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Rejuvenation Of Man And Animals By Surgical Methods

( Originally Published 1923 )

BY cutting through the excretory ducts of the sexual glands at a certain point in a number of old marasmic rats of the age of twenty eight to thirty months an age corresponding in rat life to the eighties or more in human subjects Prof. Steinach was able to observe several weeks afterwards an amazing change for the better in their condition. Indeed, the old rats thus dealt with had become transformed into young rats.

Before the operation, rendered listless by their great age, these old rats would sit lazily for hours in their cage, scarcely making any movement, and showing no signs of interest whatever in their surroundings. Even a piece of fat bacon passed into their cage on a stick, a morsel most highly attractive to rats, failed to induce them to make any effort to attain it by creeping up the stick.

After the operation a radical change from their apathetic behavior was seen within a few weeks. They became extremely lively in their movements, and their interest was evoked by any object passed into their cage, which they sniffed at at once and examined with the greatest curiosity.

When two male rats are brought together in a cage, a bitter fight invariably follows. Before the operation, an old rat placed in the cage of a young rat would invariably show the white feather at once, making every attempt to get away and showing no fighting spirit. After the operation, however, he would take up the challenge at once and prove himself a valiant contender.

Even in their external appearance the operated rats clearly showed a remarkable rejuvenation. Be-fore the operation they seemed bent with age, with sagging heads and very thin bodies, merely skin and bones. Their furry coat showed many large bald patches. As Steinach demonstrated with his photographs, however, these same old rats under-went a miraculous change in their external appearance some weeks after the operation. New hair grew all over their bodies, in fact they now exhibited a rich, glossy and complete coat, the bald patches having entirely disappeared. At the same time they were as agile and erect as young rats in the prime of life, with well rounded forms.

Their behavior in the sexual sphere after the operation was equally remarkable, a most striking change taking place in this respect in these old rats. Before the operation all sexual proclivities seemed to have been completely lost. A young female rat placed in their cage evoked no interest whatever. If some few of them did show a trace of sexual desire, it was of no avail, for they were quite unable. to carry out the sexual act.

After the operation, however, these previously impotent old rats turned into sexually active young males. Young female rats put into their cage several weeks after the operation proved highly at-tractive, the transformed old rats giving every evidence of a surprising sexual capacity and in-satiable desire, their activity in this direction being such as would seem impossible, or at any rate abnormal, even in vigorous young rats!

As Steinach describes it, there occurred a condition of "sexual paroxysm" in his operated rats. These, in their passion, made no distinction as to whether the females pursued by them were or were not in the mating period, a rather rare occurrence among rats.

The young generated by those of the old rats which had been operated on one side only were normal and vigorous, so that Steinach was able to use them successfully for breeding purposes.

Not only did these old rats again become young, but their normal span of life was prolonged by the operation. Ordinarily rats live, according to Steinach, only twenty eight or at most thirty months. These rejuvenated rats, however, lived about eight months longer. For human beings this would mean that life could be prolonged by about 25 per cent. Thus, it would seem possible in this way, if one were permitted to apply these findings to the human race, to add about twenty years to the life of a man already about eighty years old.

It may now be of interest to take up the question as to how this remarkable rejuvenation and prolongation of the average life period of rats was produced in Steinach's experiments. Upon cutting through the ducts of the seminal glands at a certain level, care being taken not to injure the vessels which supply the testicles with blood, degeneration of the seminal glands follows.

As is well known, there are two main parts in the testicles : (1) That serving the purposes of external secretion, and which relates to the seminiferous tubules, and (2) a far more important part, that serving the purposes of internal secretion. The latter contains the so-called cells of Leydig. This portion governs some of the most important functions of the body, and also powerfully influences the whole nervous system and the qualities of the mind and soul.

Even the external appearance of the body and the condition of the skin and all tissues are dependent upon these remarkable glandular structures, as also upon the thyroid.

Upon cutting through the excretory ducts of the seminal glands, these glands and the seminal cells undergo degeneration. But in conformity with the law concerning the intimate connections between the different endocrin glands above mentioned, the portion of the testicles which serves the purposes of internal secretion thereupon becomes hypertrophied, with the formation of new cells in great numbers, as Steinach proves by microscopical sections.

It is but natural that in consequence of this the functions and tissues governed by these cells should improve. Thus, new hair grows on the previously bald areas and the previously skinny limbs become rounder, the muscles having undergone development, especially since these animals, quite bereft of appetite in their previous aged condition, be-come voracious again. Of course, even their renovated condition did not save these animals from ultimately paying their tribute to the eternal laws of nature. Although, thanks to the genius of Steinach, a considerable prolongation of their lives had occurred they eventually died, without any apparent disease, Steinach attributing their death to changes in the condition of the brain.

When the organs of these animals were examined after death the different tissues were found, strange to state, in the same condition as might have been expected in young animals. As Steinach showed in his illustrations, both the macroscopic and microscopic aspects of the genital apparatus, with all its internal and external organs, exhibited the same condition as might be found in healthy and vigorous young rats.

This suggests the case of the famous English peasant, Thomas Parr, who, having died at an age exceeding one hundred and fifty years, likewise showed at the autopsy performed by the great Dr. Harvey, to whom we owe our earliest definite knowledge of the circulation of the blood a perfect condition of his tissues and organs, including the testicles. The fact that he was condemned when over one hundred years of age for unseemly con-duct with a young girl of eighteen years would appear to substantiate the statements of Harvey.

With reference to the ingenious experiments of Steinach, causing retention of the seminal fluid, I should like here to mention the fact that already about 1500 years ago the great Hindu physician, Dhanwantarid, recommended, in his book "Sushrut" written in the Sanskrit language retention of the semen through an abstinent life as a means of enhancing the strength of the body and mind. Indeed, such a belief is even now popular among the Hindu races in India, and is based, moreover, on the precepts of their religion, for it is also contained in one of the volumes of the "Sacred Books of the East," edited by the great orientalist, Prof. Max Muller, of the University of Oxford.

Prof. Steinach, in the course of his experiments, obtained striking results in female rats, similar to those witnessed in males. He transplanted the ovaries of young, vigorous rats into old, decrepit females, and the same remarkable effects appeared as have already been described. Here again, the most astounding changes were produced in the sexual sphere. Before this transformation, produced by the operation, the old female rats were, of course, of no value for breeding purposes.

When an aged (28 months) female rat was placed in the cage of a young male, he at once approached, but having satisfied his curiosity by inspecting her, he simply turned about and took no further notice of her. How different, however, was his attitude when the same old female was placed in his cage after her rejuvenation! He at once began to pay ardent court to her, and remarkable to relate, the old rat became pregnant a few weeks later. The previously atrophied and scarcely recognizable mammary organs became red and turgescent, and the pregnant animal built her nest. After a pregnancy of twenty-three days duration, five, and in another instance, nine, infant rats were born !

Fancy a grandmother of eighty years having children again, and splendid, vigorous children at that ! Indeed, the old rat, after being sterile for ten months in consequence of advanced age, had given rise to offspring that were, as Steinach puts it, "ungewöhnlich kräftig" (unusually robust), and at the same time the old mother had an abundance of milk and fed her offspring in the normal manner. The condition of these young from a very old mother six weeks later is characterized by Steinach as "besonders gross und kräftig gewachsen," (grown exceedingly large and robust), and he later used them for breeding purposes.

It is interesting to note that at the autopsy of these rejuvenated old rats the sexual organs, including the ovaries, mammary glands, and uterus, were found in the same condition as would have been expected in young rats.

Thus, upon transplantation of the ovaries of young rats into old ones, the new ovaries made up for the lost functions of the former ovaries which had undergone degeneration by reason of advanced age. Along with this came the remarkable transformation into a young animal, with all the attributes of a young female, again proving the truth of what the great Belgian physician, Jean Batiste Helmont, said several centuries ago, viz., that a woman is made what she is by her ovaries.

At the suggestion of Steinach, Lichtenstern performed the same operation upon several human male subjects suffering from disease of the testicles or of the prostatic gland. These men likewise showed the symptoms of advanced old age, although one of them was but forty-four years old. Even young persons may show symptoms of old age in consequence of disease of the sexual glands. These men had no sexual proclivities whatsoever, and were completely impotent.

After section of the seminal ducts, marked improvement occurred within a few months. The wrinkles in the face of one of them, a man of forty-four years showing premature old age before the operation, disappeared, and in each of the three cases described in Steinach's monograph, muscular strength was considerably increased. These persons felt much younger than their age; their fatigued state disappeared. Their symptoms of arteriosclerosis, dizziness, shortness of breath, tremor, etc., also disappeared or were improved. Their impotence was also improved, though not to the extent observed in the rats, as could naturally not have been expected. The sexual desire reappeared and was very pronounced. Potency was restored to the normal of their younger years in at least two of the three cases, and in the third, a man of seventy-two years with pronounced arteriosclerosis, sexual desire reappeared after a long interval, and natural satisfaction of it was possible.

As in the rats, too, the mental condition was much improved, especially the memory, thus proving the correctness of my observations on the influence of the sexual glands upon mentality and memory, discussed in my book on "Building Hu-man Intelligence." It is interesting to note, also, that in each of these three men the hair grew more abundantly after the operation.

There are, however, certain drawbacks to the surgical treatment of old age. At the last Congress of the German Naturalists and Physicians in Nauheim, in September, 1920, the surgeons Prof. Payr, of Leipzig, and Prof. Kümmel, of Hamburg, uttered a serious warning against the performance of these operations, on account of the severe dangers that might follow. As Payr maintains, serious shock might result from cutting through the seminal ducts, and Kümmel even cited cases of death that had followed such an operation.

Similarly, the surgical methods of Voronoff, intended to produce rejuvenation through trans-plantation of the thyroid, are not free of danger. At the same time, insofar as I am aware, this method cannot boast of the wonderful results obtained by the ingenious Steinach. Besides, it is an antiquated procedure, and one long since given up, to transplant the thyroid or the ovaries in order to secure their secretion into the body when the actual organs of the bearer have degenerated.

It has been proved by strict and convincing scientific methods and by observations kept up for years that through ingestion of the extracts of the corresponding glands from healthy, vigorous animals results similar to those of operative transplantation can be obtained.

Accordingly, I believe it more rational to give preference, at least in the treatment of human beings, to the ingestion of fresh animal extracts by the mouth. Sometimes it may take a few weeks longer, at least in human subjects, for rejuvenation to take place, but at all events this method is a far safer one than the operative procedure.

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