One compound that I’ve been seeing over and over again in the community that seems to have some possibility in working is a plant based material Astragalus which the main researchers say will increase height. The main source I keep seeing this claim made is from HeightQuest.com from posts like “Super Growth Boosting with IGH-1“, “Grow Tall with Astragalus“, “Height Growth and Osteosarcoma“. From the studies he has cited, It seems that Astragalus has some possible height increase effects for young kids who are at least still growing. However, he was never sure whether it really did lead to increased final height or only sped up the process of reaching a predetermined maximum height. One specific study he did talk about entitled “Skeletal Growth and IGF Levels in Rats after HT042 Treatment.” had a phrase which really got me curious…
“HT042, a new herbal prescription consisting of Astragalus membranaceus, Phlomis umbrosa and Eleutherococcus senticosus, is used in traditional Korean medicine to stimulate growth in children. This study was conducted to investigate the effects of HT042 on skeletal growth, insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) and insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3) levels, and oestrogenic activity in female rats.”
So it seems that the Koreans from their own traditional medicine database combined three herbal extracts to result in possible greater growth in children. Did they somehow stumble upon this extract through tria land error or borrow the medicinal properties from another culture, like Chinese traditional medicine? This idea seems to be comfirmed from the 2nd HeightQuest article I have hyperlinked above. From this main article, Tyler found one study where the herb was also used by the Chinese.
At the end of the post, one of the posters stated that the only supplement out in the market today was something known as TA-65, which was sold by TA Science. The TA-65 was extracted from the Astragalus membranaceus. A very quick search on google revealed that the pill was made by Geron, and was considered by its marketers to be a weak telomerase activator (source). From the Nature article, we find out that an adult named Egan took the pill twice daily, and later found out he had prostate cancer. From my own personal research on Geron, and the whole telomere lengthening technology, I would say that there is probably a strong connection to the TA-65 and cancer connection. The company eventually got sued and I am not sure of what happened next. From another article entitled “New Anti-Aging Pill Under Fire” we see a more objective researcher who sees that there are two camps right now, one who think the TA-65 works, and another who doesn’t believe in its efficacy. Even the Nobel Prize Winner who originally discovered the telomere shortening process put in their word, and showed that if the TA Science manufactured pill really worked, it would have to be rigorously tested. However, the overall conclusion is that the extract in the pill form would never even be able to reach the telomeres. This would suggest that the TA-65 pill would not work as an telomerase activator even if it did work. The original paper which is cited for its use had mice blood tested which showed that while the average telomere length did not increase, the short telomere concentration did seem to decrease a little.
All of these studies seem to be cited at some point in the Wikipedia article on Astragalus. The main point from the Wikipedia article was that many commercial projects are currently going on in trying to manufacture pills/ supplements claiming to have the astragalus component and touted as an anti-aging miracle pill. When I tried to get more specific and look at the Wikipedia article on Astragalus Membranaceus we are finding again that the Astragalus was a Chinese traditional medicine idea and the main idea is again telomere lengthening through telomerase activity increase resulting in anti-aging. Interestingly, Tyler wrote in another old post entitled “Grow tall by lengthening your telomeres?” where he tries to validate the idea that the telomere length is correlated to a high degree to the proliferation capacity of chondrocytes, and its progenitor cells like the hematopoietic ones . We remember (and he notes) that Fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 (FGFR3) inhibits growth-plate chondrocyte proliferation and limits bone elongation….FGFR3 inhibits chondrocyte proliferation by down-regulating TERT expression and reducing telomerase activity indicating an important role for telomerase in sustaining chondrocyte proliferative capacity during bone elongation” Remember that it is FGF2 and FGF4 which helps in chondrocyte proliferation thus height increase. He notes that you can get the TA-65 capsules from Amazon if you desire, but a better (and cheaper) alternative is jus to take the Astragalus supplements straight up.
I got a little frustrated and just typed the phrase “astragalus chondrocyte” into google to see what would it find and it gave me a doctoral thesis entitled “Effects of Astragalus membranaceus on angiogenesis and osteogenesis” by a Seo Dong-Min of Kyung Hee Univeristy in 2007. It was pages 10 and 31 that got me interested. His application of the Astragalus extract showed that it did result in endothelial cell proliferation, and resulted in a slight BMP-2 increase expression, but a whole lot of VEGF increased expression. at around 25 microgram/ml,, it induced cell migration by over a 2 fold rate. Other results sort of suggest that the astragalus can be used also to heal bone fractures through cartilage generation. This seems to give the idea of astragalus for height increase more probability. A 2nd result from google (HERE) from Master’s And Ph. D thesis papers written by Chinese graduate students shows that injections intra-articularly can result in decrease in cartilage degeneration and the number of chondrocyte apoptosis. The next google result I managed to find was one study TYler already looked at entitled “The herbal formula HT042 induces longitudinal bone growth in adolescent female rats.” from the 1st link above. Like him, we see that if you use either the hGH or the astragalus extract, they both lead to more longitudinal lengthening than the control group. From another study entitled “Effects of astragalus on apoptosis and Bim expression of cartilage cells suffering peroxidation damage in vitro.” it seems to have anti-oxidative properties in healing cartilage which has been subjected to peroxidation damage.
Conclusion: At this point, it really does seem that the astragalus extract has a lot of potential in causing height increase, especially in people who still have their growth plates. While the theory of age reversal from telomere lengthening is still not clear, it seems that astragalus may really do have some form of effect on the telomerase, at least at this point from the studies. It might also lead to chondrocyte repair and possible height increase.
Note: The endothelium is the thin layer of cells that lines the interior surface of blood vessels and lymphatic vessels, forming an interface between circulatingblood or lymph in the lumen and the rest of the vessel wall. The cells that form the endothelium are called endothelial cells. (wikipedia)