All About Telomeres!

Posted on 06 February 2020

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What is a Telomere and why should you care?

The 'telomere' is a section of DNA that exists on the tips of your chromosomes, and protects them. It is often described as being like the plastic tip on the end of a shoelace that stops it unraveling.  Our cells are continuously dividing and replicating themselves. Over time, this process leads to errors of replication, one of which is progressively shortening telomeres. When the telomere is gone, DNA damage occurs and the cell enters 'senescence' or advanced old age. In many ways, the telomere is the hourglass of the cell and maintaining or repairing it is like turning the hourglass over to prevent it running out.

 The aim with Puraz Telomere Health was to find natural products which peer-reviewed articles suggested may positively support the telomere in healthy cells. In particular we sought products which support healthy activity and levels of telomerase. Often referred to as 'the fountain of youth'[1], telomerase is an enzyme responsible for constructing and maintaining the telomere.

After reading a fat stack of literature we settled on a potent combination of natural products that support telomerase production. 


Astragulus membranaceous is a fundamental herb of Chinese medicine. It contains two powerful 'small molecule selective telomerase supporters' known as Astragaloside IV and Cycloastragenol. In-vitro studies have shown that Astragalus extracts can support healthy telomerase production[4]. Astragaloside IV and Cycloastragenol equally inhibit the oxidative stress[5] (free-radical damage) which affects the telomere more than other parts of the chromosome[6].


Baicalin is a flavone extracted from the medicinal herb Skullcap. In-vitro, baicalin protects skin cells from the telomere damage usually inflicted by Ultraviolet A and B radiation[7] [8,9]. UV radiation is a major cause of visible skin aging ('photoaging'). Usefully, baicalin is also an antioxidant.


Glutathione is synthesised by every human cell and functions as the body's master antioxidant, mopping up the telomere-damaging toxins that come from environmental exposures and through normal metabolism. Glutathione also helps regenerate other antioxidants, including vitamins C and E and supports healthy levels of telomerase[12][13,14]. Oral glutathione intake has recently been shown to effectively boost cellular glutathione levels in humans[15].

Antioxidants and Selenium

Having already established that oxidative stress, sometimes called ‘free radical damage’ is a major factor in telomere shortening, we decided to include a broad range antioxidant in Telomere Health. The utility of antioxidants is supported by a cross-sectional analysis that reported positive support for telomeres in women using a mixed antioxidant daily and showed that higher intakes of vitamins C and E from food also support health telomere length[16]. We included selenium, cellular levels of which decrease with age. Selenium is a potent antioxidant that has been shown to support telomerase activity in cells[17,18].

What Else?

Of course, not everything can go into a supplement! To get the best out of Telomere Health, we’d also recommend a telomere protective lifestyle that includes moderate exercise and a diet high in fruits and vegetables. Smoking and alcohol consumption are telomere unfriendly. Ultimately it comes down to looking after your telomeres, so that they can look after you.


  1. University of Copenhagen. ‘Fountain of youth’ telomerase: Scientists successfully map enzyme that has rejuvenating effect on cells. 2013.
  2. Zhou, R.N., et al., Pharmacokinetic evidence on the contribution of intestinal bacterial conversion to beneficial effects of astragaloside IV, a marker compound of astragali radix, in traditional oral use of the herb. Drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics, 2012. 27(6): p. 586-97.
  3. Molgora, B., Bateman, R., Sweeney, G., Finger, D., Dimler, T., Effros, R., Vlenzuela, H., Functional Assessment of Pharmacological Telomerase Activators in Human T Cells. Cells, 2013. 2: p. 57-66.
  4. Fauce, S.R., et al., Telomerase-Based Pharmacologic Enhancement of Antiviral Function of Human CD8(+) T Lymphocytes. Journal of Immunology, 2008. 181(10): p. 7400-7406.
  5. Zhao, Y., et al., Astragaloside IV and cycloastragenol are equally effective in inhibition of endoplasmic reticulum stress-associated TXNIP/NLRP3 inflammasome activation in the endothelium. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 2015. 169: p. 210-8.
  6. von Zglinicki, T., Oxidative stress shortens telomeres. Trends in biochemical sciences, 2002. 27(7): p. 339-44.
  7. Min, W., et al., Effects of baicalin on ultraviolet A-induced telomere damage in cultured human primary fibroblasts. Zhonghua Pifuke Zazhi, 2011. 44(9): p. 639-642.
  8. Min, W., et al., Inhibitory effects of Baicalin on ultraviolet B-induced photo-damage in keratinocyte cell line. The American journal of Chinese medicine, 2008. 36(4): p. 745-60.
  9. Bing-Rong, Z., et al., Protective effect of the Baicalin against DNA damage induced by ultraviolet B irradiation to mouse epidermis. Photodermatology, photoimmunology & photomedicine, 2008. 24(4): p. 175-82.
  10. Li, L.J., J. Li, and H.W. Lou, [Study on in situ intestinal absorption of baicalin contained in Tiangou Jiangya capsules]. Zhongguo Zhong yao za zhi = Zhongguo zhongyao zazhi = China journal of Chinese materia medica, 2013. 38(6): p. 894-8.
  11. Morisaki, T., et al., Baicalin pharmacokinetic profile of absorption process using novel in-vitro model: cytochrome P450 3A4-induced Caco-2 cell monolayers combined with rat intestinal rinse fluids. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, 2013. 65(10): p. 1526-1535.
  12. Pallardo, F.V., et al., Role of nuclear glutathione as a key regulator of cell proliferation. Molecular aspects of medicine, 2009. 30(1-2): p. 77-85.
  13. Kurz, D.J., et al., Chronic oxidative stress compromises telomere integrity and accelerates the onset of senescence in human endothelial cells. Journal of cell science, 2004. 117(Pt 11): p. 2417-26.
  14. Richter, T. and T. von Zglinicki, A continuous correlation between oxidative stress and telomere shortening in fibroblasts. Experimental gerontology, 2007. 42(11): p. 1039-1042.
  15. Richie, J.P., Jr., et al., Randomized controlled trial of oral glutathione supplementation on body stores of glutathione. European journal of nutrition, 2015. 54(2): p. 251-63.
  16. Xu, Q., et al., Multivitamin use and telomere length in women. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2009. 89(6): p. 1857-1863.
  17. Yu, R.A., et al., Telomerase activity and telomerase reverse transcriptase expression induced by selenium in rat hepatocytes. Biomedical and environmental sciences : BES, 2009. 22(4): p. 311-7.
  18. Liu, Q., et al., Effects of trace elements on the telomere lengths of hepatocytes L-02 and hepatoma cells SMMC-7721. Biological trace element research, 2004. 100(3): p. 215-27.

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