These effects can be reversed by exposure to negative ions, produced by plants, found in fresh air of reasonable humidity, and nowadays by special machines (ionizers) which are inexpensively available from electrical equipment stores. Negative ions reverse the build-up of serotonin and are therefore a far safer and more natural way of combating the damage this substance can cause, when present in excess, than by the use of drugs.
Experimentally it has been shown that animals kept on a low tryptophan diet (tryptophan is the constituent amino acid of protein from which serotonin is synthesized) have their lives extended almost as efficiently as those on calorie restriction programmes. Perhaps some of the benefits of calorie restriction is the result of the relatively low protein (and therefore tryptophan) intake which it demands
Ana Aslan's Discovery
Romanian physician and researcher Ana Aslan has been responsible for developing a widely used anti-ageing substance called GH3. To understand the story behind this, we need to understand the effects of yet another important substance related to nervous system activity. We all have present in our systems an enzyme called monoamine oxidase (MAO), the job of which is to restore to normal levels any excessive amounts of certain neurohormones which might appear in tissues, and which are vital to normal function, such as epinephrine (adrenaline). As we age we build up larger and larger amounts of MAO which means that the deactivation of vital neurohormones can actually become excessive, to the point where this affects the nervous system and brain activity, often leading to depression.
Drugs called MAO inhibitors are prescribed in such conditions. However, these can, under different circumstances, lead to a wide range of unpleasant symptoms induding both very high and very low blood pressure swings, breathing and heart difficulties. The remarkable substance, GH3, developed in Romania, has been found to act as a safer MAO inhibitor than most other medications, and it is claimed that it also has a marked anti-ageing potential.
Ana Aslan reports that, in the 1940s, when she was using the local anaesthetic substance procaine in the treatment of arthritis and other pain conditions, she began receiving reports from patients of reduction in depression, and feelings of greater vitality and youthfulness. Later, on becoming head of a geriatric institute, she found that she could improve the likelihood of these benefits appearing by adding a number of additional substances such as benzoic acid and a potassium compound to the product, calling the result Gerovital H3 or GH3. This was administered intramuscularly three times weekly, and she claimed that it produced a number of anti-ageing effects.
Her claims have been variously proved and disproved over the years (poor results were usual when procaine has been tested alone without Dr Aslan's additional substances which seem toimprove its usefulness). One of the more important positive investigations took place at the University of Southern California, where it was discovered that GH3 was a mild MAO inhibitor. Apparently it was specifically inhibiting that form of MAO which influenced levels of particular neurohormones such as norepinephrine, but not others. It therefore had many of the benefits of MAO inhibitors without their drawbacks.
Various animal studies indicate a slowing of the ageing process of cells of animals when GH3 is added to them, but no evidence as yet exists for life extension, as such, being achieved. More probably it acts by retarding some of the effects of ageing, which is enough justification for many people to undergo GH3 therapy, but is really not sufficient justification for adding it to a life extension programme.