In 2003 a nutraceutical product called Protandim created by LifeVantage Corporation appeared on the marked with promises to slow down and even reverse the aging process. Some even went as far as to call it a “fountain of youth.” While some people complain about its price and network marketing method of distribution, the five main ingredients in the product have been used for centuries in Ayurveda, Chinese, and herbal medicine, and while all of them are very beneficial for health separately, studies show that they may have a much more powerful effect combined.
The Mechanism behind Protandim: Fighting Oxidative Stress
In 2005 ABC Primetime Investigative Report on Protandim, the journalist interviewed Dr. Joe McCord from the University of Colorado to find out exactly how this product works.
According to the scientist, it is the Oxidative stress that makes us age faster. It is defined as “a disturbance in the balance between the production of …free radicals and antioxidant defenses,” in other words, the body is not producing enough antioxidants to fight the free radicals.
Oxidative stress has been linked to dozens of diseases including diabetes, liver disease, asthma, strokes, heart attack, depression, Alzeimer’s, and even cancer.
To measure Oxidative stress, a blood test can be performed to count the levels of TBARS (Thiobarbituric acid reactive substances) in blood. The level will show the body’s “true age.”
“It is a slow progression of increasing Oxidative stress, that’s the main characteristic biochemically, of the aging process,” Dr. McCord said.
A product such as Protandim and other products that activate Nrf2, nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2, regulate the antioxidant response in the cells. It stimulates the body’s production of antioxidants, which acts as a natural anti-aging technique.
According to Dr. McCord, Protandim reduces oxidative stress to the “level of a young child.”
There are a few studies on Protandim published online at the U.S. National Library on Medicine. From these studies, the supplement showed reduction in skin cancer development in mice, induced antioxidant enzymes, and reduced Oxidative stress in humans.
What is great about this product is that it uses five plant ingredients that can be also purchased separately and mixed together at home, which people have done successfully. Some want to make sure all the ingredients sourced are organic, others simply enjoy making remedies themselves. If you would like to create such a product, there are a lot of resources about the proper use of these herbs, which in combination have shown to have incredible synergistic effect.
(There are a few patents of Protandum, and while there is no law against making a similar recipe for your own use, it is illegal to sell it to others).
Five Powerful Herbs to Fight Oxidative Stress
“There’s a huge human experience with each of these ingredients. They’ve been used often in traditional medicine in India and China and many other cultures, in some cases for centuries and centuries,” Dr. McCord said.
Green Tea: There are hundreds of studies showing green tea’s ability of fighting oxidative stress. Green tea has “a beneficial effect, by reducing the development or the enhancement of oxidative stress and, therefore, protecting the individual for oxidative stress diseases,” one study concluded. It is also known to improve brain function, help prevent cancer, and protect against infections.
Turmeric: The main active compound in turmeric is curcumin, and it has anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, and cardioprotective effects, and is also an antioxidant.
A 2016 study indicated that “curcumin may protect cells against oxidative stress induced damage through inhibiting apoptosis [cell death] and inducing autophagy [healthy destruction of cells in the body].”
Milk thistle (Silybum marianum): is another herb that helps fight free radical damage, slows down oxidative stress and the aging process in the body, all while protecting from various diseases.
Bacopa Extract: Bacopa has showed neuroprotective properties against oxidative stress in multiple studies on rats and mice. Its therapeutic qualities include protection from brain degradation, fighting swelling, and enhancing antioxidant activity.
Ashwagandha: Both root and leaf extracts are shown to be beneficial for brain-cell protection, fighting oxidative stress, and antioxidant activity.
Few examples of synergistic effects between these herbs:
- When used in combination, green tea and turmeric have shown stronger anti-cancer properties, reduced inflammation and stress in cows, and shown promise in treating chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
- Green tea together with milk thistle may be able to help colorectal cancer patients, and extend life expectancy in animals.
- Green tea and bacopa have shown to reduce a person’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Green tea and ashwagandha have anti-cancer effects against different types of cancers.
- Turmeric (curcumin) and ashwagandha may be beneficial against advanced osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer.
Making Your Own 5-Power-Herb Recipe
The people who have tried creating their own recipes, reported experiencing more energy, sleeping better, and many had as much of an effect from homemade recipes as from the marketed supplement.
There are slight variations in the homemade recipes that people have used successfully. Here is one adjusted recipe (you will need a food and herb scale for measurements):
150 grams milk thistle
85 grams ashwagandha
85 grams Bacopa
50 grams green tea
50 grams turmeric
30 grams Bioperine (black pepper extract is added for proper absorption of nutrients, and most importantly curcumin)
Mix all ingredients with a coffee grinder, and encapsulate into size 00.
Take 1 or 2 capsule every day.
Alternatively, some people had success with just taking all five herbs separately with the correct percentages of the active ingredients.
Milk thistle (80% silymarin), ashwagandha, Bacopa (45% bacosides), green tea (98% polyphenols), turmeric (95% curcumin) – the supplements are widely used, so you can either find them online or at your local health store.
Watch a video on Protandum from ABC News Primetime below:
This article is for informational purposes only and should not constitute medical advice. Consult a licensed naturopathic doctor for more information.