Life Extension Magazine March 2007
Eric Braverman, MD
Dr. Eric Braverman is a man at war, a war in which people are not destroyed, but rather saved. His battle against the destructive forces of aging is motivated by the realization that virtually all unwanted symptoms of aging—particularly illness, disease, and other forms of debilitation—are readily treatable and reversible.
“After 30 years of practicing medicine and seeing virtually everyone dying due to the failure of their oldest part, I declared war on death,” says Dr. Braverman.
As an anti-aging physician and director of the PATH Medical Center and Foundation in New York City, Dr. Braverman counts as his enemies the failure of modern medicine to look at the whole body, the complacency of those facing illness, disease, and premature death, and, most of all, the public’s apparent lack of awareness that the symptoms of aging, including serious illness and disease, can be reversed right now.
Taking 15 Years Off Your Age
Dr. Braverman says that by following his unique program, you can take 15 years off your chronological age. In other words, a 50-year-old can be 35 again, a 70-year-old can be 55, and so on. In his new book, Younger You (McGraw-Hill), a follow-up to his previous bestseller, The Edge Effect, Dr. Braverman expands on some of these ideas:
“Mine is an integrated life extension practice incorporating several key concepts,” explains Dr. Braverman. “The first is that the brain is the most important organ to address, because it’s the holistic organizer connecting to every organ, the trigger that sets off trouble. Next is the concept of an aging code that can be found in every part of the body. Then, the idea that you can ‘age print’ any part of your body, just like we do with tree rings. That’s important because you want to fix the oldest part first.”
To articulate the threat posed by aging, Dr. Braverman uses the metaphor of the Titanic facing the iceberg that caused its demise. We see the part above the water and think that is all there is, without realizing that what will inevitably destroy us is hidden below the surface and unseen. In this same way, we fail to realize that almost all serious health problems are going on inside, often without any symptoms. “Almost every illness is already detectable under the surface,” Dr. Braverman says. “It’s there to be found. So I look at every organ system.”
This simple idea forms the essence of Dr. Braverman’s practice: since every part of the body is interconnected, a physician must perform diagnostic tests throughout the body in order to make a proper diagnosis or recommend an effective course of treatment.
“Age Printing” Your Body Parts
The “age print,” which Dr. Braverman calls “the breakthrough of a lifetime,” is an essential ingredient in this approach. By analyzing diagnostic tests and information obtained directly from patients, he can assign an age to each organ, which may or may not correspond to the patient’s chronological age. In this way, he can treat the “oldest organ” first.
Younger You features a lengthy quiz to help you age print each of your body parts. After taking this quiz, you may discover that your heart is 40 years old, your brain 50 years old, your immune system 30 years old, and your bones 60 years old, while your chronological age is 45. However, to age print each body part precisely requires computerized diagnostic tests. If, for example, these tests verify that your bones are your oldest part, their treatment will be the first step of an individualized program to reverse aging throughout your body.
The earlier you begin this program, the better. “Waiting for disease to happen is what poses the greatest danger,” Dr. Braverman says. “Even a teenager has sections of the brain that are not as balanced as they could be, so ideally, this program should begin in early youth and continue throughout a lifetime.”
If we did that, how long could we live? “It’s hard to say,” Dr. Braverman replies,” but maybe an additional 15 to 20 years. If we start putting our money into our kids, we could start breaking the aging barrier even more, because kids are already showing up at 20 years old with vascular disease, elevated blood sugar, and bone density changes. Development is so abnormal in our society of junk food that we end up with this problem of people really having old parts, even at 20.”
Dr. Braverman determines the level of treatment for each patient by reviewing test results and noting the ages of all the body parts. “If you’re just trying to be healthy and have minor problems,” he explains, “we work with diet, supplements, exercise, stress reduction, and personal relationships. If you’re moderately sick, you may get bioidentical hormones. And if you’re seriously ill, you may need drugs.”
What about the safety of replacing hormones? Dr. Braverman notes major differences between the potentially dangerous synthetic hormones familiar to most people and safe, natural bioidentical hormones that he and other anti-aging physicians use.
For instance, the synthetic form of replacement estrogen is derived from horse urine. “Let’s say you lose a piece of skin in a car accident,” Dr. Braverman says, “and you go to the hospital and they put a piece of horse skin on your face. It doesn’t make sense, and it’s an example that helps people understand the tremendous difference between synthetic and natural hormones.”
Bioidentical hormones are in wide use, with about half available over the counter, including melatonin, DHEA, and pregnenolone. “They’ve got a long history,” he stresses, with safe use over a period of least 20 years.
Reversing “Pauses” Tied to Hormone Depletion
In addition to his focus on brain health and age prints for each body part, Dr. Braverman has also developed the concept of “pauses” for various parts of the body. Using menopause as a model, he identifies 22 pauses throughout the body. As he explains in Younger You, “all of the pauses occur with diminishing hormone production.” The most important are discussed in detail in the book, including:
These various pauses, all of which are reversible with the correct treatment, are also age accelerators, because, as Dr. Braverman says, health equals youth, while illness equals aging. “Every organ goes into some kind of pause as it gets older,” he explains. It all starts with the aging brain, leading to such problems as back pain, sleep disorders, sexual dysfunction, arthritis, heart disease, high blood pressure, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.
However, all of these conditions can be reversed. “The brain can be taught to break the aging code and actually resurrect the body,” Dr. Braverman contends. “To restore your health, you need to restore your brain chemistry.” To do this, the brain’s four neurotransmitters or biochemicals—dopamine (for energy and libido), acetylcholine (for youthfulness and memory), GABA (for calmness), and serotonin (for sleep and rest)—must be balanced and restored to normal levels.
Repairing the Body to Stave Off Aging
“We can all live to be 90 or 100, with vigor,” Dr. Braverman says. “We can be the greatest generation of 50- and 60-year-olds who are incredibly productive at 80 and 90. You have to treat your body and your wear and tear with the same kind of objectivity that you treat your car and your house. How is it that we have strong houses that are 300 years old and others 60 years old that have fallen apart? It’s simple: the repaired houses survive.”
Repair—an essential element in Dr. Braverman’s approach to good health and longevity—is one he often repeats, especially in Younger You. Repair, repair, repair, do it often and do it right. Until immortality becomes a reality, taking 15 years off your chronological age is not a bad second choice.
According to Dr. Braverman, “Medicine is in such a state of confusion about its purposes and goals that we need to tell the public there is a way to make sense of all these medical breakthroughs. It’s not just to help you avert disease, but to be truly 15 years younger and healthier in every way. You can reverse the aging process. And it’s doable right now.”
Dr. Braverman has been featured on PBS, “Larry King Live,” “Late Night with David Letterman,” MSNBC, and Fox News. For more information, please visit his website at www.pathmed.com.