Rejuvenation By The Use Of Iodides And Certain Other Drugs
( Originally Published 1923 )
THE rejuvenating effects of arsenic have already been known for a long time. I mentioned them in my book on "Old Age Deferred," attributing the effects of arsenic to a stimulation of the sex glands, especially in women, in whom the rejuvenating effects are greater than those obtained in men.
Iron, in its different preparations, acts similarly, although its effects do not approach those of arsenic. If it is combined with arsenic, however, the effects of the latter, especially in women, be-come far more pronounced. Iron also acts through its influence upon the sex glands, especially those of the female sex, stimulating them to increased activity.
In the book above referred to, I also pointed out the rejuvenating effects of the iodides. These stimulate the activity of the thyroid gland. In fact, as shown by Dr. Charles E. de M. Sajous, of Philadelphia, in his classic work on "Internal Secretions," the various active drugs availed of in the art of healing all at first excite or in some way modify the activity of these various glands, the effects they produce being consequent upon this stimulating or modifying action.
In treating arteriosclerosis, the disease most constant in old age, we give iodides as the best remedy at hand. In doing so we administer the main element contained in the thyroid gland. But we can give it to old persons even for the sole reason that in old age the thyroid, as a rule, shows less iodine a fact established by prominent authorities, such as Magnus-Levy.
A thyroid that contains little or no iodine is not an active thyroid. When we give iodides under these conditions, as shown by Kocher and others, we increase the iodine content of the thyroid gland. Therefore I have recommended the use of iodides in very small quantities even to healthy persons who are on the borderland of old age, as a preventive. I would like to add here that the quantities to be given depend upon the age of the subject and upon whether more or less pronounced symptoms of incipient old age are present.
More can be given in confirmed cases, in per-sons suffering from the effects of old age, especially men in the fifties or sixties. In advanced old age we may give less.
In persons between fifty-five and sixty-five years of age I have witnessed a rejuvenation following doses of about eight, ten, twelve, or fifteen grains of iodine a day, ingested in the various preparations of the iodides. One should proceed only with great caution with such doses, however, not exceeding ten grains a day unless it is quite necessary.
The rejuvenating effects of such doses can be explained on the basis of the researches of Steinach. He has shown that agencies which produce a degenerative effect upon the externally secreting portions of the testicles, i.e., the seminiferous portions, at the same time induce an increase in the normal activity of the internally secreting portion which may go so far that even an actual hypertrophie condition, with the growth of many new cells, follows.
Such a condition may be a result of ligation of the seminal ducts, but it may also be brought about by such other procedures or drugs as pro-duce a degenerative effect upon the seminiferous structures. Now, the Roentgen rays are capable of producing such an effect, a fact already well known years ago. In conjunction with the Roentgen specialist, Holzknecht, Steinach carried out researches in this direction and found, indeed, a certain degree of rejuvenation following his experiments.
That x-ray exposure may destroy the fertility of male and female animals is a fact that was demonstrated years ago and applies to human beings. Indeed there are cases in which, for the relief of certain diseases of the female sexual organs, x-ray or radium treatment is substituted for an operation, and results may follow which are quite similar to those of operative removal of the ovaries.
Thus, there are two ways of obtaining the effects of removal of the ovaries : (1) By operation, (2) by Roentgen ray treatment.
There are also certain drugs which exert a similar deleterious influence upon the seminiferous portions of the testicles, viz., the iodides. Years ago there were published reports from different parts upon the destructive effects of large doses of iodides on the testicles, with harmful results as regards fertility. When iodides are given in certain quantities the symptoms of intolerance may present themselves, constituting a condition we term iodism.
These symptoms are due very probably to an exaggeration of thyroid activity. Iodine being contained in the thyroid gland in larger amount than in any other gland and constituting its most important component substance, it will readily be understood that if too much of it is given it will excite an unduly pronounced activity of the gland. Strange to say, I have myself observed and with me a number of others that frequently even relatively small doses of the iodides produce such an effect, viz., iodism, yet if afterwards larger doses are given, they are well borne and bring about a feeling of well being and all the beneficial effects known to be characteristic of this drug.
I am not among those who look with alarm upon these symptoms of thyroid excitation.
I do not consider it an untoward result if an arteriosclerotic person, with symptoms of sclerosis of the brain vessels, suffers from one of the typical symptoms of iodism, viz., a running at the nose. Indeed, as I show in my book on the improvement of human intellect, such persons ought to be thankful if the circulation of the brain is relieved this way, close relations existing between the circulation of the blood-vessels of the brain and that in the vessels of the nose.
Nor can it be considered as a serious drawback if toxic substances are carried out and deposited at the periphery of the body, in the skin, giving rise to pimples.
A feeling of marked lassitude may also be present as one of these symptoms, and not infrequently also an attenuation of the sexual function.
Not by any means do I consider such a condition of iodism as an unfortunate event, for it is only a passing stage, and if larger doses are given, it may disappear altogether. Indeed, in such cases as I have noted recently, in which large doses of iodides had been given on account of previous syphilitic infection, a marked state of well being can be produced for a certain period of time, with an increase of muscular strength.
Long walks and climbing in the mountains became possible without the subsequent feeling of great fatigue. Likewise the sexual desire reappeared, sometimes even in a higher degree than before the treatment. These persons, furthermore, began to look younger than their age, and in general became decidedly more vigorous.
I feel inclined to account for these rejuvenating effects on the basis of the experiments of Steinach. After having first exercised a deleterious effect upon the seminiferous structures, a stimulation of the internally secreting portion probably took place.
I would also venture the same explanation in regard to the well known rejuvenating effects of arsenic. Here again, only large doses are efficacious.
A very good illustration of this fact is presented by the Styrian arsenic eaters. In Styria, a province of Austria, it is the habit of many persons to eat large quantities of arsenic, which is taken in such doses as would prove fatal to others. They begin the course with small doses, and then slowly habituate their systems to the use of larger ones until they reach poisonous amounts. Probably this habituation is induced by the fact, noticed by them-selves, that upon taking arsenic habitually their bodily strength improves and they are enabled more easily to climb over the steep, high mountains that form the greater part of their country.
These persons appear much younger than one would expect from their real age. A few women about fifty-eight to sixty-two years of age, whom I saw, looked like young women.
Strange to note, rejuvenating effects similar to those in Steinach's old rats can be observed in such persons. They grow an abundance of hair on the head, as well as in the form of a beard, are very vigorous, and look many years younger than their actual age.
I think it probable that arsenic produces these effects through its deleterious influence in large doses upon the sexual glands, with subsequent stimulation of the internally secreting portions of these organs.
Probably there exist several drugs having this effect. From certain observations I feel strongly inclined to include mercury among them. I have certainly seen in several syphilitics, after a radical cure by mercury, such rejuvenating effects as an abundant growth of new hair but have not had the courage to recommend such a cure for purposes of rejuvenation.
In describing the various means for effecting rejuvenation I am simply fulfilling the task of a writer on the subject, viz., that of discussing the different measures which lead to the desired result. But this certainly does not mean that I advocate every one of them. Indeed, I must emphatically warn against the use of large doses of iodides or arsenic for such purposes, except in cases in which syphilitic infection has previously been acquired.
On the other hand, I do not see any harm in the use of small doses of these drugs, if this be done under intelligent and immediate medical control, especially as an auxiliary agency in the treatment by gland extracts as a species of stimulant to the thyroid and sexual glands.
Arsenic is capable of doing much good in cases of anemia, neurasthenia, and hysteria, and iodides can be of great value in arteriosclerotic conditions. The latter, while most frequently present in old age, was also found in the course of numerous autopsies during the late war in younger individuals previously free of any apparent symptoms of such a condition.
It is useless to wait to administer iodides until arteriosclerosis has become established in a high degree and irremediable organic changes have taken place. A slow, sluggish circulation is nearly always present in aged persons, and sometimes even in younger subjects, and I should like to insist upon the important fact that the iodides, by diminishing the viscosity of the blood, assist in the rapid passage of the blood through the smaller arteries and capillaries.