Scientists believe that a Japanese plant used in traditional Asian medicine contains a compound that could slow down aging.
The compound is located in the Angelica Keiskei Koidzumi plant, known in Japan as Ashitaba. It is grown largely in the middle of the country and consumed in fresh or dried form. It is traditionally used as a remedy for heartburn, stomach ulcers, high blood pressure and cholesterol, hay fever, gout and constipation.
Researchers identified the flavonoid 4,4′-dimethoxychalone (DMC), which they described as a “natural compound with anti-aging properties,” in the plant.
In a study published in the journal Nature Communications, researchers said that slowing down the degeneration process could be an important approach to addressing related diseases because it is a risk factor for conditions such as heart disease.
It is currently believed that limiting calories while avoiding malnutrition has an impact on aging, as well as on drugs that last a long time, according to the authors. But avoiding food can be difficult for the average person, they noticed.
In tests on human cells, scientists found that DMC seems to slow down aging, the process by which cells no longer divide and start to grow permanently, which has been linked to cancer.
Tests in animals also showed promising results. When scientists gave worms and fruit flies the compound, it seemed to increase their lifespan by 20 percent. It also protected the hearts of mice when blood flow was blocked.
The team believes that DMC could work by initiating autophagy, a recycling process in the cells where damaged cells are removed.
Last year, the researchers behind a separate study gave a new insight into the aging process by concluding that activities such as running, swimming and cycling could slow down better than weightlifting.
The study, published in the European Heart Journal, investigated how different types of exercises affect telomeres, the connections at the end of our chromosomes that protect our DNA. They are considered the clock of life: we age as they languish.
The scientists discovered that interval training and endurance training with high intensity prolonged telomeres and stimulated telomerase activity. However, resistance training did not have the same effect.