Remind me what Telomeres Are?
So Telomeres, you know the DNA [Deoxyribonucleic Acid] bookend at the end of each chromosome? Turns out they are implicated in the ongoing aging crime investigation.
Cells in our body contain our genetic code, DNA or divine blue print outlining our physical authenticity, originality and never to be repeated uniqueness. DNA is organised in to long structures called chromosomes. They wind like a spiral staircase made of information and ‘how to’manuals – for the Body, to make – bits, repairs, parts – to fix things. Manuals such as ‘How to make a stem cell’ – very useful because stem cells can differentiate in to a variety of cell types and they are able to replace older dying tissue.
Telomeres, like bookends, protect the chromosomes from damage but each time the cell replicates itself – they shorten. Shortening Telomeres spells trouble because each time DNA is replicated there is an increasing risk of transcription or copying error or defect emerging much like photocopying the copy, then copying that copy – and on and on until the image that remains is a skeleton of its original design. Telomeres shorten up to a critical threshold at which point the cell activates its own self destruct sequence, ceases replicating, puts the greater good before its own and politely – dies. The aggregate of this process is what we call – Aging.
The Building Blocks of Telomeres – Telomerase
I love an – “-ase”. It is a cue to feel daunted and refers me to my incomplete knowledge of bio-buggery-chemistry. I knows I am in the presences of an Enzyme. Those pesky trouble makers turn out to be important to everything in building the body beautiful. And Telomeres are no exception. Turns out they are built by an Enzyme, shockingly called – yes, I know, it is confusing – Telomerase. This discovery was enough to win the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2009. Good Work everyone. This discovery, ofcourse, led to lots of rushing around and funding being poured and shoved in to? Or on to? The Race for Telomerase! Te he.
Some discoveries have been forthcoming, but so far – no one has mentioned Alchemy. This, I find to be – Odd. I expect a report from the Alchemical Labs soon and will let you know as soon as word breaks. In the meantime – what has been discovered is consistent with the contemporary mindset plaguing humanity – insufficient resources or insufficient management of existing resources.
Cells have the capacity for the restoration of Telomeres BUT most human cells lack sufficient stores of Telomerase to maintain their Telomeres. Interesting. Odd design feature. Built in self destruct code. Hmmmm! No good.
But as in life, there is a Silver Lining – or exception to this rule. For Telomeres these are – Stem Cells! These miraculous cells do in fact have sufficient stores of Telomerase to maintain the Telomeres – but a human being has finite stem cell allocation.
Does anything in particular predict or influence Telomere Length or Fraying?
Yes – so far the rushing around and tinkering with Telomeres has revealed some common sense discoveries. Genetics, prenatal conditions and early adversity influence Telomere length – along with many other psychological and physical maladies. This is non specific enough to incite certainty and maybe even confidence. Stress of course is not good. Seems stress or as researchers say – exposure to stressors or presence of a stress response increases presence of oxidative damage and rate of Telomere shortening or fraying. A sedentary lifestyle, smoking, high body mass index and low socio-economic status might actually sped things up.
Can we reverse Aging?
The advertising campaigns of many Cosmetic and Pharmaceutical Companies strongly inspire the affirmative position – “Yes We Can!”, but “Can we?”.
Maybe – I am going to say, maybe. One discovery so far I can find involves my friend Astragalus membranaceus an Adaptogen, very useful herb – I will introduce you another time. A word to the wise – I would caution against using Astragalus willy nilly – it is not poisonous but herbs like drugs under particular circumstances can be contraindicated. Even though, just quietly, they have been used as to deliver Primary Health Care for at least 2000 years, probably more … just quietly.
To continue Astragalus membranaceus has been found to increase Telomerase activity in cell! WTF right? And also slow down the rate of Telomere shortening! Get Out!
Could Astragalus be an Elixir of Life – probably not by itself. Need to do the the Inner Work in the Alchemical Laboratory, distill the Authentic Self – and then