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Weighing the Anti-Aging Benefits of Rapamycin Against Possible Side Effects

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One of the new, cutting-edge treatments in the world of biohacking is the use of Rapamycin for longevity.

Initially discovered as a byproduct produced by bacteria in the soil on Easter Island, Rapamycin was found to kill fungi. Eventually, its ability to inhibit the growth of all eukaryotic cells was also uncovered. It was found that Rapamycin targets a specific protein in cells that is responsible for metabolism and cell growth. This protein was then called mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin).

Rapamycin for Transplant Patients

Subsequently, rapamycin is a prescription drug that has been used primarily for transplant patients as it suppresses the immune system and inhibits transplant rejection by blocking mTOR.

White blood cells and other cells make mTOR, which causes the white blood cells to multiply and attack tissue. mTOR is an enzyme made by cells that helps cells grow, multiply, and spread. It is activated in response to nutrients, growth factors, energy, and stress. At certain times in our lives (during childhood, episodes of rapid growth and development) it is desirable to activate mTOR. mTOR is inappropriately activated in many conditions including auto-immune disease, cancer, and aging.

Traditional side effects of Rapamycin in transplant patients include:

  • Hypercholesterolemia
  • Hypokalemia
  • Anemia
  • Thrombocytopenic disorder
  • Hypertension
  • Hypertriglyceridemia
  • Constipation
  • Kidney disease with reduction in GFR
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Acne vulgaris
  • Arthralgia
  • Pain
  • Fever
  • Skin rash
  • Peripheral edema
  • Headache disorder
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Acute abdominal pain
  • Edema

Rapamycin for Immunosuppression

When being used for immunosuppression, Rapamycin is given daily and does suppress the white blood cell count. Additionally, it is typically given in conjunction with other immunosuppressive drugs and thus it becomes challenging to determine the side effects of Rapamycin alone. Due to immunosuppression in patients with organ transplants, Rapamycin has carried many warnings that may not be applicable when used as an isolated agent in low doses on healthy patients.

Rapamycin for Longevity

The dosing of Rapamycin for anti-aging purposes is a fraction of the dose used for transplant patients. For anti-aging and treatment of auto-immune disease it can be given intermittently (typically once a week) and at much lower doses (2-6 mg per week in a single dose).

There have not been any studies demonstrating severe side effects of Rapamycin at the small pulsatile doses used for anti-aging purposes. Although the risks appear to be trivial (especially when taken in a pulsatile fashion as suggested by longevity experts), they are worth noting.

The most common side effects reported when using low dose Rapamycin for anti-aging purposes include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Back ache
  • Sore throat
  • Sweating
  • Lack of appetite
  • Runny nose

Rapamycin research for extending lifespan is extensive. In mice, its effects extend beyond just extended lifespan, with evidence of reduction in hallmarks of aging.

Anti-aging effects seen with Rapamycin include: 

  • Fewer age-related cancers
  • Protection against cognitive decline
  • Improved cardiovascular function
  • Restoration of immune function
  • Improved renal function
  • Improved oral health
  • Improves intestinal function and reduced gut dysbiosis
  • Preserved ovarian function

The data supporting Rapamycin as an anti-aging intervention is compelling. Since 2009 there have been dozens of studies reporting both lifespan and healthspan benefits from Rapamycin treatment in mice. It is now the leading intervention in promoting a longer healthspan. Other important longevity interventions that also inhibit mTOR and will augment the use of Rapamycin are not to be forgotten.

Longevity interventions that augment Rapamycin include: 

  • Metformin
  • Intermittent fasting
  • Green tea extract
  • Resveratrol
  • Curcumin
  • DIM
  • Genistein from Soy
  • NAD
  • Hot and cold therapy
  • Exercise


The Benefits of Lower Dose Rapamycin

Like many off-label uses of prescription medications, when thinking about how a medication works and then applying that in a different dose or frequency, there can be tremendous benefits. The use of Rapamycin for transplant patients has been and can be life changing by suppressing the immune system and allowing the body to accept new tissue.

What is wonderful about this medication is that at lower doses and intervals, Rapamycin can actually perform the opposite of its high dose effect and improve immune status and preserve or improve overall health. Although it is not for everyone, we believe that Rapamycin can be used safely and effectively for anti-aging benefits—as the benefits far outweigh the risks in most people.

Call today to schedule your visit with Dr. Fagan and find out if you are a candidate for Rapamycin treatment: 303-884-7557. 

Learn more about Rapamycin treatment at NatureMed Clinic