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Autophagy: How to Switch it On & Why


Key Takeaways From This Blog Post:

  • What is Autophagy?

  • How can you increase autophagy?

  • How Metformin increases autophagy

  • How Rapamycin increases autophagy

Fun Fact: Autophagy comes from the Ancient Greek ‘autóphagos’, meaning "self-devouring". But what exactly is autophagy, and why do we want to switch it on? Let’s take a look.


Over time, our cells accumulate a range of ‘bad’ things like damaged proteins and infectious particles, and some of our organelles (like mitochondria) can get worn out. Autophagy is the process where our cells clear out the old to make room for the new, and it’s a crucial part of keeping our cells healthy.


In fact, autophagy is super important in preventing cancer and other diseases like Parkinson’s. Because as we get older, our cells tend to become less efficient at triggering autophagy, and the damaged components can start to build up. There are actually several different types of autophagy. There’s macroautophagy, microautophagy, chaperone-mediated autophagy, xenophagy and crinophagy. If you’re interested in learning more about all the different types, check out James Clement's brilliant book The Switch.


You may have heard that you can increase autophagy by sweating up a storm in the gym, doing some (24+ hour) fasting or even by sitting in a hot sauna. This is true, but while these are all great things to do, they can be pretty uncomfortable. However, there’s an easier way, thanks to anti-aging drugs like rapamycin and metformin. Metformin: The world’s most widely-used oral diabetes medication

Metformin was discovered in 1922 and has been used as a medication in humans since 1957. It’s on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines, and is the fourth-most commonly prescribed medication in the United States, with an excellent safety profile. The way metformin increases autophagy is like this:

Metformin increases autophagy

Rapamycin: A powerful mTOR inhibitor

Discovered on the remote island of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) in 1972, rapamycin is approved by the FDA for three purposes: coating coronary stents, preventing the rejection of kidney transplants, and for treating a rare lung disease called LAM. But, thanks to its ability to inhibit mTOR (and stimulate autophagy), it is currently one of our strongest contenders when it comes to anti-aging. Rapamycin can have some unwanted side effects, but these can be avoided almost entirely through correct dosing and timing. At AgelessRx, our doctors are experienced in making sure patients get the most benefit from rapamycin while minimizing any side effects.


Interested in how AgelessRx can help you activate longevity pathways with Metformin and Rapamycin?


To request a Metformin prescription, click here.


To learn more about Rapamycin through our PEARL Clinical Trial, click here.




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