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The Hunger Project Bolen Report
Ohm Society
Gerovital Print E-mail
by Ron Kennedy, M.D., Santa Rosa, CA

Dr. Kennedy Interest for research in the field of aging is, to put it mildly, hot. A transformation in the paradigm which governs thinking about aging is taking place in the minds of scientist in the field of gerontology at this moment. Until recently, in the minds of scientists (and even now in the minds of the lay public), aging has been seen as an absolutely unavoidable phenomenon, programmed into the genes. Now, aging is coming to be seen, at least in part, as a result of a kind of wearing down process which may be possible to prevent.

Even the field of gene research is hot on the trail of extended longevity with the recent discovery of mortality genes, one of which can be turned off by a protein called "Senstatin." The ambience around the field of aging is full of hope. It has not always been so. The ambience around aging has been one of absolute despair and resignation. This may explain the difficulty encountered in the U.S. by proponents of Gerovital.

The prelude to the story of Gerovital begins with Sigmund Freud around the turn of the century. Freud had made cocaine a well-known item, initially believing cocaine to be a completely safe wonder drug with no risks. Then he, and a host of other people around him, became addicted to the substance. Freud was able to kick the addiction and go on about his studies in psychoanalysis. Others were not so fortunate.

The story of Gerovital begins in 1905 with a German scientist named Alfred Einhorn. Einhorn decided it might be possible to synthesize a drug which would have all the effects of cocaine with none of its addictive properties. In 1905, he synthesized a drug from para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) and diethylaminoethanol (DEAE), both of which are found in normal human metabolism, and came up with procaine hydrochloride.

This turned out not to have the hallucinogenic properties of cocaine, and for this reason Dr. Einhorn was disappointed. However, he discovered it did work even better than cocaine as a local anesthetic. When this new drug made its way into American medicine and dentistry, it was given the trade name of Novocaine. Probably, you have had some dental work made possible by a stiff shot of procaine to prevent pain.

Procaine is known to have vasodilating properties (increasing the blood flow to whatever tissue into which it is injected); it was also known to be a thyroid inhibitor, a muscle relaxant and an antihistamine. Well-informed doctors were well aware of these effects of procaine through the 1920s, 30s and 40s. This included one Dr. Ana Aslan, a Romanian doctor practicing in Bucharest.

Among all these doctors who took a close look at procaine, only Dr. Aslan noticed another quality of procaine, which everyone else had missed: its anti-aging properties. Suspecting that procaine could somehow slow down aging, Dr. Aslan began researching this possibility.

Dr. Aslan designed a special preparation of procaine, which she called "GH3." GH3 is a two percent solution of procaine with benzoic acid added as a preservative and Sodium Metabisulfite as an antioxidant. These additives take away its anesthetic power. This is useful, because GH3 is not designed to be used as an anesthetic. Once in the body, procaine breaks down into its component parts, para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) and diethylaminoethanol (DEAE) which, as we know, occur as products of normal body metabolism.

Procaine has been proven to extend the life span of laboratory rats by 21%, as well as Nematodes, a kind of worm used for drug testing. Many people believe it extends the life of all cells, including those of human beings. This is backed up by Dr. Aslan's studies, which document an average of 29% increase in longevity with the use of GH3. GH3 also is useful in the treatment of depression in the elderly and in the treatment of arthritis, sexual impotence and elevated serum cholesterol.

People who take it, however, including Dr. Aslan, do so because of the strong possibility that Gerovital slows down the aging process and because of the strong quality it has to return a person to the experience of being young and vigorous. This latter quality is particularly strong in people over 45 years old. How, then, does Gerovital work?

There is an enzyme, present in cells throughout the body, called "monoamine oxidase" (abbreviated "MAO"). The major function of this enzyme is to destroy norepinephrine. Norepinephrine is an important transmitter of impulses between nerves. It is important that norepinephrine be held within a narrow range of concentration in the body, otherwise convulsions and death would be the result. Therefore, MAO is an important, even vital, part of body chemistry. It helps hold norepinephrin within that narrow range by destroying excess.

However, at age 45 MAO begins to be produced in greater amounts than before, and this results in a dramatic lowering of norepinephrine. The effect on the mind and body is remarkable — in many people youth and vitality begin to be ushered out the door at age 45 and old age begins to set in. Gerovital prevents this. Still, how does Gerovital work, and why does it have no undesirable side effects?

As it turns out, procaine is a weak, reversible, competitive MAO inhibitor. This means it competes with MAO without destroying it, so when norepinephrine becomes elevated and MAO is needed, it is still present and able to do its job. Until then, procaine holds it in check, allowing normal, healthy, youthful levels of norepinephrine. Procaine does this by occupying the spot on the cell membrane ordinarily occupied by MAO.

When norepinephrine becomes elevated, procaine (in some way not understood) stands down, allowing MAO to assume its position and do its job. This is how GH3 works. There are other MAO inhibitors available. However, they work by destroying MAO and this often tips the scales too far in the direction of a flood of norepinephrine, which can have severe, even fatal, results.

This leaves the question of why there are no side effects to the procaine in GH3. Aside from the fact it is a reversible MAO inhibitor, it also is made of molecules (PABA and DEAE) which are normal in the metabolism of the body. Therefore, procaine is easily metabolized into the body's normal chemistry when it is broken down into its component molecules.

In Europe (not in the U.S. because of an FDA ban — isn't that predictable!), GH3 is given by injection or as a tablet. The tablet is enteric coated to enable it to pass through the stomach without contact with stomach acid, which would destroy its usefulness to the body. The treatment regime recommended by Dr. Aslan is ten mg injected three times per week for four weeks (12 injections). Then there is a rest period of two to four weeks, and another round of three injections per week for four weeks is given. Sometimes oral GH3 is given at this point.

Other people have different ways of administering GH3. I prefer one injection every five days. I find the results wear off after about five days. To me, it makes no sense to say GH3 can, possibly, reverse aging and then take it only sometimes. That kind of rationale works well to support the idea of a clinic where people come and receive GH3, pay a load of money for it and then go home. The body, in my view, is not an automobile which is good for 40,000 miles after a change of tires, but rather requires frequent maintenance.

All of the above is the good news. The bad news, at least in the U.S., is that Gerovital is not available. The Food and Drug Administration has not approved Gerovital, and it is therefore illegal to sell the European preparation. The reasons for this failure to approve Gerovital are not clear, but you can be sure it has something to do with protecting drug company profits. I have reviewed the literature on Gerovital, and the consensus among investigators is that Gerovital is safe and effective. Suffice it to say, there are more factors influencing the FDA in the process of approving a drug than its proven safety and effectiveness.

In Europe and Mexico, however, every pharmacy sells Gerovital or Gero-H3-Aslan, another brand name. A prescription is not required in most countries, and you can simply walk in and buy it. It also is quite inexpensive, about $3 per vial. If you do not live in Europe or Mexico, in order to have the European preparation of Gerovital, you must travel there.

Fortunately, any compounding pharmacy in the U.S. can prepare GH3 from Ana Aslan's original formula. Don't bother to ask your common pharmacist about making this preparation. The practice of pharmacy has degenerated in the U.S. to counting and selling colored pills. The skills learned in pharmacy school go for nought. Nevertheless, you can find the occasional compounding pharmacist who practices real pharmacy. You will need a prescription from your doctor for this preparation, but, once again, don't bother with a conventional doctor. That person will not have heard of GH3, of if heard of will have the usual American medical establishment brain wash attitude. You will need to find a doctor who practices nutritional medicine.

As far as dosage goes, I believe each person is different, and the proper dosage should be determined by the way your body responds. Intermittent series of treatments, which has been traditional with Gerovital, make no sense to me. If the preparation works (and it does) then you should take a maintenance dosage. One side effect you should watch for is mild thyroid suppression. If this occurs, it is easily corrected.

If you are 45 or over, you can experience benefit from Gerovital or GH3. This benefit is nothing more or less than the prevention or correction of premature aging.


  • Abrams A, Tobin SS, Gordon P, Pechtel C, Hilkevitch A The effect of a European procaine preparation in an aged population J Geront, 20:139, 1965.
  • Bailey, Herbert GH3, Will It Keep You Young Longer? A Bantam Book paperback March 1977 ISBN 0-553-14460-X Out of print and hard to find — try a used book store. By far the best reference if you can find it.
  • Berryman JAW, Forbes HAW, Simpson-White R Trial of procaine in old age and chronic degenerative disorders Brit Med J, 2:1683, 1961.
  • Clinical Psychiatry News Gerovital H3 is called effective for treating adult depression Vol 3, No 3, March 1975.
  • Fee SR, Clark ANG Trial of procaine in aged Brit Med J, 2:1680, 1961.
  • Friedman OL An investigation of Gerovital H3 (procaine hydrochloride) in treatment of organic brain syndrome Gerontologist, Vol. 3, Sept. 1963.
  • Isaacs B Trials of procaine in aged patients Brit Med J, 1:188, 1962.
  • Kral VA, Cahn C, Deutsch M, Mueller H, Solyom L Procaine (Novocaine) treatment of patients with senile and arteriosclerotic brain disease Can Med Assoc J, 87:1109, 1962.
  • MacFarland MD, The nature of monoamine oxidase produced by Gerovital H3 Paper presented at the 26th annual scientific meeting of the gerontological society Nov. 1973.
  • May RH, Rutland MB, Bylenga ND, Peppel HH Prolonged procaine therapy in geriatric psychiatric patients Geriatrics 17:161, 1962.
  • Pfeiffer CC et. al Stimulant effects of DEAE Science, Vol. 126, No. 3274, 1957.
  • Zuckerman BM, Fagerson IS, Kisiel MJ Age pigment studies on the nematode Caenorhabditis briggsae Paper presented at the 4th annual meeting of the American Aging Association, Sept. 1974.

The information in this article is not meant to be medical advice.�Treatment for a medical condition should come at the recommendation of your personal physician.

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