Studying Bioenergetics for Macular Degeneration Treatment

Studying Bioenergetics for Macular Degeneration Treatment

Over the last two decades researchers have been thinking outside the box when it comes to alternative health treatments. Bioenergetics is a field that looks at biochemistry and cell biology according to the energy that flows through them. The goal is to determine how this energy is acquired and how it functions in biological activities.

Studying bioenergetics for macular degeneration treatment may be a door to go deeper into the inner cellular workings of this disease, particularly age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and essentially, turn it off.

This area of study just might catch the pathological transformation of AMD before it does any damage and stop it in its tracks.

The Hidden Healer

Energy is invisible, at least to the naked eye. Science and especially conventional medicine have often shunned the idea of energy due to its alleged invisibility. This is why the study of bioenergetics is a milestone for all those who have supported the idea of energy as an important function within the human body.

Researchers out of the University of Minnesota used a Seahorse Extracellular Flux Analyzer (yes, this is a real thing) to measure altered bioenergetics of lab tested cells from AMD donors compared to healthy donors, and found that,

“Our results are consistent with the ideas that a bioenergetics crisis in the RPE [retinal pigment epithelium] contributes to AMD pathology,”

The “altering” is the most interesting part of this study inasmuch that it is the confirmation of actual energy within the mitochondria. Here, it is measured chemically and has prompted a deep dive into the inception of macular degeneration. 

Human Trials

Researchers are in the process of unveiling actual medical treatments using bioenergetics, particularly in the mitochondria which is responsible for most of the chemical energy needed to power a cell. The pharmaceutical company Stealth BioTherapeutics has entered phase II testing of its pharmaceutical elamipretide. This is a medicine that will target the mitochondria and be able to instruct it to reduce the development of toxic reactive oxygens. This is done all through the manipulation of energy.

Stealth BioTherapeutics CEO Reenie McCarthy commented,

“We believe that mitochondria-targeted therapeutics offer a differentiated approach to treat diseases of aging, such as dry AMD, which significantly affects the independence of over a million elderly patients…By targeting the bioenergetic deficits that drive pathology in this disease, we hope to improve visual function for affected patients.”

The phase II study is expected to last 48 weeks and has capped at 176 eligibly enrolled participants. As reduced visual sharpness and blurriness are symptoms of dry AMD, the study will “measure the low-luminance best-corrected visual acuity, which assesses visual function under low light conditions meant to represent dusk or indoor (artificial) lighting.” as reported by Biospace.


This manipulation of mitochondrial energy is considered a kind of neuroplasticity. This is when the brain forms and reorganizes synaptic connections to create new neural networks. The use of elamipretide is one of many attempts to “restructure” the cellular functions of the RPE cells when found to be compromised. It is a pharmaceutical approach that for all intents and purpose is at the forefront of doing the very best to treat an incurable disease. 

According to the study, ‘Plasticity in the Human Visual Cortex: An Ophthalmology-Based Perspective’ published in BioMed Research International, it was stated, 

“In conclusion, there are several forms of plasticity that remain largely functional in the adult visual system, as exemplified by perceptual learning and long-term adaptation. Both changes in the environment and in the observer are likely to involve different forms of plasticity that act together for perceptual optimization. Several biological systems are implicated in the interplay of functional and structural plasticity. Understanding how these mechanisms work could pave the way for new forms of diagnosis and treatment of ophthalmic disorders, comprising rehabilitation after severe retinal disorders, amblyopia treatment, and improvement of surgical results after cataract and refractive surgery.”

Neuroplasticity is an approach that literally changes the natural landscape and assists the body in becoming more resilient to disease. As pharmaceuticals pave the way for immediate applications there may be natural approaches that can be applied and accumulate to high effectiveness well. 

Natural Neuroplasticity 

As science finds synthetic treatments to instruct the development of new visual pathways particularly within the mitochondria of the RPE, traditional medicine claims the use of certain natural remedies that may encourage neuroplasticity as well.

World renowned herbal master Donnie Yance recommends these herbs for neuroplasticity. (Always check with your physician and especially a professional naturopathic doctor before taking herbal supplements):

  • Bacopa – Pro-cognitive properties and antidepressant
  • St John’s Wort -Antidepressant
  • Epimedium – Cognitive enhancement
  • Panax ginseng & Rhodiola both protect against excitotoxicity [nerve cell death]-induced damage and assist in building neuro-brain resilience.

Yance claims these herbs may help:

  • Modulate stress response. Stress is linked to macular degeneration development
  • Modulate common neuroplasticity substrates (neurotrophic signaling, neurogenesis, inflammation and antioxidant defense all contributors to AMD)
  • Increase cerebral blood flow. This is advantageous for the ocular cavity and especially the retina 
  • Enhance the innate restoration of anabolic hormones such as testosterone. Loss of testosterone has been linked to eye disease. 
  • Enhance healthy cell proliferation and increase the number of progenitor [original] cells
  • Epigenetic [non-DNA] assistance
  • Improve glucose metabolism and utilization which may help decrease AMD development due to insulin compromise
  • Detoxification, protection and/or mitigation of neurotoxins

As science gets closer to a cure for macular degeneration, bioenergetics goes beyond the conventional approach of treatment and looks at the root cause, something traditional medicine bases its whole philosophy on. It utilizes the current innovative state-of-the-art tools and groundbreaking data researchers have at their disposal. Soon, bioenergetics may be a simple blood test and easy, non-invasive, hopefully natural remedy to eliminate AMD as the number one cause of blindness.