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Isamaya Ffrench
courtesy of Instagram/@isamayaffrench

A guide to NAD+ by Isamaya Ffrench


TextIsamaya Ffrench

Isamaya Ffrench continues her journey with the anti-ageing miracle molecule

So here I am again. Lying on my back, a syringe strapped to my vein and a little yellow bag of fluid slowly leaking down the tube and into my arm.

My brain is wobbling. That familiar feeling of nausea that sweeps across you the moment the fluid hits, the effect immediate. It’s funny, no matter how well researched you are, how desperate to live longer, look better, feel younger, no matter how many scientific papers have proclaimed the benefits of this drug, I still get that human reaction of hesitation as my body eases into the discomfort, just like the first time. 

The first time I came to see John at his clinic in central London, I had been gripped by a desire to try and repair some of the damage that I’d more than likely incurred on myself from mega sleep deprivation. After coming across the book Science of Sleep, and it’s terrifying findings about the correlation between sleep deprivation and, well, early death, NAD+ (termed the ‘miracle molecule) and it’s numerous anti-age benefits seemed to appear like a guardian angel of hope in the hellish wake of personal regrets (boozy nights, bad habits, sun damage, a tab of e or two!) and I devoured any articles,  scientific journals, papers and anything else in the field of research around NAD+.

This time, John – that’s Mr John Gillen  – had invited me to the rather luxurious Bionad Clinic in Kensington, which is visited regularly by oligarchs, celebrities, high flyers and athletes alike, all of whom have researched the benefits of NAD+ and use it as part of their healthy lifestyles.

Just to recap (in case you haven’t read about my first encounter with the miracle molecule), NAD+ stands for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide. Its a coenzyme found in all living cells that’s required for the fundamental biological processes that make life possible, from metabolism to DNA repair. It is found in all living mammals, yeasts, bacteria and even plants. Nothing can live without NAD+.

“The body has the ability to repair itself, however, studies have shown that the addition of NAD+ can radically help speed up this process.”

NAD+ has two general functions in the human body: It helps turn nutrients into energy (a part of the metabolism process) and works as a helper molecule for proteins that regulate other biological activity, most notably and important for us, cell repair. NAD+ is naturally formed in the body, but like most good things, its production begins to decline with age - from about 30 years onwards, NAD levels decline exponentially, ultimately causing our cells to become weaker and eventually die. Cellular health, i.e. your cell functioning at an optimum level, requires NAD, so lower levels can cause cells to perform badly, which results in things like cancer, degenerative diseases and especially, but not exclusively, age-related illnesses such as Alzheimers and Dementia – all of which can, in turn, put mounting pressure on our hospitals and our health services. 

Oxidative stress, which is basically damage done to cells through environmental or personal habits such as smoking, drugs, blah blah - basically whatever puts your body under some kind of mild trauma at a cellular level – can actually be repaired or reversed by NAD+. The body has the ability to repair itself, however, studies have shown that the addition of NAD+ can radically help speed up this process. NAD+ given to a 2-year-old mouse can have such drastic effects that after a course of treatment, the mouse’s cells resembled a 3-month-old mouse. In addicts, NAD+ has incredible effects, even reversing some of the damage caused by alcohol and narcotic abuse and there are many notable clinics across the world that use NAD+ as part of their recovery programme. 

Research has shown that NAD+ can contribute to repairing and even lengthening telomeres. Amazing news when telomere degradation is the basis of most major health issues, especially age-related ones. Imagine your DNA is like a shoelace, with rubber caps at each end that stop the lace unravelling. Telomeres are the rubber caps and as we age, the rubber shortens. When it gets too short, it can no longer hold the DNA strands together and it essentially unravels causing the DNA to be totally defunct. Cue curtain. The End.

John is my NAD+ guru and wanted to introduce me to two of his colleagues working in the field of NAD+ and who are currently working on products to expand the opportunities of utilising NAD+ for human longevity. 

Steve McNerlin and Martha Moe own a company called NADCeutical Laboratories and were keen to tell me about their findings in NAD+, pattern hair loss and its links with colon cancer. Apparently, one of the first signs of ageing in men and women is hair loss or thinning. New findings show that hair loss is closely related to a decline in NAD+ production and has an interesting correlation to the predisposition of developing colon cancer and heart disease, especially in men.

Those people who do experience hair loss earlier in life than most have over a 60% greater risk of getting the disease. Colon cancer, as with other cancers, occurs partly due to cellular inflammation (cells performing badly), but NAD+ works directly in contrast with inflammation by directly reducing it. Therefore, studies have shown that not only does NAD+ make your hair thicker, it also reduces your risk of getting colon cancer (especially if you are someone who is high risk). NASA has even mentioned giving NAD+ to astronauts going into space to reduce inflammation and the damage caused by radiation exposure. I mean, if NASA is behind it, perhaps we should be too…

Steve and Martha have been attempting to use NAD in a less invasive way - rather than ingesting or intravenously taking in the molecule, they want to localise the area that needs extra NAD+,  and in doing so deliver NAD directly to the site. Now, unless you’ve been literally living under a rock, we’ve all heard of micro-needling (in fact, I documented my last ‘vampire facial’ on Instagram which was me getting spiked in the face by thousands of tiny needles and then having my blood plasma smeared across my puckered skin in the hope that I might look 12 again. It worked actually but that’s a whole other article). Well, it appears that micro-needling may be a new solution to delivering NAD+ to the desired area. Micro-needling creates tiny holes or ‘channels’ in the skin that allow better absorption of a product, whether it's your own blood plasma, vitamin C or now, NAD+. And at NADCeutical Laboratories, they’re aiming the miracle molecule straight to the scalp!

“NAD+ isn’t cheap, but it appears to be one of the most progressively researched processes for anti-ageing and cellular repair.”

Targeting your scalp with NAD+ appears to have improvements on hair growth and hair lifespan and could be a much-needed solution to many expensive treatments such as hair transplants, and our need to keep our locks luscious. I asked when the product would be on the market and Steve suggested it would be available within the next few months along with micro needling solutions for body and face. 

NAD+ isn’t cheap, but it appears to be one of the most progressively researched processes for anti-ageing and cellular repair. If you can’t get to one of John’s clinic to take NAD+ intravenously, NADceutical Laboratories also have a range of products available soon that deliver it directly to the bloodstream such as sublingual melts you put under your tongue and nasal sprays – both which I’ve tried and will continue to use. Other ways of encouraging the body to produce NAD+ include fasting and taking NAD+ precursors (things which encourage your body to make NAD+) which are Nicotinamide riboside, or niagen which is an alternative form of vitamin B3, also called niacin. 

So why isn’t everyone using this miracle treatment? Firstly, cost. At the Bionad Clinic prices start at £500 for a 2-hour session.  There is also the issue that there hasn’t yet been enough time for clinical trials on humans to determine the future of the NAD molecule and its distribution. So far, however, there has been no negative research in conjunction with NAD+ treatments, perhaps as it is a naturally occurring chemical in the body. 

I suppose it’s a bit like having a fancy racing car. No matter how good the car body looks, if the engine and components are rusty, it ain’t going nowhere. The same applies to our body. I’ve started my NAD+ journey and until the science proves it wrong, I’m going to finish it… hopefully, NAD+ will keep me in the race for as long as possible. 

The Bionad Clinic is in London. Visit www.Bionad.co.uk

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