Although makeup companies still promise bottled miracles, and although get-thin-quick schemes are always offering “easy” ways to look more fit and young, most of us have given up looking for the legendary fountain of youth. But science is now suggesting that perhaps there’s a sort of magical fountain-of-youth trick for getting your earlier years back again after all.
What is it, you ask?
Yes, you read that right. But you don’t have to drink blood like a vampire (thank goodness), if that’s what you’re thinking. And it doesn’t require a human sacrifice or anything like that. What it does require is a simple transfusion of blood plasma from someone young and healthy.
Also, this fountain of youth won’t actually make you younger or prettier—at least, not as far as we know. But what it could do is decrease your chances of developing various potentially deadly diseases, such as cancer or Alzheimer’s disease.
Still kind of hard to believe though, isn’t it? Well, believe it. Even though the theories aren’t exactly proven beyond the shadow of a doubt, the results of new studies are promising.
A startup company called Ambrosia, founded by Jesse Karmazin, has given 70 people over the age of 35 blood plasma transfusions taken from people aged 16-25. Blood tests are conducted before the transfusions and then again a month after.
The second set of tests showed that subjects had 20% fewer carcinoembryonic antigens in their blood, high levels of which can be a sign of cancer. Participants also had 10% lower cholesterol levels and a 20% decrease in amyloids, the plaques that build up in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. This means the transfusion could have decreased the recipients’ risk of developing several diseases, including cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s or other dementias.
All of the participants have reported feeling rejuvenated in some way after treatment, regardless of their true ages. Karmazin says some of his patients feel the effects wear off within a few months, while others report feeling great since treatment began nine months ago. He believes one treatment every six months may end up being the sweet spot for maximum benefit.
This and other studies are based on 2014 research done on mice. Young blood was shown to have a positive effect on any dysfunctions present in the mice’s neurons, including cardiac hypertrophy, muscle dysfunction, degeneration of the myelin sheath in the nerve cells, and issues with the brain vasculature system.
So is it magic? We’re not really sure.
“I don’t want to say the word panacea, but there’s something about teenagers,” Karmazin says. “Whatever is in young blood is causing changes that appear to make the aging process reverse.”
This treatment is bound to be expensive if it catches on, and it will likely be another 10 or 15 years (or more) before scientists are able to track down the key proteins that cause the cellular rejuvenation and develop an age-preventing treatment that combines the best natural ingredients with man-made ingredients to keep people young.
There’s also plenty of research that has yet to be done to prove the effectiveness of blood plasma as an anti-aging tool. For starters, we don’t really know what components of the plasma are responsible for the outcome of these tests. There is also the fact that Karmazin’s tests don’t involve a placebo group, and participants pay for their treatments, so the placebo effect could have an impact on reported results.
For now, just sit back, relax, and know that the great minds of our generation have got this handled. If there’s a fountain of youth out there, we’re going to find it.
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?