams of G. pentaphyllum leaves
- Let the brew steep for 10 minutes
- Pour tea into cup through a strainer and enjoy
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD, CNS
1. Ahmed MA, et al. “Vitamin B12 deficiency in metformin-treated type-2 diabetes patients, prevalence and association with peripheral neuropathy.” BMC Pharmacol Toxicol. 2016;17(1):44.
2. Ulgherait M, et al. “AMPK modulates tissue and organismal aging in a non-cell-autonomous manner.” Cell Rep.2014;8(6):1767-1780.
3. Blumert M and Liu J. China’s Immortality Herb. Badger, California: Torchlight Publishing, Inc. 1999.