23 September 2013

Ian Gawler Blog: Is this the elixir of youth?

Who would like to live longer? Who would like less risk of illness and the prospect of recovering quicker if one did become sick? Who would not?

This week we go Out on a Limb and consider the implications of groundbreaking new research that shows how all this may be possible – and tap into how we can gain the benefits, but first

Thought for the day
In just 60 seconds, there are:
• 2 million searches on Google,
• 571 new websites created
• 204 million emails sent
• Amazon sells $83,000 worth of goods.
Tell me – exactly when did the world change?


Telomeres are like the protective caps on the end of shoelaces that protect them from fraying. Only telomeres protect your DNA from fraying.

Short telomeres are associated with many things that can go wrong with your health right up to premature death. Shortening telomeres are also crucial in the process of aging. Delay telomere shortening, have longer telomeres, and all the evidence points to significantly better health, delayed aging, and increased longevity.

In related blogs, I have presented evidence that shows shorter telomeres are associated with an increased likelihood of developing cancer and other chronic degenerative diseases, and that for people who do develop cancer, the longer their telomeres, the less likely they are to die of cancer. (See the links below)

So clearly, looking after our telomeres, preventing them from shortening and lengthening them if possible, is crucial to our good health and a vibrant old age.

Happily the body has it’s own built in telomere protector and regenerator. Telomerase is the enzyme that does just this and evidence has been mounting that increased telomerase levels increase telomere length and reduce wear and tear on telomeres.

To date the things that have been shown to increase telomerase activity are a fairly seriously healthy lifestyle (which includes a way of eating very similar to the Wellness (or maintenance) Diet I have advocated for years and is detailed in You Can Conquer Cancer), meditation and some herbs.

On the herb front, Product B (a synergistic blend of herbs) which I researched thoroughly and began to recommend about a year ago, has recently been approved for registration by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) as a therapeutic substance that provides telomere support (the only substance registered by the TGA so far for that purpose) and is a protector of liver function. For full details CLICK HERE.

Now the exciting new research

In a small pilot study, Dean Ornish, along with Australia’s own Nobel Prize winner for medicine Elizabeth Blackburn, have investigated the long-term effects of a programme of comprehensive lifestyle changes (diet, activity, stress management, and social support).

The results are compelling, showing that in this small pilot study, comprehensive lifestyle intervention, when compared with controls, was associated with increases in relative telomere length after 5 years of follow-up.

To quote directly from the research
Relative telomere length increased from baseline by a median of 0·06 telomere to single-copy gene ratio (T/S) units (IQR—0·05 to 0·11) in the lifestyle intervention group, but decreased in the control group (−0·03 T/S units, −0·05 to 0·03, difference p=0·03). 

When data from the two groups were combined, adherence to lifestyle changes was significantly associated with relative telomere length after adjustment for age and the length of follow-up (for each percentage point increase in lifestyle adherence score, T/S units increased by 0·07, 95% CI 0·02—0·12, p=0·005). 

Larger randomised controlled trials are warranted to confirm this finding.


1. A major new rationale
Currently there are many ways to explain the seemingly obvious suggestion that a healthy lifestyle is good for us. However, this new research offers a whole new way of understanding how this may unfold on a cellular level.

We know longer telomeres are associated with lower risks of the chronic degenerative diseases including cancer. We know longer telomeres are associated with longer cancer survival and even a longer life span for everyone.

We have known for a while that activating the enzyme telomerase was possible through a healthy lifestyle, meditation and some herbs.

This new research suggests is the first to suggest that increasing telomerase activity does translate into longer telomeres over time. The implications for preventive medicine, recovery from the chronic degenerative diseases and for longer, vibrant lifespans are exciting indeed and this pilot study is bound to stimulate a mass of follow-up research to test these implications.

Are we seeing a benefit or a norm?
When research shows us that a healthy lifestyle is associated with longer telomeres over time compared to controls, I suspect what it is really telling us is that the controls, who are really ordinary people doing what ordinary people do these days, are knocking their telomeres around unduly.

I suspect the healthy lifestyle tells us what a normal, healthy telomere does; the controls tell us what so many in our current society are doing – eating badly, not exercising, getting stressed out – and prematurely shortening their telomeres with all the unhappy consequences that follow.

What we do not know yet is can we do better than a thoroughly healthy lifestyle. Do the herbs such as those in Product B add an extra benefit, or are they too just helping protect people with an unhealthy lifestyle and supporting them to return to normal telomere function? Time and research will tell.

What to do?
Obviously, this research provides another compelling reason to take up on a really healthy lifestyle and to meditate regularly. The research showed a “dose dependent relationship”. The more thorough you are, the greater the benefit. It is worth developing healthy habits and sticking to them.

For me, it makes sense to use herbs to support telomerase activity and by implication, to extend telomere length. I take Product B regularly and this research makes me feel even better about it.

Product B: Product B is available on-line and I have created a website that details the contents of Product B, some of the research on the herbs it contains and makes ordering easy.
For details, CLICK HERE

You Can Conquer Cancer – not just for those seeking to recover from cancer, this book details what a healthy lifestyle really is and points to how we can actively prevent chronic degenerative disease including cancer.


DNA and the dangly bits

Telomeres, meditation and length of life

1. Melbourne Day seminar with Ian Gawler and Dr Nimrod Sheinman coming soon
Relaxation, meditation and creative imagery for health, business, healing and wellbeing.
A healthy lunch is included.

Training/retreat for those interested in mind made healing – either for personal use or as a health professional.
With Dr Nimrod Sheinman, Ruth and myself in the Yarra Valley.

Evening Public Lecture: Medicine of the Mind.  Thursday November 14th.
Let go of stress, activate healing, maximise performance in all you do. The power of the mind at work in everyday life.

ii) Weekend workshop: A New Way of Living
Saturday November 30th: Meditation and the power of the mind
Sunday December 1st: Living Well, Being Well –
A way of living that generates good health, profound healing and log-term wellbeing.

iii) Rotorua: Health, Healing and Wellbeing – Saturday 16th November 2013
The essence of what Ian has found most helpful.

iv) Christchurch: Inner peace, Outer health. Sunday November 24th.
A free event - find peace and clarity amidst troubled times.

v) Nelson: Mind-Body Medicine in Daily Life. Evening of November 26th.
Relaxation, meditation and creative imagery for health, business, healing and wellbeing

vi) Meditation Under the Long White Cloud. December 2nd – 8th. Seven day meditation retreat – the first from Ian and Ruth in New Zealand.
Ian will detail how to deepen your understanding and experience of relaxation, mindfulness and meditation; then he and Ruth will guide you into the direct experience of inner peace.

vii) Five day follow-up cancer program.
Specifically for people who have attended a CanLive program in NZ, or Gawler Foundation program. November 18 – 22 at Wanaka out of Queenstown - one of the most beautiful environments there is. Details: CLICK HERE

Here is a taster!

The evening walking meditation heads out from Hamilton Downs

The iconic Uluru or Ayers Rock,
photographed during the add-on tour


Ornish D, Lin J, Blackburn E, et al. Effect of comprehensive lifestyle changes on telomerase activity and telomere length in men with biopsy-proven low-risk prostate cancer: 5-year follow-up of a descriptive pilot study. Lancet Oncol. 17 September 2013. DOI: 10.1016/S1470-2045(13)70366-8.


  1. There is going to be a new kind of competitiveness developing here about "my telomeres are longer than your telomeres". Is there a test one can order to see the state of one's telomeres?

    1. Telomeres can be tested privately (most so far have been done as part of research projects) but the cost is around $1,000. Maybe there is a cheaper competition!, although it would be fascinating to know how long our telomeres are - if you want some premonition of how long you might live and what sort of health to expect.

  2. Hi Ian, if you start taking Product B, how does it effect or interact with other supplements you might be taking like magnesium, fish oils, Vit D and defencell

  3. The interactions between herbs and other nutritional supplements such as the ones you are enquiring about is something that is only slowly being clarified. To date there seem to be few adverse interactions and some of these things are actually synergistic. I am not aware of any problems with what you mention, but it is hard to be 100% sure.

  4. As a sixty year old I had been running consistent times for several years. Since taking Product B, those times have dropped by around 10% and I feel more energy throughout the day. This if nothing else has made it worth taking.

  5. More energy is one of the most common bits of feedback I have been receiving from those taking Product B. It is something I noticed myself, and I have good energy levels anyway. Not sure what does it, but maybe it is another synergistic effect of all those good herbs.