The issue with modern-day western medicine (which I also mentioned in my personal Bio) is that it is disease oriented, rather than prevention oriented. Even society orients their perspectives in this fashion, which begs the question – WHY? It seems like we have been conditioned to have a form of detachment with our physical bodies, where we choose to only address issues when they seem to intervene with our everyday life. In doing so, we address the symptoms and not the underlying causes.
This is the very concern that many holistic practitioners, naturopaths, longevity researchers, etc., aim to address. A recent scientific article published in the Public Policy & Aging Report of The Gerontological Society of America in 2019 by Dr. Matt Kaeberlein, called “It is Time to Embrace 21st-Century Medicine”, speculated further on this issue. What is the point of addressing symptoms of disease when the end result is basically extending life in the presence of these very same diseases? What I mean to say is, why is our healthcare systems addressing health issues by looking at one symptom or disease at a time, rather than targeting the overall pathways of disease to prevent their very onset? Dr. Kaeberlein referred to this as a “traditional one-disease-at-a-time approach”.
Science has come so far as to discover so many medicines and causes of disease. Ranging from time that the common cold and common bacteria decreased life expectancies merely due to the fact that soap was not yet invented, to now being able to conduct complex bypass surgeries with approximate 95% success rates. We have come so far, yet our aging populations still suffer with fragility and are impaired in many ways in their final years. How is it that although we extended the average life expectancies, extended suffering along with it?
What has been suggested from longevity research is that targeting the pathways of disease is not the only method in preventing disease, but targeting the pathways of aging can, in fact, delay the onset and/or progression of age-related diseases (Kaeberlein 2013). Targeting aging pathways prior to their onset would be the best prevention of disease thus far. In doing so, we will no longer target individual diseases or symptoms, but in fact, we will be targeting aging. To clarify this further, Dr. Kaeberlein states that “nearly every organ system declines with age, which leads to functional impairments in a variety of measures, including the ability to fight off infections (immunity), hearing, vision, memory, strength, and many others”.
Perhaps we are looking at this the wrong way. Perhaps we should change certain mindsets in order to change these outcomes. Healthcare would have to change their approaches in order to intervene upstream and/or bring the biological system back to homeostasis. In this article, Dr. Kaeberlein refers to 21st-century medicine as medicines that directly target biological aging. He stated that “Now is the time to begin preparing for the reality of effective approaches for delaying aging in people. Policy makers, research funders, regulatory officials, and medical professionals alike should understand that intervention in biological aging is not only possible, but is already making its way into the clinic and the unregulated marketplace”.
What about natural products and longevity? Well, this highlights their potential even further within this domain of research and longevity medicine. Afterall, Idunn Technologies’ main focus is discovering natural molecules that can preserve the metabolic and biological functions of longevity. Dr. Kaeberlein, however raises his concerns in regards to natural products on the market. As mentioned previously in other articles in the Vitoli blog, many natural products on the market are not regulated. It is important that consumers become knowledgeable about this fact to make sure that the natural products they consume are:
- those that are backed by scientific evidence,
- those in which are standardized at doses found to be effective, and
- are bioavailable within the biological systems.
The fact is that our elder populations are increasing; instead of putting more weight on our healthcare and economical systems, science and health practices need to integrate longevity medicine into the healthcare system in order to sustain overall health rather than have it slowly deteriorate over time. Although more research is yet to be done, we are on the brink of this revolutionary change. The research of tomorrow can ultimately be the cure for disease we struggle with today!
I hope you enjoyed this article and I look forward to writing more on other relevant health topics! Feel free to message us with any comments or enquiries you may have. firstname.lastname@example.org
Other suggested topics:
- Matt Kaeberlein, PhD, It is Time to Embrace 21st-Century Medicine, Public Policy & Aging Report, Volume 29, Issue 4, 2019, Pages 111–115, https://doi.org/10.1093/ppar/prz022
- Kaeberlein M, Rabinovitch PS, Martin GM. Healthy aging: The ultimate preventative medicine. Science. 2015;350(6265):1191-1193. doi:10.1126/science.aad3267
- Kaeberlein M. Longevity and aging. F1000Prime Rep. 2013;5:5. doi:10.12703/P5-5
- Chang, A. Y., Skirbekk, V. F., Tyrovolas, S., Kassebaum, N. J., & Dieleman, J. L. (2019). Measuring population ageing: An analysis of the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017. The Lancet. Public Health, 4(3), e159–e167. doi:10.1016/S2468-2667(19)30019-2
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- Lutchman V, Dakik P, McAuley M, et al. Six plant extracts delay yeast chronological aging through different signaling pathways. Oncotarget. 2016 Aug;7(32):50845-50863. DOI: 10.18632/oncotarget.10689.
- Leonov, A.; Arlia-Ciommo, A.; Piano, A.; Svistkova, V.; Lutchman, V.; Medkour, Y.; Titorenko, V.I. Longevity Extension by Phytochemicals. Molecules 2015, 20, 6544-6572.
- Kyryakov P, Gomez-Perez A, Glebov A, et al. Empirical verification of evolutionary theories of aging. Aging. 2016 Oct;8(10):2568-2589. DOI: 10.18632/aging.101090.