Iranian Professor Finds Plants that Increase Lifespan

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Dr. Mahtab Ja'fari, Iranian professor at the University of California, has found two plants that have been proven at laboratory to increase lifespan of flies.

Three years of studies by this Iranian researcher and her colleagues, who studied fruit fly, show that the extract of Damask rose (Rosa damascena), which is grown in Iran, and another mountainous plant of north Europe and Asia, called Rhodiola rosea, can increase lifespan.

Dr. Mahtab Ja'fari, who lives and works in California, was seeking to find an anti-ageing drug and has, thus far, studied about 50 drugs and plant extracts, three of which have finally proven helpful. One of them is a plant, which was thought to treat diabetes with other ones being Rosa damascene, which is also grown in Iran, and Rhodiola rosea. The three plants have been proven to increase lifespan in flies.

Referring to the effects of Rhodiola Rosea, which have been published recently and drawn the attention of international scientific media, she has noted, “Our studies show that Rhodiola rosea can increase lifespan of flies by 8-10 days. To make sure that other factors like food (calorie intake), which increase lifespan in flies and many other animals, have had no role here, we tested those parameters through different tests and also studied physiological effects of the plant on metabolism in flies, reproduction of females flies, and their nervous system. Of course, the mechanism through which the plant delays ageing in flies has not been specified yet and we will focus on it in the follow-up to our studies.”

The researcher noted that no clinical studies have thus far been carried out to show the plant’s effect on human lifespan, but there are hopes that plant extract can actually delay ageing in humans.

The Iranian scientists pointed out that the plant has been known since many centuries ago and some people even use it after boiling the plant like tea.

“People maintain that it increases energy, reduces fatigue, and prevents depression, so that some Russian and Chinese athletes use it to boost their energy and strength. Of course, I did not know the plant very well before engaging in this research and studied about it during the project,” she said.

Dr. Ja'fari noted that Rhodiola rosea was previously supposed to have good effects on arthritis, depression and cancer, but it was not known to have a positive impact on ageing.

“Of course, I think that researchers should not be influenced by past notions to reach a set conclusion. They better get rid of all prejudgments first,” she opined.

She continued by saying, “Until half a century ago, if somebody asserted that diabetes or high cholesterol are preventable, people would not have believed them. The idea of prolonged lifespan may seem to be odd right now, but it is sure to be realized in the future. The main cause of death is cellular death and if diseases are controlled, lifespan can be greatly increased.”

The doctor noted, “I don’t mean that human life can be increased to, say, 200 years, but I want to help the aged to have a higher quality of life in senescence.”

The Iranian professor of the University of California added, “Now, we plan to study the mechanism through which the extracts increase lifespan by testing mice in the first step, followed by humans.”

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