I have had an opportunity to discuss the topic of longevity with Dr. Christopher Shade, PhD. As the founder and CEO of Quicksilver Scientific. Chris has been working to uncover the curative power of nature through the practice of modern science for over a decade. As an industry thought-leader, his vast knowledge, intuitive understanding of chemistry and biology, and passion for healing are reflected in Quicksilver Scientific’s innovative supplement delivery systems, detoxification protocols, and patented mercury speciation and heavy metals tests.
Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal (IMCJ):Let’s start by discussing a little bit about the difference between aging, which we all are going to age, and longevity. They’re really different.
Dr. Shade: Well, they’re really two sides of one coin. There is your numberic age, and your biological age. Biological aging describes this continuous breakdown in the robustness of your cellular health, of your biochemistry. And as one thing or another winds down, you’ll have compensatory mechanisms that kick in. As you age, chronic inflammation in your body winds up, while your ability to burn substrates and produce energy declines, and the communication between the mitochondria and the nucleus also declines. With biological aging, your feeling of wellness and your biochemical integrity begins to slide downhill.
The goal of longevity is to mitigate and slow the biological aging process. People like Aubrey de Grey and Dave Asprey talk about lifespan versus health-span. Their goal is to extend your lifespan past 120, which is basically the age limit of humans. As it is in America, the health-span drops precipitously after 50, and you may live in your 80s but there is no quality of life. By intentionally supporting longevity, the goal is the maintain biological integrity to keep the health-span going as long as you can.
I’m not really here to tell you I’m going to make you live to 150 because we haven’t really cracked the code yet. But we have uncovered the tools to make your body work a whole lot better in your second half of life.
IMCJ: You brought up a little buzzword there, talking about chronic inflammation, is that an important issue in the whole aging process?
Dr. Shade: It is a huge issue. The longevity crowd tends to think, “Age, inflammation, same thing.” Why do you think as you age, there is a declining cascade of so many processes and mechanisms? Much of it is the result of this turning up of chronic low-grade inflammation. It’s not the kind of inflammation like when get an infection or when you get cellular damage from a physical injury, it’s a chronic low-grade inflammation that is characterized by NF-kB. This chronic low-grade inflammation is coming largely from the accumulation of dysfunctional proteins, cellular organelles and cells within the body that aren’t being cleared away. Bad mitochondrial organelles that are not cleared away catalyze inflammatory reactions. Build-up of lipid deposits catalyzes long-term NF-kb based inflammatory activity.
The accumulation of senescent cells is also a hallmark of aging and can cause chronic low-grade inflammation. Senescent cells are whole cells that have gone into a senescent phase, meaning they are no longer able to divide, which is caused by significant accumulations of bad organelles, telomere attrition, DNA damage and oxidative stress. These cells have not reached the point called Hayflick limit (that explains the mechanisms behind cellular aging) where they die and are decomposed, but they can’t grow anymore, and so they’re like zombie cells and they start releasing pro-inflammatory mediators. Senescent cells contain a buildup of dysfunctional, unfolded proteins, which is the result of the endoplasmic reticulum not functioning properly. We know proteins are supposed to be folded into different 4D shapes. It’s like making origami. Well, in senescent cells, these damaged origamis build up and if you don’t clear them out, they start catalyzing inflammatory reactions. All of this accumulation of semi-dead parts of your biochemistry and unfolded, useless proteins generate an inflammatory field.
The way you can address this buildup and dysfunctional proteins, organelles and cells is by upregulating autophagy. The process of autophagy (or self-eating) is the body’s way of cleaning out damaged cells, in order to regenerate newer, healthier cells. The body does this by identifiying either parts of cells, like a mitochondria or another organelle, that are dysfunctional and unhealthy and breaks them down their constituent parts to rebuild new ones. The entire cell may also be broken down so that new cells can be built. This autophagy is renewing the body, it’s like pruning a tree of weak limbs so new strong ones can grow.
The process of autophagy is a result of AMPK activation, which occurs when the body is in an energy depeleted state, as seen with fasting, carb restriction or keto-diet, or when you exercise very heavily. AMPK activation switches the metabolism from anabolism (growth) to catabolism (break down), where the body can go in and clear away cellular debris and reuse the materials you already have available.
This process stems from our evolution as hunter-gatherers. For the majority of our history, humans toggled between times of feast and famine. You ate as much as you could after a hunt and stored it for use for the periods when no food was available. While fasting, the body stops growing and laying down mass, and starts clarifying, pruning and breaking down old cells and mass. In modern times, we don’t have these long periods of fasting, which is why we see so much buildup of cells and mass. The resulting effects of this long term buildup manifests as disease. This is seen in Dr. Valter Longo’s work on intermittent fasting, which has shown that eating less makes you live longer. Caloric restriction is the only thing that was shown to make you live longer, which happens because the body goes inward and consumes the excess buildup.
IMCJ: And so that whole process, does it impact different organs differently? For instance, the brain, which is using many more cells than, say, the liver or something else, or is it pretty consistent throughout the body.
Dr. Shade: Well, there are areas that are very strong that have a lot of turnover. One of the organs where this is expressed the most is in the liver. In non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, eating too many carbs consistently may cause build up of fatty deposits in the liver that create this inflammatory field that eventually results in fibrosis and cirrhosis. By simply reducing carbs and supporting detoxification, the liver can be cleared and cleaned up very quickly.
Now, wherever there’s a lot of metabolism and energy consumption in the body, you will see more cellular buildup and inflammation. So this is going to be big on the muscles, on the heart, the cardiovascular system. It’s also significant in the brain where there’s a lot of energy usage and a lot of waste production. Clearing out the waste production is a really important thing to keep these organs functioning properly. Like in Alzheimer’s and neurodegenerative disease, it’s not just the plaques, it’s plaques and the buildup of cellular debris that cause inflammation that creates the associated cognitive issues. So the more you can increase AMPK and autophagy, the more you can clear out this buildup and reduce the inflammatory field.
IMCJ: Is this fairly new research that’s come out or have we known this and just not paid attention?
Dr. Shade: Longevity research has been building, but it’s been siloed and disjointed. Some of this information has been out there for a while, but they’re not linking one to another and to another. You and I have known each other for a long time Dick. I lectured for years about detoxification and Nrf2. Now, recently there’s been all this work around metabolism and AMPK activation to clean up the body to promote longevity. And we’re starting to see the connections and links between more and more areas of longevity. There’s been a lot of discussion around NAD+, people think that NAD+ is only related to energy production, but NAD+ also activates sirtuins, a major component of cell function and longevity. It’s also totally dialed into the AMPK and Nrf2, and it’s a part of detoxification. It’s dialed into the HPA axis, it’s integrated into senescence, it’s integrated into telomeres.
Telomeres were a big longevity focus for a while, and people thought, “Oh, as telomeres shrink things get worse and you get old and you die.” And now we know there’s actually mitochondrial dysfunction going on. So, really, the silos of each area of longevity has grown up on its own and the interconnection is what’s really emerging now in the literature. And so a lot of this is just taking what’s already out there and putting it into a method of use.
My goal with the Longevity Wheel is to show how all of these parts of longevity, including AMPK, Nrf2, NAD+, sirtuins, telomeres, senescence, HPA axis, are connected. When we look at the supplement stacks we’re using, are we hitting all of these areas. We are making sure we consider and balance all of these aspects here. And then we know we’re doing everything that we can for our longevity, for our health-span. And importantly, as an underpinning of all of that, for the mitochondria.
IMCJ: It’s like getting the endocrinologist to the cardiologist, so that they’re not doing their own things, they’re doing it together.
Dr. Shade: Yeah. I mean, it really is. It’s like you got six specialist doctors that were all on their own and all of a sudden you got one, “Here’s a way to unify you all and you all have to talk to each other.”
IMCJ: And your products are created on a liposomal structure, is that correct?
Dr. Shade: Yes. And we use the term “liposome” but really it’s lipid nanoparticles, and there are a couple of different particle types under that. The liposome is for carrying water-soluble things, like NAD+ and glutathione, those go onto a liposome. And nano-emulsion has a lipid core inside this phospholipid membrane, and that lipid droplet carries oil-soluble compounds. When we talk about resveratrol, vitamin D, quercetin, the astragalosides, they’re going to go into a nano-emulsion. And then for some of the whole herbs, like ginseng and astragalus and ashwagandha, we have these hybrid systems that have both the lipid-soluble domains and the water-soluble domains to bring everything together. The goal of all of these different particle types is to maximize the bioavailability of each ingredient.
A lot of these longevity mechanisms that we’re talking about are gene triggers or biochemical triggers, and these get activated when a biochemical event happens. Nrf2 is a trigger that turns up all of your chemoprotective mechanisms and chemical detoxification. AMPK is triggering autophagy, it’s triggering lipolysis, it’s triggering NAD+ production. These biochemical triggers are activated when you get a high peak of something in the body. Now, it could be a stressor which causes a hormetic response, but it can also happen through a high peak of a nutraceutical. So you’re not going to activate AMPK and sirtuins all at the same time unless you have a high peak of these things, like quercetin, berberine, telomere, resveratrol. They’re all known to do this, but not at low levels. You need high levels to see a significant activation of these longevity processes.
So how do you do this? The high absorption of nano-emulsions and liposomes allow for compounds to get into the blood at very high concentrations very quickly. Typically, compounds like quercetin taken in a standard capsule might absorb over a four hour period, and it will only get to so high of a blood level. So when we deliver it in a nano-emulsion, we get 25 times higher absorption of quercetin, and the entire absorption window is minimized so it peaks in the blood around 40 to 60 minutes, and by 90 to 120 minutes it’s totally cleared. During its peak, this high concentration hits biochemical triggers, it hits the switches, activates the whole biological cascade, and then it goes away. And that is only possible in these lipid nanoparticle delivery systems.
IMCJ: How many different components are there in your Longevity Wheel program?
Dr. Shade: Well, let’s see. To get all of these aspects activated here, I can do this with three different products, most of which are all liquid.
First, there is NAD+ Gold or NAD+ Platinum, which is a nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) source, and that will help raise NAD+ levels. Then for AMPK activation and Nrf2, I’ll use our AMPK Charge+. And then to address telomeres, I’ll use our new Telomere Charge+ that has cycloastragenol and astragaloside IV in it. In the AMPK Charge+, you hit AMPK, Nrf2, sirtuins and senolytics all covered in one product. Finally, using The One will support AMPK, HPA axis, and sirtuin activity. That is a good foundational core for supporting healthy aging and longevity.
IMCJ: Do people start one series or one regimen of products to get things back in order and then go on to maintenance mode?
Dr. Shade: Well, there’s a couple of different ways to do it. If the patient is really new to this, I want them to do some detox first and then we’ll start adding in longevity formulas. Because often if you’re loaded up with all kinds of toxins of pesticides and herbicides and metals, and then you try to add in products on to turn up the activity of the biochemistry, it doesn’t work so well and you just don’t get a great response. So let’s clear away, get a clean slate and then build up. In Chinese medicine they say, “Clear before you tonify.” Tonifying is bringing energy in. You’ve got to take things that remove and clear the excess away before you can build up the strength.
To clear out toxins in the body, we first place people on our PushCatch Liver Detox, Glutathione and Cat’s Claw to help reduce your toxin and antigen load in the first month. After the patient has detoxified, we move them to the core longevity products that I mentioned, including NAD+ Platinum, AMPK Charge+,Telomere Charge+ and The One. This regimen gets the metabolism burning and clearing out cellular debris, supports NAD+ production and mitochondrial health, promotes telomere elongation, and supports HPA axis. This product core is great to use for maintenance. We also have protocols to layer on top of these to address specific health goals your patients may have.
IMCJ: And then when they do their initial detox, do you see people feeling not so great during that period?
Dr. Shade: Everybody still thinks that they’ve got to park themselves near the bathroom and take a week off work cause they’re going to feel horrible, that’s not the case anymore. Detoxification can be done very smoothly with a properly designed program. Now, our detox systems have been so well tuned and balanced that there should be minimal disruption during the detox program. In fact, the way that we know our programs are well-designed is our work with people with mold and Lyme, very sensitive people who easily become dysregulated. You can’t just mobilize all these toxins without them having lots of symptoms. We are able to coordinate cellular levels of detox with liver reactions and the movement of bile and binders in the GI. This is only possible to achieve by knowing all the biochemical reactions and using our lipid nanoparticle delivery so that we can get all of the compounds in at once, versus other formulas which absorb at different rates and times throughout the day. When we deliver all the compounds in at once, and we have compounds that activate the cellular level, the liver level, compounds that stabilize the immunological level, and we move all the toxins, and then we come in after that with the binder and we clean up everything that came down to the GI, it’s really stable and smooth. This design results in little to no detox reactions.
It’s new that we’re seeing how everything comes together and we’re able to thread together the tools that are working between detox and metabolism and things like autophagy to really clear up not just the toxins from the outside but the toxins from the inside, these are the toxins of aging. Even if we prevent ourselves from ever seeing gasoline exhaust, and pesticides, and herbicides, and everything’s organic, and we live in this super filtered household, if we don’t get rid of the damaged proteins and cell parts in our body, they’ll create the inflammatory field all by themselves.
So now we’re getting the chemical detox with the biological detox married together to clear out not just the things from the outside but the things that we generate ourselves, we take those away and we’re able to just naturally come out and shine. And so I’m really excited for how well we’re going to be able to do with how people will feel in the next couple of years to decades.
IMCJ: One of the big issues you see right now are patients who come out of COVID, they feel very similar to fibromyalgia with what is referred to as long haul, would this program help them?
Dr. Shade: I really think it would. And everything’s so hyper-charged now, we haven’t been able to work on a lot of them, but I’ve had a couple. I’ve got almost a hundred employees now. And so I’ve got some people who got COVID, and I’ve definitely got a lot of parents and people around the world that I’m connected to that have had this. And so we got to see what really works right during the infection. And then we had some long-term COVIDs that had liver based inflammation. We got to see what compounds really work for this. So yes, this kind of a program will definitely work for that. I would layer in what we found good results with is our Cat’s Claw and our Microb-Manager,(do you want to identify the specific Quicksiler products- it is OK) these are all things to lower your pathogen load.
And layering on top of that, also, the Liposomal Biocidin, we make that product for Bio-Botanical Research. So we’ve given them all of the pathogen load decreasers and the metabolic formulas, and we found that we’ve been able to get people really moving much better from that. But you look at fibro and a lot of that are post viral syndromes, but there we were talking more about herpes family things like cytomegalovirus, and here we’re talking about COVID.
IMCJ: For the people who get on this for age management or longevity program, how quickly will they see results from the program?
Dr. Shade: So let’s just say that they’ve already done the detox and have started the core supplement regimen. We expect that they’ll start feeling increased energy in the first couple of days, and they’ll be like, “Whoa! Hey, my energy is better!” Because when you start supporting AMPK activation, you’ll start burning both stored fat and dietary carbs for fuel. Pretty quickly after starting the program, you’ll notice your energy is more stable throughout the day. What’s happening is that since you’re driving AMPK activity, your cells will be burning both carbs and ketones, so your energy will be more consistent. And with the additional NAD+ supplement which also supports energy production, you’ll notice a pretty quick response and start feeling better and stronger.
Over the coming weeks, you’ll see deeper changes as you get more and more resilient, more metabolically flexible. Months to years, you’re going to see the effects of the telomere activity, the constant removal of senescent cells, the compounded long-term building of the HPA axis. And so really what you see is increased resilience where you’re no longer crashing after working and falling down sick. You just really start to cruise.
IMCJ: Where do you see the future of this thing going? It’s a pretty new launch for you, what are you hoping to achieve?
Dr. Shade: Well, we have probably the first study of its kind underway. We have a three month, 50-person study where participants follow a protocol to support detoxification, metabolism, mitochondria, and longevity. We’re working with TruDiagnostic in Nashville, TN and Affinity Lab in Georgia, and we’re measuring epigenetic markers before and after. These are longevity and metabolism based markers, looking specifically at AMPK, metabolic dysfunction, polymerase activity, and we’re getting direct measurements of NAD+ levels, sirtuin activity, AMPK protein, and Klotho, which is a regenerative anti-aging peptide.
And separately with SRQ-Bio down in Florida, run by Fiona Crawford, we’re measuring some of these sirtuin activators. Now, an interesting thing that people miss, they think as you age your sirtuin levels go down. Actually your blood levels of sirtuin protein go up as you age, but the activity goes down because in order to activate sirtuins you need NAD+! Many think that you can simply activate sirtuins by taking resveratrol, but NAD+ is required in order for the sirtuin to function. Resveratrol and the other sirtuin activating compounds do activate the sirtuin, but again NAD+ is required.
There’s no supplement company that we are aware of that measures sirtuin activity of their own formulas. We are doing these studies so you can really tune in and understand the degree of sirtuin activation. Because these are all great ideas, now we just need a lot of data to prove them. We have our own great lab and I’m finding other good labs help us do this. We want to be able to clearly define the optimal levels of each formula to activate the various longevity targets, how long you need to take them and at what frequency and rhythm.
We’re going to take this to a whole new level. We just need to go from, “We know this works, we know we’re getting the blood levels,” to having that specification, to what’s happening inside, so that we can have the precision to know the frequency of dosing and really be able to tune it in and help people get the best.
This study is happening between February and April, so we plan to have the results in late April, and we’re looking forward to sharinng the results.
IMCJ: Well, good, thanks very much, Chris. I appreciate this.
Dr. Shade: All right, great. Thank you so much.