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 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
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 Plan, Stay Young Longer–Naturally, The Anti-Aging Cookbook, The 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