He Shou Wu has been classically regarded as one of the greatest anti-aging, rejuvenation, and longevity herbs in Chinese Medicine. He Shou Wu is classified as a tonic to the Kidney Yin Jing as well as to the Blood. It’s also said to have a stabilizing and grounding effect to the heart and nervous system and its for these reasons that many experience a calm sense of upliftedness after consuming this revered tonic herb.
The good news is that modern science has revealed some mechanisms why which this effect may be occurring. One top candidate is he shou wu’s ability to inhibit monoamine oxidase or MAO-B.
Researchers have found that of all herbs studied, he shou wu is the greatest inhibitor of MAO activity.
In animal studies, it was shown that he shou wu is very unique among plants as a monoamine oxidase B inhibitor. It specifically inhibits MAO-B activity, which is associated with the onset of geriatric senility. The primary benefit of MAO-B inhibition is an up-regulation of dopamine, which declines with age and is vital for mood, growth hormone release, sexual function, and coordination. After the age of 45 or 50, MAO-B activity increases significantly in the tissues of the brain. In one animal study, an MAO-B inhibition effect of over 80% was noted, suggesting that this is one of he shou wu’s important anti-aging effects.
What we need to understand is that MAO is essentially an enzyme that breaks down dopamine. There are two types of MAO “A” and “B.” Some studies have shown that the two types of MAO activity, A and B, appear to have different domains of activity in the body and the brain has both types of activity. These two types of activity are mediated by different enzyme molecules and are regulated independently by endogenous and exogenous factors including genetic determinants, hormones, and aging. In humans, inhibition of MAO-A activity can lead to mood upliftment. While having low levels of MAO-B has been associated with an increased susceptibility to mental imbalance and mental distress. This could be due to having low levels of dopamine caused because the body is recycling it to fast due to a shortage of MAO-B.
It’s important to note that dopamine is a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and well-being and that is also helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. Dopamine also helps regulate movement and emotional responses, and it enables us not only to see rewards, but also to take action to move toward them. So from this we can see how having low levels of this chemical and easily open the door for mental distress and imbalance.
From this brief example we can see how in modern terms, the ancient claims made about he shou wu have been validated. We can also see why this is a great herb for helping to uplift the spirit by inhibiting monoamine oxidase B, which in turn can help us to have a greater amount of dopamine available in our system. Written on January 31, 2012 by brandon in Articles