Chapter 16 - What Is Gerovital H3 and How Does It Work?
Gerovital H3, or rather its principal component, procaine, is not a new drug, nor did Ana Aslan discover it. She has never claimed priority, but instead has given credit to those who first investigated procaine and its effects on the human body. Her claim, which we must repeat, is that she was the first to discover its antiaging abilities; and she proved them at the Geriatrics Institute in Bucharest, and later all ovet the world.
For origins we can begin with none other than Sigmund Freud. Why Freud? It was he, as a young physiologist, who discovered that cocaine was an efficient local anesthetic which had a euphoric effect on its users. Unfortunately, some of Freud's friends and pupils became hooked on the euphoric aspect before anyone realized that cocaine in its pure form can be addictive. Freud, enamored of the drug, became hooked himself (see his letters), although he managed to pull out before the situation became calamitous.
Attempting to avoid the addictive factor of cocaine but preserve its anesthetic qualities, the German scientist Alfred Einhorn, in 1905, compounded a synthetic drug from para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) and diethylaminoethanol (DEAE), chemical terms in a polyglot compounded by people who do not want anyone except their breed to understand what they are doing. Procaine is not derived from cocaine, but is a synthetic combination of two substances naturally occurring in the body, as we have explained elsewhere. Inside the body, procaine breaks down into its original components, PABA and DEAE. However, Einhorn's chemical machinations turned out successfully. Procaine (actually procaine hydrochloride or novocaine, US. trade name Novocain) proved to be an ideal local anesthetic, as anyone who has had a tooth drilled or extracted in the last seventy years will confirm. It is nonaddictive, noneuphoric—really no connection to cocaine. In fact they are not related, except possibly as distant cousins who do not speak to each other.
Procaine is compounded of two natural substances, PABA and DEAE, both found in the body. They perform certain jobs in the brain, nerve tissue and various other organs. Medical science doesn't know too much about their functions, but you can make book that if a substance is ordinarily found in the body, it is necessary to the body's function. Otherwise it would not be there. (We explain the known actions of PABA and DEAE a little later in this chapter.)
In any case, procaine was studied by various researchers through the years and was found to be more than a simple anesthetic. It has vasodilating (blood-vessel-expanding) qualities; it is a thyroid inhibitor; it is a muscle relaxant (like curare); it is antihistaminic. The list could go on and on. Doctors--—at least the most enlightened ones, who studied the literature— knew about these qualities of procaine. Among them were Rene Leriche, Dos Ghali, Sidney Cohen, and Ana Aslan. But only Ana Aslan noticed the antiaging qualities--by accident, as she admits. Nevertheless, she did notice, and had the facilities and inclination to explore her observation, and that is why we have Gerovital H3 today.
In previous chapters we have explained most of the actions of GH3, both in the laboratory and clinically, so we will not enter into a long chemical analysis here. (See Appendix 7, 12, etc.)
We should explain the difference between procaine and GH3, however. Most procaine (novocaine) preparations are not stable for more than six months. GH3 is stable for at least two years. GH3 is a 2% solution of procaine with benzoic acid added as a preservative and potassium metabisulfite as an antioxidant. These additives and others--—for a complete list see Appendix 12, page 209--—preserve the life of the procaine molecule in the body. Ordinary procaine is rapidly desstroyed by an enzyme, cholinesterase. Procaine usually has a neutral pH of 7.0, and is rapidly destroyed when it enters the bloodstream. But GH3, with its buffer of benzoic acid, has an acid balance of 3.3, and is intact in the body after six hours, giving it much longer to react on the brain and nervous centers. Furthermore, the increase in procaine's acidity in GH3 goes with a decrease in anesthetic power, which is good since it isn't being used as an anesthetic.
As GH3 breaks down, it releases its two constituents PABA and DEAE. They, too, have an important role before they are metabolized. PABA stimulates the "good" intestinal flora to produce such needed vitamins as folic acid and vitamins K and B1 (thiamine). DEAE participates in the making of choline and acetylcholine, vital factors in the body (liver and spleen), brain and nerve synapses.
Dr. Carl Pfeiffer, head of the Brain Bio Center at Princeton, New Jersey, is a true pioneer in many phases of chemical medicine, including studies of vitamins and minerals and their relation to health and disease. (See Appendix 20.) He conducted original, studies in vitamins E and B6 and niacin—among a host of other accomplishments. It was he who first reported the beneficial stimulatory action of DEAE ("Deanol"—slightly altered into DMAE) in 1957. Dr. Pfeiffer found in double-blind studies that "Deanol" "produced mental stimulation, mild euphoria and, unlike the amphetamines, had no adverse side effects and was not accompanied by the ‘rebound period of depression." I have studied Dr. Pfeiffer's work for years, knowing him as a friend, but I had not realized until I began investigating GH3 that he also, years ago, made a significant contribution to understanding this important component of GH3.
There have been some confirming studies on Deanol in recent years. Several researchers report that Deanol is effective in relieving mild depression and migraine and tension headaches. It is also effective in the treatment of "hyperkinetic" children, since, unlike the amphetamines, it is nonaddictive and without harmful side effects. Others have found that DEAE increases the life span of male mice by as much as 49%; curiously, it increases the life span of female mice by only 6%, according to Richard Hochschild, M.A., of Corona del Mar, California. (See Appendix 21.)
Procaine is more than the sum of its components: neither PABA nor DEAE, used alone, possesses the same attributes as procaine. By the same complex process, Gerovital H3 is far superior to ordinary procaine in its antiaging, antidepressive effects: it, too, is more than the sum of its parts.
Consequently, GH3 has the triple advantage of being more than the combination of its parent and grandparents: all its progenitors are effective in their various roles. Therefore, we have a very high genetic rating for GH3—and naturally for its effectiveness.
According to Professor Dr. Ana Aslan's method of treatment, 100 milligrams of GH3 are injected three times a week for a month (total 12 injections). There is a rest period of two weeks to a month, then another series of injections--—recently, the second series is often of GH3 tablets and only lasts two weeks. (The GH3 tablets, when taken in much larger doses, have proved almost as effective as the injections.)
Dr. Aslan told me the tablets were more effective in the parts of the body other than the brain and central nervous system. GH3 in tablet form apparently works better in the intestines to synthesize folic acid, vitamin K, and vitamin B12, partly as a result of the breakdown of GH3 into PABA and DEAE. Both oral and injectable forms of GH3 pass the blood-brain barrier. Injectables enter the bloodstream within seconds and are in the brain within a half minute. The therapeutic effect is exerted on the brain and central nervous system, and only later follows the circuitous path to various organs and tissues.
Tablets have the advantage of being self-administrable. The FDA has recently approved testing of the tablets, so we may assume that FDA approval of the tablets for general use will follow closely after approval of the injectable form of GH3.
Dr. Vladimir G. Jancar, a prominent research psychiatrist, formerly supervising psychiatrist at Dannemora State Prison in New York, is one of the first in this country to test GH3 tablets. He is now in private practice in Schenectady.
He tried GH3 on seven of his patients (there will be 30 in the next few months). All were volunteers, naturally. All were given the same careful physical and psychiatric examinations as were the patients in the tests where injectable GH3 was used.
Discussing a preliminary study (not yet published), Dr. Jancar told me: "I am surprised by the efficacy of the GH3 tablets. With our patients thus far treated, GH3 has proved equal, if not superior, to Elavil and other drugs of this type, without the side effects of the other drugs." (Elavil, Narvil and Parmate are drugs commonly used to combat depression—but as we have stated, all have undesirable side effects.)
Dr. Jancar s recent letter to me states the case so well, I think our readers would like to share it with me:
Pertaining to our telephone conversation of March 13th, I am herewith sending you information about my experience with Gerovital up to the present time. I am in the first third of the study, and have seven patients who have finished the first course of treatment. One of these was moderately depressed and arthritic, with a [blood] sedimentation rate of 38 [very high]. She responded well to the medication, lost her depression, and after the fourth week her arthritic pain and swelling of the joints disappeared. Upon completion of the course of treatment, laboratory tests showed her sedimentation rate had dropped to 8. Her maintenance level is four tablets a day for six weeks, with a two-week interruption~ She also showed no side effects, such as blurred vision and constipation. On the contrary, her physiological functioning improved. In order to follow the [FDA] protocol, she took three pills a dày for the first two weeks, four pills a day the second two weeks, and six pills a day the last two weeks. The six pills proved too much and caused palpitation, which disappeared when the medication was reduced. I was surprised by the efficacy of the medication which, in this first patient, appeared to equal the efficacy of the tricyclic antidepressants or the monoamine oxidase inhibitor type of antidepressants. After this initial success, I selected the rest of my cases from patients whom I could trust would take the pills as prescribed, and who had not responded to any other antidepressant on the market. Two of the cases improved profoundly, and their improvement was confirmed by their employers and families. Two had a good response, their only complaint being that they still did not have energy and decisiveness such as they used to have. However, their reaction to other anti-depressants prescribed previously had been poor, so this response for them was considerable improvement The last two cases showed moderate improvement in their depression. One responded as well as he had to other antidepressants. However, he complained that the pep he missed had. been provided by amphetamines, which I took him off two years ago when I took over the case. The other patient felt too restless and decided to go back to Nardil, which she considered agreed with her better. The patient treated by my co-researcher was moderately depressed and suffered from severe, crippling arthritis. The improvement in depression was small, but the arthritis improved considerably and continues to do so. According to her doctor, my co-researcher, this patient was walking without help for the first time since the patient had been coming to him. All the patients from this group who completed the first course of treatment decided they wanted to continue the medication as the protocol suggested, except the one mentioned above who preferred to return to her previous medication. All who chose to continue treatment are currently on three or four tablets a day, while one of my patients takes six a day and my co-researcher's patient suffering from severe arthritis takes six tablets a day. At the present time we are starting a new group of five patients with the first course of treatment, following the [FDA] protocol. These seem to be making progress. In the new group, three have not responded to any other antidepressant previously, and two of them have not taken an antidepressant before. All patients in both groups are over 45 years of age.
Finally, in the first group, one man reported enhanced sexual activity. Another man, who reported he had had no erection for years, said that he had experienced several since being on the medication. P.S. By the way, while I am writing this letter, my 14-year-old short-haired pointer, "Lucky," is running merrily in our garden with my other 2-year-old dog. "Lucky" was put on Gerovital six months ago when she was in pain and could hardly walk. She is on one pill a day. As we can see, Dr. Jancar is optimistic, on the basis of his preliminary studies, that GH3 tablets will work as efficiently as the injectable form. With all the favorable European evidence, we might say that Dr. Jancar is not too far off the main current of present research. However, as with any discovery, there are "antiforces," and in general a healthy skepticism is beneficial, since only by argument, confrontation and presenting different viewpoints can the truth be finally determined. It is only when the opposing contestants present concocted statements, obviously biased and not following the same rules as are demanded of a scientific claim, that we have to become suspicious of their motivations.
Everyone by now knows that most human beings--particularly those in authority who are usually "well set" in their opinions--—will fight any change whatsoever. I would like to think so-called scientists are different from the so-called average man—but alas, as history proves, they are even more unyielding in their attitudes and more resistant to change than is our "average" man, since they have more to protect.
Compared to most aging scientists, Archie Bunker, —(a model of average, normal bias) is a paragon of what scientists like to call "objectivity."
As we told you, the pro and con reports are listed in the Appendixes and Bibliography.
In any case, if GH3 is made available as an antidepressant in the United States, (as soon as possible, according to FDA protocol) the question of who was really discerning and scientific, versus the old guard's unflinching opposition to progress, will become obvious and apparent—even academic.
The scientific proof can be found in great detail in the Appendixes. If, after showing this book to your doctor, he says, "There's nothing to this—the AMA discounted this twenty years ago," then you will know he did not, or will not, read. The message is loud and clear for those who can read.