Here’s some great news that will help you slash your risk of heart attack, high blood pressure and heart disease: I’ve uncovered some “hidden” benefits from an herb once considered a weed. And it could help you avoid chronic disease and help your body stay younger longer.
One of this herb’s main components stimulates the body to make more of a kind of adult stem cells called endothelial progenitor cells.
These stem cells are so powerful they have the ability to seek out, repair, and heal the trouble areas in the lining of your blood vessels. This is where heart disease and high blood pressure originate.
Since the release of a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2003, scientists and researchers have focused more and more on the power of these endothelial progenitor cells.
And for good reason. The study showed a “strong correlation” between the number of progenitor cells in the blood and a person’s overall risk of heart disease.1
The connection is so strong, I could make the case that the number of progenitor cells you have will become the new “marker” of heart health.
The reason this is so important is the more of these progenitor cells you have, the more likely you are to avoid disease.
People with diabetes, high blood pressure and/or cardiovascular disease have fewer progenitor cells.2 And very high LDL cholesterol stops endothelial progenitor cells from multiplying, moving and healing blood vessel walls.
But the roots of the herb kudzu (pueraria lobata) and its main component puerarin have the opposite effect.
Not long after kudzu was brought to the U.S. in the late 1800s, it was classified as a weed. But those in the know were importing it for its medicinal value.
Now, studies show that puerarin is protective – it keeps endothelial cells alive and functioning – AND it increases the number of these endothelial progenitor cells.
This helps your blood vessels heal themselves. Researchers developed a new word for this. They’re calling it “re-endothelialization.”
A new study I found done by Chinese researchers showed me how fast this can happen.
Researchers at the Weifang Medical University in Shandong, China, were looking at puerarin extracted from Chinese medicinal roots.
They gave it to animals with injured arteries each day for only two weeks.
Puerarin helped speed up healing and rebuilding of the animals’ endotheliums by increasing endothelial progenitor cells. And it healed mature endothelial cells.
Plus, it stopped plaque buildup in the arteries. That means less chance of heart attack and heart disease.
Puerarin also increased the levels of nitric oxide and prostaglandin I2, which help relax your blood vessels for lower blood pressure and better blood flow.3
And this might be the best news of all: A little-known study shows that puerarin keeps endothelial cells alive and healthy by significantly activating telomerase. That’s the enzyme that rebuilds your telomeres.4
The reason I talk to you about telomeres so often is that telomeres are the basic clocks that tell your body how old your cells are. And everything that happens from the time you are born is dependent on how old the telomere tells your body to act.
By keeping the telomeres in your endothelial cells longer and acting younger, you can reverse damage and prevent chronic diseases like heart disease.
If you live in the South, you probably know where you can find a nice patch of kudzu that you can use. If you live elsewhere, you can get kudzu capsules and tinctures in most health-food stores.
Make sure the supplement you choose is made from pueraria lobata and has a mix of powdered root and root extract, to get the best potency and as much puerarin as possible. Take from 150 to 500 mg a day.
Also, the kudzu root produces a starch-like powder that you can use when you cook to replace corn starch, or you can use the powder to make a daily kudzu tea.
Dissolve one teaspoon of kudzu powder in just enough water so that you can stir it and dissolve all the pieces. Add one cup of boiling water and stir well again.
I like to add some sea salt to my kudzu tea. You can drink it every day. It even relieves headaches.
1. Hill J, Zalos G, Halcox J, et al. “Circulating endothelial progenitor cells, vascular function, and cardiovascular risk.” N Engl J Med. 2003;348(7):593-600.
2. Chen J, Zhang F, Tao Q, Wang X, Zhu J, Zhu J. “Number and activity of endothelial progenitor cells from peripheral blood in patients with hypercholesterolaemia.” Clin Sci (Lond). 2004;107(3):273-80.
3. Cheng M, Li X, Guo Z, Cui X, Li H, Jin C, Zhang X, Guan X. “Puerarin accelerates re-endothelialization in a carotid arterial injury model: Impact on vasodilator concentration and vascular cell functions.” J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2013 Jun 20. Epub ahead of print.
4. Zhu J, Wang X, Shang Y, Xie X, Zhang F, Chen J, Fu G. “Puerarin reduces endothelial progenitor cells senescence through augmentation of telomerase activity.” Vascul Pharmacol. 2008;49(2-3):106-10.
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