By Prof. Gene Bruno, MS, MHS, RH (AHG)—Huntington College of Health Sciences
Chances are, you’ve never heard of heat shock proteins (HSPs). Nevertheless, these natural bio-chemicals produced by the body play a vital role in stress protection and longevity. This article will discuss heat shock proteins, and the role that ETAS (enzyme-treated asparagus stem), a spe-cial enzyme-treated asparagus stem extract, has in triggering their release of the heat shock protein HSP70, and the resulting beneficial effects—including improvements in stress parameters, sleep, mood, energy and other beneficial effects.
HSPs, a group of proteins that exist in vir-tually all living organisms, are an impor-tant part of the cell’s machinery to help to protect cells from stress, as well as being necessary for protein folding.*1.2 HSPs help protect and repair the body’s cellular pro-teins from heat damage that would other-wise deform and denature these proteins, rendering them nonfunctional. It is thought that HSPs are the reason that thermal and spa treatments (a form of heat stress) stimulate anti-stress and anti-
aging effects. In fact, HSPs are stimulated by exercise and calorie restriction, and have been shown to have life-extending effects in animal studies.• In addition, the production of HSPs is increased in the presence of heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium and mercury, presumably to help protect cells from damage.’
Some HSPs, such as HSP70, not only pro-tect the body from the damaging effects of stress, but also directly protect cells against damage that would otherwise lead to apoptosis, a type of early cell death. HSP70 also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity, and its product-ion is stimulated by several stresses such as heat, starvation, alcohol intake, and ultraviolet radiation.6-8 However, HSP70 decreases with age, which may be related to low-grade inflammation found in the aging process.’ This decrease con-tributes to the development of protein-aggregation diseases, in turn leading to a reduction in cellular vigor and a decrease in lifespan.10 That’s where ETAS extract can help.
Although asparagus is commonly eaten as a nutritious vegetable, it is the tender buds and the upper part of the stem that are typically used. The main part of the stem is tough, and usually discarded. However, the “waste” part of the stems contains novel compounds called hydrox-ymethylfurfural derivatives, which are capable of inducing HSP70.” In fact, in a human study,’ 150 mg of ETAS daily resulted in 29.4 percent increase in HSP70. When treated with enzymes, and extracted to produce ETAS, research has demonstrated that this nutraceutical offers some significant health benefits, as dis-cussed below.
Two human intervention trials with ETAS were conducted in healthy adult male vol-unteers. Study 1,13a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, assessed the effects of 150 mg/day ETAS on the autonomic nervous system (ANS), includ-ing standard deviation of the normal and normal interval (SDNN) that represent the ANS activity, physical stress, mental stress,and overall condition in 20 healthy sub-jects. Results were that supplementation with ETAS was associated with improve-ment in all autonomic nervous condition parameters (ranging between p < 0.05 and p < 0.01). Conversely, measurements of ANS balance, SDNN, physical stress and overall evaluation were significantly decreased and worsening in the placebo group. Study 2," also a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial, investigated the influence of 300 mg/day ETAS on stress-related hormones and sleep (the sleep results of this study will be in the Sleep section of this article) on 18 healthy adult men concerned about sleep. The results were that, after seven days, no remarkable alterations in serum and salivary cortisol were noted following ETAS intake, and salivary chromogranin A was significantly reduced (p < 0.01). By contrast, serum and salivary cortisol were significantly increased in comparison with baseline (p < 0.05 and p < 0.01, respec-tively) in the placebo group, with no dif-ferences in salivary chromogranin A.
Regarding the aforementioned study 2,” ETAS intake was significantly associated with reduced actual sleep time (i.e. need-ing less sleep) among those with sleep efficiency over 90 percent (i.e. getting really good sleep), compared with the placebo group (p < 0.05), and showed a tendency to improve the sleep time of the subjects with less than 90 percent sleep efficiency. In addition, the AIS score for awakening earlier than desired was signifi-cantly improved among those taking ETAS compared with placebo (p < 0.05); and the OSA-MA score reported less frequen-cy of dreaming and nightmares when sub-jects consumed ETAS (p < 0.05). ETAS also significantly contributed to increased appetite by VAS score (p < 0.01).
Mood & Energy
In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial,’ 25 healthy vol-unteers were given 150 mg/day of ETAS or a placebo for 28 days with a 14-day washout period. A questionnaire survey of the subject’s energy or fatigue condition was used and utilized mental arithmetic to cause psychological stress. The autonom-ic-nervous functions were measured by the heart rate variability analyses. After the mental arithmetic test, different stress parameters were analyzed, including serum catecholamine hormones, sIgA (a salivary immune factor that is reduced
from stress), and cortisol. The results of ETAS intake for 28 days showed an increase in the levels of sIgA, reduced feelings of tiredness in daily living, and an improvement in the dysphoric condition (e.g. unhappiness).
Other Beneficial Effects
In addition to the benefits for stress, sleep, mood and energy, laboratory research has demonstrated that ETAS has other beneficial effects on physiological functions. This includes anti-inflammatory activity,” reduced cell toxicity and excess cell proliferation under normal conditions and under oxidant stress, reduced neu-ronal cellular stress, prevention of beta amyloid (fA)-induced cell death, reduced RA-induced DNA damage as well as gen-eration of reactive oxidized species, and protecting brain cells from damage by enhancing cell viability in the presence of 8A.’8
Heat shock proteins are produced by the body and play a vital role in stress protec-tion and longevity. HSP70 is an important heat shock protein that decreases with age. ETAS is an enzyme-treated asparagus stem extract shown to increase HSP70 in the body. In human research, ETAS has also been shown to improve various parameters of stress (including the reduc-tion of key stress hormones), promote improvements in sleep, reduce tiredness and improve mood. All of these results occurred with a daily dose of 150 to 300 mg. In laboratory research, ETAS has also demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects, and protection against certain effects of beta amyloid nerve/brain cells. VR
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