Rejuvenation By The Ingestion Of Animal Gland Preparations
( Originally Published 1923 )
OLD age being caused by degeneration of the endocrin glands, especially the thyroid and sexual glands, all that is necessary to secure rejuvenation is to improve the condition of these glands. The best and easiest way to do this is to administer by the mouth extracts of these glands, after their extirpation from healthy animals. As long as thirty or more years ago it was proved that when one of these glands, such as the thyroid, is degenerated, all of the normal functions of this gland can be reproduced by ingesting ex-tracts of the thyroid of sheep. The diseased gland is thus successfully replaced by the ingestion of the animal gland.
To bring about rejuvenation I have given to old men and women, and also to persons suffering from premature old age, extracts of the thyroid and sexual glands of animals. As already mentioned, marked success attended the procedure. The per-sons treated looked considerably younger after it, to the extent of ten or fifteen years and sometimes even more. The wrinkles in the face already began to disappear four or five weeks after the treatment, and at the same time, previously corpulent persons, losing their excess of fat, were made to look slender, thus imparting a youthful impression.
That thyroid treatment causes a considerable loss of fat is a well known fact. At the same time, the different functions previously impaired owing to old age became more normal again. The marked muscular lassitude disappeared, and the movements became more agile. The pulse, previously slow, as it often is in aged persons, became more rapid. Indeed, for cases of very slow pulse, or bradycardia, a condition frequently met with in the more advanced cases of arteriosclerosis, I have recently seen very good results from the administration of thyroid extracts.
The circulation of the blood being improved by the gland treatment, aged persons previously complaining of cold feet and hands obtained improvement in this respect.
The kidneys, previously sluggish, also showed an amelioration of their functions, the output of urine being augmented, and the uric acid, sodium chloride, and other substances, previously retained in the body, better eliminated. The intestinal functions were likewise improved, and bowel action became more regular.
In the books mentioned above, I have given the full details as to the results of such treatment. Since their publication some years ago I have obtained rejuvenation in many additional cases, and according to my observations the results are comparable to those which Steinach produced in men through his operative procedure. Thus, as in the case of the operative procedure, the condition of the hair was much improved by the treatment. But already thirty years ago, in the photographs that were published illustrating the cases success-fully treated by thyroid gland, previously bald persons were shown with a new growth of hair on their heads.
There was likewise marked improvement in the sexual functions. While not equivalent to those obtained in Steinach's old rats, the results were not far behind those brought about by his procedure in male human subjects. Indeed, it is not feasible to draw inferences from rats to men, the difference between man and these rodents being far too great. Such an attempt would be just as ill-advised as trying to make a comparison between the sexual desires of an overworked Wall Street business man and those of members of the native tribes of Central Africa or Australia, living in the full liberty of nature.
In general, there exists a certain antagonism between an overworked brain and sexual activity.
There can also be no doubt but that impotency is in very many cases merely of psychic origin, complete integrity of the sexual organs existing at the time. Very often this condition is only a fictitious one, and many men are impotent merely because they think they are. And so it is also easy to understand that in many cases the rational treatment of a neurasthenic or hysterical condition can bring back sexual desire, and even potency that had been lost some time before.
At all events, whether it be through the favor-able influence on the mind and mental condition in general or through a direct influence upon the sexual glands and the thyroid, which, as is well known, are functionally cooperative, I was able to note both in men and women a marked effect upon the sexual activity after the combined treatment with extracts of the thyroid and sexual glands. In men the sexual desire, sometimes lacking for a long period, reappeared in most cases, and potency improved.
In women the results obtained were even bet-ter than in men. I frequently learned from the husbands of women who had shown evidences of sexual frigidity or of marked diminution of the normal sexual desire that this condition had much improved after their wives had been taking ovarian extracts for a certain length of time.
That such treatment must exert a very distinct influence upon sexual activity in women is best shown by the fact that in girls and women who had ceased to menstruate for months on account of certain diseased conditions the menses reappeared after ovarian treatment, especially where thyroid gland was simultaneously taken.
I am inclined to believe, from observations I have made, that such treatment, especially if combined with the administration of iron, arsenic, and mud baths, constitutes the best means for dealing with sterility in women. I must here add that the rejuvenation treatment has, in general, given me better results in women than in men. The reason for this is that the ovarian extracts I used were superior to the extracts obtained from the male sexual glands of animals. It seems to be easier to prepare very active female than male extracts. The female extracts contain the most active portion of the ovaries, the lutein cells, which portion constitutes the internal secretion of the ovaries. Such preparations are more easily obtained than those of male animals which contain the cells concerned with internal secretion, the cells of Leydig.
One may ascribe to stimulation of the sexual glands and the thyroid the fact that among the different evidences of rejuvenation there occurred a marked increase of mental activity, as in Steinach's experiments. I have already mentioned such effects in my book on the treatment of old age, and those who have read my work on the improvement of the human intellect through hygienic and therapeutic measures will have noted, in the chapter on the influence of the sexual glands upon the intellect, the close relations existing between the two.
Nearly all the great men of present and past times, including great writers, artists, famous generals, etc., have had highly developed sexual proclivities. Their high-grade intellect offers an enormous contrast to the inferior mental qualities and feeble intellect of castrates.
Steinach particularly mentions how his operated rats emerged from their apathetic state and began to evince curiosity as to every object passed into their cages. Likewise, the men who were operated on by Lichtenstern showed a marked improvement in mentality, and especially a better memory a fact upon which I have also laid stress in the books above mentioned, and in particular in a work I have just written, on poor memory and the means of improving it. Even the earliest writers on the subject made note of the fact that they had. observed a marked influence of thyroid treatment on the memory.
The favorable effects of the combined thyroid and sexual gland treatment on the mind were also clearly evidenced by a fact I often had occasion to observe, viz., that persons of despondent mood and pessimistic disposition showed a marked change in this respect after some weeks' treatment, becoming more cheerful and lively, and looking at things from a more favorable viewpoint.
Having obtained such good results from internal treatment by the ingestion of animal glands, it is not possible for me to recommend attempts at rejuvenation by surgical methods. Not only are such methods not free from risk, but lately it has been found that the results are not always to be depended on, for in some cases the operation has been without avail.
Hitherto it has been a general rule in therapeutics to undertake operations in "internal" diseases only in cases where internal treatment does not present a favorable outlook. This is certainly not the case here. In any event, the wisest plan would be, I think, to try internal treatment first, and then proceed to operative intervention only if the internal treatment fails to yield satisfactory results, using good preparations and at the same time living a hygienic life, with avoidance of such agents as might counteract the effects of the thyroid and sexual glands, such as alcohol, abuse of tobacco, strong coffee or tea, etc. I am of the opinion that good results will nearly always follow the glandular treatment.
But even after rejuvenation has been obtained by operation, such a hygienic mode of life as I have recommended must be strictly maintained if one wants to profit fully and for a long time from the results of Steinach's operative procedure. Rats do not, we may note, drink alcohol nor smoke, and if such operated persons will fall back into their old habits, they may not enjoy the results of the operation very long. At the same time, it would seem very rational for such operated persons to ingest animal thyroid and sexual gland extracts in order to prevent recurrent decay of these glands.
With reference to what has been said above, there may be some of my readers who will object that thyroid treatment may itself present certain dangers. Such a remark would not have been wholly unjustified if it had been made about twenty-eight or thirty years ago, but at the present time it must be considered thoroughly unfounded and obsolete.
We have learned much since then, and through the treatment of so many hundreds of cases our knowledge and experience have been enriched by many facts of which we were then quite ignorant. Above all, we now dispose of far better preparations as compared to the primitive and sometimes poisonous ones then in use.
Again, we now know what selections must be made from among the patients themselves before they are subjected to such treatment. I present full details on these points and as to how to carry out such a treatment in my book on "Old Age Deferred," laying special stress upon the necessity of great caution in cases of heart disorder.
I must here add, however, that at the last Congress on Diseases of Nutrition at Homburg in September of last year, Prof. Lichtwitz advocated the use of thyroid even in heart cases, on the basis of his observations, providing certain special pre-cautions were used. At the same Congress Prof. Strauss recommended that one should use only the thyroids of well nourished animals.
At the same Congress Prof. von Noorden mentioned, in the discussion following the address on internal secretions by Prof. Biedl, of Prague, the fact that, following my example, he had also treated several cases of aged persons with thyroid gland, observing a rejuvenation similar to that described by me in "Old Age Deferred." Some time previously he had made the same statement in his "Handbook on Dietetics," published with the collaboration of Prof. Salomon, of Vienna.
I have treated several hundred persons with thyroid extracts, and have taken them myself, and have never seen any disagreeable symptoms following their use. It is true, however, that I have selected my patients very carefully. Diabetic persons or those suffering from Graves's disease (ex-ophthalmic goiter) must, of course, be excluded; likewise other persons presenting symptoms of exaggerated activity of the thyroid gland. This is but natural, for what we seek to obtain through the treatment is an improvement of the functions of a degenerated or insufficient and inactive thyroid gland.
Again, I have made it a rule to examine the pulse and heart of the patients every three or four days, and also to keep the condition of the urine under observation. I cannot see any possibility that while keeping the patients under such strict supervision thyroid treatment could present the least danger. For even if, after large doses, the earliest symptoms of intolerance should begin to show themselves, all that would be required would be to suspend the treatment for a time.
It is to be understood that the preparations used should be carefully selected, and only such preparations employed as are already known through previous experience to have given good results. I have knowledge of quite a few cases in which it had been maintained that thyroid treatment gave no results whatever, but in which I was able to convince myself that ineffective thyroid extractives had been used, for the same extracts administered to other patients likewise gave no results.
In general, even in the early years of thyroid treatment, twenty-eight to thirty years ago, it caused bad results only when poor preparations were used or excessive use had been made of good preparations. Of course any other very active drug may lead to disagreeable consequences if it is abused of.
In conclusion, I may state that I feel well justified in giving preference, for purposes of rejuvenation, to the internal treatment by glandular extracts, for in experienced hands any disagreeable consequences of it are with certainty obviated, something that cannot be said for the operative treatment. At the same time the internal treatment produces results that are but little inferior to those obtained by operation in man. Especially is this the case if one enhances the effects of the gland treatment by using at the same time certain drugs, such as arsenic, iron, or the iodides, and the ultra-violet rays of sunlight.