Aging is the temporal decline in the efficiency of bodily functions: it is not a state of illness. The natural process of growing old involves complex interactions of genetic, metabolic, hormonal, immunologic and structural influences at the organ, tissue and cellular levels.
While an individual's age is a chronological fact, the aging process often manifests itself with physical complications. Even if an individual remains in "perfect" health, it is believed he or she will not survive past a theoretically predetermined age known as the life span.
Aging is a natural process which everyone experiences. Predisposing conditions which may determine the course of one's aging process are:
Built-in genetic program limiting the replicative life span of various normal somatic cells;
Postreplicative senescence: occurrence of alterations in cells no longer capable of mitotic replication and therefore are no longer able to compensate for deficiencies in cell numbers, structure or function;
Declining autoimmune system.
Signs & Symptoms
General loss of balance
Deteriorating sense of taste
Deteriorating sense of smell
Decreased temperature sensitivity
Skin disorders such as senile purpura, itching and loss of elasticity
Deteriorating vision such as presbyopia cataracts and glaucoma
Deteriorating hearing, such as otosclerosis
Structure & Function:
Nutrients for Brain Support &
Adult Child/Adolescent Bioflavonoid 2,000 - 6,000 mg n/a DHEA* Melatonin* Methionine 500 - 1,000 mg n/a Selenium 100 - 300 mcg n/a Vitamin E 200 - 400 IU n/a
* Please refer to the respective topic for specific nutrient amounts.
Note: All amounts are in addition to those supplements having a Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). Due to individual needs, one must always be aware of a possible undetermined effect when taking nutritional supplements. If any disturbances from the use of a particular supplement should occur, stop its use immediately and seek the care of a qualified health care professional.
Protein Inadequate consumption of protein and amino acids affects immune status. Protein deficiency is associated with impaired cellular immune quantity and function and with decreased antibody response. Deficiencies of the amino acids arginine and glutamine result in immune changes similar to those seen in the elderly.
Arginine has been shown to affect T-cell function, wound healing, tumor growth in rats, and the secretion of immunostimulatory hormones such as prolactin, insulin, growth hormone, and insulin-like growth factor.
Glutamine, a semi-essential amino acid that serves as a fuel source for stimulated lymphocytes and macrophages, enhances T-cell, neutrophil, and macrophage function.
Much attention has been focused on the impact of lipid consumption on chronic disease, and immune function is affected by lipid status.
Linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid, suppresses immune function and is associated with atrophy of lymphoid tissue at both high and low levels of nutriture. Linoleic acid deficiency depresses antibody responses, while excess intake results in diminished T-cell function. Intakes of <=4% of total calories is associated with tumorigenesis, while immunosuppression has been shown to occur at levels >=15% of total calories.
Consumption of a low-fat diet high in omega-3 fatty acids may have detrimental effects on immune function.
Vitamins that play a substantial role in immunity in the elderly include vitamins A, C, D, E, B6, and B12. Minerals that affect immune function include zinc and iron. (Copper and selenium have documented effects on immunity, but deficiencies of these nutrients are rare in humans.)
Vitamin A plays an important role in nonspecific immunity by maintaining the integrity of mucus-producing cells. Vitamin A also enhances T-cell function and antibody production and inhibits tumor growth. A major precursor of vitamin A, beta-carotene, also affects immune function by enhancing monocyte quantity, and may contribute to the cytotoxicity of T cells, B cells, monocytes, and macrophages.
Vitamin C affects immunity by stimulating the function of PMNs, although functional impairment is evident only at extremely low levels.
Vitamin D is a potent inhibitor of Th-1 lymphocyte responses, generally suppressing monocyte-derived IL-12 production and lymphocyte-derived IL-2 and IFN-gamma. Th-2 cytokines (IL-4 and IL-10) appear to be relatively unaffected by vitamin D. Analogues of vitamin D have even been used for immune suppression in patients with autoimmune disease and those undergoing transplantation. Vitamin D deficiency is common in the elderly, particularly those with minimal sunlight exposure (eg, institutionalized elderly) and poor dietary intake of fortified dairy products.
Plasma vitamin E concentration is directly related to DTH. Low levels are associated with an increase in the number of infections. There is also some evidence for a negative relationship between vitamin E and IL-2 production, which tends to decline with age.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is a coenzyme that plays an important role in protein and nucleic acid production. Vitamin B6 deficiency results in atrophy of lymphoid tissue and decreased antibody formation and cellular immunity. Lymphocyte function is also impaired in pyridoxine deficiency due to impaired nucleic acid synthesis.
Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin) deficiency is more common among the elderly because of decreased parietal cell production of intrinsic factor, which is necessary for vitamin B12 absorption. As many as 7% to 15% of elderly persons may have vitamin B12 deficiency.
The effects of nutritional supplementation on age-related immune alterations are summarized in Sen P et al.: Host Defense Abnormalities and Infections in Older Persons. Infect Urol 8(1): 23-29, 1995.
1. Baryta carbonica - 15C - use for extended periods (2X day, 1 year)
2. Glycerinum - 15C or higher - long term use - rebuilds tissue
a. Hydrastis canadensis- tincture to 30C
b. Ginkgo biloba - 30C
1. Lycopodium Clavatum- 30C - not too frequent - once per week, 6 months
Doses cited are to be administered on a 3X daily schedule, unless otherwise indicated. Dose usually continued for 2 weeks. Liquid preparations usually use 8-10 drops per dose. Solid preps are usually 3 pellets per dose. Children use 1/2 dose.
X = 1 to 10 dilution - weak (triturition)
C = 1 to 100 dilution - weak (potency)
M = 1 to 1 million dilution (very strong)
X or C underlined means it is most useful potency
Asterisk (*) = Primary remedy. Means most necessary remedy. There may be more than one remedy - if so, use all of them.
Boericke, D.E., 1988. Homeopathic Materia Medica.
Coulter, C.R., 1986. Portraits of Homeopathic Medicines.
Kent, J.T., 1989. Repertory of the Homeopathic Materia Medica.
Koehler, G., 1989. Handbook of Homeopathy.
Shingale, J.N., 1992. Bedside Prescriber.
Smith, Trevor, 1989. Homeopathic Medicine.
Ullman, Dana, 1991. The One Minute (or so) Healer.
Cayenne (Capsicum annuum)
Dong Quai (Angelica sinsensis)
Kelp (Laminaria, Macrocystis, Ascophyllum)
Saw Palmetto Berries (Serenoa repens-sabal)
Siberian Ginseng (Eleutheroccoccus senticosus)
Geriatric Vascular Changes (German Commisssion E):
Hawthorn leaf with flower
Note: The misdirected use of an herb can produce severely adverse effects, especially in combination with prescription drugs. This Herbal information is for educational purposes and is not intended as a replacement for medical advice.
Several approaches may be taken e.g. toning the blood, detoxifying, general tonic, boosting the immune system and aiding memory; all of which may be described as a "longevity factor".
"Longevity", of course, is a difficult claim to prove. Certainly, while most people are only interested in adding "years to their life" if they are in good health, they are interested in adding "life to their years". Some choices are gender-specific. Others relate to the lifestyle: active or sedentary; obese or underweight etc.
Cayenne can stimulate circulation.
Dong Quai is the "female ginseng", or tonic. It exerts estrogenic effects.
Ginkgo biloba is noted for improving circulation in the brain, thereby helping against strokes and memory loss. It may also benefit vision and peripheral circulation, including impotence. It may even potentiate the benefit of antidepressants.
Kelp (Laminaria, Macrocystis, Ascophyllum) may be useful for many women who suffer a tendency to be hypothyroid.
Saw Palmetto Berries are specific for prostate problems but may also prevent catabolism in the frail elderly, including women.
Siberian Ginseng is the Oriental favorite tonic, especially for men. It has demonstrated an ability to lengthen the life span of cells in culture. Hypertension, however, is a contraindication for its use.
Saito, H: Ginsenoside-Rb-1 and nerve growth factor (P. Ginseng). Proceeding 3rd International Ginseng Symposium. 1981, Korean Ginseng Research Institute.
Schubert, H & Halama, P: Depressive episode primarily unresponsive to therapy in elderly patients: efficacy of Ginkgo biloba (EGb 761) in combination with antidepressants. Geiratr. Forshc. 1993, 88:447-457.
Sikora, R et al., Ginkgo biloba extract in the therapy of erectile dysfunction. J. Urol. 1989, 141:188A.
Aromatherapy - Essential Oils
Geranium Essence, Ginger Essence, Jasmine Essence, Neroli Essence, Rose Essence, Rosewood Essence, Thyme Essence.
Related Health Conditions
Presbyopia (see eye disorders)
Characteristic Infections in the Elderly
Urinary tract infections
Device-related infections (artificial joints, heart valves, pacemakers, etc)
Ulcers associated with reduced circulation (pressure ulcers, venous stasis ulcers)
Herpes zoster (varicella zoster virus)
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