Category Archives: Herbs & Spices

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Flip Your AMPK switch to the “ON” position

Introduction to AMPK

AMPK (adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase) is an enzyme contained in every cell of the human body that serves as the body’s master regulating switch.

When the AMPK master switch is turned “ON” (by activating AMPK), it inhibits multiple damaging factors of aging and enables cells to become revitalized.  Scientists have found that activated AMPK promotes longevity factors that have been shown to extend life span in numerous organisms.  1  2 

There are various studies that show an increase in AMPK supports:

  • Reduced fat storage 3 
  • New mitochondria production  4 
  • Promotion of healthy blood glucose and lipids already within normal range  5 

dmso-7-241Fig1

Roles of AMPK in the control of whole-body energy metabolism. Notes: Activation of AMPK (green lines) stimulates the energy-generating pathways in several tissues while inhibiting the energy-consuming pathways (red lines). In skeletal muscle and heart, activation of AMPK increases glucose uptake and fatty acid oxidation. In the liver, AMPK activity inhibits fatty acid and cholesterol synthesis. Lipolysis and lipogenesis in adipose tissue are also reduced by AMPK activation. Activation of AMPK in pancreatic β-cells is associated with decreased insulin secretion. In the hypothalamus, activation of AMPK increases food intake.  Source: AMPK activation: a therapeutic target for type 2 diabetes? Kimberly A Coughlan, Rudy J Valentine, Neil B Ruderman, and Asish K Saha, Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes. 2014; 7: 241–253. Published online 2014 Jun 24. doi: 10.2147/DMSO.S43731

Activating AMPK:  Turning the Switch “ON”

The two major methods of activating AMPK is through:

  • exercise and
  • calorie restriction

When you exercise, you use up more ATP which generates higher AMP levels, which then activates AMPK.  6

The other method of activating AMPK is through calorie restriction by at least 30%.  This means cutting daily calorie consumption by 30%.  By reducing calorie consumption, the lower levels of available energy leads to rising AMP levels, which then activates AMPK.  7

In addition to exercise and calorie restriction, there are many other ways to activate AMPK, particularly through certain foods, herbs and nutraceuticals.  The Table below lists the many researched methods of activating AMPK:

AMPK Activators

CategorySubstance/ActivityReferences
Physiological
Exercise1
Fasting and Intermittant Fasting2
Cold water exposure (raise AMPK in the hypothalamus)3
Calorie Restriction4
Foods
Extra Virgin Olive Oil 5
Royal Jelly (10-Hydroxy-2-decenoic acid (10H2DA)6
Dashi kombu (Laminaria japonica Areschon)7
Bitter Orange (Citrus aurantum Linn)8
Garlic and Olives (Oleanolic acid)9
Apple Cider Vinegar10
Rose Hips (Trans-Tiliroside)11
Mulberry leaves extracts12
Fish Oil – EPA , DHA 13 14
Anthocyanins 15
Bitter melon16
Fungi
Reishi17
Herbs and Spices
Cinnamon 18
Astragalus 19 20
Marijuana (Cannabinoids)21
Green Tea/EGCG22
Rooibos23
Danshen (Chinese Red Sage)24
Gynostemma pentaphyllum (Jiagulon)25
Baicalin26 27
Hormones
Adiponectin 28 29
Thyroid hormones, especiallly T3 30
Leptin31
Nitric Oxide32 33
Immune System
Interleukin-6 (IL-6)34
Nutraceuticals
Apigenin35
Berberine36
Butyrate (Calcium/Magnesium ) or Sodium Butyrate (Short Chain Fatty-Acid)37
Carnitine38
Co-enzyme Q1039
Creatine40
Curcumin41
Fucoidan42
Genistein43
Glucosamine44 45
Hydroxytyrosol46
Oxaloacetate47
Quercetin48 49
Red yeast rice50
Resveratrol51
R-Lipoic Acid52 53
Vitamin E - gamma tocotrienol54
Pharmaceuticals
Aspirin55
Metformin56


Informational References:

Life Extension – AMPK and Aging “A Technical Review”  (November 2015)

Chinese Herbal Decoction Ge-Gen-Qin-Lian: An Effective Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes

A Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) herbal formula that has been used for the treatment of type-2 diabetes, and which has been documented based on clinical trials, is the Ge-Gen-Qin-Lian decoction (GGQLD).

A number of recent studies from 2011 and 2015 have showed that GGQLD had good clinical effects on type-2 diabetes and the anti-diabetic activities of GGQLD in vivo and in vitro were investigated.  1  2 

GGQLD consists of four herbs:

  • Puerariae Lobatae radix (Ge-Gen) as the principle herb
  • Scutellariae radix (Huang-Qin)
  • Coptidis rhizoma (Huang-Lian)
  • Glycyrrhizae Radix et Rhizoma Praeparata cum Melle (Gan-Cao)

Each of these 4 herbs have primary bioactive compounds that are effective in treating and reducing blood glucose level.  The primary bioactive compounds from these 4 herbs and their effect include:

Ge-Gen

Puerarin from Ge-Gen reduced blood sugar in diabetic mice, and improved insulin resistance and hyperlipidemia in rats  3 

Huang-Qin

Baicalin from Huang-Qin had antihyperglycemic effects on diabetic rats  4 

Huang-Lian

Berberine from Huang-Lian lowered blood glucose significantly by increasing insulin receptor expression  5

Gan-Cao

Amorfrutins from Gan-Cao have potent antidiabetic activity  6 

Another key component of GGQLD that has been identified called 4-Hydroxymephenytoin is involved in the antidiabetic ingredients of GGQLD stimulating endogenous insulin secretion and ameliorating insulin resistance in 3T3-L1-based insulin resistance models.  7

The Table below lists the antidibetic ingredients in Ge-Gen-Qin-Lian:  (Source) 

Potential antidiabetic ingredients in Ge-Gen-Qin-Lian formula by network target analysis.
Ingredients Herbs CID Literature evidence
4-Hydroxymephenytoin Ge-Gen 119507 /
1-OCTEN-3-OL Ge-Gen 18827 [50]
Berbericinine Huang-Lian 19009 /
Berberine bisulfate Huang-Lian 12457 [51]
Columbamine Huang-Lian 72310 [52]
Coptisine Huang-Lian 72322 [53]
Epiberberine Huang-Lian 160876 [54, 55]
Jatrorrhizine Huang-Lian 72323 [55, 56]
Oxyberberine Huang-Lian 11066 [57]
Dehydrocheilanthifoline Huang-Lian 3084708 [58]
Berberine Huang-Lian 2353 [59]
Indole Huang-Qin 798 [60]
1,3-Diphenylbenzene Huang-Qin 7076 /
2-Formylpyrrole Huang-Qin 13854 /
Guaifenesin Huang-Qin 3516 [61]
1-(1H-Pyrrol-2-yl)ethanone Gan-Cao 14079 [62]
2-Acetyl-1-methylpyrrole Gan-Cao 61240 [63]
m-Ethylphenyl acetate Gan-Cao 76462 /
5,6,7,8-Tetrahydro-4-methylquinoline Gan-Cao 185667 /
/: no evidence.

Modulating the Genetic Factors (ApoE) of Alzheimer’s Disease With Positive Behaviors and Natural Substances

Causitive Factors of Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease

It is generally believed that the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is the consequences of complex interactions among:  1

  • genetic factors
  • environmental factors
  • lifestyle factors

The main features of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are the presence of:

  • extracellular amyloid beta protein plaques
  • intracellular neurofibrillary tangles of tau proteins (NFTs)
  • loss of neurons and synapses in the cerebral cortex and certain subcortical regions in the brain

Image result for amyloid beta plaques

Figure 1.  Amyloid beta protein plaques and intracellular neurofibrillary tangles of tau proteins  (Source)

Image result for loss of neurons and synapses in the cerebral cortex

Figure 2.  Loss of neurons and synapses in the cerebral cortex  (Source)

This article focuses on the genetic factors as a potential cause for the late-onset of Alzheimer’s disease and what actions can be taken to modulate these genetic factors as it related to the most important genetic factor known as apolipoprotein E (ApoE).

Genetic Factors

Studies have demonstrated that Alzheimer’s disease is related to polymorphisms of at least four (4) genes:

  • amyloid precursor protein (APP)
  • presenilin (PS-1)
  • presenilin (PS-2)
  • apolipoprotein E (ApoE)

Polymorphisms in the three genes, amyloid protein precursor (APP), presenilin (PS)-1 and PS-2, is estimated to be the cause of early-onset (which is less than 60 years of age) autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease, which accounts for less than 1% of Alzheimer’s disease cases.  2

There are multiple genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors involved in late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, yet impairment in amyloid-beta clearance by ApoE is a major contributor to development of the disease.

Apolipoprotein E (ApoE)

Apolipoprotein E (ApoE) is a class of apolipoprotein found in the chylomicron and Intermediate-density lipoprotein (IDLs) that is essential for the normal catabolism of triglyceride-rich lipoprotein constituents. 

ApoE is mainly produced by astrocytes, and transports cholesterol to neurons via ApoE receptors, which are members of the low density lipoprotein receptor gene family.  ApoE is the principal cholesterol carrier in the brain and encodes for a protein that transports cholesterol, fats and fat-soluble vitamins through the blood.  

ApoE also contributes to the maintenance and repair of nerve cells.

PBB Protein APOE.jpg

Figure 3.  Apolipoprotein E (ApoE)  (Source)

There are three (3) major polymorphisms or alleles in the ApoE gene:

  • ApoE-ε2  (good one)
  • ApoE-ε3  (neutral)
  • ApoE-ε4  (problematic)

Since we carry two copies of the APOE gene, one from our mother and one from our father, the combination of alleles determines our ApoE3 genotype, for which there are six possible genotypes:

  • E2/E2
  • E3/E3
  • E4/E4
  • E2/E3
  • E2/E4
  • E3/E4

The ApoE-ε2 polymorphism, the most desirable to have, is associated with lower cholesterol levels and it actually may protect against Alzheimer’s disease in some populations and may decrease the risk.  3  

The ApoE-ε3 allele has a frequency of approximately 79 percent and is considered the “neutral” Apo E genotype. This means that for 79% of the population, a genetic polymorphism of this gene does not cause dementia or heart disease.  

The E2 allele is the one that is the most efficient in clearing and removing the amyloid-beta plaques from the brain.  The second most efficient allele is the E3 version, which does an average job of removing amyloid-beta plaques.

The E4 allele is the least efficient version in removing and clearing amyloid-beta plaques from the brain.  This results in more plaques building up and creating a much greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

The best genotype to have is E2/E2.

The worst genotype to have is E4/E4.

There are certain percentages of the population that carry certain genotypes:

  • Around 55% of the population have the E3/E3 genotype, which is the most common, equating to average risk  
  • Around 25% of the population have the E3/E4 genotype
  • Around 15% of the population have the E2/E3 genotype

ApoE-ε4 Allele

ApoE-ε4 is a major genetic risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease.  

Individuals carrying the E4 allele are at an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.  Having one allele of ApoE4 increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and if two ApoE4 alleles are present, the risk is even higher.  15

However, many individuals with the ApoE-ε4 allele never develop the disease and many patients with Alzheimer’s disease do not have the ApoE-ε4 allele.  

With an allele frequency of approximately 14%, the ApoE-ε4 polymorphism has been implicated in the following diseases:

  • atherosclerosis  4
  • Alzheimer’s disease  5
  • impaired cognitive function  6
  • reduced hippocampal volume  7 
  • HIV  8 
  • faster disease progression in multiple sclerosis  9
  • unfavorable outcome after traumatic brain injury  10 
  • ischemic cerebrovascular disease  11 
  • sleep apnea  12
  • accelerated telomere shortening  13
  • reduced neurite outgrowth  14  

Image result for Apolipoprotein E

Figure 4.  Apolipoprotein E and Alzheimer disease  (Source)

Those patients with two ε4 alleles of the APOE gene have up to 20 times the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.  16  The lifetime risk estimate of developing Alzheimer’s disease for individuals with one copy of the apoE4 allele (approximately 25% of the population) is approximately 30%. 17

According to the National Institute of Health, inheriting a single copy of ApoE4 from a parent increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by about three-fold. Inheriting two copies, one from each parent, increases the risk by about 12-fold.

ApoE generally is an anti-inflammatory and is able to break down the amyloid beta proteins that are a cause of Alzheimer’s disease.  The ApoE-ε4 allele is limited in its ability to function as an anti-inflammatory and to break down amyloid beta proteins. 18

Increasing the Production and Function of ApoE-ε4

If a person has one E4 allele or two E4 alleles (E4/E4, which is the worst and carries the highest risk for Alzheimer’s disease), then they can and should take proactive and aggressive preventive action to increase the production and function of the ApoE-ε4 allele.

You ultimately want your ApoE working effeciently to help control and remove the harmful buildup of amyloid-beta plaques.

Since the ApoE-ε4 allele does not function as efficiently as the ApoE-ε2, there are certain behaviors that can be done and substances that can be taken to increase its production and function. 

Behavioral Actions

There are certain behavioral actions that can be taken to increase to production and function of the ApoE, such as:

  • Eat a Ketogenic diet  19
  • APOE Stabilization by Exercise  20
  • Reduce elevated total cholesterol level and blood pressure 21
  • Learning and education (allowing the brain to constantly learn new and interesting in-depth subjects)  
  • 22

Natural Substances that Increase the Production and Function of ApoE-ε4

There are also natural substances that be consumed that have shown to increase the production and function of ApoE, especially in the case of a low functioning E4 single of double allele.  

These substances are listed in the Table below:

Increasing the Production and Function of ApoE-ε4

CategorySubstanceReference
Fatty Acids
DHA Ref.
Butyrate Ref.
Polyphenols
Curcumin Ref.   Ref.
Vitamins
Vitamin A (Retinol)   Ref.
Citicoline (cytidine diphosphate-choline (CDP-Choline) Ref.

Resources:

In order to see what your genotype in the ApoE gene, especially if your have the ApoE-ε4 polymorphism, you need to order a DNA and Genetic Test.  There are a number of testing companies.  The most popular are:

23andMe

Ancestry

Genos

Once you have ordered and received your DNA and Genetic Test from the testing company, you can then download your data to one of a number of websites that will analyze your genetic data and provide information on the polymorphisms of the ApoE gene and your specific genotype. 

A number of companies will analyze your genetic data and include:

SelfDecode

Livewello

Infinome

Promethease

Codegen.eu

All of the 5 companies above will receive the 23andMe genetic data.

Another way to test for your genotype and the ApoE-ε4 polymorphism can be done by ordering the following test from Life Extension:

Life Extension – ApoE Genetic Test for Alzheimer’s and Cardiac Risk

Sample Report (PDF)

Videos:

Dr. Ben Lynch – Alzheimer’s Dirty Gene APOE4

AHS16 – Steven Gundry – Dietary Management of the Apo E 4

NutritionFacts.org – The Alzheimer’s Gene: Controlling ApoE

Apo E Gene’s connection with Alzheimer’s Disease, Heart Disease and more

Do you have Apo E 4 Dementia risk, Heart Attack diet risk; Apo(e) 4 and alcohol