Anti-Aging Effect of a Natural Product, Maharishi Amrit Kalash (MAK)
Joint Meeting of the International Union of Biochemists – Symposium No. 200, Satellite Meeting of the Oxygen Society, and the International Society for Free Radical Research, Berkeley, CA, January 26-27, 1990.
J.Z. Fields,* R.H. Schneider,** L. Wichlinski,* and J. Hagen.*
* Department of Pharmacology, Hines V.A. – Loyola University Medical Center, Maywood, IL
** Department of Physiology, Maharishi International University, Fairfield, IA
Aging is a concept that is not clearly defined. Is it the genetically coded final stage in development or the random accumulation of errors? Operationally, aging is seen as a process that increases susceptibility to disease and dysfunction. Interventions to retard or reverse this process would decrease disease, improve human function, and thereby increase quality of life and at least mean survival time.
Ayurvedic medicine, the traditional medicine of India, holds that Maharishi Amrit Kalash (MAK) has substantial anti-aging properties. Accordingly, we studied the effects of this novel herbal preparation, MAK, on aging and related parameters. MAK is a combination of 26 plants (Maharishi Ayurveda Products International, Stoneham, Massachusetts).
Fifty-eight C57BL/6 mice (males) started on dietary MAK supplements at 25 mo, and kept on them for up to 8 weeks, showed significantly (p<0.05) more activity (locomotion, +85%), more coordination (roto-rod, +23%) and lower heart weight (-30%).
For mice (n=58) started at 18 mo, 80% of MAK mice were alive at 23 mo vs. 48% for controls (p<0.05). In these survivors, body weights for controls (41.5 g) and for MAK mice (38.3 g) were not significantly different.
MAK also increased acute survival 7 days after injection of a cytotoxic drug mitomycin-c at 3.25 mg/kg: 100% of MAK (Fisher female) rats (9 of 9) were alive compared to 33% (2 out of 6) for controls (p<0.05).
The finding of H. Sharma (Physiol. Biochem. Behav., in press) that MAK prevents cancer also suggests an anti-aging effect. The anti-aging mechanism(s) may include scavenging of reactive oxygen metabolites (ROM) by low molecular weight anti-oxidants. Using aqueous extracts, we found that MAK was as competent as superoxide dismutase (100% inhibition) and as potent, mg for mg, at scavenging one oxygen free radical, superoxide anions, produced by human neutrophils (PMN) (reduction of ferricytochrome-c assay). In vitro, at similar MAK concentrations, hypochlorous acid (HOCl) was also scavenged (iodometric assay). HOCl is another PMN-generated ROM and may be even more directly involved in tissue injury.
The maximum anti-aging effects of MAK, the full effects in man, and the active ingredients of MAK and their mechanisms remain to be determined.
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