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How to fight skin damage at DNA level

When it comes to reversing aging of the skin, the Sears Institute is vastly different from every other anti-aging clinic or medical-spa you may have heard of or visited…

You see, we recognize that the key to reversing skin aging starts deep down at the DNA level with your telomeres.

Most skin care specialists have never even heard the word…

As a regular reader, you know that telomeres are tiny bits of genetic material at the end of each strand of DNA in your cells. They protect your DNA and determine your cells’ lifespan.

Every time your cells divide, your telomeres get shorter.

And the shorter your telomeres become, the faster you age.

This leads to the wrinkles, dullness, age spots and sagging we associate with old age.

But you can delay the shortening of your telomeres by activating an enzyme that rebuilds them. The discovery of this substance, called telomerase, was such a breakthrough that it won the Nobel Prize in Medicine.

One of the best ways to activate telomerase – and erase decades of wear and tear from your face – is with an herb called cat’s claw.

I first uncovered cat’s claw when I was in the Amazon rainforests of Peru. I was there to observe the traditional healing practices of the Ashanika people. They have understood the healing power of this plant for hundreds of years.

But we’re just beginning to discover its secrets.

Lately, researchers have started to study cat’s claw and its unique anti-aging effect on your skin’s DNA…

You see, your DNA is extremely delicate. And it’s under constant attack from free radicals. Every day, thousands upon thousands of your DNA strands suffer damage from oxidation.

Normal antioxidants block a fair amount of this damage. But as you get older, your body’s antioxidant capacity shrinks. As your defenses weaken, DNA damage builds up, resulting in what we think of as the signs of aging.

Cat’s claw extracts contain powerful antioxidants. But where most antioxidants can only block damage, studies show cat’s claw also promotes DNA repair.

Your body can repair a limited amount of DNA damage. But if the repair can’t be made, one of two things happens. Either the cell self-destructs to prevent defective copies, or else it goes rogue.

Skin cancer is a good example. Ultraviolet (UV) light generates free radicals in your skin cells. Your body’s antioxidant defenses mop up some of these destructive molecules. Others damage cell walls and other structures – including DNA.

But this Amazon herb has a unique anti-aging effect.

Using human skin cells, scientists in New York showed cat’s claw can stimulate repair of DNA damaged by UV light.1 Doctors at Mount Sinai Medical Center had similar results.2

But here’s the really important news: Researchers in Sweden showed that cat’s claw extract helps defend against DNA damage – and promotes DNA repair – in humans.3

The Swedish doctors used hydrogen peroxide to trigger free-radical damage in their volunteers. Some took cat’s claw extract, while others received a placebo.

The volunteers taking cat’s claw suffered less DNA damage… and also showed a much higher level of DNA repair.

At the Sears Institute for Anti-Aging, we apply a unique telomerase-activating cat’s claw formula to patients’ skin. We use a combination of Montmorillonite and Kaolin clays combined with additional herbs to jump-start the repair process.

I understand not everyone can come to the clinic. But you can begin to address your skin’s DNA easily at home with a soothing tea made from cat’s claw.

Enjoy Age-Reversing Cat’s Claw Tea

My favorite way to enjoy cat’s claw is to drink a cup of tea. It’s easy to make – and when sweetened naturally, it tastes good.

  • Pour boiling water into a cup and add a few drops of lemon juice. The acid from the lemon will release the tannins in the tea.
  • Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of ground cat’s claw to a tea strainer. If you are using cat’s claw bark, add one to two average-sized pieces.
  • Let steep for five to 10 minutes. Remove the strainer from the cup. If you are using bark, remove the bark with a spoon.
  • Sweeten to taste. I like adding honey and spices to improve the taste.

To Your Good Health,

Al Sears, MD

 Al Sears, MD, CNS


1. Mammone, T., et al, “A water soluble extract from Uncaria tomentosa (Cat’s Claw) is a potent enhancer of DNA repair in primary organ cultures of human skin.” Phytother Res. Mar 2006; 20(3):178-183.
2. Emanuel P and Scheinfeld N. “A review of DNA repair and possible DNA-repair adjuvants and selected natural anti-oxidants.” Dermatol Online J. Jul 13, 2007; 13(3): 10.
3. Sheng Y, et al. “DNA repair enhancement of aqueous extracts of Uncaria tomentosa in a human volunteer study.” Phytomedicine. Jul 2001; 8(4):275-282