In my health coaching and functional medicine practice, I use diagnostic labs to help my clients understand the root cause of their health problems. Is Cortisol Awakening Response (CAR) the reason why a particular client can’t get out of bed in the morning? Or is it a lack of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH)? Is the presence of Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) biomarkers the underlying cause of unexplainable chronic fatigue and body aches? These are the type of Sherlock Holmes health detective mysteries I live for. 

One of the most perplexing health puzzles to solve is cognitive illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Recently, however, scientists have identified an underlying cause of brain disorders: cellular senescence. 

What Is Cellular Senescence? 

Just like we grow old and die, our 40 trillion cells (give or take a couple trillion) are supposed to die to make room for new, healthier cells. But some cells are like vampires, refusing to die. This is called cellular senescence (“SEN-S-ENTS”). It’s not the mere fact that these cells don’t die. “Senescent” cells can release chemicals that cause inflammation and kill healthy cells and tissues. 

Cells are supposed to have a limited lifespan. But with cellular senescence, the cell cycle is arrested. And what causes this abnormal cell cycle? In one word: stress. It can be obvious things that cause stress to the body like eating junk food, abusing drugs and alcohol, not exercising, being exposed to harmful chemicals in the environment, etc. 

According to Life Extention Foundation (LEF), it’s only been in recent years that research has linked cellular senescence to virtually every chronic disease. And even more recently, research now links cellular dysfunction to brain dysfunction. 

Senescent Cells And Brain Disorders

If you’ve been personally affected by Alzheimer’s, my heart goes out to you. It’s such an awful disease. My hope is that scientists figure out a way to stop cellular senescence and figure out how it can be reversed. To be clear, cellular dysfunction is not the only cause of brain disorders. 

But considering that neurons (message-sending nerve cells) and cells that support neuronal function make up about half of the brain, we can see how cellular senescence can play a big role in cognitive dysfunction. 

Cellular senescence also seems to be an after-effect of abnormal plaque deposits associated with Alzheimer’s. These beta-amyloid plaques are like a zombie invasion. They transform perfectly functioning healthy brain cells into immortal, inflammation-driving senescent cells. 

How To Reverse Cellular Senescence 

Besides the obvious—eating healthy, managing stress, exercising—is there anything else that can remove cells from the body that refuse to die? According to LEF, there are “senolytic” substances that may protect the brain and rejuvenate tissues. 

The research studies investigating these substances are only in the infancy stage. But the preliminary research is promising. One study focused on combining a cancer drug, dasatinib, with the antioxidant plant compound, quercetin. 

However, scientists realize that taking a cancer drug might not be suitable for everyone. So they set to work on identifying compounds that mimic dasatinib. A senolytic substance they found that worked similarly to the drug is compounds in black tea called theaflavins.

Another substance that may help clear brain cells that refuse to die is found in chamomile. It’s called apigenin. This isn’t to say that drinking a lot of black tea and chamomile and taking a quercetin supplement is a 100% guarantee against cognitive disorders. 

But it’s a good start. 

And I can also help you conquer inflammation in your body that’s holding you back from living your best life. 

The first step is to contact me. Let’s have a quick chat about your health concerns and goals.

Until next time, 

Jenna Witt, NP

Nurse Practitioner
Certified Health Coach
Functional Medicine Practioner
Mama grizzly to 4 cubs