One of the interesting papers that surfaced when I ran a search on Huperzine-A using the National Library of Medicine's "Medline" is a double-blind trial of Huperzine-A versus a placebo, carried out with 34 pairs of matched junior high school students. Over four weeks of Huperzine-A adminstration (50 mg., twice daily) to the experimental group, the experimental arm scored about 11 points of "MQ" higher on the Wechsler memory subtest than the control arm, as well as performing significantly better in their language-learning classes.
My experience with "mind boosters": I mentioned a couple of months ago that I was trying gingko biloba and huperzine-A. I also mentioned that I had occasionally and concurrently experienced mild dizziness.
(1) I suspect that these have had some positive effect. It's hard to be sure because I don't know what would be happening if I weren't taking these supplements, but there's a good chance that they're working.
(2) I'm still experiencing a slight dizziness on certain days, although I haven't necessarily tied it to the gingko and the huperzine. (My vague vertigo could simply be tiredness. It's gone on long enough and been sufficiently faint and sporadic that I'm not worried about it. It hasn't gotten any worse or more frequent over the past year and a half.)
(3) I may be experiencing a touch of insomnia. I'm certainly energetic during the day.
I'm also taking a good multivitamin and mineral tablet, delivering several times the RDA for B-vitamins and adequate doses of everything else, a low dose of Coenzyme Q10, and 200 i. u. of vitamin E a day.
I'm about to add omega-3 fish oils (by eating salmon, mackeral, or tuna two or three times a week), and CDP-choline.
No more dizziness. I've been getting omega-3 fish oils, gotten from canned salmon, and fish oil capsules from Walmart. Omega-3 eicosapentanoic acid and docosapentanoic acid are credited in one recent study with reducing the incidence of prostate cancer among Swedish men by more than 50%.
Updated 3-3-2002: Mind
Last Sunday, I posted an article that makes unusual anti-aging claims for rats fed the supplementary nutrients acetyl-l-carnitine and alpha-lipoic acid in a study funded by the National Institutes on Aging. I took it seriously because the article was based upon three journal articles appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and because one of the co-authors was the well-known biologist, Bruce Ames. I also wrote it up last Sunday night.
My message for tonight is that I think it might be working. For the past few nights, I've had serious insomnia. I've been able to weather it during the day without getting sleepy, but it's become unavoidably noticeable. Today, I looked up acetyl-l-carnitine and alpha-lipoic acid in Dr. Sahelian's Mind Boosters. He says this about them.
Dr. Sahelian cautions, though, that high dosages can induce nausea, restlessness, and insomnia. He recommends dosages of 100 to 250 milligrams a day.
Since last Saturday, Tommie and I have been taking 500 milligrams a day. We'll cut back to 250 mgs. a day.
Concerning alpha-lipoic acid, Dr. Sahelian writes,
"The Author's Experience
"Unlike most antioxidants such as vitamins C, E, and selenium, there is usually a noticeable effect from taking Lipoic Acid. I've observed a sense of relaxed well-being and slightly enhanced visual acuity. Higher dosages of 40 mg. of more, even when taken in the morning, cause me to have insomnia."
Me, too. Tommie Jean and I have been taking 100 mg. a day, and something is causing me to have insomnia. We'll cut back to 20 milligrams of a-lipoic acid a day. Also, it's hard to tell about such things, but it seems as though my vision and my cognitive powers might have improved. I don't generally look for, or think about such effects, so they have to jump out and trip me before I'm aware of them.
I've only been taking these supplements for a week.
But the most relevant thing about this is that, like the women at the health food store, I'm noticeably feeling the effects of these nutrients. My memory seems to be more powerful. And if these two nutrients really work, what about some of the others?
2-25-2002: Total Body Rejuvenation, Anyone?
One article tonight, New Pill May Lead to Full Body Rejuvenation- Cosmiverse, under Prolongevity, makes strong claims for two innocuous health-food-store supplements, acetyl-l-carnitine and alpha-lipoic acid. Carnitine is an amino-acid found in meat (as in chili con carne), and alpha-lipoic acid is one of the body's fatty acids. Experiments conducted with old rats are said to have produced extraordinary gains in energy levels and cognitive functions, in keeping, I guess, with the expectations of the researchers. One of the two researchers, Bruce Ames, is a leading U. S. biologist and gerontologist. (The other is Tory Hagen with the University of Oregon's Linus Pauling Institute.) This study was funded by the National Institutes on Aging, as opposed to nutritional supplement companies. The authors have just submitted three papers to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
After reading this article, I hied myself thither to Walmart to see if they carried these supplements. Unfortunately, I didn't find them there, so I went on to "Foods for Life". The sales-lady at the store advised me that they have had these products on their shelves for only a month, but that women have already besieged them. Several women said that their skin tightened shortly after they begin taking these supplements. So, of course, I bought some. Acetyl-l-carnitine is very expensive at nearly $1.00 a pill.
The article contains no information regarding recommended dosage levels.
The coming years should see a plethora of such products, some of which may actually work. The really effective agents will be available first only by prescription and only for pathological conditions. However, like Viagra, Rogaine, and Retin-A, these prolongevity agents will probably rapidly escape the confines of the disease-oriented prescription system and will probably become available to the general public within a year or two of their introduction. The amount of money to be made is staggering.