What would we not do to stay young? The Elixir of Life has been eluding mankind for centuries. There have been several myths that circulated in centuries past, about having found it.
In the 18th century, a nobleman was reputed to have the Elixir and he was said to be thousands of years old. In the 16th century, a physician named Paracelsus was said to have discovered the elixir of life that helped people live for centuries. Emperor Jiajing of the Ming Dynasty was given the so-called Elixir of Life, which lead to his death, and it was later found to be a lethal dosage of Mercury.
This strong faith that the elixir of life could prolong youth is what led Alchemists to keep searching for it. According to them, “To renew youth is to enter once more into that felicitous season which imparts to the human frame the pleasures and strength of the morning.”
Trithemius, when on his deathbed, was believed to have revealed a secret recipe for the elixir that was to be taken mixed in wine, and which would preserve the health, memory, mind, sight and hearing. The ingredients were cinnamon, calomel, tartar, mace, coral, aniseed, gentian and nard.
There was an ancient Chinese belief that taking precious substances; especially Gold, would lead to youth. However, today we know that these substances are toxic.
Has anyone ever found the Elixir? We do not know! There is no recorded evidence that anyone succeeded. But scientists today say they have and that the Easter Island Soil holds the secret to eternal youth.
They reveal that they are on the verge of unlocking this secret and creating a genuine “anti-aging pill” using a compound found in one of the remotest places of the earth – Easter Island. This compound found in the soil is created by a microbe living in that soil.
According to researchers, they have now found a way to stop cellular aging, using the compound to block proteins that damage the cells and are responsible for the aging process. Researchers are of the opinion that these findings could lead to the creation of drugs that slow down aging dramatically, ensuring people stay healthy for much longer.
The name of this magical compound is “rapamycin” or “Rapa Nui” as it is called in Polynesian. Scientists experienced miraculous results when they conducted tests on 2000 laboratory mice that were about 600 days old, which when translated to human age is approximately 60 years of age. They saw that the lifespan of the mice could be considerably extended. A quarter of the mice were fed a regular diet while the rest of the mice were given a diet to which Rapamycin was added. The female mice fed with the drug diet showed an extended life expectancy of 38% and the males showed 28%. The thing that amazed the scientists was that these mice were given this drug only during their middle age and old age, and yet the results were great.
The research which yielded these astonishing findings has been carried out at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio; Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine; and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.
Even experts in the field are surprised with these findings. Director of the Barshop Institute, Arlan Richardson, said “I’ve been in aging research for 35 years and there have been many so-called ‘anti-aging’ interventions over those many years that were never successful. I never thought we would find an anti-aging pill for people in my lifetime. Rapamycin shows a great deal of promise to do just that.”
From the University of Oxford, researcher Lynne Cox says, “This is a very exciting study where a single drug with a known cellular effect increases the life expectancy and lifespan of mice. In no way should anyone consider using the particular drug to try to extend their own lifespan as rapamycin suppresses immunity. While the mice were protected from infection, that’s simply impossible in humans.”
Until today, the only possible way to extend a mammal’s life has been to restrict its diet or alter the genetic make-up. Rapamycin seems to shut down partially the same molecular pathway as diet restriction or hindering growth factors. Although, this drug is not yet suitable to be used by people, experts say that it certainly opens up several doors to the first generation of lifespan extending pills.
Would you be willing to take an anti-aging pill to extend your life? The scary thing is that for most of us, the answer would perhaps be a “yes.” But is the quality of life not more important than the length?