Arginine and Muscle Memory- The “Fountain of Youth?” (Interview with Life Extension Scientists: Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw)
|Life Priority Presents— Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw’s MUSCLE MEMORY
One of the most valuable products offered by Life Priority, Muscle Memory, has been described as “Youth in a Bottle” by the formulators, Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw. When you use it consistently before workouts or at bedtime (on an empty stomach), you will experience why this could be your personal fountain of youth.
The enclosed interview will describe the value of using Muscle Memory. In 1991, I began using this formula to increase my strength and endurance, speed up my recovery time, and have less soreness after exercise. The use of Muscle Memory allows you to get the most from your exercise.
For optimum results, use 1-3 servings of Muscle Memory 1 hour before exercise on an empty stomach (avoid eating protein 2-3 hours before work outs) or 1 hour before bedtime. Read label instructions before using Muscle Memory.
Here’s to the Retention of the Youth that is still in you!
Greg Pryor, President Life Priority
Interview on Muscle Memory with scientists Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw–
Greg: Durk and Sandy, our customers want to know about the Muscle Memory. Would you explain the formula to our customers and the reasons why you created it? What is growth hormone and how important is it to keep our bodies supplied with nutrients that increase the release of gro
Durk: Sure Greg, our interest in growth hormone and it’s history goes back a long, long way, to the early ’70s, when we realized that not everything associated with aging was necessarily caused by free radicals and that corrective treatments could go beyond controlling free radicals. Sandy and I became concerned about changes in the neuroendocrine system that occurred with aging. For example, as a woman gets older, one of the obvious changes is menopause. In males, there is a reduction in testosterone. Some of these changes are in response to internal “clocks”; others may be due to random damage, possibly related to free radicals, possibly related to something else, such as receptor loss or down-regulation. One of the most striking changes we noticed was the loss of immune system function with age. A person at age 70 is lucky to have 20% of their T-cell function left compared with when they were a young adult. That’s why pneumonia used to be called “the old man’s friend.” That is, pneumonia would kill you over a period of a few days; whereas something like cancer would kill you over a period of a year, much more miserably.
Sandy: A case of viral pneumonia might not even stop an otherwise healthy young person from going to work- just make them miserable for a while- and certainly would never put them in the hospital. The same virus could easily kill somebody in their 70’s.
Durk: We also noted that as you get older you start putting on more and more body fat and it becomes harder and harder to put on lean body mass. A potentially disastrous occurrence is the fact that it takes longer and longer for wounds to heal. A wound that would have healed in 5 weeks when you were in your teens or early 20’s might not heal for 5 months when you’re in your 70’s.
Sandy: What we figured out is that all of these changes were consistent with a reduction in the release of human growth hormone.
Durk: Growth hormone (GH) doesn’t make a person grow any taller after they’ve gone through puberty. You just don’t grow any taller after that. However, during our mid-20’s to 30 or so, there’s a big drop in GH output. And that’s when a person begins to find it much more difficult to put on lean body mass by exercising. For example, if a person in their teens or early 20’s does heavy exercise, they will release a relatively large amount of GH from their pituitary. Or if they’re injured, they’ll also release GH. By the time they’re in their 40’s, it takes a heck of an injury to get a good GH release, and exercise will rarely do it anymore.
Sandy: It is possible to improve the response of the GH-releasing system through the use of nutrients, and that’s something that we became interested in during the 1970’s.
Durk: About 1976 we came to the conclusion that it was quite possible that a reduction in GH was responsible for many of the problems of aging, and we got a private grant to do literature research on this. In fact, the private granting foundation asked the person who won the Nobel Prize for sequencing human growth hormone whether he thought our idea had any merit. He said, “Yes, this sounds interesting. Let’s hope they follow up on it.”
So, as we proceeded to read more about it, the more interesting it looked. Our thoughts turned to how you get GH released, because actual human GH was very difficult to come by. Since then, recombinant human GH has made the hormone much more available, although it’s still very expensive.
Sandy: So what we did then was to look for various substances that would cause release of endogenous GH, and we found out that there were quite a few. For example, some of the opiates will do it, but for obvious reasons that wasn’t really a suitable source.
Durk: We found out that there were certain drugs that would do it, for example, L-dopa. But it’s highly experimental for those who don’t have Parkinson’s disease to take L-dopa every day for the rest of their lives. What we finally found is that amino acids release GH, and some do it much better than others. In particular, different amino acids had different ratios of insulin release to GH release. Our goal was to find one that would maximize GH release and minimize insulin release. Arginine and ornithine both fit that criterion.
We decided to use arginine for two reasons. (Although ornithine was twice as powerful as arginine on a gram-for-gram basis, it costs twice as much.) The first reason was that you have a minute amount of ornithine in your diet, whereas you have substantial amounts of arginine.
Sandy: Ornithine isn’t used to make proteins.
Durk: You make proteins that contain arginine. And as a result, we thought the choice of arginine would be more conservative with respect to what human metabolism is adapted to. Also, we found out that 20 grams of arginine is normally used intravenously as a provocative test for GH release to see if a person’s pituitary is responding normally. We wanted to find out whether oral doses were also capable of doing that.
It turned out that oral arginine was particularly effective at releasing GH when you add a couple of additional factors to it, choline and vitamin B5 (pantothenate). That’s because GH release involves the cholinergic nervous system.
Arginine along with choline and B5 works just fine when taken orally as long as you don’t have a lot of other proteins in your stomach breaking down into amino acids that compete with arginine’s entry into the brain. It worked even better than we had expected.
Sandy was the first experimental subject matter for this treatment. We were at a Gordon research conference on the biology of aging back in 1979. And Sandy jumped up to try to get something off a shelf in our room, and when she came back down she didn’t come down on her foot straight and there was this horrible cracking sound.
Sandy: I noticed that my foot was swelling up, and it was very tender and I couldn’t walk on it very well. I had to hobble around.
Durk: In fact, it was Dr. Denham Harman, the father of the free-radical theory of aging, who diagnosed her as having a probable broken foot and suggested she get it X-rayed.
Sandy: Which I did, and it was broken. We were aware of studies on animals with broken bones that healed faster with an arginine supplement. And so we thought, “Well, we’ve done enough literature search on this; time to start taking it.” The arginine growth hormone release should help to speed up the healing.
Durk: Because she wasn’t moving around nearly as much, she thought she ought to do some exercise, so she did some bench presses lying on her back, which didn’t put any load on her foot. I knew how much weight she was lifting, and I measured how far she lifted it and counted the number of times she did it- she spent about 3 minutes a day on it- and, by golly, in 5 weeks she lost about 20 pounds of fat and put on about 5 pounds of lean body mass. Arnold Schwarzenegger in “The Education of a Bodybuilder” said it would be difficult for a dedicated male bodybuilder to accomplish that much gain in a year.
Also, the foot seemed to be completely healed up a lot sooner than we expected. The doctor said it would be 2 or 3 months before she was really able to walk around on it. Yet in 5 weeks she felt fine, had it X-rayed, and it was okay. I mean, it wasn’t broken anymore; not only that, in the X-ray it didn’t look like it had ever been broken.
Another very interesting story involves a friend of ours, a plump, sedentary, gourmet, 72 years old, who fell down on an icy sidewalk several years ago and broke his arm. This guy is very sedentary. His idea of exercise is taking the elevator from his condominium down to the underground parking garage, underneath his law office and taking the elevator up to his office.
His doctor told him that in about 5 months he would probably have to do bone grafts because he didn’t think it would heal, given our friend’s age and condition. Well, our friend called us up and said “Didn’t you once tell me something about accelerated wound healing?” He asked the doctor about that and the doctor was very dogmatic. “No, it’s not possible to speed up wound healing, there’s nothing that can be done about it.” So he called us back and we told him about Muscle Memory our formulation of arginine, choline, and B5, and sent him some samples. He started taking three servings when he went to bed at night. Five weeks later he felt so good, he went back to the doctor and said, “I want you to take the cast off.” The doctor got a real snicker out of that.
Sandy: He thought it was simply ridiculous. But the patient asked for it, so he took another X-ray.
Durk: The doctor was absolutely dumbfounded when he looked at the X-ray. It looked as though the bone had never been broken, there was not shadow on it indicating a fracture and the bone was a full density.
If a 12 year-old breaks an arm, you can take the cast off at 5 weeks. But if you X-ray it, the bone is not going to be at full density. Here, you have a guy who’s 72 years old with full density at 5 weeks! In fact, the doctor said that if he hadn’t personally taken the original X-ray, personally taken the second X-ray, and personally set that arm and put it in a cast, he’d call it some type of insurance scam, because what he saw was “completely impossible.”
We’ve heard of this sort of thing happening to a lot of people using our arginine, choline and B5 combination, like bodybuilders and Olympic athletes and so forth, who have also found out how useful this is. It really helps a lot in maintaining the ability to gain strength from peak output exercise. It also seems to help improve skin elasticity. A lot of people who’ve been taking it for a year or so notice that their skin, particularly on their face and neck, stays nice and tight. And that’s because GH causes the liver to release IGF-1, which in turn up-regulates production of elastin in the skin and also, I might add, in the arteries. Elastin’s the molecule that makes tissue all nice and springy and elastic. Anybody who has seen the skin pinch test done on the back of my own hands can see that it’s really much more elastic than you would expect for someone who’s 54 years old. We’ve been taking this formulation since 1979 now -18 years – which is a pretty significant fraction of our adult lifetimes.
Durk: Remember, there are various things that can limit your life span and also your quality of life. One thing is simply muscular strength. A lot of elderly people end up falling down, breaking their hips and then dying within the next year, because they never really recover. Such falls have been traced in some cases to the loss of equilibrium due to damage to the inner ear. But in most cases it’s thought to be due to lack of muscular strength. A person who stumbles can usually right himself but if you don’t have enough muscular strength, down you go. This seems to be a major problem. The average woman over 65, I believe, cannot lift 10 pounds.
Sandy: That’s right. It’s pretty shocking.
Durk: When you consider that a gallon just of milk weighs about 9 pounds, you realize what a big limitation that is. Another thing GH does is help maintain the function of T-cells in the immune system. The heart of that is the thymus, where T-cells are produced, selected, and educated or programmed. Maintaining GH levels can help retain thymus function and thymus mass.
Maintaining elasticity goes beyond the production of elastin. One very important thing about arginine is that it is a very powerful sacrificial target for cross-linkers. If nothing else gets you, you’re going to end up having to go on kidney dialysis at the age of 90 or 100 or 120, because, throughout your lifetime, cross-linking reactions are taking place in the collagen in the basement membrane of your kidneys.
Sandy: As a result of glycosylation, this causes the kidney’s basement membranes to thicken throughout life, and eventually it becomes thick enough that it is not filtering the serum well at all. In people who have diabetes, the process is accelerated. Diabetics usually die of kidney failure. There was a very exciting study in diabetic mice that were given arginine to what would be – scaled up to a human dose – about 3 gm of arginine a day. They found that the mice that received the arginine had normal kidneys when they became old as compared with controls. The diabetic mice that did not receive arginine were dying of kidney failure. They had thickened basement membranes in their kidneys.
Durk: In fact, what they found was that there was no increase in thickness after about 6 months in the basement membranes of those mice that got the arginine. It entirely abolished that age-related increase in basement membrane thickness and cross-linkage.
Sandy: It’s interesting to note, too, that the tests also have a basement membrane that thickens throughout life.
Durk: In some cases GH can block the effects of insulin. And a person who has type II diabetes is already insulin resistant. You don’t want to make them anymore insulin resistant. In fact, we have found that in a small percentage of type II diabetics, the blood sugar will go sky high if they take Muscle Memory. With most others, that doesn’t happen. In fact, gradually increasing the doses of Muscle Memory may result in an increased insulin sensitivity and a decrease in blood sugar levels. However, this is something that has to be done under a doctor’s supervision, where they’re actually measuring your blood sugar response as you go from perhaps half of one serving of the nutrients to start and gradually work your way up.
Sandy: That’s why we recommend on the label that diabetics not use the product.
Durk: Let me also mention another precaution: Arginine can increase the rate of growth of all tissues and that includes, potentially, cancerous tissues. If cancer already exists, it might accelerate its growth.
Sandy: I was reading in one paper about breast cancer and GH. The authors found an improvement in the immune response to the tumor in those patients taking GH, but, at the same time, the tumor was getting assistance in growing, because growth factors – any growth factors – do exactly that: improve growth.
Durk: Right. If a person has cancer, they do not want to take this. If they’ve had cancer, and their doctor says, “We got it all, there’s none left,” then there’s no reason that they shouldn’t be able to take it.
Sandy: But caution is always the byword. I think that by now your customers know that the two of us are extremely conservative. We try to take as few risks as we possibly can and hope that will contribute to our being able to live a very long time.
Durk: Another interesting thing I’ve discovered: I’m pretty doggone sedentary; I spend most of my time lying on my waterbed or a lounge chair reading scientific journals. But sometimes I go out and do some very vigorous things like digging post holes or carting concrete sacks around or branding cattle or digging out a hot spring. Believe me, shoveling mud is a very, very backbreaking task. I find that if I don’t take Muscle Memory before I do that, I will have aches and pains starting the next day that’ll be really bad and will last several days.
Sandy: How achy were you after the cattle branding?
Durk: Not at all because I was sopping up Muscle Memory all day; over the day I took about three servings of Muscle Memory spread out over the day. I just mixed it up in a drink and put it in the cooler.
Durk: For GH release, you need to take it all at once: two servings for a woman or three for a man, preferably at bedtime, because about an hour and a half after you go to sleep is your biggest GH release if you’re past, say, your mid 20’s. Or, alternatively, about 3/4 of an hour before you engage in heavy peak-output exercise. But in the cases of branding or digging out a hot spring, I’m usually at it all day long. So I take about three servings, put it in some ice water, and stick it in the cooler. I usually mix it with a couple of servings of Lift as well. I just drink that throughout the day. No aches and pains that day. No aches and pains the next day or the day after.
Durk: Basically what you want is to mimic, as far as possible, the natural pulsatile release. What you don’t want to do is to have elevated levels of GH all the time.
Sandy: Which is what you get with GH infusions or even subcutaneous injections of GH that they’re giving elderly people. These are not like the physiological releases of growth hormone.
Durk: GH is supposed to be released in pulses, like insulin, and a continuous high level results in a resistance to GH and all sorts of problems downstream from that. Now when you’re sipping three servings over a period of maybe 6 hours of heavy work throughout the day, you’re not going to get any GH release effect, but you will get the beneficial effects of the arginine-derived nitric oxide.
Sandy: There have been a number of studies of arginine with respect to atherosclerosis, particularly in animal models like rabbits. The first sign you see before you see any fatty streaks or any other visible evidence of atherosclerosis is that the arteries fail to dilate in response to acetylcholine. That can be reversed by infusing arginine.
Durk: Instantly reversed! Twenty seconds after you bathe the rabbits artery with the arginine, you’ve reversed that resistance and normalized the response of the arteries so they dilate.
We know of one case where that happened in a human. Our 72-year-old friend, after his arm healed up so fast, called up and said, “Would it hurt me to continue taking this stuff? It really makes me feel good, and it sure healed me up. I think this is doing a lot of good for me.” He wasn’t a diabetic, so we said, “Well, we’ve been taking it for 10 years now, go right ahead and do it.”
Sandy: So he started doing that. About a year and a half later, he had a fast-synchronized MRI scan of his brain, which gives very fine pictures of the cerebral arteries. He said that the doctor that did this, a different doctor from the one who fixed his arm, was absolutely astounded because, of his three major cerebral arteries, two of them were completely clear, and one of them had about a 20% obstruction, which is about the bottom end of the ability of this technique to measure at that time. The doctor asked him what sort of diet he was on – was he a vegetarian? Was he on a Pritikin diet, or what? And he said, “Well, my diet was bacon and eggs every breakfast.” And that’s just about true; those are the sort of things he eats. He’d be better off if he ate a lot more veggies, but that isn’t what he eats.
Sandy: We don’t know what his arteries looked like before he started using the arginine supplement, but the end result is certainly consistent with what the experimental studies have shown with arginine.
Arginine has also been studied for its effects on blood pressure. Part of the blood pressure regulation process is the arteries being able to dilate under the control of the cholinergic nervous system.
Durk: And this is mediated by nitric oxide. The scientist who figured that out won the Nobel Prize for it.
Sandy: A lot of people who have high blood pressure, especially associated with atherosclerosis, have a failure of their nitric oxide artery dilation system, and arginine often can help reverse that.
Durk: We’ve been told that, under a physician’s supervision, some people have been able to reduce their doses of anti-hypertensive medication by taking Muscle Memory throughout the day. Some people have even been able to discontinue the drugs entirely, particularly if they add potassium and magnesium along with an arginine, choline and B5 supplement throughout the day. But this should be done only under a physician’s supervision.
Sandy: One other thing to keep in mind is that using nutrients to get GH release is a very different thing from using the hormone itself, from the point of view of the feedback controls that regulate the release of hormones in the pituitary and elsewhere. When you take growth hormone itself, you bypass the normal regulatory features that control when the hormone is released and how much is released. You put GH in there, and you just override those controls. When you take arginine and choline and B5, you still have all of those regulatory mechanisms in place to control how much is released and when its released.
Durk: Another thing that we definitely don’t want to forget is that the mechanism that causes erections in male mammals is, in fact, nitric oxide. That’s what causes the vasodilation that results in the corpus cavernosa engorgement with blood producing an erection. If you take Muscle Memory 30-45 minutes before sex, you’re likely to notice the difference. There’s similar erectile tissue in women inside the lining of the vagina.
Sandy: Just like the arteries that we talked about earlier in the development of artherosclerosis, the cholinergic mechanisms are also involved in the dilation of the blood vessels to the penis.
Durk: I’m not at all surprised that occurs.
Durk: I think that Muscle Memory does a lot to make your neuroendocrine system look younger. In fact, the mixture was used in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study at a private fertility clinic. They took women who were not ovulating and put them on pergodile, which is a dopaminergic agonist, FDA-approved for fertility purposes (as well as for treating Parkinson’s patients). Most of them ovulated after they’d been on Pergodile for a while. The ones that had failed to ovulate after 6 months were put on two servings of the arginine-choline-B5 mixture at bedtime every night in addition to Pergodile.
The doctor said that the results were absolutely amazing: 80% of the women ovulated within days of going on the mixture. He said it was like turning on a light switch. I might add that one woman was about 1 and a half years postmenopausal; another one was about 2 and a half years postmenopausal. So, in a lot of ways, Muscle Memory makes your endocrine system look like that of a younger person.
Durk: Yes, in fact, it can. We reported that over a decade ago in one of our Life Extension books. A few hundred milligrams of buffered niacin can indeed do that; that’s what I take at bedtime along with my Muscle Memory. About 200 mg of niacin will give you double or triple the GH level compared with backgrounds. This is significant, but it’s nowhere near as big a pulse as you would likely get with the arginine-choline-B5 in Muscle Memory.
Durk: You would typically get one several times as big as with the niacin alone.
Durk: I use it myself whenever I have to learn some sort of new motor type-task. Also, we have had some interesting comments from various people. We know a retired professional golfer in his sixties who, over a period of about 5 weeks, took five strokes off his game. Normally at his age – he’d been playing at least a few times a week for 20 years – you’re not going to get better; you’re just going to get worse with the passage of time. And that’s what he said; his game had gradually been getting worse over the years. Taking five strokes off in 5 weeks is not something that normally happens. But it’s been found that nitric oxide release is absolutely essential for motor learning in the cerebellum, and it also appears to be necessary for long-term potentiation in the brain, which is the mechanism that’s involved in long-term memory. And I think that explains his success.
Durk: When you go over it all, it really sounds like too much of a panacea to be real. As the years have gone on we’ve found more and more delightful things about arginine.
Durk: I’ll tell you this; if you’re full of anabolic steroids to the point where you’ve down-regulated your anabolic steroid receptors, the dietary supplement might conceivably not work. Another possibility is that people who abuse GH by injecting it, subcutaneously or intramuscularly, are definitely going to develop resistance to it because it’s not being given in the pulsatile manner. Moreover the doses of many GH releasers are inadequate, and most formulations lack adequate choline and B5.
Sandy: Another thing is that, people who are restricting their calorie intake significantly are going to be less likely to release growth hormone because, under the conditions of fasting or caloric restriction, animals go into a state where they do not grow. They reserve the energy that they’re getting for more important things, like maintenance. Growth is not a priority when you’re getting a restricted amount of energy intake. So, for people who are on a diet that’s low enough, they may not get a growth hormone release.
Durk: Also, if a person takes a big slug of protein supplement, like 50 gm of protein, along with their Muscle Memory, not much of that arginine is going to get to the brain compared with taking it on an empty stomach. I’m afraid that a lot of body-builders may be taking a protein supplement along with Muscle Memory before exercising. What they should do is take the Muscle Memory before the exercise and take the protein afterwards.
Muscle MemoryTM was designed by Life Extension scientists Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw for their own use.
Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw were among the first scientists, beginning more that 15 years ago, to recommend that people take arginine supplements
(along with choline and B-5) to boost their natural GH release and thereby achieve a variety of life-extending benefits, including building lean muscle mass
(in preference to fat), accelerating wound healing, strengthening bones, improving immunity, and enhancing skin flexibility.
Muscle MemoryTM has been a Life Priority classic since 1994, for more than a decade for:
- People who recognize that the ingredients in Muscle MemoryTM help accelerate physical fitness.
- Those interested in the role of nutrition in biological aging. Muscle MemoryTM helps trigger your own internal biochemical resources of mental and physical power for enhanced vitality and youthfulness.
- Store in a cool, dry, dark place.
SUGGESTED USE: Read the directions on the bottle before consuming.
Use 1-3 tablespoons 45 minutes before work-outs (on an empty stomach) or take 1-3 tablespoons of 1 hour before bedtime.
Order Muscle MemoryTM now!
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