ABSTRACT Chinese tonic herbs are generally classified into Yin and Yang categories based on their health-promoting action. Emerging evidence has suggested that in addition to up-regulating mitochondrial functional status, Yang tonic herbs also enhance cellular/mitochondrial antioxidant capacity, and may thus prevent age-related diseases and prolong the healthy part of lifespan (i.e. healthspan). The proposed biochemical mechanism underlying the antioxidant action of Yang tonic herbs involves a sustained and low level of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species production, which is secondary to the increased activity of the electron transport chain, with the possible involvement of mitochondrial uncoupling. “Yang invigoration” improves antioxidant defense in the body in the long term and thereby offers a promising prospect for preventing or possibly delaying age-related diseases and the detrimental effects of aging.
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