|Other Methods of Life Extension|
L-dopa, a drug used in the treatment of Parkinson's disease, has been found to have remarkable effects on rats in terms of starting elderly female animals ovulating again long after menopause, and in extending the average life spans of mice fed large amounts of the drug. In humans, when the drug is used therapeutically to help control the tremor of Parkinson's disease, many older patients report a return of sexual urges, long since absent. There are many reported negative side effects when the drug is used in any quantity and there is no evidence of it having any capacity to enhance longevity, making its use of similar value to that suggested for synthetic antioxidants (see Chapter 14).
Whatever 'youthening' effect l-dope has is considered by many to relate to its antagonism to serotonin, a substance used in the body in nervous system activities, but which tends to accumulate with age. There are theories which relate the accumulation of serotonin with a 'death hormone' release, and the benefits of l-dope with its suppression of excessive buildup of levels of serotonin. Serotonin accumulates more rapidly with age, more rapidly on a very high protein diet, and also more rapidly when atmospheric conditions tilt towards an excessive level of positive ions in the air.
Another theory has recently emerged which links decline in the levels of l-dope to a reduction in levels of growth hormone (Beth-EI, D., 'Rejuvenating effects of natural L-Dopa content in Vicia Faba Golden Beans' Israel Journal of Anti-Ageing Research (1990) 4:9-11). Researcher Dr Dan Beth-EI of the Institute of Gerontology in Israel says: 'There is a progressive age-related decline in secretion of the hormone from the third to the ninth decade of life, and there is a direct biochemical relationship between this decline and lower levels of l-dope.' He sees deficiency of l-dope as leading to growth hormone deficiency, resulting in slowness of movement, and speech, memory and thinking defects. At the same time bone density and body mass reduces while cholesterol and skin thickness, as fat deposition, increases (in other words: aging). One of his main answers to this is the abundant use of natural l-dope derived from broad (V~cia Faba golden) beans.
'The amino acid l-dope is present in only one species of plant, and it is easily oxidized. Two or three days after harvest it declines and is absent by the time the plant finishes its growing period and starts to get dry.' Two cupfuls (200 grams) of pods and seeds contain around 600 milligrams of 1-dope when picked fresh. Three days later this is down to 400 milligrams, and by the time they are marketed 200 grams of beans contain under 90 milligrams.
These beans are now commonly used as a 'natural' treatment of Parkinsorls disease, at which time youth enhancing/anti-ageing characteristics are said to be evident. Dr Beth-EI states: 'A constant daily inclusion of natural l-dope in meals will avoid exhaustion and later atrophy of the human brain dopaminergic system . . . prolonging the youth period of human life, and at the same time adding strength and capabilities to many body functions.'
This extremely useful and apparently valid approach seems to help maintain youth, an outcome which is highly desirable but which is not the same as the achievement of life extension.
Positive ions, which encourage serotonin build-up in the nervous system, are increased by various phenomena - such as electrical storms, strong dry prevailing winds (like the mistral of southern France), modern synthetic furnishing materials, electrical equipment such as TV sets and VDUs, very poor ventilation in buildings (often associated with central heating, air conditioning, very low humidity and sealed windows), cigarette smoke and other atmospheric pollution - all of which stimulate production of serotonin (because of the positive ion levels).
About The Author
A practicing naturopath, osteopath, and acupuncturist in the United Kingdom, with over forty years clinical experience, Chaitow is Editor-in-Chief, of the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies
. He regularly lectures in the United States as well as Europe where he instructs......more