Simplifying the Recipe
As we've discussed before, this blog contains my opinion about six supplements that might benefit those over 50, and perhaps those with a chronic (non healing) condition of younger age (The Recipe). They are my personal opinions, not medical advice.
Unchronic is a non-commercial site. I write it for relatives, friends, previous patients, those who ask me what supplements I am taking and why, and for other physicians who would like to integrate more natural approaches into their practice and are looking for non-commercial source of information to refer their patients to. I have no conflicts of interest. For physicians, I do not make personal recommendations to your patients. Please feel comfortable referring your friends and health care practitioners to the site.
For younger people facing a medication or surgery with potentially severe side effects, if your health care professional agrees, try the Recipe for a month first; if you get halfway better stay on the Recipe another three months before deciding if this was sufficient.
For someone already under treatment, consider adding the Recipe to current treatment and if you improve you can discuss with your doctor whether to taper off your current medication. The older you are, the more likely you will benefit.
Let's update the Recipe. The basic Recipe consists of six substances taken for one to four months as a trial and continuing if successful, or after the age of 50.
The six substances in the Recipe are the three stress and healing modulators NAC, glycine, and theanine, the two hormone replacement or stabilizing substances melatonin and pregnenolone, and the broad spectrum one a day nutritional support Centrum Silver.
1) NAC and Glycine
The basis for taking these is the Baylor study discussed in the previous blogs. It has been known for years that glutathione becomes insufficient for healing and repair after 50. It has only recently been shown that glutathione can be consistently and easily kept at youthful levels by taking the amino acid supplements NAC and glycine, available OTC as powders without additives from Amazon.
It's not just lab results (insulin sensitivity, mitochondrial health, inflammation and multiple other parameters) that improve. There is early evidence that older people function much better (cognitive, grip strength, walking speed) with these supplements.
The Baylor dose was 7 grams each daily, which roughly corresponds to a scant teaspoon each twice daily (a teaspoon of powder is about 5 grams). I have found the bulksupplements.com manufacturer on Amazon consistently available for both. The NAC part is very tart; the taste is hidden very well with pomegranate juice and seltzer water.
(It you use a lesser amount or capsules and it doesn't work, you are left with the question of whether the reason was an inadequate amount. I don't have enough information about lesser amounts or using only one and not the other to have an opinion about that, but the psychiatric literature for depression, PTSD, anxiety, OCD, and bipolar disorder suggests that doses in the range of NAC 1200-2400 mg may be effective, sometimes after many months. Glycine is used by the body in equal amounts to cysteine, and is often deficient, and the psychiatric literature doesn't address the issue of glycine limitations in psychiatric conditions, so I consider the psychiatric literature on the use of low doses of NAC alone of limited utility in addressing overall health benefits.)
The GlyNAC approach is supported by ongoing research published in peer-reviewed articles. If it doesn't work or something is wrong with the idea I will report it promptly here.
2) L-Theanine 200 mg twice daily.
I have been recommending theanine for many years for anxiety, depression, insomnia, and stress, and increasingly for "stress-like" learned behavior by the body such as hypertension. I am becoming more impressed with how well these three substances (NAC, glycine, and theanine) work together, and why.
Theanine is an extract of green tea and probably works by calming sympathetic over reactivity which leads to reduction in cortisol excretion and adrenal over reactivity. There is a very large body of research on the "learned helplessness" model of depression https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learned_helplessness, which is one way to think about depression outside of the neurotransmitter model.
Theanine reduces the over reactive stress response; simply put, the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate is combined with glycine and cysteine to form the tripeptide glutathione- our old friend!
4, 5: Hormone replacement: Melatonin and pregnenolone. Both are known to fall off rapidly after 50. It isn't known whether taking the first three substances in the Recipe will protect you from this reduction. I take low dose melatonin (2.5 mg Source Naturals) and pregnenolone (Life Extension brand) 5o mg at night.
Melatonin does very little for sleep; I take it for the immune protective effects in animal models and some indication that it helps with immunosenescence https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3549369/
6) Adequate nutritional co-factors: Centrum Silver one daily.
This is a good balanced review about the broad-spectrum one a day replacement vitamin Centrum Silver. https://www.statnews.com/2022/09/14/daily-multivitamins-improved-the-brain-function-of-seniors-in-a-trial-but-plenty-of-questions-remain/ because I find no reason to think doses of vitamins are helpful, but deficiencies are common. Not too much, and not too little.
Those six substances completes The Recipe.
Unsupported Geek Warning, fun speculation ahead: Minor deficiencies (that would be prevented by Centrum Silver) might cause network effects, much like the traffic slowdown that occurs when people tap their brakes. The analogy between a traffic slowdown and a breakdown in health draws from some concepts in nonlinear thermodyamics and the physics of solitons, enzymes self-regulating their speed like drivers on a highway.