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How natural plant extract extends lifespan by 40%

By Chukwuma Muanya and Abigail Ikhaghu
10 March 2022   |   2:42 am
Scientists have validated claims that natural plant extracts can prevent and treat diseases chronic diseases such as malaria, diabetes, hypertension, cancer

Herbs for diabetes and hypertension CREDIT:

Adodo, Iwu highlight herbs for chronic ailments in Healing Plants of Nigeria
• NHF commits to reducing obesity, related diseases, plans multi-stakeholder national submit on food, drink, cardiovascular health on March 15

Scientists have validated claims that natural plant extracts can prevent and treat diseases chronic diseases such as malaria, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), as well as extend lifespan and life expectancy in animals and humans.

A United States research team in the Louisiana State University (LSU) Department of Biological Sciences led by Assistant Professor Adam Bohnert has published a landmark study linking greater metabolic health- achieved through a natural plant extract- with longer lifespans in Caenorhabditis elegans, commonly known as roundworms.

The study was published in The Journals of Gerontology.

The Caenorhabditis elegans genome possesses homologs of about two-thirds of all human disease genes. Based on its physiological ageing characteristics and superiority, the use of C. elegans as a model system for studies on ageing, age-related diseases, mechanisms of longevity, and drug screening has been widely acknowledged in recent decades. Lifespan increasing mutations in C. elegans were found to delay ageing by impinging several signaling pathways and related epigenetic modifications, including the insulin/IGF-1 signaling (IIS), AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), and mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathways. Interestingly, dietary restriction (DR) has been shown to increase the lifespan of numerous metazoans and protect them from multiple age-related pathologies.

Although worms and humans don’t appear to have much in common, the researchers say there is good reason to assume the results could be replicated in people, as the study builds on previous work on metabolic health in mice, conducted at LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center under Prof. Jacqueline Stephens.

LSU student and lead author of the published study, Bhaswati Ghosh said: “The reason this study made so much sense to do in worms is because worms live for only about three weeks, so in a month or two, we had definite results,”

Also, Nigerian scientists have developed a blend of exotic herbs and species enriched with powerful immune strengthening benefits for the management and prevention of infectious and chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cold, cough, catarrh, HIV/AIDS and COVID-19.

Foremost researchers in natural medicine: Prof. Maurice Iwu of Bio-resources Development Group (BDG) Abuja and Rev Fr. Anselm Adodo of Pax Herbal Clinics Ewu, Edo State, have highlighted application of medicinal plants for infectious and chronic diseases in a book, Healing Plants of Nigeria- Ethnomedicine and Therapeutic Applications.

CRC Press, the 332-page book with 229 coloured pages and one page of black and white with illustrations published the book March 31, 2020.

The active ingredients of the herbal combo or rather IHP Bitters include Garcinia kola (bitter kola), Zingiber officinale (ginger), Piper guineense (black pepper), Hibiscus sabdariffa (Zobo), Andrographis paniculata and Tetrapleura tetraptera.

The indications of the product include: Normalises physical function, purifies the blood, controls blood sugar, energises the body, restores optimum health, manages high blood pressure, protect the liver and gall bladder, detoxifier and is rich in antioxidants.

Adodo said: “Cardiovascular disease is the major cause of death globally. Metabolic syndrome is considered to be a major factor in the onset of many cardiovascular diseases.

It is a condition in which at least three of the five cardiovascular risk factors exist, namely obesity, excessive visceral fat storage, dyslipidaemia, hypertension, and hyperglycaemia or type 2 diabetes. Cholesterol is a natural substance produced by the body as an essential compound for normal metabolism.

Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disorder characterised by a high blood glucose concentration, due to insulin deficiency and/or insulin resistance. The plants used for the treatment of metabolic syndrome include those that are capable of acting on multiple targets and the physiological parameters that affect homoeostasis.

The individual plant species in the mixture have various biological properties, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antidiabetic, antihyperlipidaemic, and antihypertensive activities.”

Also, in commemoration of the 2022 World Obesity Day (WOD), the Nigeria Heart Foundation (NHF) has pledged her support in ensuring that obesity is reduced drastically among children, youth and adult in Nigeria and also ensuring that people living with the condition are showered with love and encouragement.

WOD is observed yearly all over the world on the March 4. It is an initiative that is directed towards the eradication of the global obesity crisis. The WOD was earlier marked on every October 11, but since 2020 the day has been changed to March 4.

Obesity is one of the biggest public health challenges facing the world today, affecting 800 million people with millions more at risk.

The theme for this year’s WOD is, “Everybody needs to Act.”

Executive Director of NHF, Dr. Kingsley Akinroye, revealed that in 2021, the Foundation decided to include WOD commemoration as a day to promote the awareness of world obesity.

He said: “This is why we are having this celebration this year. Obesity has turned from a condition to a disease and it has become a global challenge especially among children and youth and even the adult population is affected rapidly, even in developing countries in the world.”

Akinroye also revealed that there would be a multi stakeholder national submits on food, drink, and cardiovascular health in the Nigeria population.

He said the submit, which will hold on the March 15 will involve the government, policy makers, researchers, civil servant organisations, professionals association, regulatory agencies and the industry represented by the manufacturers association of Nigeria.

The chairperson, planning committee of NHF World Obesity Day 2022 and past president of Nigeria Institute of Food, Science and Technology (NIFST), Mrs. Dolapo Coker, said that obesity is gradually rising in Nigeria and it is a condition that is influenced by several factors including genetic, metabolic, cultural, environment and socio-economic.

Coker said: “Obesity is no more show of wealth, rather it is a show of Ill health. Obesity subjects individuals to a higher risk for serious diseases such as Cancer, diabetes, heart disease and falls.

“We are aware that over the last two decades, Obesity has gradually increased to not less than eight times in children and adolescents in both developing countries and developed countries with high economics. Obesity is a major risk factor for non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes hypertension and stroke, cancer and road- traffic accidents.

“Some of the ways to prevent Obesity is for both individuals and policymakers to restrict the marketing of food and drinks high in sugar, salt and fats to children and also for them to improve physical activities in schools and environments.

“Restriction to taking sugar-sweetened beverages and high fatty meals and providing improved access to affordable home-prepared foods. Individuals are encouraged to eat five or six servings of fruits and vegetables daily; reduce processed foods from diet and eat whole grained products. Walking about 30 minutes a day is encouraged.

“Government, non- governmental organizations, health and education authorities should develop policies to improve ‘walkabilities’ for adults and children in the environment including housing-estates towards reduction and elimination of obesity.

“Our take home message should be that Moderation is the key word when it comes to dieting.”

Executive Director of Non-Communicable Disease Alliance in Nigeria, Prof. Akin Osibogun, said, “I am confident that Obesity is going to be reduced in Nigeria especially among school children within the next 10 years as NCD alliance is promoting physical activities in schools and good dieting among them. We also have an ongoing school feeding program for school children that we are committed to.”

Meanwhile, Bohnert’s and Stephens’s research teams are interested in studying the effects of Artemisia scoparia, a natural plant extract of a particular kind of wormwood that is native to Asia. Made from its leaves, the extract was fed to worms in various doses in Bohnert’s lab. The treated worms who received the highest and second-highest dose showed near-immediate improvement in their metabolic health. Not only did the treated worms live up to 40 per cent longer than the untreated control group- they also grew fat and a little slow, as their increased body mass made it harder for them to move around. But the worms also became healthier and more resilient. It was easier for the treated worms to handle stress. In addition, the researchers found that Artemisia scoparia helps convert unhealthy fat stores into healthy fat stores in the body.

This study adds to previous work by Bohnert and LSU Assistant Professor Alyssa Johnson on ways dietary changes influence aging at a cellular level. Now, it appears Artemisia scoparia also can activate many pro-longevity pathways in the body, and effectively turn on multiple genes involved in the lifespan regulation process.

“Until recently, it wasn’t really known how aging could be modified through diet, or how core metabolic signaling pathways influence longevity,” Bohnert said. “What we’ve been able to show is that a natural extract can come in and influence these pathways in much the same way a genetic mutation would.”

Meanwhile, Healing Plants of Nigeria: Ethnomedicine and Therapeutic Applications offers comprehensive information on the use of herbal medicines in West Africa. Combining an evidence-based, ethnobotanical perspective with a pharmacological and pharmaceutical approach to phytomedicine, the book bridges the gap between the study of herbal plants’ pharmacological properties and active compounds for the development of clinical drugs and community-oriented approaches, emphasising local use. It demonstrates how the framework of African traditional medicine can be preserved in a contemporary clinical context.

Part Two, which consists of eight chapters, highlights application of medicinal plants for specific diseases including: 7. Medicinal Plants for Malaria and Parasitic Infections; 8. Nigerian Plants with Application in the Treatment of High Blood Pressure; 9. Nigerian Healing Plants Used for Metabolic Syndrome, Obesity, and Diabetes; 10. Phytotherapy of HIV-AIDS and Opportunistic Infections With Nigerian Plants; 11. Application of Nigerian Plants in Cancer Treatment; 12. Control of Oxidative Stress and Chronic Inflammation with Nigerian Plants; 13. Skin Care, Dental, Oral Care and Cosmeceuticals from Nigerian Plants; and 14. Nigerian Healing Plants in Global Trade.