Dr. Ron’s Research Review – July 18, 2018

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This week’s research review focuses on the placebo effect of androgen treatment.
 
In 1889, Brown-Séquard, aged 72, reported dramatic rejuvenating effects after self-administering testicular extracts of dogs and guinea-pigs. His report resulted in widespread use of testicular extracts throughout Europe and North America for several decades
A study prepared extracts from five dog testes using Brown-Séquard's methods and assayed testosterone concentrations. Testosterone concentrations were four orders of magnitude less than that required for a biological effect. The mean testosterone concentration in the testicular extracts was 390 nmol/L (SD, 306 nmol/L), equivalent to 112 µg/L (SD, 88 µg/L). (Cussons et al., 2002)
The Brown-Séquard method was used. One testis from each dog was crushed using a mortar and pestle, after adding distilled water in a quantity of up to twice the volume of the testis. Brown-Séquard self-administered five subcutaneous injections of extract prepared from dog testis over three days, followed by five further injections of extract from guinea-pig testis over the subsequent 18 days. Each injection of 1 mL of dog testis extract was equivalent to 112 ng of testosterone per injection, or 186 ng/day.
In contrast, testosterone secretion in healthy men is about 6 mg/day, and testosterone delivery systems, such as patches and subcutaneous implants for the treatment of hypogonadism, release 5–10 mg/day.

The study authors conclude that this illustrates the marked placebo response that can be evoked by androgen treatment. It cautions against the empirical use of testosterone treatment for older men, unless a diagnosis of hypogonadism has been substantiated.

Note that this study states that androgen treatment has a marked placebo response, yet no humans were involved. A replication study involves repeating a study using the same methods but with different subjects and experimenters.
Brown-Séquard described the use of organotherapy and live cell therapy.

Dr. Ron

 


Articles

 

Brown-Séquard revisited: a lesson from history on the placebo effect of androgen treatment.
            (Cussons et al., 2002) Download
BACKGROUND:  In 1889, Brown-Séquard, aged 72, reported dramatic rejuvenating effects after self-administering testicular extracts of dogs and guinea-pigs. His report resulted in widespread use of testicular extracts throughout Europe and North America for several decades. More recently, the male ageing process has been attributed to partial androgen deficiency, or "andropause", and testosterone treatment is claimed to improve well-being in middle-aged and elderly men. DESIGN:  We prepared extracts from five dog testes using Brown-Séquard's methods and assayed testosterone concentrations. RESULTS:  Testosterone concentrations were four orders of magnitude less than that required for a biological effect. CONCLUSIONS:  Our study illustrates the marked placebo response that can be evoked by androgen treatment. It cautions against the empirical use of testosterone treatment for older men, unless a diagnosis of hypogonadism has been substantiated.

 

References

Cussons, AJ, et al. (2002), ‘Brown-Séquard revisited: a lesson from history on the placebo effect of androgen treatment.’, Med J Aust, 177 (11-12), 678-79. PubMed: 12463999