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Mavericks of Medicine - Acknowlegments

Mavericks of Medicine - Acknowlegments

As with most books, many people played valuable roles in its creation.

This book resulted from conversations that I had with my friend and colleague John Morgenthaleller. John is responsible for coining the term “smart drugs,” for writing the first books on the subject, and for much of the public’s awareness about how certain drugs and nutrients can enhance cognitive performance. I met John backstage on the set for the Montel Williams Show in 1990, right after his book Smart Drugs and Nutrients was first published, and a large portion of what I know about these substances I initially learned from him. Learning about cogntive enhancers like hydergine and deprenyl changed my life, so I am indebted to John in numerous ways-including his valuable help as the editor and publisher of this book. So, first and foremst I would like to thank John for making this book possible.

I would also like to thank my associates at Smart Publication, Ed Kinon and Dale Fowkes, for their encouragement and excitement about the project. Extra special thanks go to Erin Eileen Jarvis, for her invaluable biochemical expertise and generous help with the glossary, and to Louise Reitman, Joe & Suzie Wouk, Amy Barnes Excolere, Anna Damoth, Arleen Margulis, Sherry and Serena Hall, Jesse Ray Houts, Valerie Leveroni Corral, Robin Rae & Brummbaer, Clifford Pickover, Robert Anton Wilson, Deed DeBruno, Dana Bomar, and Carolyn Mary Kleefeld.

I would also like to thank the following individuals for their valuable help: Ruth Holmes, Mike Morganroth, Amy Powers, Brian Becker, Nancy Olmstead, Anne Genovese, Nancy Mullis, Sandy Oppenheim, Jean-Louis Husson, Richard Goldberg, Holly Morgenthaler, Carrie Scharf, Lamika Keller, Nancy Guyon, Chris Higgins, Annie Sprinkle, Denise Stow, Russel Jaffe, M.D., Randy Baker, M.D., Mimi Hill, Dana Peleg, Carole Myers, David Wayne Dunn, Robin Atwood, Emily Brown, Sherri Paris, Mike Corral, Denis Berry, the members of WAMM and the RAW Group Mind, Senta Rose Hernandez, Lisa Marie Souza, Katherine Covell, Bethan Carter, Rupert Sheldrake, Michael Brown, Sammie and Tudie, Heather Hazen, Karen Lieberman, Bernadette Wilson, Nick Herbert, Jody Lombardo, Paula Rae Mellard, Jack Edwards, M.D., Oscar Janiger, M.D., Robin Chase, Matthew Steiner, Scott Crowley, Sylvia Thyssen, Dina Meyer, Cheryle and Gene Goldstein, Linda Meyer, Arlene Istar Lev, and Shahab Geranmayeh.

I would also like to express my sincere gratitude to all the people that I interviewed for their valuable time, generous help, and thoughtful speculations.

Introduction - Mavericks of Medicine

Introduction to Mavericks of Medicine

By David Jay Brown

As with science, the history of medicine reveals that knowledge often advances through the ideas of maverick thinkers-ideas that were initially greeted with disbelief or even mockery. For example, in 1847, when the Hungarian physician Ignaz Semmelweis started making the claim that puerperal fever was contagious, and that poor sanitation was responsible for spreading the illness from one new mother to another, his fellow physicians thought that he was crazy. “Wash your hands!” he shouted in the hospital maternity wards of Vienna, while the other doctors laughed.

Likewise, in 1628, when British physician William Harvey first proposed that the heart might be a a pump at the center of a closed circulatory system-rather than a “heater” for the blood, as was thought at the time-he was ridiculed by his medical colleagues who thought the idea ridiculous. Then, in 1718, when Lady Mary Wortley Montagu insisted that live smallpox culture be introduced into her son’s veins as an inoculation against the disease, her contemporaries thought that she was worse than nuts. Yet, with time, the ideas of these courageous individuals were vindicated, and history simply abounds with examples of how eccentric individuals-that were initially regarded as quacks-helped to advance science and medicine.
Both science and medicine are inherently conservative. Scientists and physicians are trained to always lean toward convention and to be suspicious of new ideas. This tendency to test new procedures carefully, and to make new declarations cautiously, is partially why science and medicine have been so successful and have such reliable track records. However, it is also why the conventional or mainstream core of established scientific and medical institutions-such as the American Medical Association-always advances much more slowly than the peripheral research frontiers, where eccentric individuals are experimenting with unorthodox possibilities that sometimes conflict with conventional thought.
While the right amount of skepticism can be healthy, and it’s certainly necessary for science and medicine to advance, it can also stand in the way of progress. Unrestrained skepticism can mutate into neophobia-the fear of novelty-if it isn’t properly balanced with open-mindedness and curiosity. Neophobia prevents the unbiased experimentation with new possibilities, and, in its more extreme forms, even causes conventional scientists and physicians to ridicule new ideas simply because they are unconventional. Having a proper balance of open-mindedness and skepticism is essential for science and medicine to properly advance.
While maverick thinkers certainly aren’t always right, without these courageous individuals all scientific and medical progress would stagnate. The history of medicine reveals that during every time period there has been maverick thinkers who were ridiculed by their colleagues for having unconventional ideas that were later vindicated. This means that right now-in the historical epoch in which we currently find ourselves-this scenario is most likely taking place. So then, with this illuminating insight in mind, let us now consider who some of the promising maverick thinkers of our time might be, and what their ideas about medicine might mean.
Conversations on the Frontiers of Medical Research
In your hands is a collection of interdisciplinary interviews that I did with some of the most brilliant and controversial medical researchers and practitioners of our time. This collection of interviews with eminent physicians and cutting-edge researchers explores innovative work in the areas of life extension, cognitive enhancement, improved health and performance, integrative medicine, stem cell research, novel pharmacological and nutritional therapies, prosthetic implants, holistic and traditional medicines, mind-body medicine, euthanasia, and the integration of medicine with other fields of science.
As with my three previous interview books-Mavericks of the Mind, Voices from the Edge,  and Conversations on the Edge of the Apocalypse-the people who I chose to interview are those creative and controversial thinkers who have stepped outside the boundaries of consensus thought and seen beyond the traditional and conventional view. I chose highly accomplished people who dare to question authority and think for themselves because it is often this capacity for independent thought that lies at the heart of their exceptional abilities and accomplishments. In questioning old belief systems, and traveling beyond the edges of the established horizons to find their answers, these unconventional thinkers have gained revolutionary insights, and they offer some unique solutions to the problems that are facing modern medicine.
Some of the questions that I will be discussing with these brilliant and courageous individuals have profound implications. What are some of the biggest problems with the way that medicine is practiced today, and what can be done to help improve the situation? What role does the mind play in the health of the body? How can people improve their cognitive or sexual performance? What are the primary causes of aging? What are currently the best ways to slow down, or reverse, the aging process and extend the human life span? How long is it possible for the human life span to be extended? What are some of the new medical treatments that will be coming along in the near future? Do we have the right to die? What role does spirituality play in medicine? Speculating on these important questions can help us to understand our bodies better, improve our health, enhance our performance, and live longer happier lives. Let’s take a look at some of these questions more closely.
What’s Wrong With Modern Medicine and How Can We Improve It?
Almost everyone agrees that something is wrong with modern medicine. I recently attended a talk given by Andrew Weil, and when he announced his prediction that the healthcare system in America would soon collapse, everyone in the room vigorously applauded. However, although most people agree that something is wrong with modern medicine, not everyone agrees as to what it is and what to do about it.
On a most basic level, many patients simply feel that their physicians can’t relate to what they’re going through and that they’re treated like a statistic. As a way to help remedy this situation, mind-body physician Bernie Siegel told me, “One simple suggestion would be to put every doctor into a hospital bed for a week as a patient. Put them in a hospital where they are not known, and have them admitted with a life-threatening illness as their diagnosis. Then let them stay there.”
Another big problem with modern medicine is expense. The skyrocketing costs of healthcare, and the lack of healthcare insurance by many, is a serious problem. According to Larry Dossey, the author of Space, Time, and Medicine, “We’re nearing fifty million people in this country who don’t have health insurance.” So what does Dr. Dossey suggest? “We need government-financed, centralized healthcare for everybody,” he said.
However, not everyone that I spoke with agrees that socialized healthcare is such a good idea. When I spoke with life extension researcher Durk Pearson he said, “The most dangerous possible thing I can think of-other than having a complete police state like Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia-is to have a national medical program. Because, believe me, they are not going to be acting in your interest-they’re going to be acting in their interest. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. When you have a government health system, you have a bunch of bureaucrats telling you when it’s time to die. The reason is very simple. They’ll never collect back from you as much tax money as they spend taking care of you, so it’s time for you to die. Read up on Nobel prize-winning economist James Buchanan’s Public Choice Theory.”
Ironically, many people also seriously question the safety of modern medicine-and for good reason. Dr. Dossey also told me that, “The death rate in American hospitals from medical mistakes, errors, and the side-effects of drugs now ranks as the third leading cause of death, behind heart disease and cancer.” Although some people who have studied the statistics that Dr. Dossey is referring to disagree with this figures, they don’t disagree by much, as even the most hard-nosed skeptics rank medical errors and drug side-effects as the fifth or sixth leading cause of death in American hospitals. Not a very comforting thought.
So the lack of trust that many people have toward modern medicine is understandable. However, an even greater cause for concern is that many people think that the medical establishment and the federal government are deliberately impeding medical advances that might divert profits away from pharmaceutical companies. For example, life extension researcher Durk Pearson-who won a landmark lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), charging the government agency with unconstitutionally restricting manufacturers from distributing truthful health information that could save people’s lives-told me that he thought that the FDA was “the biggest barrier between life extension and people.”
Pearson told me that this is simply because many people in the FDA are financially intertwined with the pharmaceutical companies. According to Pearson’s partner, life extension researcher Sandy Shaw “…right now the FDA favors drug companies. There’s no doubt about it. The drug companies are in bed

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Marios Kyriazis

Exploring the Frontiers of Anti-Aging Medicine:
An Interview with Dr. Marios Kyriazis

By David Jay Brown

Marios Kyriazis, M.D. is both a clinician and a researcher in the field of anti-aging medicine.  He has made significant contributions in the science and application of anti-aging medicine, and he is considered one of Britain’s leading longevity specialists. Dr. Kyriazis is one of the world’s experts on the subject of how carnosine effects the aging process, and his research into the effects of this mighty amino acid dipeptide have revealed how it can offer a number of unique and substantial health benefits.

Dr. Kyriazis has a postgraduate degree in Gerontology from the King’s College, University of London, and another in Geriatric Medicine, granted by the Royal College of Physicians. He is also a Chartered Biologist, and a Member of the Institute of Biology for his work in the biology of aging. Dr. Kyriazis is the founder and medical advisor to the British Longevity Society, and he is a certified member of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine. He is also an adviser to several other age-related organizations.

Dr. Kyriazis has extensive experience with nutritional supplements and anti-aging drugs. He is the author of several books on these subjects, including The Anti-Aging PlanStay Young Longer-NaturallyThe Anti-Aging CookbookThe Look Young Bible, and Carnosine And Other Elixirs Of Youth.
Dr. Kyriazis lives Hertfordshire, England. I interviewed him on November 6, 2004. Dr. Kyriazis has a warm and thoughtful manner about him. We spoke about the best ways to slow down the aging process, his research and clinical experience with carnosine, and how just the right amount of stress can actually benefit our health.

David: What do you think are the primary causes of aging?
Dr. Kyriazis: When I think about the primary causes of aging I divide them into two groups-fifty percent genetic and fifty percent environmental. From the environment we get free radicals, glycosylation, and hormonal changes. At the moment I don’t think there is anything that we can do about the genetic part, but we can of course influence the environmental part of aging. So I am working in clinical medicine to offer ways of counteracting the environmental causes, or the environmental basis of aging.

David: How do you differentiate between the biological symptoms of aging and those bodily changes that are actually caused by one’s belief about aging?

Dr. Kyriazis: It depends at what level one looks. I am more interested in the clinical level, although I have done biological research as well. I think there are different ways of looking at it. Biology will start with the molecules and the cells, and say this is an age-related phenomenon, a disease-related phenomenon. From my point of view I see individual patients. People usually come to see me because they have an age-related illness. So they come with, say, heart disease, or a prostate problem, which are age-related. Then when we expand on the actual causes of their problem they want to know more and find out about other age-related processes which may affect them. So it is a combined thing. I don’t necessarily make a distinction myself in my work.

David: What do you think are currently the best ways to slow down, or reverse, the aging process and extend the human life span?

Dr. Kyriazis: I offer a combination of different therapies affecting the entire body. For example, I recommend antioxidants and anti-glycator drugs or supplements. Apart from the ordinary vitamins and nutrients, I recommend carnosine, DHEA, and other hormones, depending upon whether the individual is deficient in those hormones or not. I also recommend a  nutritional lifestyle and exercise-but not ordinary exercise. It’s a combination of different unusual exercises (which I discuss in my book The Anti-Aging Plan) plus mental and sense exercises as well.

I try to make it easy for the individual to follow this, because many times people think that it’s much easier to just take a tablet or a capsule, rather than change their lifestyle. But I think it is very important to find a way to motivate the individual to change their lifestyle. So, in other words, it’s a combination approach. Different things all working together. Some people say, oh take four different supplements, or four different hormones, and you are covered. I don’t agree with that. I think that there are so many different aspects of aging, and that we need to use different treatments, a multi-pronged approach. So that’s what I say to my patients.

David: Can you talk a little about some of the beneficial effects your patients have had with carnosine supplements?

Dr. Kyriazis: Yes. I think I was the first person to use carnosine for anti-aging purposes. Carnosine has been around for quite some time, and athletes used to use it to enhance muscle and a performance. But I began using it specifically for anti-aging back in 1999. And the first person who took carnosine under my guidance still takes it today, five years later, and everyone says how young she looks generally. Her head hasn’t got a single grey hair-not one-although she’s now 48 or 49. This corresponds with experiences we have had with other patients. In other words, they generally look younger. Their hair grows better, and it stays black, or whatever color it is, but not grey. Many people experience increased energy. Mental performance, memory, and other brain functions improve as well.

But I always say to people that carnosine is not something that you can notice yourself. It’s something that works inside the body over the long-term, over ten or twenty years to prevent all the different age-related processes and damages that happen. I see carnosine mainly as a preventative treatment, not so much as an immediate treatment for some specific disorder, or to be noticeable. It doesn’t immediately produce noticeable effects, although there are ways of doing different biochemical tests, blood tests, and so on, that show an overall improvement over the years.

I use carnosine on patients who are normally healthy, who don’t have a disease. For example, I don’t use it on people who have muscular dystrophy or other muscular diseases. I think some people take it for that, but I don’t know whether it works or not. So it is difficult to differentiate and see a noticeable improvement on a healthy person. It’s much easier to notice if somebody is ill and he or she gets better after taking it. But this supplement is mainly used by healthy people in the long-term.
David: Can you talk a little about carnosine’s anti-glycosylation effect, and how it protects the body from dangerous cross-linked, oxidized proteins?

Dr. Kyriazis: Everybody thinks that free radicals and oxidation are the main causes of aging, but there’s another important one, which is glycosylation, and this happens all the time. It is due to glucose or other molecules attaching to proteins. This causes cross-linking and “advanced glycosylation end-products” or AGEs. I would say that this causes more damage to the body than free radicals, and carnosine prevents this damage in different ways.

First of all, it prevents free radical attacks because it’s an antioxidant. But it is also an anti-glycosylator. In other words, it prevents the proteins from being cross-linked. If two proteins that are not supposed to attach to each other, become attached and combine together, then they become useless. That’s what happens in cross-linking, and carnosine prevents that. Carnosine is like a shield that protects proteins. So when two proteins come together they don’t attach to each other. They remain free to function normally.

So the first stage is that carnosine prevents glycosylation in the first place. The second stage is that if glycosylation has already happened, if the two proteins have become cross-linked, carnosine will facilitate the removal of these useless proteins. Actually, our body is trying to eliminate abnormal proteins all the time, but with aging this rate of elimination slows down. Therefore we have an accumulation of abnormal proteins. But carnosine speeds up the rate of elimination, so all the junk material we have in our body gets eliminated quicker.

There is also some evidence that carnosine can actually break the existing bonds between the two cross-linked proteins. So if the proteins have become attached to each other, and they are cross-linked, in some circumstances carnosine can break the bond and allow them to be free again, and to function normally. So carnosine has three different benefits in addition to being an antioxidant.

David: What kind of dosage do you recommend  a healthy person take?

Dr. Kyriazis: I started with fifty milligrams a day, but now I recommend a higher dose-perhaps about two hundred milligrams a day. I know that some people use a thousand or more milligrams a day, but I don’t see the reason for that. I think about two hundred milligrams a day, in association with other supplements, should be enough for a healthy person.
David: What are your thoughts about using N-Acetylcarnosine eye drops-which breakdown into carnosine in the eye-as a way to protect the health of one’s eyes?

Dr. Kyriazis: This is also a very promising development. I was involved with advising the different researchers at the companies that are now marketing acetylcarnosine. The things that carnosine does as a tablet doesn’t work as well as

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Ray Kurzweil - 2

Reprogramming your Biochemistry for Immortality:
An Interview with Ray Kurzweil

By David Jay Brown

Ray Kurzweil is a computer scientist, software developer, inventor, entrepreneur, philosopher, and a leading proponent of radical life extension. He is the coauthor (with Terry Grossman, M.D.) of Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever, which is one of the most intriguing and exciting books on life extension around. Kurzweil and Grossman’s approach to health and longevity combines the most current and practical medical knowledge with a soundly-based, yet awe-inspiring visionary perspective of what’s to come.

Kurzweil’s philosophy is built upon the premise that we now have the knowledge to identify and correct the problems caused by most unhealthy genetic predispositions. By taking advantage of the opportunities afforded us by the genomic testing, nutritional supplements, and lifestyle adjustments, we can live long enough to reap the benefits of advanced biotechnology and nanotechnology, which will ultimately allow us to conquer aging and live forever. At the heart of Kurzweil’s optimistic philosophy is the notion that human knowledge is growing exponentially, not linearly, and this fact is rarely taken into account when people try to predict the rate of technological advance in the future. Kurzweil predicts that at the current rate of knowledge expansion we’ll have the technology to completely conquer aging within the next couple of decades.

Part of what makes Kurzweil’s upbeat vision of the future so appealing is his impressive track record as an inventor and engineer, as well as the success of his past predictions. Kurzweil is a leading expert in speech and pattern recognition, and he invented a vast array of computer marvels. He was the principal developer of the first omni-font (any type font) optical character recognition software, the first commercially marketed large vocabulary speech recognition systes, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first CCD flatbed scanner, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, and the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments.

Kurzweil has successfully founded and developed ten businesses in speech recognition, reading technology, music synthesis, virtual reality, financial investment, medical simulation, and cybernetic art. In 2002 Kurzweil was inducted into the U.S. Patent Office’s National Inventors Hall of Fame, and he received the Lemelson-MIT Prize, the nation’s largest award in invention and innovation. He also received the 1999 National Medal of Technology, the nation’s highest honor in technology, from President Clinton in a White House ceremony, and has received twelve honorary Doctorates and honors from three U.S. presidents.

In addition to coauthoring Fantastic Voyage, Kurzweil wrote The 10% Solution for a Healthy Life, and several best selling books on the evolution of intelligence-including The Age of Intelligent MachinesThe Age of Spiritual Machines, and The Singularity Is Near, When Humans Transcend Biology. Kurzweil’s books on the evolution of intelligence read like mind-bending science fiction, but are based on a scientific analysis of technology trends. Kurzweil predicts that computer intelligence will exceed human intelligence in only a few decades, and that it won’t be long after that before humans start merging with machines, blurring the line between technology and biology.

Kurzweil works in Wellesley, Massachusetts. I spoke with Ray on February 8, 2006. Ray speaks very precisely, and he chooses his words carefully. He presents his ideas with a lot of confidence, and I found his optimism to be contagious. We spoke about the importance of genomic testing, some of the common misleading ideas that people have about health, and how biotechnology and nanotechnology will radically effect our longevity in the future.

David: What inspired your interest in life extension?

Ray: Probably the first incident that got me on this path was my father’s illness. This began when I was fifteen, and he died seven years later of heart disease when I was twenty-two. He was fifty-eight. I’ll actually be fifty-eight this Sunday. I sensed a dark cloud over my future, feeling like there was a good chance that I had inherited his disposition to heart disease. When I was thirty-five, I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, and the conventional medical approach made it worse.

So I really approached the situation as an inventor, as a problem to be solved. I immersed myself in the scientific literature, and came up with an approach that allowed me to overcome my diabetes. My levels became totally normal, and in the course of this process I discovered that I did indeed have a disposition, for example, to high cholesterol. My cholesterol was 280 and I also got that down to around 130. That was twenty-two years ago.
I wrote a bestselling health book, which came out in 1993 about that experience, and the program that I’d come up with. That’s what really got me on this path of realizing that-if you’re aggressive enough about reprogramming your biochemistry-you can find the ideas that can help you to overcome your genetic dispositions, because they’re out there. They exist.

About seven years ago, after my book The Age of Spiritual Machines came out in 1999, I was at a Foresight Institute conference. I met Terry Grossman there, and we struck up a conversation about this subject-nutrition and health. I went to see him at his longevity clinic in Denver for an evaluation, and we built a friendship. We started exchanging emails about health issues-and that was 10,000 emails ago. We wrote this book Fantastic Voyage together, which really continues my quest. And he also has his own story about how he developed similar ideas, and how we collaborated.

There’s really a lot of knowledge available right now, although, previously, it has not been packaged in the same way that we did it. We have the knowledge to reprogram our biochemistry to overcome disease and aging processes. We can dramatically slow down aging, and we can really overcome conditions such as atherosclerosis, that leads to almost all heart attacks and strokes, diabetes, and we can substantially reduce the risk of cancer with today’s knowledge. And, as you saw from the book, all of that is just what we call ‘Bridge One’. We’re not saying that taking lots of supplements and changing your diet is going enable you to live five hundred years. But it will enable Baby Boomers-like Dr. Grossman and myself, and our contemporaries-to be in good shape ten or fifteen years from now, when we really will have the full flowering of the biotechnology revolution, which is ‘Bridge Two’.

Now, this gets into my whole theory of information technology. Biology has become an information technology. It didn’t used to be. Biology used to be hit or miss. We’d just find something that happened to work. We didn’t really understand why it worked, and, invariably, these tools, these drugs, had side-effects. They were very crude tools. Drug development was called drug discovery, because we really weren’t able to reprogram biology. That is now changing. Our understanding of biology, and the ability to manipulate it, is becoming an information technology. We’re understanding the information processes that underlie disease processes, like atherosclerosis, and we’re gaining the tools to reprogram those processes.

Drug development is now entering an era of rational drug design, rather than drug discovery. The important point to realize is that the progress is exponential, not linear. Invariably people-including sophisticated people-do not take that into consideration, and it makes all the difference in the world. The mainstream skeptics declared the fifteen year genome project a failure after seven and half years because only one percent of the project was done. The skeptics said, I told you this wasn’t going to work-here you are halfway through the project and you’ve hardly done anything. But the progress was exponential, doubling every year, and the last seven doublings go from one percent to a hundred percent. So the project was done on time. It took fifteen years to sequence HIV. We sequenced the SARS virus in thirty-one days.

There are many other examples of that. We’ve gone from ten dollars to sequence one base pair in 1990 to a penny today. So in ten or fifteen years from now it’s going to be a very different landscape. We really will have very powerful interventions, in the form of rationally-designed drugs that can precisely reprogram our biochemistry. We can do it to a large extent today with supplements and nutrition, but it takes a more extensive effort. We’ll have much more powerful tools fifteen years from, so I want it to be in good shape at that time.

Most of my Baby Boomer contemporaries are completely oblivious of this perspective. They just assume that aging is part of the cycle of human life, and at 65 or 70 you start slowing down. Then at eighty you’re dead. So they’re getting ready to retire, and are really unaware

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Garry Gordon

Elation Over Chelation:
An Interview with Dr. Garry Gordon

By David Jay Brown

Garry Gordon, M.D. and I coauthored the book Detox with Oral Chelation (Smart Publications, 2007).

Dr. Gordon is one of the world’s experts in chelation therapy, nutrition, and mineral metabolism. He is the founder and current president of  the International College of Advanced Longevity Medicine (ICALM), and is one of the cofounders of the American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM). Dr. Gordon wrote the original protocol for the safe and effective use of EDTA oral chelation therapy, and is the author of numerous scientific papers on the subject. He is also the coauthor of the bestselling book The Chelation Answer

Chelation is a chemical process in which a metal or mineral-such as lead, mercury, or calcium-is bonded to another substance. This is a natural process that goes on continually in our bodies. Chelation therapy-which employs the weak acid EDTA-has been shown to safely improve blood flow and relieve symptoms associated with atherosclerotic vascular disease in more than eighty percent of the patients treated. Chelation therapy also helps to prevent arteriosclerosis, improve circulation, and remove lead and toxic heavy metals from the body. This results in a myriad of beneficial effects, including improved vision and hearing, as well as better skin texture and tone. It also helps to improve cognitive function by increasing circulation to the brain.

Dr. Gordon received his Doctor of Osteopathy in 1958 from the Chicago College of Osteopathy in Illinois. In 1962 he received an honorary medical degree from the University of California, Irvine, and in 1964 he completed his Radiology Residency at Mt. Zion in San Francisco. For many years Dr. Gordon was the Medical Director of the Mineral Lab in Hayward, California, a prominent laboratory for trace mineral analysis.

Dr. Gordon is on the Board of Homeopathic Medical Examiners for Arizona, and is a Board Member of International Oxidative Medicine Association (IOMA). He is advisor to the American Board of Chelation Therapy, and was the past instructor and examiner for all chelation physicians. Dr. Gordon is responsible for Peer Review for Chelation Therapy in the State of Arizona.

Dr. Gordon is currently attempting to establish standards for the proper use of oral and intravenous chelation therapy as an adjunct for treating all the major diseases. To find out more about Dr. Gordon’s work visit his Web

I interviewed Dr. Gordon on March 16, 2006. Dr. Gordon speaks enthusiastically about alternative medicine and his excitement is contagious. We spoke about the dangers of environmental toxins and the benefits of chelation therapy, the differences between oral and I.V. chelation therapies, and about how chelation therapy effects bone growth.

David: What do you think are some of the biggest problems with modern medicine and what do you think needs to be done to help correct the situation?

Dr. Gordon: The biggest problem is greed. We have so many people in medicine today who are known to be receiving compensation from a drug company, or from some other company. It’s actually gotten to the point that the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine actually wrote a book about it. I believe she resigned saying that it’s gotten to the point that it’s almost impossible to have any honesty in medicine. So, because we have money driving the system, and it is such a huge system, we’ve lost our anchor. People are no longer functioning primarily to help their fellow man. It’s-how can I get ahead? Or can I get a million dollars worth of stock out of this? So the picture that we have today is so drug-oriented, and we’ve walked away from the medicine that the rest of the world practices.

Western medicine is not the dominant theory in the world. There are billions of people in the world. Many of these people know what plants grow in their area and what these plants can do medicinally. If you’re an African Bushman, for example, and you get bit by a snake or you step on something, you know what leaf to use as a remedy. But this knowledge has been lost to those of us here in the Western United States. We pretend that something that is FDA-approved, or that is used by mainstream medicine, has some science to it-whereas, in fact, if you look at it, a lot of it is nonsense.

Everything has to be looked at in view of what we would call the benefit and the risk. What people don’t understand is that a drug can get approved in this country on the flimsiest of research-in the following sense. All any drug has to do is be one percent better than a placebo and it can get approved-even if it’s killing people! So, here’s what’s really sad-if I ever killed somebody with vitamin C, they would absolutely drum vitamin C out the door. They’d put it on prescription so that nobody could get it.

But drugs like Celebrex and Vioxx kill people left and right, and they go forward doing this, because they are “approved.” But what people don’t understand is that the drug companies are allowed to throw away a study that shows that the drug was worse than placebo. They can keep going until they get one out of three studies that says it’s slightly better than placebo, and now they’ve got an approved drug. Then they can turn around and-according to headlines in the Wall Street Journal lately-bill people as much as as six hundred thousand dollars a year for something that doesn’t cost them six thousand dollars.

In other words, the drug companies are giving the drugs a thousand-fold markup, and they feel it’s legitimate, because they’ve got this incredible story behind it. Most people don’t realize that if they had simply taken vitamin C they would have clearly outlived however long this so-called new miracle drug makes them live with their cancer. These so-called miracle drugs that are getting approved often only extend life span one or two months. Yet they can legitimately charge an arm and a leg, and they can have side-effects that include death, whereas I can not have any such side-effects in alternative medicine. So the system is really just upside down. It’s out of control, and it is totally driven by money. It’s lost its anchor, which was to do good, and we have a crisis in health today.

The Earth has become so totally polluted that everybody today is walking around with high-levels of styrene, PCBs, and dioxins. They’re in every human being we test today, as well as is lead, mercury, and cadmium. These are taking their toll-and not just on humans. It’s getting to be more and more extreme. We’re seeing problems like birds at a 10,000 foot elevation that are loaded with mercury. For example, at Mount Washington the birds are loaded with mercury that’s coming from the burning of coal in China. There is simply no escape from the particulate matter. We have poisoned our nest. We have got to do natural things, which means somehow learn how to use simple things-whether it’s garlic, vitamin C, or a high-fiber diet. We have to do something that’s natural, but that’s not the focus of conventional Western medicine today.

The focus is on giving the patient a drug because their knee is bothering them, and if they have a little bit less pain, then it’s an approved treatment. It’s okay if you kill patients with the side-effects of the Vioxx and that Celebrex. So the system today is out of control. We have to go back to our roots and realize that there was a time that we raised the food in our backyard, and we were personally responsible for it. It wasn’t loaded with these pesticides that keep the food from spoiling. You buy something at the store, and it lays in your refrigerator for weeks and doesn’t turn bad, but you put that in your intestine and the chemicals that are in that food are killing your normal bacterias.

So we have huge problems, but I also see us as being able to extend life span. I believe in anti-aging medicine, stem cell research, and what we’re doing today with genetic testing, We’re now able to modulate genes with food. From the results of gene tests we can selectively tell people that they need to emphasize this food and avoid that food. We can make foods that will actually lower your risk of ever getting Alzheimer’s-even if both your mother and father’s side had the disease. You don’t have to get Alzheimer’s, but you have to have knowledge. Knowledge is the gene testing, and we can modulate genes by getting appropriate natural products-like RNA foods.

So this is a New Age that we’re in. We can fight back. But the system at the current time is such that poor folks are being so deluded that they think that if something is an approved drug then it’s the right choice. So they go ahead and let themselves be harmed by the Coumadin, when all they had to do was find out about something as simple as nanokinase and buy a natural thing with their own money. It’s not going to be covered by these wonderful insurance plans that the government comes up with, which subsidizes the most powerful industry in the world-the pharmaceutical industry. Nobody has the profits that these people have.

Nobody has the power that they have to influence legislation. They actually buy our Congress. So the net result is that it’s going to take a period of time for the people to wake up, and this book could do a wonderful job of helping

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Jacob Teitelbaum

Understanding and Treating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome:
An Interview with Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum

By David Jay Brown

Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. is a board-certified internist and a leading researcher in the field of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and fibromyalgia (FM). He has a specialized practice for CFS/FM and pain patients in Annapolis, Maryland, and is director of the Annapolis Research Center for Effective CFS/FM therapies. Dr. Teitelbaum is also the author of several books, includingFrom Fatigued to FantasticPain Free 1-2-3!: A Proven Program to Get You Pain Free Now!, and Three Steps to Happiness: Healing Through Joy

Dr. Teitelbaum received his medical degree from the Medical School at Ohio State University, and in 1980 he became Board Certified in Internal Medicine. For over two decades he has worked with CFS/FM patients. His motivation to specialize in this area of medicine began with personal experience. In 1975, Dr. Teitelbaum had to drop out of medical school when he himself contracted CFS/FM, and this had a profound influence on the course of his medical career. Although he recovered enough to resume his medical school training a year later, CFS/FM symptoms persisted for many years, and this motivated him to become an avid reader of the scientific medical literature, where he came across many studies that he not learned about in medical school. 

Applying this research, Dr. Teitelbaum began to treat his patients with nutritional and herbal therapies, hormonal supplements, anti-infectious treatments, physical therapy measures, and sleep support. Much to his surprise, these previously untreatable patients started to improve dramatically. Dr. Teitelbaum was amazed as his general internal medicine practice began to fill with patients who were flying in from around the country. He has now effectively treated approximately 2000 patients with CFS/FM related disorders.

In addition to having written several books, Dr. Teitelbaum has written numerous articles on CFS/FM, including the recent landmark paper “Effective Treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia-A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled, Intent to Treat Study,” published in the Journal of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Dr. Teitelbaum has also designed a line of nutritional supplement and support formulas, and all of his royalties from the sale of these products goes to charity. To find ot more about Dr. Teitelbaum’s work visit his Web site:

I interviewed Jacob on October 11, 2004. Jacob is open-minded, curious, and very enthusiastic about alternative medicine. He has a very upbeat perspective on life in general, and he laughs a lot. We spoke about the etiology of chronic fatigue syndrome, the relationship between CFS and FM, how to sleep better and increase mental clarity, and other effective treatments for CFS/FM.

David: What inspired your interest in medicine, and how did your experience with chronic fatigue syndrome in medical school influence your medical career?

Jacob: I’ve wanted to be a healer since I was a little kid. I tend to be very empathic, and if somebody was hurting I could feel what they were feeling. When I was seven or eight years old I still remember how I’d want to hide behind a corner, and just wiggle my finger and make people who were hurting feel better.  So that’s always been my goal. If you look at my high school yearbook, you’ll see that it says that’s what I’m going to be. I’ve felt this way for as far back as I can remember. Part of being a Jewish kid is the expectation that you’re going to be a Jewish doctor, but that’s my nature. Part of being empathic is being a healer.

Because I had chronic fatigue syndrome in medical school, I was forced out of school for the year. It also forced me on the road. I was basically homeless, because my dad had died when I was about seventeen and I had no money. I had a scholarship, loans and work study, but since I was out of school, I had none of that, and I couldn’t work because I was too sick. So I was homeless, and I was living on the road. I discovered that on the road you meet fascinating people. I met all these healers and fascinating people along the way-people who were teaching some fascinating areas I had never heard about in medical school.

Also, I grew up in an old Eastern European Hassidic family, and Hassidic community, so the healing arts are very natural. Science is natural, and using healing was natural. So these things were all becoming second nature, as I met people that were teaching energy medicine, naturopathy, all different things along the way. So I healed up enough, in part because of that-probably in large part because of that. I think that’s why I recovered, as opposed to staying sick, was because of the energy work that I was doing and learning. It really kept me open to that as I learned the hard science, instead of just getting closed down. In medical school they would teach that anybody who does any of this stuff is a quack, but I knew better.

Using the chakra system, I could do an energy scan, feel a tumor, and send the person for a test and find it there. You see people get better. You see it and experience it. Then I would also look at the medical literature aggressively for just about everything, not just prescriptions, but also for natural remedies. In my training this encouraged me to not just look at the three main journals, and a specialty journal, that most doctors read, which are basically paid for by the drug companies. They’re basically big advertisements for the medications. They think it’s science, but what they ignore is that if the drug company pays for the study it has a much greater effect on the outcome then whether it’s placebo-controlled or not.

The medical journals wouldn’t dream of publishing something that wasn’t placebo-controlled, but what they publish is almost only articles related to medications that are paid for by the drug company, or by people who are working for the drug company and getting money from them. So it’s a big advertisement, and that creates a selectivity and bias that’s just very strong against natural remedies. And that’s all doctor’s hear about. But I would look at studies from literally dozens of different journals. I discovered that the smaller journals don’t draw as much drug money, and they do more basic research. They’re much more open to just publishing what science shows works, and just giving the straight data. So it got me interested in being open-minded to natural remedies as well as prescriptions.

I learned to recognize that there are many tools in the healing tool kit. In medical school all you come out with is a hammer, and everything looks like a nail. But when you start to do comprehensive medicine, you have a hammer, so if you have appendicitis you can do surgery. But if you have back pain, instead of having to cut the person open, you can give nutritional support or hormonal support. You can use willow bark, for example, which has been shown to be more effective than Motrin. You almost never have send anybody for back surgery, so you don’t have to whack everybody with a hammer. You could use gentler things that are more effective and more appropriate, because you have an entire tool kit.

Around five years ago there was a forest fire and my office burned down. It just took it out, and I saw this as a good thing. The universe knew I was about to burn out, because I’d been doing all that research, writing, lecturing, and teaching, in addition to running a practice, raising my five kids and the rest. The universe knew I would either burn out or the office would burn down, and it always take care of me. So the office burnt down. It gave me a chance to sit back and think, okay, what do I want to rebuild out of the fire? What do I want to let stay in the ashes? So that’s all good stuff. But when the office burnt down I had over 14,000 research study reports in my files that went up in smoke, and that’s only a tiny percent of what I read, because most studies aren’t worth the bother. Now I still know the stuff, because it’s in my head. However, when it first went down, it left me feeling like I got kicked in the stomach.

But this stuff is all accessible anyway, and it actually turned out to be a good thing. So this is what my work is based on, and when people say it’s not evidence-based medicine, and that they see no evidence that natural remedies work, that’s because they won’t look at the thousands of studies that show that it works. (laughter) Then they they can honestly say that they haven’t seen any evidence. It’s like Sgt. Shultz in the old Hogan’s Heroes. He would say, “I see nothing!” Well, that’s what the priests of high medicine are like in academia and the rest. It’s like they see nothing, and they will support no data that shows natural remedies work. If anybody does a study they will peer-review it into the ground, coming up with nonsense reasons to not publish it. If it is published, they question the journal, and they won’t look at the data. Then they can honestly say that they don’t see anything. But it’s a religion. It’s scientism, and basically, if they had their way, they would keep people from having access to a vast panoply of safe and effective therapies.

David: Can you talk a little about what you’ve learned about the etiology of chronic fatigue syndrome?

Jacob: Yes, chronic fatigue syndrome is basically like blowing a fuse. It’s like the

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Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw - 2

Truth, Freedom, and the FDA: An Interview with Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw

By David Jay Brown

Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw co-authored two of the first and most widely read books on the subject of human longevity-Life Extension: A Practical Scientific Approach and The Life Extension Companion-which triggered a large amount of popular interest in the subject (including my own), and their many television talk show appearances have reached a large number of people over the years.

Although, perhaps, the ultimate goal of medicine all along, the idea of extending human life in otherwise healthy individuals was a relatively novel concept for most people when Pearson and Shaw published their first book back in 1982. How many people could have predicted back in the early eighties that in just a few years after the publication of Pearson and Shaw’s groundbreaking book that there would be such a huge worldwide interest in life extension, anti-aging, and preventative medicine? Pearson and Shaw were not surprised by this new and growing interest and had, in fact, been anticipating it.

Pearson and Shaw have been studying life extension since 1968. They are largely self-educated. Pearson graduated from MIT with a triple major in physics, biology, and psychology, and Shaw graduated from UCLA with a double-major in chemistry and zoology. However, most of their knowledge comes from consuming scientific and medical journals with a voracious appetite, talking with colleagues, and experimenting on themselves. In this manner, they have become two of the most well-informed people on the planet regarding the biochemical mechanisms of aging, and they continue to study it full- time. Pearson and Shaw then apply this knowledge in designing nutritional supplement formulations for their own use, some of which are available commercially.

Pearson and Shaw have also been very politically-active over the years with regard to protecting people’s rights in America to access nutritional supplements, and to easily obtain available accurate information about the supplements which may benefit their health. To this effect, they wrote the book Freedom of Informed Choice: FDA Versus Nutritional Supplements (Common Sense Press, 1993), and won a landmark lawsuit against the FDA-Pearson v. Shalala-charging the government agency with unconstitutionally restricting manufacturers from distributing truthful health information (which was viewed as a violation of the constitution’s First Amendment guarantee of free speech) that could save many people’s lives. This was a landmark achievement for the dietary supplement industry and for the availability of truthful scientific information to consumers. 

This interview occurred on December 16, 2005. Durk and Sandy are responsible for inspiring my own interest in life extension and they have long fascinated me. The couple makes a great team, often completing one another’s sentences, and bouncing ideas and facts back and forth off each other as they speak. It’s as though their nervous systems are symbiotically intertwined, and the breadth of their knowledge is staggering. It doesn’t take much to get them talking passionately about their favorite subjects-life extension and freedom. A few questions can ignite an information explosion. We spoke about how fish oil can improve cardiovascular health, about how the FDA tried to suppress this information, and how they legally forced the FDA into reversing their unconstitutional attempt to suppress the distribution of truthful information.

David: What do you think are the most important nutritional supplements that people should be taking?

Durk: Let me just preface my answer to this question by stating that we’re dealing with a system here-a system for handling free radicals and for doing a lot of other things-and just saying, here’s the most important three or four nutritional supplements really does a disservice to people. This is because free radicals are in fact handled by a rather elaborate system that’s evolved over the past few billion years that the planet’s had oxygen, and just having one of them doesn’t really do you anywhere as much good as having a set of them. But If I wanted to mention just one, I would say EPA and DHA, particularly DHA found in oils from cold water fatty fishes. The reason for that is that it can reduce the risk of a sudden-death heart attack by anywhere from about fifty percent to eighty percent, depending on the dose. As little as two meals per week of fatty cold water fish could give you about a forty to fifty percent reduction on your risk of sudden-death heart attacks.

Sandy: Three hundred thousand people die of sudden death heart attacks every year in the United States, so if all of those people were taking the recommended amounts of fish oil supplements, or the two fatty fish meals a week, then there’d be about fifty percent fewer that would have died. In other words, a hundred and fifty thousand people would not have died.

Durk: They’re very inexpensive, very safe, and very effective. You see these sort of heart attacks on TV all the time. Somebody has a heart attack, the ambulance arrives, and they defibrillate and resuscitate the person and everything is okay. Well, it doesn’t work that way outside the hospital, because they have to get that defibrillator to the person within a few minutes.

Sandy: But most of the incidences of fibrillation occur outside of a hospital, usually in a person’s home or where they work, and they don’t get to the hospital right away. If you lose several minutes, by that time you’ve either already died or you’ve suffered irreversible brain damage, so if you do survive you’re in very damaged condition.

Durk: Under the usual conditions, your brain starts dying after about five minutes from a lack of circulation, which occurs when your heart fibrillates-just vibrates and stops pumping blood. Incidentally, that’s what happens when you are electrocuted. At about ten minutes your brain is irreversibly and completely gone. A response time for a really good paramedic operation is about eight minutes. So you can see that there’s not much of chance for revival, and in fact, paramedics in the field are actually able to revive about two percent of people whose hearts have gone into fibrillation from a sudden-death heart attack. The DHA is very effective in preventing this from occurring. It doesn’t stop the heart attack from happening, but it turns a sudden-death heart attack, which gives you very little chance, into a…

Sandy: …survivable heart attack, where you do recover, and you don’t have irreversible damage to the brain. You can have a full recovery.
Durk: They can get you to the hospital, and then they can do angioplasty, or put in a standard, quadruple bypass or whatever.
One thing that’s very important for people to know about this is that the FDA tried to suppress this information…

Sandy: …about the benefits of fish oil. We actually sued the FDA in 1994 because they would not permit a health claim that fish oils may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Durk: It’s not that they merely would not permit it, they actually issued a regulation that stated that it was a crime to state that the cold water fish oils, with omega-3 fatty acids, could reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. It was actually illegal. They specifically made it illegal.

Sandy: So we filed suit for violation of the First Amendment, because they were not permitting the communication of truthful information.

Durk: At the time we filed suit against them in 1994 there were one hundred and seventy-four papers on the subject in the scientific literature. A hundred and seventy of them supported our position; four did not. The four that did not were very small preliminary studies that didn’t have the statistical power to detect the fifty percent reduction in sudden-death heart attacks. During the seven years that we litigated against the FDA, one million Americans died premature preventable deaths.

Sandy: Half of the three hundred thousand people dying every year from that wouldn’t have died if they’d have been taking fish oil. However, dietary supplement companies, and also food companies offering fish, couldn’t tell people about the benefits of fish oil. And because of that people simply didn’t have the information.

Durk: Since the legal case was resolved in our favor in 2001, you’re now starting to see claims on fish oil supplements, and recently the FDA even caved in and is allowing claims on fish. So I think we’re going to see a very dramatic reduction in people dying of heart attacks as a result of this.

Sandy: I wanted to add that one of the ways that we study the effects of the various supplements is to look at metabolic pathway charts. You see, what happens with free radicals is that they’re handled by a chain of antioxidants in the body. It’s not just one or a couple that take care of the free radicals that are constantly around in the body. They’re constantly there because you’re producing them naturally through metabolic activity, and your body has got to handle these free radicals.

The metabolic pathways show you that once a free radical scavenger like vitamin C reacts with a free radical, then it becomes a free radical itself. It becomes an ascorbyl radical. That radical then has to be taken care of by another antioxidant. Glutathione usually takes care of the vitamin C radical, and converts vitamin C back to it’s reduced state.

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John Guerin

Learning from Ageless Animals:
An Interview with John Guerin

By David Jay Brown

John Guerin is the founder and director of the AgelessAnimals Project-also known as the Centenarian Species and Rockfish Project. This long-range research project involves investigators at fourteen universities around the world who study animals that don’t seem to age. 

There are certain species of rockfish, whales, turtles, and other animals that are known to live for over two hundred years without showing any signs of aging-a phenomenon known to biogerontologists as “negligible senescence.” No one knows for sure how long these animals can live, but to date there have not been any observed increase in mortality or any decrease in reproductive capacity due to age. Striking examples are a 109 year old female rockfish that was captured in the wild while swimming around with fertilized eggs, and a hundred-plus year old male whale that was harpooned while it was having sex. The purpose of the AgelessAnimals Project is to understand why these animals don’t seem to age and then to apply that understanding to human longevity.

Guerin is an experienced project manager, who conceived of the AgelessAnimals project and orchestrates all of the studies. The two principal advisors to this project are Dr. Leonard Hayflick and Dr. Aubrey de Grey, both of whom were also interviewed for the Mavericks of Medicine collection. Dr. Hayflick, discoverer of the “Hayflick limit” of cellular senescence, states that “Guerin’s project is not only unique, but probes an area of almost total neglect in biogerontology, yet an area with more promise to deliver valuable data than, perhaps, any other.”

When I asked Dr. de Grey about the importance of studying ageless animals he said, “All organisms with organs that rely on the indefinite survival of individual non-dividing cells (such as neurons in the brain) should age, though some, including humans, age very slowly. Some species do even better-we cannot yet measure their rate of aging at all-and studying them may well reveal ways to slow our own aging.”

In addition to coordinating and orchestrating the AgelessAnimals project, Guerin lectures regularly on the subject of ageless animals. To find out more about Guerin’s work and the AgelessAnimals Project visit their Web site:

I interviewed John Guerin on March 14, 2005. John seemed eager and excited to discuss his project with me. We spoke about some of the latest research that’s going on with long-lived animals, why this type of research has been neglected for so long, and how studying ageless animals might help us to understand the aging process better and extend the human lifespan.

David: What inspired the AgelessAnimals Project?

John: Back in 1995 I began looking into biotech, biogerontology, and the studies of aging. I read many different books, articles, and scientific papers. The turning point came when I read Dr. Leonard Hayflick’s book How and Why We Age. Dr. Hayflick had a chapter called “Some Animals Age, Some Do Not,” and I thought, Wow, now that’s interesting. I’d heard rumors and old wive’s tales about how some animals live for an extraordinarily long time, but this was the first time that I had come across that information from a scientific source. So I started researching the literature on long-lived animals, and I found out that there’s very little known. On my Web site I have some references on what I found.

I met Dr. Hayflick at a Gerontological Society of America meeting in November of ‘95, and I told him about my project management background. I said, I’d like to join whoever is working in this area, and I asked him who is. His answer was, “Nobody is, but they should be.” So I tried to get something going on my own. I did a lot of research on different animals. I spent about a year looking at koi-the fancy Japanese carp-and it’s very likely that they do live quite a long time, at least over fifty years. They were reputed to live over two hundred years, but the readings were based on scales, and those are not accurate. So they didn’t turn out to be a good candidate to study.

Then in 1997 I got some data from the Alaska Fish and Game. There’s a chart at the bottom of my Web page with a rockfish on it that shows ages for different rockfish that were caught off the coast of Alaska, and the range is between twelve and 107 years. Now, that’s a randomly caught sampling-it wasn’t like they were trying to get older individuals. Those were the ones that fishermen caught and were going to people’s dinner tables that evening. So when I realized that individuals at those ages were available I became very interested. We got samples from the Alaska Fish and Game in 1997. I say “we” because by then I had a couple of researchers at Oregon State University, including the Linus Pauling Institute interested in looking at the rockfish. So the Alaska Fish and Game sent us five older rockfish. After we got the aging results, it turned out that the the youngest rockfish that they sent us was 79 years old, and the oldest was a 109 year old female that still had eggs.

David: That’s extraordinary.

John: Yeah, and kind of sad. How long would this fish have lived if it wasn’t caught? It didn’t die of old age. It was fertile and still going strong in the ocean at 109 when they caught it. So that helped us to focus the project on rockfish. We have had one study on turtles. Whales are a very fascinating subject too, because they’re warm-blooded mammals like we are, and they’ve now been documented to live over two hundred years of age.

David: How does one determine the age of these animals?

John: The most common technique for aging rockfish is the analysis of annual growth rings in the otolith, or ear bone. Basically, rockfish have incremental growth, so under a microscope their growth rings can be counted. There has been independent validation of this, and two recent international symposia have focused entirely on the importance of otolith measurement in fish life history studies. In turtles, the determination of minimum age is relatively straightforward, using tag and recapture methods. Dr. Jeffrey Bada at UC San Diego Scripps did the aging analysis for the whale study. For this study the whales’ ages were determined by using the aspartic acid racemization technique.  In this technique, age is estimated based on intrinsic changes in the isomeric forms of aspartic acid in the eye lens nucleus. The references for these studies are on my Web site.
David: What is the goal of the Ageless Animals Project?
John: Quite simply, the goal is to understand the genetic and biochemical processes that long-lived animals use to retard aging. These long-lived animals have what’s technically called “negligible senescence,” as defined by Caleb Finch at the University of Southern California in Longevity, Senescence, and the Genome (1995).

David: What is negligible senescence?

John: Basically, this refers to an animal species that doesn’t show any significant signs of aging as it grows older. Unlike humans and mammals other than whales, there’s no decrease in reproduction after maturity. There’s also no notable increase in mortality rate with age, but that’s a little harder to prove. I’ve been talking with a statistician and he’s asking, how do you know? To do a study of this type would take a couple of hundred years to complete. But compared to us there’s no noted increase in mortality rate. I mean, if you are ninety years old, you’re much more likely to die next year then you are if you’re only twenty years old. But we don’t seem to see any increase in mortality with rockfish and several of these other animals over time.

David: Why do you think these animals can live for so long without showing any signs of aging?

John: The purpose of the project is to understand why, and how to apply it to extending the healthy lifespan of humans. My background is in business project management; I have a project management professional certification. I’m not a bioresearcher, a  biochemist, or a biogerontologist-but I’m the one who organizes it all, and gets everyone involved. I get the researchers the samples and all that.

Actually, I thought I had a better idea about why these animals have negligible senescence when I started this project ten years ago. But it’s hard to say. Back then we didn’t know whales lived that long. That whales can live for over two hundred years was just discovered in the last five years. Up until then we thought that humans lived longer than any other mammal. So why certain animals would live much longer than others, and much longer than we do as a matter of fact-pretty much double what we’ve known humans to live-we don’t understand.

There are some people who think that this can’t be so, that this would violate the evolutionary theory of senescence, because nature doesn’t select for longevity. But that’s not necessarily true, because what’s commonly seen is that there’s just such a high mortality rate in nature. Even for humans, probably before two thousand years ago, we didn’t live very long. We were hunted by tigers and wild animals, and traits of longevity, presumably, weren’t selected for. But if these animals, like the rockfish, can be 109 years old and still be reproductive, nature is going to allow those genes to keep contributing to the gene pool, so that

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Jonathan Wright

The Frontiers of Natural Medicine:
An Interview with Dr. Jonathan Wright

By David Jay Brown

Jonathan Wright, M.D. is one of world’s leading experts on natural medicine, nutritional supplements, and bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. He is the medical director of the Tahoma Clinic in Kent, Washington, and he has treated over 2,000 patients with natural hormone replacement since 1982.

Dr. Wright graduated from Harvard University, and he received his medical education at the University of Michigan Medical School. He later specialized in family practice and nutritional medicine. Dr. Wright was a monthly medical columnist forPrevention magazine from 1976 to 1986 and for Let’s Live magazine from 1986 to 1996. Since 1994, he’s written Nutrition & Healing newsletter ( )

He is also the bestselling author or coauthor of numerous health books, including Natural Hormone Replacement For Women Over 45Dr. Wright’s Guide to Healing With NutritionMaximize Your Vitality & Potency for Men Over 40, and Dr. Wright’s Book of Nutritional Therapy.

Since 1982 Dr. Wright and his colleague Dr. Alan Gaby having been teaching an annual seminar called “Nutritional Therapy in Medical Practice,” based on their experience in medical practice and personal research libraries, which contains over 45,000 medical journal articles dating from 1920 to the present. He also publishes an informative monthly newsletter. To find out more about Dr. Wright’s work visit:

I spoke with Dr. Wright on July 14, 2005. He is a very enthusiastic and entertaining speaker. We spoke about preventing heart disease and osteoporosis, the basics of vitamin therapy, how people can improve their sexual performance, and the importance of treating hormonal decline with hormones that are identical to those found naturally in the human body.

David: What inspired your interest in medicine?

Dr. Wright: I’m not sure. I decided to go into medicine when I was eight years old. I recall a conversation with my parents about the whole thing, and the choices got narrowed down to law or medicine. For whatever reason, I decided that there are too damn many attorneys, and that they spend their time fighting, so I thought I’d go into medicine.

David: Can you talk a little about why you think that hormone replacement therapy is so important for both men and women as they age, and why do you think that taking natural hormones is better than taking synthetic hormones?

Dr. Wright: Hormone replacement therapy is especially important for men and women as they grow older at this particular time in the history of the planet and of the human race. Hormone replacement therapy is something that, in many areas of the world, simply wasn’t even possible until about the 12th Century in China. But even though that was many centuries ago, as far as we know, there have been people on the planet for hundreds of thousands of years, perhaps millions of years, and no one could do hormone replacement for most of that time.

Some people have pointed out that the average person’s life span was shorter in previous centuries, and perhaps people didn’t need hormone replacement because they didn’t live to the point where they needed it, and that may be true in some areas of the world. But we have not only Western Biblical references, but we have other writings that refer to some quite ancient people, in the past, who seem to have gotten by without hormone replacement, and lived to a good long age. The name Methusala, of course, always comes to mind. Then there are some names that-not being a being a Chinese speaker-I can’t pronounce. But  in Chinese writing, folks who are said to have lived for two or three hundred years, and it doesn’t appear that they took hormone replacement.

But the differences that may necessitate more hormone replacement in our time than in prior times, include what has happened to the food supply, the water supply, and the 50,000 new chemicals that are introduced into the environment every year-without knowing whether they’re safe or not. There has been terrific demineralizations of the soil, chemical additives to the water, such as chlorine and fluoride, and then there’s all the electromagnetic radiations that folks are exposed to that just simply didn’t exist two hundred years ago. The list could go on and on, and we don’t want do a treatise here on all the enormous environmental changes that have happened. But while we were living in this vastly changing environment, human biochemical systems remained the same.

Therefore, we’re seeing a tremendous rise in such things as Alzheimer’s disease and senile dementia, which was, of course, so rare in the past. A paper on Alzheimer’s disease from a century and a half ago said that people had less than a one percent chance of coming down with the disease, whereas today we’re now told that our chances of ending up with Alzheimer’s disease or senile dementia is fifteen percent. We also have seen the peak of a very large increase in cardiovascular disease, and thank goodness it’s gone down. I believe it was Paul Dudley White who was the first person to actually identify himself as a cardiologist and a specialist in heart matters in the early part of the twentieth century. Before him, we didn’t have cardiologists. We didn’t need them in the prior century, or the century before. And it’s not because people didn’t have heart disease back then, it’s because it was very unusual. Thank goodness-with no credit, I’m sorry to say, to American medicine, but a lot credit to just public awareness-that the large increase in cardiovascular disease seems to have reached its peak in the late 80s, maybe early 90s, and has subsided a bit again.

The other major thing for which people look to hormone replacement for turns out to be osteoporosis prevention, which again, was fairly uncommon until the last century-except for the inuit of northern Canada. Osteoporosis was fairly rare in this country until, again, the early Twentieth Century when the incidence started to rise, and went up and up and up.

So we have those three major problems-osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and senility and Alzheimer’s disease are (more or less) one problem. Cardiovascular disease has gone up enormously, and if one tracks it back, a lot of it has to do with the current mismatch between human biochemical systems and the enormously changed dietary and other environmental factors. What has been observed is that hormone replacement therapy is not only perhaps a longevity issue, but it can do a lot to reduce the probability of those three major problems. I think that is fairly definite and very defendable, but only if we use the same hormones that have been found in human biochemical systems for as long there have been human biochemical systems.

I suspect that I’m beating a dead horse, to make a deliberate pun, when I say that putting horse hormones into humans-when those horse hormones are roughly seventy percent different from human hormones, and have never been in human bodies before-was one of medicine’s many grievous errors in the last century. If we had been using bioidentical hormones we very likely would have never ever run into the disaster that the Women’s Health Initiative turned out to be. But we can significantly lower the risk of those three major risk problems that arose in the Twentieth Century, and continue into the Twenty-first Century, with bioidentical molecules.

We need to be extremely careful about not only the types of molecules, and duplicating exactly what goes on in the human body, but we also need to be concerned about quantities, the route of administration, and timing. It’s not very complicated. Actually, the whole thing can be summed up in two words-“copy nature.” If we’re going to replace the body’s hormones, let’s use the same molecules, the same quantities, the same timing, and the same route of administration that nature uses. That is the least likely to get use all into trouble.

David: What are some of the symptoms of low testosterone in men?

Dr. Wright: It’s debatable, but, for example, when testosterone starts to drop, ordinarily if an aging man is exercising regularly, and trying to keep up a certain muscle mass, he’ll notice that it’s more difficult to maintain that muscle mass. And we’ve all heard of ‘grumpy grampa.’ Well, for some men, particularly in their seventies and eighties, some of the just general grumpy mood can actually be attributed to testosterone being lower than it might be. I’ve talked with a number of families who say, oh yeah, Grampa’s a lot more cheerful, and he’s cracking more jokes, ever since he got his testosterone level back up. So that’s one of the mental symptoms, and there are physical ones, such as muscle mass problems. Certainly all men, or at least nearly all men, are concerned about their declining libido and sexual performance as they age, and they have problems that could have to do with low testosterone levels. That’s not always due to low testosterone, but if we combine several things-such as mental decline, a loss in muscle mass, and a loss in sexual desire and performance-and the more of those things we put together, the more

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Joseph Knoll

Shattering the Barriers of Maximum Life Span:
An Interview with Dr. Joseph Knoll

By David Jay Brown
Joseph Knoll, M.D., is a Hungarian nuerochemist and pharmacologist. He is probably best known for developing the drug deprenyl (also known as Selegiline), the first selective MAO-B inhibitor, and he has researched the properties of deprenyl for over half a century. 

Dr. Knoll is also the author of the recently published book The Brain and Its Self: A Neurochemical Concept of Innate and Acquired Drives (Springer, 2005), which summarizes his life’s research and his fascinating speculations about the relationship between brain activity and culture. In this book Dr. Knoll describes how his experience as a Nazi concentration camp survivor helped to inspire and motivate much of his scientific research. Although his parents were sent to the gas chamber when he was a teenager, Dr. Knoll survived because he spoke fluent German and was chosen to serve as the personal servant to the Chief of the SS guards. After the war, in 1945 Dr. Knoll returned to his native city of Budapest. He earned his M.D. from the University of Budapest in 1951, and later became a professor and the head of the Department of Pharmacology at the Semmelweiss University of Medicine in Budapest.

In the early 1950s, Dr. Knoll helped to pioneer research into the physiological basis of innate and acquired drives in animals. Trying to make sense of his experience in the Nazi concentration camp, Dr. Knoll became interested in how animals acquire new drives. The research that resulted from Dr. Knoll’s interest in this subject centered around studying the brain changes in rats that had been trained to have an acquired drive for an unnatural object-a glass cylinder. This acquired drive-which urged the animals to search for, and jump to, the rim of a thirty centimeter-high glass-cylinder, and then crawl inside-would often override the animals’ instinctive drives for food and sex.

Dr. Knoll first synthesized deprenyl in his Budapest laboratory in 1961. He showed that deprenyl improves the availability of dopamine, and slows its age-related decline by acting as a selective MAO-B inhibitor. Even more importantly, according to Dr. Knoll, it has an enhancer effect, and it helps maintain healthy brain cells, particularly in the dopamine-producing area of the brain known as the substantia nigra-the area of the brain that degenerates with Parkinson’s Disease. For this reason deprenyl has been used as an effective treatment for Parkinson’s Disease. It has also been shown to be an effective treatment for Alzhiemer’s Disease and other brain disorders that result in cognitive decline.

Deprenyl has been shown to have many uses as a cognitive enhancer. It is a moderate-level stimulant and antidepressant that has been shown to improve memory, protect the brain against cell damage, alleviate depression, extend the life span of laboratory animals, and heighten sexual desire in both men and women. This impressive substance is available by prescription in the U.S., and although it is primarily prescribed to help people with Parkinson’s disease, memory disorder problems, and sometimes depression, a lot of healthy people also use deprenyl to improve their mental performance. In fact, Dr. Knoll himself takes deprenyl every day, and recommends that every sexually mature person should be doing the same. 

I’ve personally been using deprenyl as antidepressant and cognitive enhancer for over ten years, and I can attest to its powerful brain-boosting effects. It improves my mental performance so dramtically that I’ve used it before every public talk that I’ve given since 1995. Along with other cognitive enhancers, such as hydergine and piracetam, I think that deprenyl has incredible potential for enhancing memory, accelerating intelligence, and improving concentration. There is a good deal of scientific evidence to support these claims. For an excellent summary of the scientific studies in this area see John Morgenthaler and Ward Dean’s book Smart Drugs and Nutrients II.

Many people report that deprenyl and other “smart drugs” have sexually-enhancing “side-effects”, although deprenyl appears to have the leading reputation in this area. According to Dr. Dean-the coauthor of Smart Drugs and Nutrients-“anything that improves brain function is probably going to improve sexual functioning.” This is probably because sexuality and health go hand-in-hand, and sexual vitality is a pretty good indicator of overall health. 

Dr. Knoll and colleagues first reported indications for deprenyl’s potential as a sexuality enhancer in 1983, with reports that old male rats had increased their “”mounting frequency” and “intromission” when they were treated with deprenyl. This contrasted dramatically with the untreated control animals. Many anecdotal reports, from both men and women, have confirmed that these aphrodisiac-like effects apply to humans as well. Because Deprenyl inhibits MAO-the dopamine-destroying enzyme-levels of the excitatory neurotransmitter dopamine rise in the brain, which generally causes people to feel more pleasure and become more physiologically aroused. 

Interestingly, unlike most other MAO inhibitor drugs (such as the antidepressant Nardil), there are usually no dietary restrictions necessary when one takes deprenyl. When taken at moderate levels (under 10 mg.), deprenyl only inhibits the action of  a specific type of MAO-MAO B-which doesn’t interfere with the body’s ability to metabolize the amino acid tyrosine, like a broad-spectrum MAO inhibitor does. This is why most other MAO-inhibiting drugs carry the serious danger of triggering a hypertensive reaction if one eats tyrosine-rich foods, like cheese or wine. Deprenyl has been described by researchers as working with great precision in this regard, and the physicians that I spoke with agreed that it was unusually safe.

In fact, deprenyl is better than safe. This truly remarkable drug has also been shown to increase the maximum lifespan of laboratory animals by close to forty percent. This is the equivalent of a human being living to be around a hundred and fifty years of age. Giving deprenyl to animals is the only experimental treatment-besides caloric restriction-that has been shown to increase maximum life span. [Extending maximum life span-as opposed to extending average life span-means extending the maximum number of years that the longest-lived members of a particular species has been known to attain.]

To fully appreciate how significant deprenyl’s life extension potential is, one has to understand the difference between maximum life span and average life span. Many factors can affect the average lifespan (or the “normal life expectancy”) that an animal lives-genetics, diet, exercise, nutritional supplements, mental attitude, ect. However, even under the very best of conditions, there is an upper limit at which the longest-lived animals of a particular species can survive, and that is the animal’s maximum life span. 

The average life span of a human being is approximately seventy to eighty years. However, the maximum life span of a human being is around a hundred and twenty years. The laboratory animals in the deprenyl studies showed a forty percent increase in maximum life span, the human equivalent of living a hundred and fifty years. Since deprenyl’s primary effects work the same in all mammalian brains, it stands to reason that deprenyl’s life extension effects are likely to carry over to humans, just as the mental benefits do. Many people have certainly verified that the increase in sex drive occurs in both humans and laboratory animals.

To follow are some excerpts from the interview that I conducted with Dr. Knoll in September of 2005. Born in 1925, Dr. Knoll was eighty at the time of this interview. We spoke about how his experience with the holocaust influenced his decision to become a research scientist, how people can utilize deprenyl for its cognitive enhancing and antiaging benefits, and what type of antiaging treatments might be available in the future.

David: How did your experience with the holocaust when you were young influence your decision to become a research scientist, and what inspired your interest in neurochemistry?

Dr. Knoll: It is a horrifying fact that in Germany millions of single-minded little-men, who had previously lived a honest simple life and never belonged to extremist groups, dramatically changed within a few years after 1933 and, imbued with the Nazi ideology, became unbelievably cool-headed murders of innocent civilians during the Second World War. This phenomenon has been documented from many angles in dozens of novels, films, and so on. However, we are still waiting for an adequate elucidation of the brain mechanism responsible for this dramatic and rapid change in the behavior of millions.

As a survivor of Auschwitz, and one of the 1300 survivors of the “Dachau death train,” I had the opportunity to directly experience a few typical representatives of this type of manipulated human beings, and had more than enough time and direct experience to reflect upon the essential changes in the physiological manipulability of the human brain. It was therefore not just by mere chance that, when in the early 1950s I finally had the opportunity to approach this problem experimentally, I decided to develop a rat model to follow the changes in the brain in the course of the

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