If you can jump to your feet after reading this and give someone a strong and energetic handshake, I’ve got good news for you.
It means you’re probably going to live a healthy life for many years to come.
But if your hands are so weak that you can’t open a jelly jar… or a water bottle… or a car door…
Well, I have good news for you, too.
You can get your grip-strength back – and it doesn’t involve monotonous iron-pumping sessions, trips to the gym, difficult physical exertion, steroids or anything like that.
The stronger your grip, the younger your body – regardless of how many birthdays you’ve celebrated.
But make no mistake: A weakening grip is a warning sign…
Recent research confirms what I’ve observed for years among the patients who come to my wellness clinic – people with a weak grip are at greater risk of dying within the next decade or so.
That’s because hand strength reflects a yardstick of aging – the deterioration of your muscular system.1
Your grip is also a reflection of the length of your telomeres. These are the caps on the ends of your chromosomes that protect your DNA and determine your biological age.
But they get a shorter as you age. Eventually, the telomeres get too short to save the DNA, and the cell dies.
So, as an anti-aging specialist, hand-grip is something I pay very close attention to with my patients.
The modern medical establishment has turned away from the healing wisdom of the ages – yet grip strength has been used for centuries as a benchmark for health and aging.
There is a reason why grip-strength, aging and telomeres all go hand-in-hand…
That reason is inflammation.
Simply put: Inflammation damages your telomeres.2
In short, inflammation is your immune system’s natural response to threats, like infections and injury. It releases hormones that call in white blood cells to scour away damaged or infected cells.
But chronic inflammation can lead to serious health problems, like colitis and rheumatoid arthritis – as well as deadly and debilitating diseases, like heart disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer.
I can’t count all the causes of chronic inflammation… foods loaded with sugars, refined grains, and preservatives… toxic chemicals from household cleaners and pesticides to automobile exhaust and tobacco smoke… and just plain old stress.
As your body wages a microscopic war on itself, attacking even healthy cells, your hand grip weakens and your telomeres shorten.
A recent study reveals that people who had lost hand strength had significantly shorter telomeres than those with a stronger hand grip.3
Meanwhile, a study by Dutch researchers tracked the grip-strength of 555 85-year-olds over a period of four years. They found that those people whose hand-strength had weakened were significantly more likely to die within the next nine-and-a-half years. Other studies have confirmed the results of their experiment.4,5
But here’s the good news. There are numerous natural ways to lower your inflammation levels and to repair your telomeres.
I recommend many ways to stop your telomeres from self-destructing, and I suggest my patients and readers try them all…
You can change your diet… avoid sources of toxins… practice mindful meditation and avoid stress. You can even reduce inflammation with PACE, my anti-aging exercise program.
But, today, I want to talk to you about an ancient herb with a long history as a potent inflammation fighter – Japanese honeysuckle, known to botanists as Lonicera japonica.
This has been a powerful medical plant known to healers and herbalists for millennia as a way to treat inflammation and infections as well as a host of ailments, like dysentery, conjunctivitis, rheumatism and even influenza – even though modern medicine has only just begun to explore its potential.6,7,8
Japanese honeysuckle flowers can be steeped to make healing syrups, teas and ointments. Though, you shouldn’t eat any parts of the plant, because they can also contain toxins.
But you can buy Lonicera japonica remedies online, as well as at Asian apothecaries and food stores.
And if you’re good at following recipes, you can even buy the flowers and make your own powerful all-natural treatments for inflammation.
Two of my favorites are honeysuckle tea and honeysuckle syrup, both of which can be flavored with mint, vanilla, cocoa or with fruit juices like lime, orange or pomegranate.
Honeysuckle tea is calming as well as healing…
- Place two tablespoons of dried honeysuckle flowers and one tablespoon of green tea into a teapot;
- In a separate pot, bring six cups of water to a boil;
- Then gently pour the boiling water over the flowers and tea;
- Cover the teapot and steep for at least five minutes;
- Pour the tea through a strainer into cup;
- Then sweeten to taste with some organic honey.
Honeysuckle syrup is one of the best ways to lower your inflammation. To make it:
- Boil one quart of water and add two cups honeysuckle;
- Simmer for 10 minutes;
- Strain the brew into another container and discard the flowers;
- Pour mixture back into the original pot without rinsing or cleaning;
- Add one cup of honey and bring boil for one minute;
- Flavor it with organic fruit or citrus juice.
You can store the syrup in the refrigerator for about a month. Take a teaspoon a day and before long the inflammation in your body should begin to subside and your grip strength should begin to return.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD, CNS
1. Patel, H.P., et al. “Developmental influences, muscle morphology, and sarcopenia
in community-dwelling older men.” J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2012 Jan;67(1):82-7. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glr020. Epub 2011 Feb 28.
2. Diana Jurk, D. et al. “Chronic inflammation induces telomere dysfunction and accelerates ageing in mice.” Nature Communications. June 24, 2014. Article No. 4172. doi:10.1038/ncomms5172.
3. Baylis D., et al. “Inflammation, telomere length, and grip strength: a 10-year longitudinal study.”Calcif Tissue Int. 2014 Jul;95(1):54-63. doi: 10.1007/s00223-014-9862-7. Epub 2014 May 25.
4. Taekemal, D.G., et al. “Handgrip strength as a predictor of functional, psychological and social health:A prospective population-based study among the oldest old.” Age and Aging. Volume 39, Issue 3, Pp. 331-337
5. Beenakker K.G., et al. “Patterns of muscle strength loss with age in the general population
and patients with a chronic inflammatory state.” Ageing Res Rev. 2010 Oct;9(4):431-6. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2010.05.005. Epub 2010 May 27.
6. Ryu, K.H., et al. “Anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities of SKLJI, a highly purified and
injectable herbal extract of Lonicera japonica.” Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2010;74(10):2022-8. Epub 2010 Oct 7.
7. Chen, W.C., et al. “Wound repair and anti-inflammatory potential of Lonicera japonica in excision wound-induced rats.” BMC Complement Altern Med. 2012 Nov 23;12:226. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-12-226.
8. Kang, O.H. “Luteolin isolated from the flowers of Lonicera japonica suppresses inflammatory
mediator release by blocking NF-kappaB and MAPKs activation pathways in HMC-1 cells.” Molecules. 2010 Jan 18;15(1):385-98. doi: 10.3390/molecules15010385.