As people grow old, the brain undergoes macroscopic, microscopic, biochemical and electrophisiological changes. The number of neurons (nervous cells) decrease, dendridic changes occur (the link among cells), as well as neurofibrillas and plates (described by Marinescu and Block) appear in the nervous cells.

Recent data shows that neuron losses do not occur in all the brain’s area (for instance, the parietal area). There are markers which confirm the aging process: ischemia, plates of lipofuscin, neurofibrillas (a net of intraneuronal fibres very frequent in Alzheimer’s disease). The prefrontalis and frontalis are the areas most altered by aging. Changes also occur within the cerebral vascular system: haemorrhages, atheromatous plates and obstruction of some small vessels.

The cognitive changes are quite normal in the elderly (the topic is still under discussion). Nevertheless, old age brings about changes of the intellectual ability). The impairment of the cognitive functions begins about age of 35-40, although being insignificant till the age of 60-65. The primary memory (sense memory) and the long-term memory do not change. On the contrary, the short-term memory (from 1 hour to 1 week) is altered. The elderly can hardly remember the names and the events that happened and the things they read over this period. The use of calendar and written notes help them most. It is very easy for the elderly to remember knowledge stored in the past to which their lifetime experience is added.

Effects of Old Age

The decrease of the psychomotory activity is another important feature of old age, which is obvious in everyday life (the subtle movements lose their accuracy, the reaction speed lowers). With normal aging these changes do not infringe upon the elderly’s independence and ability to meet their own needs.

The above mentioned changes are normal in the elderly. Biochemical changes of the neurotransmitting systems (GABA, dopaminic, cholinergic and serotoninic) and the influence of some exogenous factors bring forth the metabolic changes which cause depression’s onset. In the presence of an old patient with cognitive impairments and changes of behaviour, the geriatrician and the psychologist should distinguish the trilogy:

•is it a normal change?
•are they the indices of a depression?
•is it an incipient Alzheimer’s disease?

In general, the patients suffering from depression exaggerate their sufferings, while those with Alzheimer’s disease or with other incipient dementias deny or minimise them.

Depression

Depression is one of the elderly’s major diseases. It is also frequent in adults. Depression is a syndrome (a series of symptoms) including physiological, emotional and cognitive symptoms. The criteria worked out by The American Psychiatric Association in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (3rd revised edition) include:

Change of appetite and weight;
•Sleep disorders;
•Inner strain or belated motory reactions;
•Lack of energy, fatigue;
•Nervousness;
•Concentration and memory disorders;
•Lack of pleasure and interest in almost any kind of activity;
•Tendencies of guilt;
•Thought or attempt of suicide.

The presence of 5 of these symptoms shows a major depression fit. These symptoms are often assigned to normal age, both the physician and the patient being mostly concerned with physical diseases and ignoring depression.

In the elderly, depression occurs within a complex clinical and social context. The older patient may suffer from 2-3 or even more diseases, some of them leading to infirmities, and the social relationships may be non-existent. The diagnosis of depression should be preceded by a thorough analysis of the patient’s present state and case history. The clinical history, physical examination and bilogical check-up, as well as a study of the social background are current possibilities of assessing the diagnosis of depression.

Some author consider that many elderly have a depressive state. According to the National Health Institute of Bethesda, 30% of the elderly (over 65) suffer from depression. Other researchers mention a higher rate – 50% and even more in the elderly of the 8th, 9th and 10th age decades. This suffering often remains hidden, unknown, being masked by physical diseases, and neither the patient nor the care staff, homes for the aged, nursing homes for the elderly people recognise it.

Despite the great progress of diagnosis, treatment and care of these patients, many aspects of depression are still unsettled. For the readers of this article interested in the promotion of an active life, it is important to know:

•The conditions and factors responsible for the depressive states;
•The peculiarities of depression in the elderly, and
•The treatment.

For women who lead a life of deprivation i.e., widows stressed and lacking a moral and economic support – often suffer from depression. After the age of 65, chronic diseases such as cancer, stroke, diabetes, mellitus, deforming and painful arthritis, by their nature multiply the implications and induce a depressive state. Half of the patients suffering from depression have several episodes during their lifespan. Suicide and suicidal tendencies are frequent after the age of 80.

Polymorbidity

Depression in the elderly is not quite different from the adult’s depression. After the age of 65, polymorbidity (association of several diseases in the same patient) is very frequent. The somatic disorders – cardiovascular, digestive, respiratory, loss of weight – raise several questions as concerns the positive and differential diagnosis. 20-30% of the patients have a depression which is mostly masked by an organic symptomatology. The visceral symptomatology is expressed subjectively only under the form of cenestopathic symptoms of a hypochondriac type. These symptoms mostly occur in adult women. Certain disorders which point out “de facto” a visceral suffering may be wrongly assigned to a depressive state. The phenomenologic analysis of depression’s symptomatology will reveal the circadian variation, much more obviously in the morning when the incidence of suicide is at its greatest.

Therapy

Any depressive symptom may impair life’s quality, so a therapy is absolutely necessary. The treatment may be medical and psycho-social. To be effective, the treatment should be administered over a period of time and in optimum doses.

Since 1945, Prof. Aslan had been injecting procaine into patients with painful arthritis in order to relieve their joint pains. Many of her patients noted an improving memory, less depression, more energy and a generalised feeling of well-being. These results encouraged her to carry out additional studies to test the effects of procaine on thousands of patients. She found that by adding an antioxidant, the procaine molecule was stabilized and the effects were more than with procaine alone. She called her improved form, Gerovital H3.

Aslan said that “due to the effects of its main active elements, the procaine and procaine’s metabolites – paraaminobenzoic acid (PABA) and diethylaminoethanol (DEAE) -, Gerovital H3 belongs to Pregeriatric and Geriatric drugs having an eutrophic effect on the organism”. Starting from 1949, she noticed an obvious improvement of the physical state in old people. Gerovital-H3 acts upon the human body participating in the regulation of the intermediary metabolism, acetylcholine synthesis and inhibits the monoamineoxidase (MAO). MAO is an enzyme that catalyses the breakdown of monoamines (dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine) which play a transmitter role between nervous cells. A MAO inhibitor blocks a breakdown of certain monoamine neurotransmitters and that can used to treat depression. Robinson and his colleague, in the ‘Lancet’ magazine, Feb.,1972 (1), showed that starting around the age of 40, the level of MAO increase is directly related to the aging process and depression phenomena.

Gerovital H3 has a certified antidepressive effect, especially in light and moderate depressive syndrome, thanks to its MAO-inhibitory effect. The antidepressive effect of Gerovital-H3 as well as the lack of any side effects can be accounted on the fact that it is a reversible and competitive-MAO inhibitor.

Paul Luth (2) mentioned that “procaine influence on the patient’s psychic condition was signalled for the first time in the medical literature by Aslan“. Subsequent to Aslan’s investigations on the psychic effect of procaine (3), Pfeiffer (4) carried out pharmacological studies on demethylaminoethanol (DMAE) action and noticed a mental stimulation. This study placed emphasis on the relations existing between DMAE and acetylcholine. DMAE breaks through the blood-brain barrier taking part in the metabolic process of the nervous cells fixing their proteic and lipid fractions and changes into choline and acetylcholine.

Hrachovec, from Los Angeles University, published in 1972 the results of a comparative study showing that Gerovital-H3 has an inhibitory effect upon the MAO-brain, liver and the heart of the rabbit (5).

Gerovital H3 Mechanisms

Yau made a pharmacological study upon Gerovital H3 and summarised as such its basic mechanisms (6):

•it competitively and reversibly inhibits the MAO;

•it acts as an antidepressive through the modification of the monoamine level in the brain and it is very selective in the oxidative desamination inhibition;

•the oxidative desamination of monoamines is done in such a way as to eliminate the hyper-blood-pressure peaks so typical after administering other MAO inhibitors.

McFarlane proved the increasingly inhibitory action of Gerovital H3 upon MAO from 17.8% to 87.7% depending on the dose administered (7). McFarlane appreciated Robinson’s important contribution to the understanding of a biochemical modification connected with the ageing process. He noticed that Gerovital H3 induces a stronger MAO inhibition than the normal procaine hydroclorate and its action is reversible and competitive (8).

Depression Treatment

William Zung from Duke University, North Carolina, applied Gerovital-H3 treatment for 28 days, using the double-blind method, on three groups of patients who suffered from depression (9). One group of patients aged 60 were submitted – before, during and after the treatment – to a battery of psychological tests (Zung is the author of a well-known scale of psychological tests) which proved the Gerovital-H3 efficiency in the treatment of depression.

In a double-blind study (10) conducted on depressive patients, the antidepressive effect of Gerovital-H3 was evaluated by means of psychiatric and psychological investigations. The tests on depression showed a higher percentage of improvement for Gerovital H3 treated patients. The following items were alleviated: depressed mood, sociability and fatigue-70%, agitation-60%, anxiousness and hypochondriasis-45%.

Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw noted in their book, “Life Extension” (a national best-seller): “here is how you might be able to better handle depression… MAO increases in activity with age, thus resulting in lowered levels of these signal-transmitting brain chemicals. Procaine – or the procaine compound Gerovital H3 (GH3) developed by Dr. Ana Aslan of Romania, is a mild reversible MAO inhibitor. When using most MAO inhibitors, it is necessary to avoid excessive dietary intake of monoamine precursors such as the amino acids tyrosine and phenylalanine to avoid too high levels of the monoamines, which can lead to higher blood pressure. Procaine – or GH3 – does not interfere”.

Recently, I did a double-blind study (unpublished) on 50 patients with low, moderate and severe depression. After two series of treatments, the difference was statistically significant between the patients with Gerovital-H3 and placebo. The Hamilton score was constantly positive and the medium reduction was significant (p=0.0001) much more so for Gerovital-H3 than for the placebo. All the statistics were proved with the technique of Covariance analysis.

Who was Ana Aslan?

Ana Aslan is renowned for her essential contribution to gerontological research as well as for having patterned the best geriatric treatment influencing the aging process. Ana Aslan was the first person to rule out the fatalistic approach to aging, providing a new method in gerontology by opening the way to the prevention and treatment of old age.

I worked with Professor Ana Aslan for 25 years, from 1963, first as a researcher, then as chief physician and afterwards as the Director of the National Institute of Gerontology and Geriatrics in Bucharest, Romania, between 1978 and 1990.

In the last 3 years of her life, Aslan chose me as her personal physician and three months before her death she asked me to do some personal things, including to write a book about her life and her work. So I took notes at her bedside as a moral testament.

In addition to her life, she talked of her views of politics, religion, euthanasia, dying, death and love. As such I had the opportunity to know her private thoughts and personal thinking.

On her 90th solemn birthday celebration at the Romanian Academy in Bucharest on May 22nd, 1987, on behalf of the Romanian National Institute of Gerontology and Geriatrics, I said; “I want to express my emotion and say how difficult it is to talk about Ana Aslan, being such a complex personality, the story of Gerontology might as well be the story of Aslan.”

“Ana Aslan’s life can be seen in her work. She has battled courageous fights, all for the service of good, to make man’s dream to live with dignity for as long as possible. Now we celebrate the inventor, the scientist, the physician, and the professor. For 35 years since 1952, she has led us as the first Institute of Gerontology in the world. Ana Aslan is the Ambassador of Gerontology and a brilliant woman. As a scientist she is an inventor, not an imitator. She has played such an important role in Gerontology at the world level. She has given the world decades of research that revealed that Gerovital H3 is the most effective treatment in geriatrics. Ana Aslan is the original contributor in the basic research concerning cellular and molecular aging, and researching her product reaction in the body. She has a special empathy for the elderly and has always fought to improve their condition all over the world. She worked with others to initiate the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization on aging, held in Vienna, 1983. Aslan has a remarkable understanding and appreciation for beauty and culture. At one time she visited Hippocrates grave and on which she stated, “I now realize how small I am.”

As a disciple and collaborator, and being inspired by the University Hymn, I declare “Viva Academia! Viva Professores! Viva Ana Aslan!”

As we have mentioned previously, procaine hcl (GH3 Health Supplements) acts on many parts of the body. Clinical observations lend credence to the findings that procaine GH3 affects almost all those organs, glands, and functions that are particularly deficient in old age. It is important to bear in mind that these conditions are of chronic nature and require long-term treatment. Many of the failures with certain applications of the procaine therapy may stem from the fact that the treatment was not applied for a sufficiently extended period of time.”

The data in the table below cover a significantly large number of patients who were treated at the Parhon Institute who were treated during the years from 1952 through 1958, for a variety of diseases. Again, the statistics on improvement are much more convincing than those showing a lower mortality rate as compared to patients not treated with Procaine.

What diseases yield best to the procaine therapy, quite apart from the general improvement noticed in the patients? The statistics in this table indicate that diseases affecting the skin and hair, as well as a wide range of ailments with the central nervous system are most responsive. Among the former we find eczemas of differente etiology, alopecia, herpes zoster (shingles), psoriasis, vitiligo, itchthyosis and sclerderma, to name but few where some experiences gained. Among the latter gratifying results have been achieved in post-apoplectic situations, paralytic states, neuralgia and neuritis, Parkinsonism ( Parkinson’s ), Burger disease and multiple sclerosis. The application of procaine therapy ia also fruitfull in degenerative joint and bone diseases, such as arthritis, and different arthroses, osteoporosis, and Bechtere’s disease.

The table below illustrates the Pharon Institutes clinical and practical long term observations of a total of 875 patients with chronic nervous system, Locomotor, Cardiovascular system disorders, Skin and Hair problems and Gastric ulcers. As we can see, of the patients treated with procaine therapy, over 89% showed significant improvement, 8.2% were unchanged and 8.2 deaths were recorded or 2.7% motality rate during the seven year institute observations.

In should be noted that of the 495 Patients who were not treated with procaine, there were 54 deaths or 10.3% motality rate, significantly higher than the patients treated with the procaine therapy.

In 1956, Aslan brought forth her work “A new method for the prophylaxis and treatment of old age with Novacaine-Substance H3″ at the institute of chemical physiology, Berne, Switzerland (1) and at the “Deutsche Therapiewoche” congress in Karlsruhe, Germany (2).

Since then, over the past 42 years, valuable literature on Gerovital H3 has accumulated consisting of the confirmation of Aslan’s geriatric-method, and Gerovital-H3’s regenerating and prophylactic actions.

Studies conducted by the National Institute in Bucharest and those carried on by other authors have pointed out the general action excerpted by Gerovital H3 on the aging process, and its action on chronic diseases, the frequency of which increases with advancing age (3,4).

Clinically, Gerovital treated patients show more desire to live, diminished depression and anxiety, increased physical and intellectual capacities, diminished extrapyramidal rigidity, better skin, hair and nail trophicity, less senile spots and keratosis, growth and regimentation of the hair color, increased muscular strength and joint mobility and faster knitting of accidental fractures.

Gerovital and regeneration

Aslan checked these clinical facts experimentally (5), the research showed Gerovital-H3 to have regenerative effects on the liver tissue, bone marrow and it shortened the time required by bone knitting after experimental fractures in rats (5).

An experimental study was conducted by Aslan on 1840 rats, it made evident an 18% to 21% life span extension in the treated rats as compared to control rats injected with saline solution.

The treated old animals also displayed better general trophicity, thick and glossy fur, higher resistance to acute diseases, increased resistance to exercise and better answers to memory and behaviour tests as against the control group. At the age of 24 months, the treated animals with Gerovital-H3 scored better in learning and memorizing the maze (6), (see figure 1 below).

The histological examination of the hearts removed from animals treated with Aslan’s Gerovital H3 revealed connective invasion more reduced than in the controls; the degenerative modifications of the renal tubes were fewer and less severe in the treated animals as were the involutive changes found in other organs.

The laboratory studies conducted on Drosophila melanogaster revealed a 22.7% life span extension in individuals cultivated in a medium containing 0.005mg Gerovital-H3/ml, in comparison with control group (p 0.01). Similar results were obtained with secondary cultures of monkey renal cells.

Gerovital H3 in a concentration of 0.4ml% induced the extension of the post-mitotic life span renal cells by 16%, meanwhile the normal signs of aging were noted in the untreated cells (7,8).

Gerovital-H3 effects on aging embryo fibroblasts of the rat and their life span in cultures were studied by Officer (9). He noticed that Gerovital H3 added to the cultures in the 7th to 9th passages reduced the time required by cell replication, which thus continued for 2 to 5 generations more than in control cultures. When added to cultures in which the replication had ceased, Gerovital-H3 extended cell life span, it also prevented the spontaneous change into a continuos cell line.

Regarding the regeneration of cells, I recall Schedel’s experiment with procaine injections around a wound (10). This enabled him to cure an ulceration caused by Rontgen therapy. The histologic examination of the wound revealed the appearance of the granulation tissue after a 3-week treatment along with the accumulation of the so-called “regeneration cells” around many vessels (see figure 2 over).

The age-related accumulation of lipofuscin within the nervous cells is now well known, so the action of Gerovital-H3 was studied on rats under 6 to 18 months old. Histologically and histochemically, the number of entirely lipofuscin-loaded pyramidal and Purkinje cells from the brain cortex and cerebellum was much lower (19.4 in treated vs. control animals- 72.8) (11,12).

In an experiment study on the nootropic effects of Gerovital H3 upon the central nervous system in rats, it was noted that Gerovital H3 had protective consequences against anoxia by curarization or closed circuit (13).

Offering 100% guaranteed results, GH3 is truly the ultimate anti-ageing treatment. This unique nutritional formulation has been described as “The Fountain of Youth”, and is estimated to be in use by more than 100 million people in more than 70 countries worldwide. Once the preserve of the rich and famous, it is now very much within the financial grasp of anyone wishing to delay the march of time.

Being the first anti-aging therapy, Ana Aslan’s GH3 reduces free radical activity preventing damage to DNA and cellular membranes.The enhanced cellular bioenergetics optimizes ATP, the body’s universal energy molecule. It also normalizes brain neurotransmitting balance to help normalize chronobiological rhythms.

Based on Procaine, Gerovital H3 (or GH3 on short), has been discovered by a Romanian doctor, Prof.Dr. Ana Aslan at the National Geriatric Institute in Bucharest, the capital City of Romania, in early fifties.

Since then, his effects on relenting “>aging phenomena, among other good effects, has been proved experimentally and clinically.

Although Aslan left this world in 1988, her legacy remains. Gerovital is still the main attraction of several spas in Romania and the promises are plenty. Regular shots of the drug will reverse aging and prevent a wide range of diseases. For elderly tourists in search of a cure-all, Gerovital guarantees smooth skin, improved memory, increased vitality, freedom from depression and heart disease, and a pain-free life.

These claims have convinced some of the rich and famous as well. Among Aslan’s many clients were John F. Kennedy, Marlene Dietrich, Kirk Douglas, and Salvador Dali. Sylvester Stallone also reportedly takes GH3 shots to remain sexy. Some doctors prescribe Gerovital for impotence. Others use it to make hair grow and treat mental disorders.

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