December 29, 2016

With Mixed Feelings, I've Stopped Taking the New Fountain-of-Youth Pill called “Basis”

That pill -- Basis -- is the first and only product so far from the new company Elysium.

In New York magazine,” journalist Benjamin Wallace calls Basis "either the most sophisticated fountain-of-youth scam ever to come to market or the first fountain-of-youth pill ever to work."

Elysium has not sought FDA approval for its product; instead, the company is promoting the pill extensively on Facebook and elsewhere as a "nutraceutical​".

I started using B​asis​​ three months ago, an unusual decision for me. I have regularly warned against taking FDA-unapproved magic pills promoted on TV by the likes of Drs. Oz and Mercola. But I was impressed by the advisory board of scientists working with Elysium, five of whom are Nobel laureates. The board also includes big names like the Mayo Clinic's geroscientist Jim Kirkland and biotech pioneer Jim Hood.

Click here for more on Basis, my decision to try it, and my initial reactions.

My Problems with Basis as a Mystery Drug
Typically, I’ll begin with half the recommended dose for any new pill, prescribed or over-the-counter. Scientists and researchers report that the elderly often are overdosed  and my experience confirms that.

 Basis comes with these instructions: "Take two (2) capsules every morning with or without food." I started with the full dosage but began to wonder if  I should take just one pill a day. Usually with questions like this I would go on the web   to see what the experience of others has been.

No point in doing that with Basis. The product has undergone only one limited clinical trial, and has thus far been used by a relatively small number of people.
I decided to go with one pill a day. But this threshold question made me realize that I would be basically on my own in figuring out how to resolve issues that might come up in the course of using Basis.  In effect I was going to be a guinea pig for Elysium in gathering  information on how the drug works with humans.
My real problem with Basis, however,  was that this was a very bad time for me to introduce a new and unknown drug into my existing mix of medications. I currently am having an increasingly difficult time dealing with incontinence and blood pressure issues. I won't go into details now but my doctors and I are having a hard time figuring out what's going on.

These two issues began well before I started taking Basis. But the new compound is a wildcard in my bloodstream. Not what I need at this time.
How involved are the Nobel Laureates?
The Nobel laureates on Elysium's advisory board certainly lend the new product credibility. It’s unlikely they’d risk their reputations endorsing a new product of dubious merit. 

Still, it's clear these scientists have played no significant role in researching, creating or testing Basis. It doesn't appear that the advisory board will be actively engaged in the product development.

That advisory board includes 2013 chemistry laureate ​Martin Karplus. In an interview, he said he had asked Elysium to send him a supply of Basis because "I want to remind myself whether I really want to take it or not."  (Karplus is age 85. I'm age 87.)

I was amused that a website that reviewed Basis included this comment:
Wow! Nobel laureates "advising" a company on dietary supplements! Shades of Linus Pauling! But people still swear by massive doses of vitamin C to cure anything and everything.

Basis contains two compounds -- nicotinamide riboside ​​and pterostilbene. The anti-aging ​effects of both have been scientifically validated in numerous laboratories, but those studies involved mice and rhesus monkeys, not humans. 

I’ll continue to monitor news about Basis with great interest, but I'm comfortable with my decision to stop taking it.

If you’d like to know more, check these links:

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