Life Extension Skin Care Sale

Life Extension Magazine

LE Magazine January 2007

Replenishing the Aging Body’s Antioxidant Defenses

By Laurie Barclay, MD

Wolfberry’s capacity to boost SOD activity may benefit the pancreas, the insulin-producing organ that malfunctions in diabetes. When pancreatic cells were exposed to alloxan (a drug that instigates diabetes by generating superoxide radicals), their protective SOD activity declined dramatically. Adding wolfberry polysaccharides to the oxidative stress-damaged pancreatic cells helped to preserve the cells’ essential SOD activity, thus conferring protection against damaging agents that may contribute to the development of diabetes.46

Wolfberry’s effects in neutralizing oxidative stress may offer additional benefits for diabetes management. Scientists induced diabetes and high cholesterol in test animals by exposing them to alloxan. After the subjects were treated with wolfberry juice or polysaccharides for 10 days, they demonstrated several beneficial changes in blood chemistry markers, including reductions in blood sugar, serum total cholesterol, and triglycerides, and marked increases in beneficial high-density lipoprotein (HDL).47 In this study, wolfberry polysaccharides and amino acids had the greatest effect on blood sugar, whereas wolfberry polysaccharides and antioxidants showed the most benefit on blood lipids.47 Previous studies have shown that wolfberry polysaccharides produce beneficial reductions in potentially dangerous low-density lipoprotein (LDL),48 and that wolfberry flavonoids help limit lipid peroxidation caused by oxygen radicals.49 These studies suggest that wolfberry provides a host of protective benefits against biochemical agents that instigate diabetes and contribute to its damaging effects in the body.

To assess whether wolfberry enhances male sexual performance and fertility, Chinese scientists administered wolfberry extract to partially castrated male rats and mouse testicular cells in the laboratory. Compared to control animals, the partially castrated male rats treated with wolfberry demonstrated higher SOD activity, enhanced secretion of sex hormones, increased testicular weight, and improved sperm quantity and quality. Wolfberry boosted their sexual performance and reproductive function, and also protected the DNA of mouse testicular cells against oxidative damage caused by hydrogen peroxide, with higher doses proportionately more effective than lower doses.50 These findings support wolfberry’s reputation as an aphrodisiac and fertility-facilitating agent, providing a modern scientific rationale for wolfberry’s centuries-old use in managing infertility and promoting sexual health in males.

Wolfberry’s ability to boost SOD activity may even help prevent visible signs of aging. In a research model of skin aging, an extract of wolfberry and bergamot (sour orange) significantly increased both SOD activity and collagen content in the skin. This same botanical combination also promoted hair growth.51 Other studies of aging subjects have shown that treatment with wolfberry increased SOD activity in red blood cells while decreasing levels of harmful compounds in the skin.52 In human skin cells, wolfberry extract has displayed important skin-protective properties.53 These studies indicate that extracts of wolfberry contribute to healthy skin and hair.

Modern Science Confirms Wolfberry’s Health Benefits

Scientific studies have confirmed that wolfberry offers a wealth of health-enhancing benefits: promoting youthful energy, preserving vision, optimizing brain health, increasing longevity, and protecting against conditions related to oxidative stress.

  • All too many people suffer from waning energy levels as they grow older. New evidence suggests that wolfberry extract may help aging adults restore youthful energy levels. When test subjects consumed wolfberry, they became highly resistant to fatigue and were able to endure a greater exercise load. When the subjects did become fatigued, they recovered much more quickly. Scientists determined that this greater resilience was related to an increased ability to store glycogen (a form of glucose energy) in the muscles and liver. Glycogen helps provide the energy required for exercise and strenuous activity, and supports the elimination of metabolic wastes following exercise. Wolfberry thus helps the body to fuel itself for high-energy activity.54
  • As a rich source of the nutrients known to support eye health, wolfberry may offer powerful protection for healthy vision. People seeking to maintain healthy visual function with aging often supplement with zinc and other minerals, carotenoids, and vitamin C, all of which are found in naturally high concentrations in wolfberry. Compared to other plant foods thought to help prevent age-related vision loss, wolfberry has the highest concentration of the dietary carotenoid zeaxanthin.55 Along with lutein, zeaxanthin accumulates in the macula, the region of the eye’s retina responsible for detailed vision. Zeaxanthin is believed to protect against oxidative damage caused by exposure to ultraviolet light. This photoexposure is a major culprit in age-related macular degeneration, one of the most common causes of irreversible vision loss with aging. When 14 volunteers consumed 15 grams of wolfberry daily for 28 days, they demonstrated dramatically increased blood levels of zeaxanthin, about 2.5-fold higher.56 Scientists believe that increased intake of foods containing zeaxanthin may be effective in preventing age-related macular degeneration. Wolfberry may be an ideal choice, since a modest daily intake provides bioavailable zeaxanthin that markedly increases plasma zeaxanthin levels.
  • In addition to its benefits for the body, wolfberry may help keep the mind young. In a research model of cognitive aging, treatment with wolfberry was associated with enhanced learning ability and improved memory capacity.52 Wolfberry may also protect against Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of memory-robbing dementia. Using a laboratory model of Alzheimer’s, scientists found that wolfberry protected brain cells from the harmful effects of amyloid beta peptides, damaging agents that are linked to the pathological changes seen in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. These findings suggest that wolfberry may hold value in preventive or therapeutic strategies for Alzheimer’s disease.57
  • Preliminary laboratory studies suggest other health-promoting applications of wolfberry. Utilizing a model of aging, researchers found that wolfberry increased the rate at which cells produced the genetic material DNA, while prolonging the cells’ life span. Agents that extend the lives of cells could one day find applications in lengthening human life spans.58
  • Evidence from the laboratory and early clinical studies suggests a potential therapeutic role for wolfberry in preventing and managing diseases associated with oxidative stress. Since oxidative stress plays a role in a vast array of illnesses, this suggests possible applications for wolfberry in averting heart disease, arthritis and other inflammatory diseases, some types of cancer, and premature aging, among other disorders.6,44


Scientists and aging adults increasingly recognize that optimizing the body’s antioxidant defenses is critical to fighting disease and avoiding the effects of biological aging. Superoxide dismutase (SOD) is one of the most powerful antioxidants for fighting inflammation, disease, pain, and the effects of aging. By quenching the dangerous superoxide radical, SOD works at the cellular level to prevent damage to crucial proteins, DNA, and lipids that support essential cellular activities.

Breakthroughs in nutritional science have led to the development of orally ingested, highly bioavailable forms of SOD. Combining orally available SOD with wolfberry offers a highly effective strategy to boost SOD levels and activity in the body. This novel combination protects against pain and inflammation, helps prevent a host of degenerative diseases, restores youthful energy and vitality, and promotes a long and healthy life span.


1. Yu BP, Chung HY. Adaptive mechanisms to oxidative stress during aging. Mech Ageing Dev. 2006 May;127(5):436-43.

2. Lishnevskaia VI. The role of free radicals oxidation in the deterioration of haemovascular homeostasis in aging. Adv Gerontol. 2004;13:52-7.

3. Congy F, Bonnefont-Rousselot D, Dever S, Delattre J, Emerit J. Study of oxidative stress in the elderly. Presse Med. 1995 Jul 1-8;24(24):1115-8.

4. Levin ED. Extracellular superoxide dismutase (EC-SOD) quenches free radicals and attenuates age-related cognitive decline: opportunities for novel drug development in aging. Curr Alzheimer Res. 2005 Apr;2(2):191-6.

5. Sampayo JN, Gill MS, Lithgow GJ. Oxidative stress and aging—the use of superoxide dismutase/catalase mimetics to extend lifespan. Biochem Soc Trans. 2003 Dec;31(Pt 6):1305-7.

6. Gross PM, Zhang X, Zhang R. Wolfberry: Nature’s Bounty of Nutrition and Health. Booksurge Publishing; 2006.

7. Li G, Yang J, Ren B, Wang Z. Effect of lycium barbarum L on defending free radicals of mice caused by hypoxia. Wei Sheng Yan Jiu. 2002 Feb;31(1):30-1.

8. Barouki R. Ageing free radicals and cellular stress. Med Sci (Paris). 2006 Mar;22(3):266-72.

9. de Magalhaes JP, Church GM. Cells discover fire: employing reactive oxygen species in development and consequences for aging. Exp Gerontol. 2006 Jan;41(1):1-10.

10. Maier CM, Chan PH. Role of superoxide dismutases in oxidative damage and neurodegenerative disorders. Neuroscientist. 2002 Aug;8(4):323-4.

11. Shin SG, Kim JY, Chung HY, Jeong JC. Zingerone as an antioxidant against peroxynitrite. J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Sep 21;53(19):7617-22.

12. Available at: Accessed October 26, 2006.

13. Vouldoukis I, Conti M, Krauss P, et al. Supplementation with gliadin-combined plant superoxide dismutase extract promotes antioxidant defences and protects against oxidative stress. Phytother Res. 2004 Dec;18(12):957-62.

14. Vouldoukis I, Lacan D, Kamate C, et al. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of a Cucumis melo LC. extract rich in superoxide dismutase activity. J Ethnopharmacol. 2004 Sep;94(1):67-75.

15. Okada F, Shionoya H, Kobayashi M, et al. Prevention of inflammation-mediated acquisition of metastatic properties of benign mouse fibrosarcoma cells by administration of an orally available superoxide dismutase. Br J Cancer. 2006 Mar 27;94(6):854-62.

16. Life Extension-sponsored study #1. Changes in serum levels of superoxide dismutase and catalase in humans after dietary SODzyme™ supplementation.

17. Life Extension-sponsored study #2. Effects of oral SODzyme™ administration on pain scores in human subjects with arthritis.

18. Chan FK. Primer: managing NSAID-induced ulcer complications—balancing gastrointestinal and cardiovascular risks. Nat Clin Pract Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2006 Oct;3(10):563-73.

19. Available at: Accessed October 13, 2006.

20. Dennog C, Radermacher P, Barnett YA, Speit G. Antioxidant status in humans after exposure to hyperbaric oxygen. Mutat Res. 1999 Jul 16;428(1-2):83-89.

21. Muth CM, Glenz Y, Klaus M, et al. Influence of an orally effective SOD on hyperbaric oxygen-related cell damage. Free Radic Res. 2004 Sep;38(9):927-32.

22. Petersen SV, Oury TD, Ostergaard L, et al. Extracellular superoxide dismutase (EC-SOD) binds to type i collagen and protects against oxidative fragmentation. J Biol Chem. 2004 Apr 2;279(14):13705-10.

23. Abou-Seif MA, Youssef AA. Evaluation of some biochemical changes in diabetic patients. Clin Chim Acta. 2004 Aug 16;346(2):161-70.

24. Cai Q, Shu XO, Wen W, et al. Genetic polymorphism in the manganese superoxide dismutase gene, antioxidant intake, and breast cancer risk: results from the Shanghai Breast Cancer Study. Breast Cancer Res. 2004;6(6):R647-55.

25. Ough M, Lewis A, Zhang Y, et al. Inhibition of cell growth by overexpression of manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD) in human pancreatic carcinoma. Free Radic Res. 2004 Nov;38(11):1223-33.

26. Manju V, Balasubramanian V, Nalini N. Oxidative stress and tumor markers in cervical cancer patients. J Biochem Mol Biol Biophys. 2002 Dec;6(6):387-90.

27. Fattman CL, Schaefer LM, Oury TD. Extracellular superoxide dismutase in biology and medicine. Free Radic Biol Med. 2003 Aug 1;35(3):236-56.

28. Morrow JD. Quantification of isoprostanes as indices of oxidant stress and the risk of atherosclerosis in humans. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2005 Feb;25(2):279-86.

29. Fukai T, Folz RJ, Landmesser U, Harrison DG. Extracellular superoxide dismutase and cardiovascular disease. Cardiovasc Res. 2002 Aug 1;55(2):239-49.

30. Zawadzka-Bartczak E. Activities of red blood cell anti-oxidative enzymes (SOD, GPx) and total anti-oxidative capacity of serum (TAS) in men with coronary atherosclerosis and in healthy pilots. Med Sci Monit. 2005 Sep;11(9):CR440-4.

31. Lund-Olesen K. Etiology of multiple sclerosis: role of superoxide dismutase. Med Hypotheses. 2000 Feb;54(2):321-2.

32. Summers WK. Alzheimer’s disease, oxidative injury, and cytokines. J Alzheimers Dis. 2004 Dec;6(6):651-7.

33. Choi J, Rees HD, Weintraub ST, et al. Oxidative modifications and aggregation of Cu,Zn-superoxide dismutase associated with Alzheimer and Parkinson diseases. J Biol Chem. 2005 Mar 25;280(12):11648-55.

34. Hattori N. Etiology and pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease: from mitochondrial dysfunctions to familial Parkinson’s disease. Rinsho Shinkeigaku. 2004 Apr;44(4-5):241-62.

35. Chung JM. The role of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in persistent pain. Mol Interv. 2004 Oct;4(5):248-50.

36. Bagis S, Tamer L, Sahin G, et al. Free radicals and antioxidants in primary fibromyalgia: an oxidative stress disorder? Rheumatol Int. 2005 Apr;25(3):188-90.

37. Bae SC, Kim SJ, Sung MK. Inadequate antioxidant nutrient intake and altered plasma antioxidant status of rheumatoid arthritis patients. J Am Coll Nutr. 2003 Aug;22(4):311-5.

38. Karatas F, Ozates I, Canatan H, et al. Antioxidant status & lipid peroxidation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Indian J Med Res. 2003 Oct;118:178-81.

39. Mazzetti I, Grigolo B, Pulsatelli L, et al. Differential roles of nitric oxide and oxygen radicals in chondrocytes affected by osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Clin Sci (Lond). 2001 Dec;101(6):593-9.

40. Caruso C, Lio D, Cavallone L, Franceschi C. Aging, longevity, inflammation, and cancer. Ann NY Acad Sci. 2004 Dec;1028:1-13.

41. Cutler RG. Antioxidants and longevity of mammalian species. Basic Life Sci. 1985;35:15-73.

42. Cutler RG. Antioxidants and aging. Am J Clin Nutr. 1991 Jan;53(1 Suppl):373S-9S.

43. Gow A, Ischiropoulos H. Super-SOD: superoxide dismutase chimera fights off inflammation. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2003 Jun;284(6):L915-6.

44. Young G, Lawrence R, Schreuder M. Discovery of the Ultimate Superfood. Essential Science Publishing; 2005.

45. Wu SJ, Ng LT, Lin CC. Antioxidant activities of some common ingredients of traditional chinese medicine, Angelica sinensis, Lycium barbarum and Poria cocos. Phytother Res. 2004 Dec;18(12):1008-12.

46. Xu M, Zhang H, Wang Y. The protective effects of Lycium barbarum polysaccharide on alloxan- induced isolated islet cells damage in rats. Zhong Yao Cai. 2002 Sep;25(9):649-51.

47. Luo Q, Cai Y, Yan J, Sun M, Corke H. Hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic effects and antioxidant activity of fruit extracts from Lycium barbarum. Life Sci. 2004 Nov 26;76(2):137-49.

48. Huang LJ, Tian GY, Wang ZF, Dong JB, Wu MP. Studies on the glycoconjugates and glycans from Lycium barbarum L in inhibiting low density lipoprotein (LDL) peroxidation. Yao Xue Xue Bao. 2001 Feb;36(2):108-11.

49. Huang Y, Lu J, Shen Y, Lu J. The protective effects of total flavonoids from Lycium Barbarum L. on lipid peroxidation of liver mitochondria and red blood cell in rats. Wei Sheng Yan Jiu. 1999 Mar 30;28(2):115-6.

50. Luo Q, Li Z, Huang X, et al. Lycium barbarum polysaccharides: Protective effects against heat-induced damage of rat testes and H2O2-induced DNA damage in mouse testicular cells and beneficial effect on sexual behavior and reproductive function of hemicastrated rats. Life Sci. 2006 Jul 10;79(7):613-21.

51. Shao LX. Effects of the extract from bergamot and boxthorn on the delay of skin aging and hair growth in mice. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2003 Aug;28(8):766-9.

52. Deng HB, Cui DP, Jiang JM, et al. Inhibiting effects of Achyranthes bidentata polysaccharide and Lycium barbarum polysaccharide on nonenzyme glycation in D-galactose induced mouse aging model. Biomed Environ Sci. 2003 Sep;16(3):267-75.

53. Zhao H, Alexeev A, Chang E, Greenburg G, Bojanowski K. Lycium barbarum glycoconjugates: effect on human skin and cultured dermal fibroblasts. Phytomedicine. 2005 Jan;12(1-2):131-7.

54. Luo Q, Yan J, Zhang S. Isolation and purification of Lycium barbarum polysaccharides and its antifatigue effect. Wei Sheng Yan Jiu. 2000 Mar 30;29(2):115-7.

55. Chitchumroonchokchai C, Failla ML. Hydrolysis of zeaxanthin esters by carboxyl ester lipase during digestion facilitates micellarization and uptake of the xanthophyll by Caco-2 human intestinal cells. J Nutr. 2006 Mar;136(3):588-94.

56. Cheng CY, Chung WY, Szeto YT, Benzie IF. Fasting plasma zeaxanthin response to Fructus barbarum L. (wolfberry; Kei Tze) in a food-based human supplementation trial. Br J Nutr. 2005 Jan;93(1):123-30.

57. Yu MS, Leung SK, Lai SW, et al. Neuroprotective effects of anti-aging oriental medicine Lycium barbarum against beta-amyloid peptide neurotoxicity. Exp Gerontol. 2005 Aug;40(8-9):716-27.

58. Wu BY, Zou JH, Meng SC. Effect of wolfberry fruit and epimedium on DNA synthesis of the aging-youth 2BS fusion cells. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 2003 Dec;23(12):926-8.