The Logevity/Memory Cure

Image by Kalalani

Image by Kalalani

First I want to acknowledge Michael Blumert, who wrote an excellent book about jiaogulan. And second, Jonathan Mather ND, who recommended this formula to me.

This Formula is available in tincture form and can be purchased through the Store.

Introduction to the Five Herbs

I will not attempt to describe every single function of each of these herbs; rather, I will focus primarily on the attributes that specifically contribute to leading a long and healthy life.

Every one of these herbs is an anti-oxidant. Anti-oxidants help to neutralize free radicals. These are substances that occur naturally in the body, but pollution such as cigarette smoke, auto emissions, and various environmental chemicals seriously increase the number of free radicals in the body. These substances damage cell membranes and tamper with the DNA , which can lead to dementia, Altzheimer’s, cancer and heart disease.

All five of these herbs are powerful adaptogens. These are substances that help the body to maintain homeostasis. A healthy body has its own internal mechanism that allows it to adapt to its environment. But when under prolonged stress, such as longstanding or repeated illness, lack of sleep, chemical toxins, or emotional pressures, the adrenal glands become exhausted and the internal organs become overtaxed.

Certain nontoxic herbs have a “normalizing action irrespective of the direction of the pathological state,” according to I.I. Brekhman, a Russian holistic medical doctor, in his definition of adaptogenic substances in 1958. Some adaptogenic herbs will help you to wake up and feel energetic in the morning, and the same herb will help you to relax and go to sleep at night. Others will help to balance your blood sugar. Others will help you to lose weight or gain weight, depending on the needs of your body.

If you use coffee or any form of caffeine regularly, the Longevity/Memory Formula can be used to replace caffeine. Caffeine is a serious addiction, and withdrawal should be done very slowly in order to prevent depression. Specific instructions on preparation of the formula during withdrawal are given under Dosages below.

Jiaogulan (gynostemma, amachazuru)
Jiaogulan is used to prevent senility and to strengthen the mind and calm the nerves and overcome fatigue. It is a broadspectrum adaptogen. Constant consumption of gynostemma tends to have a highly protective quality because it strengthens the adaptive capacity of the person at every level of their life. Japanese studies have indicated that gynostemma has a double-direction, regulating, adaptogenic influence on the central nervous system. It is calming when one is overexcited and stimulating when one is depressed. Japanese studies have shown that gynostemma is clinically useful in a number of mental and neurological conditions, including simple depression, anxiety and schizophrenia.

This herb is a simple vine with three leaves that resemble poison oak. It grows in the mountains of southern China, where it is known to the peasants as the Immortality Herb. But it has not become famous. The central area of China is where Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) evolved. Since it was unknown in this region, jiaogulan is not included in the standard pharmacopoeia of the TCM system.

The local Chinese people it xiancao the “Immortality Herb,” and described it as being “Like ginseng but better than ginseng.” Although these two plants are not related, they contain most of the same major components. Panax ginseng has 28 saponins, and jiaogulan has 82, including most of the ones in ginseng. Jiaogulan has been used by the people in the mountainous regions of Southern China as an energizing agent. They take it as a tea, before work, to increase endurance and strength, and after work, to relieve fatigue.

Jiaogulan is used to prevent senility, to strengthen the mind, to calm the nerves, and overcome fatigue. Constant consumption of gynostemma tends to have a highly protective quality because it strengthens the adaptive capacity of the person at every level of their life. Japanese studies have indicated that gynostemma has a double-direction, regulating, adaptogenic influence on the central nervous system. It is calming when one is overexcited and stimulating when one is depressed.

Gynostemma is widely believed to slow down aging and to prevent feebleness; to prevent senility; to reduce fatigue, to increase vigor; to reduce oxygen deficiency at high altitudes; to improve digestion; to strengthen the mind; and to improve sex functions. It is also believed to help calm the nerves and ease pain. Studies into the anti-cancer activity of gynostemma have shown a 20-80% inhibition rate on a wide range of cancer cells, actually preventing cells from becoming cancerous. Various studies now show that jiaogulan will enhance endurance, inhibit tumors and help protect cellular immunity.

The Chinese are extremely interested in promoting longevity. In the 1970s a nationwide census was taken which revealed that, in small regions in the south central portion of China, high rates of people were living to 100 years of age, with extremely low incidence of cancer. Scientists from the Chinese Academy of Medical Science in Beijing and other institutions began to research these regions and discovered that the people living there were regularly drinking a tea made from jiaogulan. Gynostemma contains many amino acids, vitamins and minerals that are healthful to the human body, including selenium, magnesium, zinc, calcium, iron, potassium, manganese, phosphorus, and more.

It helps reduce weight in overweight people, and can help athletes, bodybuilders or excessively slim people to gain weight. As a diet herb, it boosts the body’s metabolism while adjusting blood sugar and reducing blood fat—which are critical steps in attaining healthy metabolic function, whether one wants to lose or gain weight. Jiaogulan should certainly replace coffee, green tea, and black tea because it is naturally sweet, and gives a nice energy boost without any known side effects. In Japan, jiaogulan is called amachazuru. “Amacha” means “sweet” in Japanese, referring to the sweet component prevalent in the plant, “cha” means tea, and “zuru” means “vine.

Jiaogulan retains its natural sweetness if it is simmered for just 45 seconds. (Or taken powdered, in teabags, and steeped.) So if you are making tea, this herb should be added at the end.

Ginkgo Biloba
This tree is sacred to the Buddhists and is often seen in temple gardens in Japan and Korea. It is popular in urban areas because it is so extremely disease- and-insect-resistant that it can grow in environments that other trees cannot handle. It is a living fossil, with related fossils dating back 270 million years. There is a 3,000-year-old ginkgo tree in China. These trees usually grow to 115 feet, but one tree in China is 164 feet. It is also cultivated as a tiny bonsai that can last for centuries. In Hiroshima, four trees that grew within a couple miles of the 1945 atom bomb explosion survived, and are alive today, while almost all other plants and animals were wiped out. So gingko would probably give protection against radiation—which should contribute to longevity.

Ginkgo improves blood flow and microcirculation in the small capillaries. It improves blood flow to the brain. Lab studies show that it dilates blood vessels and reduces the stickiness of blood platelets. It prevents blood clots and platelet aggregation and intermittent claudication (pain in the legs resulting from a narrowing of the arteries). It prevents retinal damage including macular degeneration, which would otherwise lead to blindness. The leaves and seeds of the ginkgo have been used in traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine for centuries. Ginkgo biloba extract (GBE) is standardized and prepared from the dried green leaves and it is popular for lab experiments. GBE is highly concentrated, and seems to be more effective in treating circulatory ailments than the non-standardized leaf alone.

GBE has been used effectively for asthma, bronchitis, and fatigue, as well as for tinnitus, multiple sclerosis, and sexual dysfunction. The extract has estrogenic activity and may reduce the side effects of menopause. It also reduces risk factors for osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. More than 40 clinical studies using GBE show increased energy production, increased utilization of glucose by brain cells, and an increase in the transmission of nerve signals. It also enhances the utilization of glucose by the brain cells.

This amazing herb fell into a bit of disrepute after the publication of a 2002 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, concerning a Williams College study, reported by the National Institute of Health. They came to the following conclusion: “When taken following the manufacturer’s instructions, ginkgo provides no measurable benefit in memory or related cognitive function to adults with healthy cognitive function.”

What a non sequitur! It’s like saying that aspirin does not cure headaches in people who don’t have headaches!

In Germany (where herbs are sold only by prescription) ginkgo biloba accounts for 1 percent of all prescription medications; in France, ginkgo accounts for 4 percent. It is widely used in Europe for patients with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), and it is used preventively for those who have a family history of AD. It improves thinking, learning, and memory, as well as helping those with AD to feel less depressed and to participate in daily social activities.

Gotu Kola (Brahmi, Asian pennywort, centella Asiatica)
This humble plant grows low on the ground, on a single stem, with a single fan-shaped leaf. The leaf and stem are medicinal and edible. It’s fairly tasteless and odorless, and it can be used in salads. It’s in the parsley family, and it makes a great edible ground cover that helps prevent soil erosion. It grows well in tropical regions, and it likes to grow around water. It has been called one of the “miracle elixirs of life” because legend has it that an ancient Chinese herbalist lived more than 200 years as a result of using this herb. A popular folk tale from Sri Lanka, India, tells of a prominent king from the 10th century AD named Aruna, who claimed that gotu kola provided him with enough energy and stamina to satisfy his 50-woman harem.

Gotu kola contains many nutrients that support the body’s vitality and feed the nervous system. It has been used for thousands of years in India, China and Indonesia to improve mental clarity and to combat mental fatigue. It has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for 3000 years and in Chinese medicine for 2000 years to increase concentration, alertness, and mental ability, and to reduce anxiety, stress and depression. Medical studies have shown that gotu kola can re-vitalize the brain and nervous system, increase attention span and concentration, and combat aging.

Gotu kola does not contain kola nor any form of caffeine, but it does increase energy and vitality. It increases the blood sugar level, and has a high concentration of B vitamins, which in turn help prevent hypoglycemia, mental fatigue, and depression. In clinical trials, Centella has been found to revitalize connective tissue, with the synthesis of collagen, thickening of the skin, increasing the tensile strength of the flesh, wound healing, repair of damaged tissue as well as promoting hair and nail growth. It stsrengthens the veins while increasing circulation in the legs, eliminating excess fluids (edema) by improving the function of the lymph system, and diminishing cellulite. It is effective for varicose veins, phlebitis, venous insufficiency, and hemorrhoids.

Brahmi has been used for centuries in the treatment of liver and kidney problems, and is used for people suffering from hepatitis as well as alcoholic liver disease. It is effective for destroying toxic accumulation in the brain and nerves, while helping to clear heavy metals and drugs from the body—including recreational drugs.
In alternative health, this herb is used to treat tumors and cancerous growths, without suppressing the auto immune system or creating toxic wastes within the body. On the other hand, Asiaticoside, a major component of gotu kola, has been associated with tumor growth in mice. One wonders if unusually large doses of Asiaticoside, in isolation, could account for this reaction? In any case, some authorities advise that significant doses of this herb should be taken for no more than six weeks, followed by a two-week break.

Schizandra (fructose schizandra Chinensis)
Schizandra grows as a thorny bush or a woody creeping vine, up to 25 feet long, with clumps of bright red berries. Commonly found in Northern China and Russia, it has been highly valued by Chinese royalty and Taoist masters. The Chinese refer to the schizandra berry as the “five-flavored seed” because it tastes sour, bitter, sweet, acrid and salty.
It is highly valued in China for its ability to strengthen the sexual organs, to prolong sexual endurance and overall strength, and to increase the sexual fluids. It is beneficial for erectile dysfunction, increasing nitric oxide, which allows the blood vessels to dilate, increasing the blood flow and swelling and tension on the blood vessel walls.

It increases one’s ability to perform, both mentally and physically, boosting muscular activity. It energizes the RNA and DNA molecules to rebuild cells and to produce energy.
Schizandra is an adaptogen that will help you to wake up, and it will help you to relax. It enhances mental alertness when it is needed, and will relax the mind when you are under stress and before bed. It helps to alleviate insomnia. It stimulates the central nervous system and gives mental stimulation without the nervousness associated with caffeine.

Data show that extracts of Schizandra chinensis fruit act as a weak phytoestrogen. The berry has long been used in Korea for the treatment of cardiovascular symptoms, especially those associated with menopausal symptoms, including night sweats. It helps to normalize the blood pressure and reduces cholesterol.

It rejuvenates the adrenal glands, which means that it is beneficial for adrenal exhaustion, depression, and chronic fatigue. It protects against radiation, and it is beneficial for the liver. Schizandra beautifies the skin, making it moist and supple. Studies show that schizandra extract has cortisone-like effects on the immune system, which means that it helps reduce inflammation and pain in the joints. In Russia, schizandra is a registered medicine for vision problems, helping to improve vision, and alleviating eye fatigue.

Holy Basil (Tulsi)
This herb is sacred in India, where it is found in great abundance around temples. Tulsi means “the incomparable one,” and it is considered a favorite of the gods. It is similar to garden basil, but has a slightly clove-like aroma. In India it is not used for cooking, whereas the garden basil is used in salads and raw food combinations. Its aroma is distinctively different from its close cousin, the Thai Basil, which smells more like licorice. Holy Basil is slightly hairy, whereas Thai Basil is smooth and hairless.

Tulsi strengthens the kidneys and the heart; improves digestion; reduces fever and inflammation; and helps remove mucus from the lungs, especially in combination with ginger and honey. It bolsters resistance against disease. It helps to combat stress—a major factor in aging— by reducing elevated levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, Holy basil is particularly recommended when under emotional or physical stress, to combat the negative effects of cortisol.

Studies have shown Tulsi to be effective for Type 2 diabetes, by reducing blood glucose levels, probably by stimulating the production of insulin. It increases the blood sugar level, which prevents hypoglycemia, mental fatigue, depression and confusion. It is used to diminish anxiety and stress. One of these studies showed significant reduction in total cholesterol levels. Tulsi also may help protect against radiation poisoning and cataracts. Holy basil has been shown to strengthen the capillaries and veins, to improve blood circulation. It re-vitalizes the brain and nervous system, increases attention span and concentration and sharpens the memory. It is used in cases of mental retardation; it is believed to increase the I.Q., and to increase meditation abilities by improving concentration, focus and alertness. It has been shown to slow age-related memory impairment.
It is a powerful detoxifier and is used in Ayurvedic medicine to destroy toxic accumulation in the brain and nerves, clearing the body of heavy metals and drugs, including recreational drugs.

Oil of tulsi can be used to strengthen aging skin and hair, restoring the skin’s collagen bundle structures and improving elasticity. But it must be added to a carrier oil. It can burn the skin if is not diluted.

Dosages, Precautions & Considerations
Ideally, begin with all five herbs, in fresh, dried, or tincture form. If you cannot obtain one or more of the herbs, just use the ones you can find. Even just one of these herbs will have a powerful effect on your memory and longevity. But if you use less herbs, increase the quantity of the ones you use accordingly.

Jiaogulan
• Jiaogulan retains its natural sweetness if it is simmered for just 45 seconds. (Or taken powdered, in teabags, and steeped.) So if you are making tea, this herb should be added at the end.

Ginkgo Biloba
Precautions:

• Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid using ginkgo preparations. In addition, ginkgo use should be discontinued at least 36 hours prior to surgery due to the risk of bleeding complications.

Possible Interactions
Ginkgo may alter the metabolism and effectiveness of some prescription and non-prescription medications. If you are being treated with any of the following medications, you should not use ginkgo without first talking to your health care provider:
Anticonvulsant medications — High doses of ginkgo could decrease the effectiveness of anticonvulsant therapy, such as carbamazepine (Tegretol) or valproic acid (Depakote), in controlling seizures.
Antidepressant medications — Taking ginkgo along with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRIs) antidepressants — including fluoxetin (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil), and escitalopram (Lexapro) — may cause serotonin syndrome. This condition is characterized by rigidity, tachycardia (fast heart rate), hyperthermia (low body temperature), restlessness, and diaphoresis (sweating). Ginkgo may enhance the effects (both good and bad) of antidepressant medications known as MAOIs, such as phenelzine (Nardil).
Antihypertensive medications — Ginkgo may decrease blood pressure, so use of ginkgo along with prescription antihypertensive medications should be monitored by a health care provider. There has been a report of an interaction between ginkgo and nifedipine (Procardia), a calcium channel blocking drug used for blood pressure and arrhythmias.
Blood-thinning medications — Ginkgo has blood-thinning properties and therefore should not be used if you are taking anticoagulant (blood-thinning) medications, such as aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), dipyridamole (Persantine), heparin, ticlopidine (Ticlid), or warfarin (Coumadin). There has been bleeding in the brain reported when using a ginkgo product and ibuprofen (Advil), a non-steroidal antiinflammatory drug (NSAID).
Blood sugar lowering medications — Ginkgo was reported to increase insulin levels in healthy subjects and to decrease insulin levels in diabetic patients. Use ginkgo supplements under the supervision of a health care provider if you are diabetic and taking insulin or oral blood sugar lowering drugs.
Cylosporine — Ginkgo biloba may help protect the cells of the body during treatment with the immunosuppressive (decreases immunity) drug cyclosporine.
Thiazide diuretics — Although there has been one literature report of increased blood pressure associated with the use of ginkgo during treatment with thiazide diuretics, this interaction has not been verified by clinical trials. Nevertheless, you should consult with your health care provider before using ginkgo if you are taking thiazide diuretics.
Trazodone — There has been a report of an adverse interaction between ginkgo and trazodone (Desyrel), an antidepressant medication that resulted in an elderly patient going into a coma.

(These precautions were taken directly from http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/ginkgo-biloba-000247.htm )

Gotu kola
• If gotu kola is desired to reduce anxiety, use a full dosage of 1/2-1 tsp. dried herb, simmered in 1 cup of water, for 10 minutes, taken 3 times a day, In this case, take the full Longevity Formula three times a day, or take it in the morning, and then take extra gota kola in the afternoon and evening. If a person is over 65 and feeble, begin with just the formula for 1 week, then add a second daily dose of gotu kola for one week, then a third daily dose. If taken to promote sleep, take the full formula in the morning and then take another dose of the full formula or just the gota kola, about 1/2 hour before bed.

• If you are taking more than one dose of the full formula, or if you are taking more than one dose of gotu kola per day, discontinue the gotu kola after 6 weeks; wait for 2 weeks, then you can repeat the same procedure. This is because Asiaticoside, a major component of gotu kola, has been associated with tumor growth in mice.

• If you have a history of cancerous or precancerous skin lesions, including squamous cell or basal cell skin cancer or melanoma, it may be better to avoid using gotu kola, or just use it once a day. Discontinue the gotu kola after 6 weeks; wait for 2 weeks, then resume using it once a day.

• High doses of gotu kola can cause these rare side effects: head or stomach pains, nausea, dizziness, and extreme drowsiness.

Holy basil
• Holy basil is not recommended for those who are pregnant, nursing or trying to conceive, because of the herb’s possible (although not established) effect on hormones.

Preparation of Memory/Longevity Formula
This Formula is available in tincture form and can be purchased through the Store.

For 6 doses:
Bring 6-1/2 cups of water to a boil (an extra 1/2 cup to allow for evaporation). Turn the water down to simmer. Then add:
2 tablespoons dried ginkgo leaf
2 tablespoons dried gotu kola leaf
2 tablespoons dried schizandra berries
Simmer 10 minutes. Then add:
3 tablespoons dried jiaogulan leaves and/or stems
Simmer 45 seconds. Remove from heat. Then add:
3 tablespoons holy basil
Optional:
Add other herbs, preferably fresh, for antioxidant properties and flavor, including:
2 tablespoons dried or 4 tablespoons fresh hibiscus flowers
2 tablespoons dried or 4 tablespoons fresh garden basil
2 tablespoons dried or 4 tablespoons fresh mint (any kind)
Cover and brew for 3 minutes, then strain. Sweeten with agave or honey if desired. Let cool and store in refrigerator.
Drink 1-3 cups per day, as desired, hot or cold.

Note: If you are using this formula on a daily basis, you may want to omit gotu kola from every other batch, to avoid any possible tumor growth.

Simpler Preparation Method:

You can combine large amounts of the herbs beforehand, using cup measurements.

Place in the first container, equal amounts of

dried ginkgo leaf
dried gotu kola leaf
dried schizandra berries

Place in the second container, equal amounts of

dried jiaogulan leaves and/or stems
dried holy basil

For 6 doses:
Bring 6-1/2 cups of water to a boil (an extra 1/2 cup to allow for evaporation). Turn the water down to simmer. Then add:
6 tablespoons from the first container
Simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Then add:
6 tablespoons from the second container
Cover and brew for 3 minutes, then strain. Sweeten with agave or honey if desired. Let cool and store in refrigerator.
Drink 1-3 cups per day, as desired, hot or cold.

Optional:
Along with the second container, add other herbs, for antioxidant properties and flavor, including:
2 tablespoons dried or 4 tablespoons fresh hibiscus flowers
2 tablespoons dried or 4 tablespoons fresh garden basil
2 tablespoons dried or 4 tablespoons fresh mint (any kind)

Use of tinctures
Use about 45 drops or 1/4 tsp. plus 1/8 tsp. of each of the five main herbal tinctures or extracts, diluted in juice, 1-3 times per day. Or add to freshly boiled water, to draw off the alcohol. If you pre-combine the liquids in equal parts, use 2 teaspoons of the combined liquids.
Ginkgo biloba tincture or extract (GBE)
Gotu kola
Schizandra
Jiaogulan
Holy basil

This Formula is available in tincture form and can be purchased through the Store.

Fresh herbs
Double the amounts of dried herbs.
Gotu kola leaves and stems may be used.
Holy basil leaves may be chewed, used in salads, for cooking and in tea.

Powdered herbs
Use half as much as the dried herbs.

Caffeine substitute and withdrawal
This Longevity/Memory Formula (or just jiagulan and schizandra, which is very tasty) can be used as a very pleasant daily drink instead of coffee or tea. It is also useful for weaning people off of coffee. Caffeine is a serious addiction, and withdrawal needs to be done very slowly, to prevent depression. The Longevity/Memory Formula can safely be used to replace coffee, taken 1-3 times per day, provided that the recommendations given below are carefully followed.

Take the full Formula, with triple-strength jiaogulan for energy, and triple-strength gotu kola for detoxification, three or four times a day, for the first few weeks of withdrawal. Cut coffee intake by half for one week, and then by half for another week, and so forth, until you can comfortably do without. Continue the extra-strong Longevity Formula for one week after full withdrawal from coffee, and then, if your energy level is normal and you’re not feeling depressed, cut the herbs to double strength for a week or two, and then normal strength after that. If there is depression or low energy, use more herbs as needed.