Slowing Down the Aging Process with Robert H Schneider

WebMD Live Events Transcript

Find out if you can slow down the aging process through, diet, herbal supplements and transcendental meditation.

The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

Mature_Years_Mod  Today's guest is Dr. Robert Schneider, Professor of Physiology ad Maharishi Ayur-Veda and Director of the Center for Health and Aging Studies. Today we're discussing slowing down the aging process. Welcome Dr. Schneider thanks for joining us today.  Could you start by telling us a little bit about your background and how you became interested in studying aging?

Speaker_Schneider  Thank you.  Well, my background is in the area of preventive medicine and public health, with training in cardiovascular disease, the most common disease for older people.  I first became interested in aging because I realized that the aging segment of our population is the most rapidly growing segment,  and health problems such as cardiovascular disease, etc., rapidly increase in advancing years.  So prevention of aging associated health declines in many respects, most important health needs of our time.

Mature_Years_Mod  What is the College of Maharishi Vedic Medicine?

Speaker_Schneider  It is part of the university called Maharish Univ of Management, an accredited university through out  the PhD level.  Our focus that makes ours different from others is twofold.   First, we focus on prevention which is unique because most modern medicine is not focused on prevention, but disease care rather than healthcare.  Ours is on creating health. The knowledge and technologies were interested in for this are natural medicine, because of the lower rates of adverse side  effects found in traditional medicine and greater cost effectiveness or the ability of some natural approaches to prevent and treat disorders with aging  that are not able to be adequately addressed with conventional modern medicine.  Along those lines -- our students, etc are interested in the most scientifically validated approaches of natural medicine and the most comprehensive approaches,  and we find those in this most ancient system of natural medicine which is from the vedic tradition.  -- the specialty of our program. And particularly unique and valuable perspective from this is that aging as we know it is not necessary.  ... and this is consistent with some modern gerontology which often distinguishes between usual aging and successful aging, and this vedic approach specializes  in promoting what gerontologists call successful aging.

Mature_Years_Mod  How does TM (Transcendental Meditation) work to cause the effects on health? Where does it come from?

Speaker_Schneider  The TM program is the approach of stress reduction and self development that is development of the mind/body connection from the system of Maharish Vedic  It is a very ancient technique which ahs been validated by hundreds of research studies for effects on slowing or even reversing many of the declines in function  commonly seen with aging. In a sense, it is even though ancient, a modern medical discovery made available for widespread use by a teacher of the vedic tradition, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.  The effects beside more than 500 published studies on TM program, the NIH has recently sponsored a center at our university which is one of 9 in the country, on complimentary and alternative medicine, and we are continuing to investigate the usefulness of the TM program and other modalities from this system of  natural medicine for their usefulness in preventing disease and promoting health in older people.

Mature_Years_Mod  Today's guest is Dr. Robert Schneider, Professor of Physiology ad Maharishi Ayur-Veda and Director of the Center for Health and Aging Studies. Today we're discussing slowing down the aging process. If you would like to submit a question please type in /ask skip a space and then enter your question followed by hitting the return key

Mature_Years_Mod  Can the aging process be slowed or even reversed?

Speaker_Schneider  Yes.  There is some ample evidence from many specialists in age and research that shows that some naturally age more slowly than others.  ... and this is again the point of usual or average aging which most people show with declines in mental and physical health.  A minority of the population shows greater mental functioning and emotional well being and physical health in later years, and these have been called successful agers,  because their different in many ways.  This shows the potential for greater well being, greater efficiency and greater health as the years go on, but until now there ahs been a lack of systematic approach  to developing successful aging.  ... although some spontaneously show it. What is very exciting from the latest research is that several modalities of natural medicine we've discussed,  example stress reduction, etc., has shown that older people can improve cognitive functioning. 

 A study at Harvard compared TM to other approaches in the elderly showed improve cognitive flexibility, improved memory, less depression, improved mental health,  as well as lower blood pressure and less heart disease and death from heart attacks, strokes, and cancer, for many years. This is compared to controls, and there are other  modalities like proper diet and nutritional supplements which seem to supplement that technology to age successfully, if you will.

Mature_Years_Mod  Today's guest is Dr. Robert Schneider, Professor of Physiology ad Maharishi Ayur-Veda and Director of the Center for Health and Aging Studies. Today we're discussing slowing down the aging process. If you would like to submit a question please type in /ask skip a space and then enter your question followed by hitting the return key

Mature_Years_Mod  Tell us more about your NIH sponsored Center for Natural Medicine and Prevention...

Speaker_Schneider   This center was awarded this past Oct and is the culmination of 10 years of research, much sponsored by NIH. AT our university in collaboration with major  medical centers around the country, on approaches of natural med that could be useful in prevention of diseases in the aging population.  Based on that preliminary work, the NIH's National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine funded us as 1 of 9 centers of excellence in the country,  with an 8 million dollar grant, to do several things in this center. One is to evaluate with scientific methods the most promising natural medicine  technologies for this age group and second, to train future researchers in the field of natural medicine, because there is a shortage of well trained scientists who can evaluate the unique approaches of natural medicine.  Third, the mission is to develop new domains which have not been previously explored in terms of innovative methodologies for effectiveness, as well as safety, and cost effectiveness.  The latter is important because the Medicare budget may be bankrupt in the not to distant future, so we really need cost effective methods or preventing ill health  in the aging population, both from a societal perspective as well as individual, because everyone wants to live longer, of course, but also with sustained high quality off life.

Mature_Years_Mod  What are some of the most promising naturals medicines out there?

Speaker_Schneider  One approach that's very interesting is anti-oxidants. Of course, there have been many studies on individual ones like Vitamin C or E, and many are taking them for their effects hopefully on preventing cancer or heart disease, and even slowing down the aging process.  But I think the best info to emerge is that combinations of antioxidants found naturally such as in the diet or in plants like herbal products seem  to be more effective than the isolated active ingredient alone, like isolated such as Vit C or E. For that reason, our center is following up research  done at Ohio State U and others on herbal preparations from this ancient system of vedic medicine, which so far seems highly promising for their effects in preventing  free radical related disorders such as heart disease, perhaps cancer, and other disorders associated with advancing age. 

 These studies are currently beginning in our center in clinical trials, in follow-up lab and animal studies which suggests these effects.  Other approaches of Maharishi Vedic Med which are under study and appear useful for clinical use include vedic sound therapy which uses particular sounds  from the vedic literature which have been proposed to correspond or effect different parts of the body. Example, sound therapy, or a newer one with vibration which can  -- which appears can effect balance in corresponding parts of the body such as the digestive system or the joints, skin, or even mental health, and  this seems to be a useful complimentary approach for many chronic disorders which are difficult to treat.  ... by modern medicine, which is why they're called chronic in the first place.

Finally, another one is techniques for physiological purification which seems to remove toxins from the body which research suggests has an effect on improving health with aging.  Another new area is -- or rediscovered -- is the effects of the environment on health, such as architecture, the building, or even design of one's home, etc., has an effect on mood  and other aspects of well being. There's a system of natural architecture which is part of this which actually recommends appropriate home and office designs to maximize the health of inhabitants.  Finally, even there's knowledge from this natural medical system of how even the cycles of the sun and the moon and other stars and planets relate to our cycles  of health, etc., and this is very new but very exciting knowledge that contributes to a holistic understanding of health and the aging process and even provides  methodologies for minimizing the negative impact of those effects of the environment and maximizing the positive potential.

Mature_Years_Mod  How can I learn more about these programs for myself?

Speaker_Schneider    Well, in every city -- just about all-major ones, there are trained teachers of TM. Any senior or anyone can learn the technique in a short course -- 1-1/2 hours per day for 5 or 6 days,  and it is easily practiced for 15 or 20 minutes twice a day.  It does not require a change in personal beliefs, philosophy, religion or lifestyle. It's a scientific technique, and then one has it long term for reducing  stress related disorders and promoting more ideal mind/body health and as we mentioned earlier, for promoting successful vs. usual aging.  Many of the cities where the TM centers are also have associated natural medicine clinics where you can find other modalities that have been studied in a scientific framework.  If anyone wants to become an expert consultant practitioner, that's the specialty of our school here, training future professionals who will be expert consultants in  this comprehensive system of prevention and natural medicine.

Mature_Years_Mod  You mention successful aging ....what is that?

Speaker_Schneider  I think it includes the whole person from the most inner levels, to consciousness and mind and physiology and even the environment should all be in balance for ideal health. 

Mature_Years_Mod For those that don't know... can you define... free radicals... and antioxidants and examples of herbs that you are talking about...  Free radicals are bio-chemicals found in the body which are often waste products in the body or are toxic and can be caused by ingestion of toxic chemicals, etc.,  and these bio-chemicals actually damage the bodies own cells, including DNA itself, and many gerontologists theorize that it's the accumulated effect of these which may be the central physiological cause of aging and aging declines in the mind and body as we know them.  These also contribute to many or most of the chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, cancer, perhaps dementia, cataracts, Parkinson's disease, and others. 

For this reason, medical scientists have been evaluating the effects of compounds which could neutralize free radicals. These compounds are called anti- oxidants.  Because free radicals cause oxidation, which is like rusting -- so these are anti to that process, or anti-oxidants.  These compounds are found in the diet, in the plant world such as in herbal preparations, and can also be synthetically manufactured such as in synthetic Vitamin C or E.  However, there is significant scientific research to indicate that the natural forms of antioxidants which includes many compounds altogether, may be synergistic and therefore,  more effective than a single synthetic compound.  And many of these herbal preps are available in the traditional text of natural medicine and are being evaluated and applied clinical with the aging process.  The traditional texts describe some of these are restorative or rejuvenative.

Mature_Years_Mod  Our time is running out is there anything else you would like to cover on the subject before saying good bye?

Speaker_Schneider   Many ask what is the most fundamental mechanism by which TM or these other vedic approaches work, and there has been some very good theoretical work done  by Professor Tony Nader, a scientist, who has proposed that all these modalities we've discussed have a common fundamental mechanism of action human physiology,  and that is -- how do they work? Prof Nader suggests that they work by enlivening the bodies own inner intelligence, if you will, the body's own inherent know-how.  This is a way of enhancing our inherent self repair processes and homeostatic processes, and this seems to create balance on a most profound level of physiology,  which is why many of these modalities are apparently effective in preventing much of the aging process and even reversing some features.  It is a very important medical discovery.

Mature_Years_Mod   Thanks for joining us today for Health In Your Mature Years. A big thanks to Dr. Robert Schneider for being our guest speaker today. It has been a very informative discussion. If you would like to learn more on this subject please check out WebMD's library topics A-Z. I also invite WebMD members to join us tomorrow for another Health in your Mature Years Program. Thank you and have a great day.

Mature_Years_Speaker   It's been a great pleasure.

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