Quite a few readers have sent me emails asking about rapamycin. Specifically, there have been a lot of questions about dosing, so I’m going to address that issue again today.
Though rapamycin has enormous potential to solve individual and societal problems, I think it’s important that you understand why I don’t simply tell you what and how much of anything you should take. I will, however, point you to the resources you need to find your rapamycin answers.
I’m doing this because we live in a unique time. Life expectancy has risen continually over the last century. If you look at this trend over a long-enough time period, it resembles the statistical hockey stick when slow, exponential growth suddenly shoots upward.
This raises an obvious question: Was the doubling of the last century just the beginning? Are healthspans about to increase even faster?
Most scientists said “no”—until rapamycin illuminated the mTOR pathway and studies showed that the compound significantly raised healthspans in animals. Interest grew further when the compound rejuvenated older animals on top of making them live longer.
The mTOR revolution led scientists to look at aging as a universal disease rather than inevitable deterioration caused by the passage of time. Now respected scientists are beginning to talk about breakthroughs in geroscience that could quickly and dramatically prolong human healthspans.
Some of this information has been presented at scientific conferences, some has not. In any case, I’m predicting that in the next few years, we will see scientific breakthroughs that will extend maximum human healthspans far beyond their current limitations.
Moreover, these new therapies will be regenerative, meaning they will reverse cellular aging and restore youthful health to the aged.
Taking steps to improve and maintain one’s health is nothing new. The ancient Greeks, for example, developed sophisticated strategies for staying healthy and strong as long as possible.
But we live in an exceptional era. Within a decade or so, these new therapies will be available—and it’s logical to assume that geroscience will continue to advance, with even more effective anti-aging biotechnologies coming online.
In fact, I believe this first step to unlimited healthspans is the singularity. I’m not talking about the imagined threat of sentient computers. Rather, I’m sticking to the original definition of the term, as reported by a friend of the genius John von Neumann.
The Biotech Singularity: Surpassing the Hayflick Limit
In other words, he believed there would be a technological change so enormous that it would change everything in unpredictable ways.
I believe that change, the singularity, is the abolition of aging as we know it. The so-called Hayflick Limit, which is the assumed maximum lifespan for a human (roughly 120 years) is just a temporary barrier that science will surpass soon.
There is no question that this is coming. However, it raises a really unpleasant but critical topic: There will be people who die the day before a therapy is available that prevents or rolls back the ravages of aging.
Therefore, the algorithm for healthcare decisions has changed profoundly.
In the past, it might have been rational to say that working hard to live a few years longer wasn’t worth the effort, risk, and sacrifice. Comedians and some economists argued that the satisfaction gained from a self-indulgent, hedonistic lifestyle was greater than the benefits yielded by a healthy lifestyle.
Before the dawn of regenerative medicine, that attitude made some sense. Until recently, “health nuts” were likely to tack only a few more years onto the unpleasant end of their lives. That’s no longer the case, as the rapamycin research has shown.
So this is my official advice: Don’t die the day before the singularity, when medical science starts rejuvenating the aged.
So it makes sense to do what is necessary now, so you don’t miss the cutoff point. After all, once you’ve been rejuvenated, you can then return to a self-indulgent, hedonistic lifestyle knowing there’s a medical fix.
The First Step: Rapamycin Therapy
One of my readers sent his own physician a link to Dr. Alan Green’s website. It contains a compilation of rapamycin research as well as the story of Green’s experiences taking the drug. My reader’s doctor responded that there could well be a day when everyone takes rapamycin— but that the research, which includes clinical trials, hasn’t been done to make that case.
I agree. Despite compelling animal data and anecdotal evidence from people taking rapamycin, it probably doesn’t make sense for “everyone” to take it now.
If you’re a young person, for example, I’m quite certain that you’ll live long enough to see much more effective anti-aging therapies pass human trials and added to standard insurance coverage. Unless you’re aging prematurely, I wouldn’t suggest that a young, healthy person take rapamycin.
I agree. We don’t know how long it will take for effective anti-aging therapeutics to be accepted by the regulatory and medical establishments, so you may have to take responsibility for your own medical decisions if you plan to live long enough to see the singularity.
Why, then, don’t I suggest that you take rapamycin and give you my dosing advice? The reason is that I’m subject to the same pressures that afflict the FDA and the pharmaceutical industry.
Optimal Administration and Dosage: Not as Clear-Cut as You Think
Simply put, every one of us is genetically unique. While this may seem obvious, most people don’t really understand the implications of genetic complexity.
When I speak in public, inevitably somebody will ask me, “Should I take [fill in the blank]?” or “How much [fill in the blank] should I be taking?”
First of all, I am not a physician and therefore can’t give you personal medical advice.
Second, it is currently impossible to answer those questions about any substance. Your physiology is the product of genetic forces that I don’t know. Modern medicine does its best to design regimens that benefit most people, but optimal supplementation advice would require knowledge of an individual’s health, weight, age, medical history, family background, and other factors. Someday, it will include genomic information as well.
Another, even more compelling reason for me not to outright recommend anything to you is that no supplement or prescription drug on the market today is safe for everyone. The same is true for common over-the-counter medications.
Every year, over a hundred thousand people die in the US alone from adverse reactions to properly prescribed drugs. Over-the-counter meds kill thousands. There is an industry of activists who will tell you, based on those numbers, that you shouldn’t take anything synthesized in a lab.
They’re wrong. A substance may be bad for some people but beneficial for others. If I accidentally eat soy, serious trouble ensues. I almost died once after touching a counter where someone had peeled a mango.
Even if your response to food and drugs is statistically average, the mistaken notion that any compound is safe for everybody can hurt your health. This is because the entire clinical-trial process is based on approving drugs for a hypothetical average person who doesn’t actually exist.
A drug that can vastly improve the lives of people with a certain disease may also kill one in a million people who take it. When drugs are going through clinical trials, the scientists and regulators involved have nightmares about somebody with an unusual genetic makeup being included in the patient population. The odds for that are low, but it occasionally happens.
When it does happen, it can bankrupt a company and kill an important drug in its tracks. If enough deaths occur after a drug is approved, the careers of the officials who oversaw the approval process may be ruined, even if they have done nothing wrong.
The solution, of course, is precision medicine. Artificial intelligence combined with enough sequenced genomes and medical records will allow truly intelligent healthcare—but we don’t have those tools yet.
That means even my best advice, if heeded by enough people, will eventually kill someone. If a large enough population of people takes rapamycin based on my counsel, someone will eventually die from unexpected side effects, especially if that patient population is aged. It’s a statistical certainty, and I don’t need that kind of headache. Have I mentioned that people die from common headache medications like aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminophen every year?
I sincerely believe that those who are older and at risk of not making it to the singularity should look into the benefits (and risks) of rapamycin therapy. I’m not, however, advising that you take rapamycin or anything else—and I’m certainly not going to give you dosing advice without knowing anything about you.
On the other hand, I’m happy to direct you to a doctor who may help you make up your mind. I know of a number of doctors who are using rapamycin personally, but Dr. Alan Green’s practice may be a tipping point because he’s publicly facilitating rapamycin therapy.
As I’ve mentioned previously, Dr. Green has compiled much of the critical literature on his website and gives his views on dosing on the homepage. He lays out his conclusions clearly, and you shouldn’t even consider taking the drug if you’re unwilling to read his materials.
It’s critically important that you understand what he’s saying... because dosing is critical. This is a case where more of a good thing is definitely not better. Taking too much of the drug, or too frequent dosing, can destroy its benefits, which is typical of all drugs, supplements, and foods.
In the realm of nutritional supplementation, I’ll also refer you to someone with the appropriate knowledge and experience. My favorite is Dr. Michael Roizen, one of the most knowledgeable people in the field. Roizen is chief wellness officer at the prestigious Cleveland Clinic, and I’ve been talking to him about giving you his supplement advice.
Roizen has the time and staff, including research scientists, to stay on top of this complex and rapidly changing field. Unlike me, he also has a medical license.
I will, however, talk again today about our number one nutritional problem: vitamin D deficiency.
The Benefits of Vitamin D
Because most people no longer work outdoors, our natural biological mechanism for generating vitamin D—direct exposure to midday sun—doesn’t provide enough of this critical regulatory hormone.
Almost every day, new research links low vitamin D blood levels to higher risk of diseases ranging from diabetes to breast cancer. Most people have suboptimal blood levels of the “sunshine vitamin,” and people with darker skin are at greater risk because melanin slows the synthesis of D.
I take 5,000 IU of D3 a day but also get moderate direct sunshine year-round because I live in South Florida. That’s not a generalized recommendation, though. It’s unlikely that you would overdose at that level, but you might not be getting enough.
The only way to know if you’re getting enough D is to get tested. I suggest spending time reading and watching the materials available at UCSD’s GrassrootsHealth. If you don’t know whether your 25 (OH) D serum levels are in the 40-60 ng/ml range, the organization offers a blood test by mail for $49.95.
There are two other anti-aging therapeutics with proven cognitive benefits that I’m particularly interested in: weightlifting and video games. I will talk about those at length another time.
Editor, Transformational Technology Alert
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