A Short Course on Anti-Aging Medicine
by David M. Odom, MD
I Didn't Expect This So Soon!
You and I have a lot in common. We both have accomplished at least a measure of success in life. We have both felt the exhilaration of the "done deal". You and I had to nurture an idea into reality. We both have felt the anticipation of watching our own ideas coming into fruition.
You weren't given a manual on how to be successful. You figured out for yourself how to make the best out of life. You had to buck the tends. You had to go your own way to make things happen. You had to corral clueless others into cooperation.
You had to think for yourself to get to where you are now!
And now, you have available to yourself all of the material benefits that life can offer.
So, how's your health? How's your level of energy? Have you noticed some decline of capability?
You look into the mirror and see a receding hairline, puffy bags under your eyes, and a growing paunch.
It seems like working out at the gym just doesn't get you the same quick results. Maybe you notice that your joints hurt now. You get hit in the ribs and it takes six weeks to heal. That penis just isn't as hard as it was ten years ago. And it doesn't last as long.
You have spent your youth climbing to where you are now. But now, youth is gone.
That was quick!
You have come to the realization that we are prisoners of a neolithic biology. We are just not meant to live very long. Spend a few years promoting the reproduction of our own genes...... then it's time to fade away.
But, are you willing to allow vigorous, dynamic life to disappear without a fight? You say to yourself: isn't there a way out of this?
Surely, medical science has an answer. You go to your HMO. You tell the doc: I just don't have the energy and enthusiasm that I had before.
He says nothing, but seems to listen for a few minutes. He wordlessly picks up a prescription pad and writes an order for an antidepressant. Then he walks out of the door.
“Huh!? Isn't he going to at least try to figure out what is going on? Why did I waste my time and money coming in here?”
You're driving down the freeway and listen to the news. Another professional athlete is defending himself against the allegation that he has been engaging in 'performance enhancement.' “That sonovabitch!” you say, “I want some of that!! I want some performance enhancement!!”
But, at the same time, you just KNOW that it cannot be healthy. The guy is taking drugs that ultimately cause health to decline even faster. You gain a few years of exhilarating results, then you crash! “I don't want that!”
Lifespan Is Short, The Healthspan Is Shorter!
I look at guys who are ten and twenty years older than me. They look bad. Apparently this aging thing doesn't bottom out..... it gets continually worse.
So, what are my options? We went to the moon almost forty-seven years ago! And we only get twenty years of healthy, adult life?!
So, what is going on, anyway? What is specifically happening to make me age?
Is there some mysterious substance slowly being added to me? Is something being sifted into me from the air....... slowly causing me to shut down?
Or, maybe it's the other way around? Maybe something is slowly declining...........
On one tiny level, we are molecular machines....... molecules give us both structure and function.
But where do these molecules come from? Our food, right? But, we process them, we use food as building blocks to produce other substances vital for life force.
Sure, some substances we cannot make..... vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids. But, we use them to manufacture other substances, like cell membranes.
So, again, if at one tiny level we function as chemical manufacturing plants, is our aging process the result of decline of manufacturing capability?
Aging As A Deficiency Syndrome
Is aging, at least in part, a deficiency syndrome?
It turns out that many substances that are produced in the body and act to confer health benefit ....... actually decline in production as we age.
You can imagine that no biological benefit is conferred to a species of organisms for life past the age of reproduction. Those genes that are passed on to the next generation....... are passed on early in life.
So, what substances decline in production as we age? What substances are produced in greater amounts in youth?
Long chain amino acids....... small sections of proteins fall into that category. Co-enzyme Q10 and L-Carnitine are such substances that work to provide energy production in cells, especially muscle cells.
Another class of substances well known to decline with aging are hormones.
What are hormones? They are classically defined as substances that are produced in one organ and affect tissues distant from the point of production.
There are "steroidal" hormones, substances whose two dimensional representations appear as small sections of chicken wire.
Name some! O.K........ Testosterone, DHEA, Estradiol, Progesterone, and Cholecalciferol.
Others are proteins. Thyroid hormone in its two major manifestations are small fragments of protein. Insulin and Human Growth Hormone are proteins.
And these hormones are all produced at highest levels in youth. This is a well-known and thoroughly accepted biological fact.
What is also well-known and accepted is that blood levels of all of these hormones decline with aging.
What the scientific literature shows is that health and function decline as hormone levels decline, regardless of the specific cause of this decline.
However, this simply obvious fact is lost on most conventional medical practitioners today. For historical and economic reasons we doctors have centered our attention on drugs to treat specific symptoms...... drugs being defined as substances that are neither native nor natural to the human body. As an example, antidepressants are commonly used to treat hypothyroidism (low thyroid function), menopause (low estrogen, progesterone, & testosterone in women), and low testosterone in males.
Non-native substances are famous for causing side effects. High blood pressure medication is well-known for causing both fatigue and erectile dysfunction.
Other drugs are erroneously referred to as "hormones". These substances are entirely synthetic, not found in nature, but attach themselves to hormone receptor sites. These alien substances are responsible for all of the dangers ascribed to hormone replacement.
In fact, "HRT" is a buzzword used by gynecologists and researchers alike for using horse estrogens and the alien drug, Provera®, in menopausal women. The recent hullabaloo over the use of HRT in menopause arose from a misinterpretation of the Women's Health Initiative ("WHI") study. In this study, three groups of women in their late 50's and early 60's were studied over time:
The first group included women who were using no hormone nor drug that attaches to hormone receptor sites. This group gives us a background incidence of cancer, heart attacks, stroke, and Alzheimer's Disease.
The second group contained women who were taking only horse estrogens. (Also known as Conjugated Equine Estrogens or CEE by the pharmaceutical industry, these substances have been the standard of estrogen replacement therapy for some 50 years, and are collected from the urine of pregnant mares. No, I'm not joking! Much more about them later!)
The third group were women who were taking a combination of horse estrogens and the drug, Provera®, which attaches itself to the progesterone receptor site.
The WHI study clearly demonstrated that the incidence of cancer, heart attacks, stroke, and dementia are increased only in the 3rd group, the women taking the combination of horse estrogens and Provera®! In fact, the data from the study demonstrates a decrease of the rate of breast cancer in the group of women taking horse estrogen alone!
But what was reported to the public? That HRT is dangerous, so stop taking it!
And worse, stupid doctors uncritically went along with this travesty!
So, what has happened over the last 14 years is that millions of women have been denied relief of menopausal symptoms. Even worse, menopausal women have been turned away from the long term health benefits achieved from long term use of estrogen, namely, prevention of Alzheimer's Disease, prevention of bone loss, and prevention of the heart disease that causes 70% of deaths in women dying after menopause.
Meanwhile, the alien drug, Provera®, is still being given to millions of young women for birth control. And, it causes heart attacks, strokes, cancer, and dementia!
Totally missing in this calculation are the many health benefits arising from the supplementation of natural Progesterone, the substance actually produced within the human body. Real Progesterone has a general cancer preventive effect. Did the Women’s Health Study the effects of supplementing real Progesterone? Not at all!!
Help Is On The Way!
But, over the last 20 years, a new movement has arisen among some forward thinking medical doctors to supplement lagging substances with exact copies of what's missing!
And what is found is that raising levels of vital substances to those seen in youth confers health benefit.
Who knows about this? Anti-aging doctors and their patients.
Why is this view not held by all medical doctors? Why is it that the press seems to not understand this? Isn't this obvious? Aren't there studies in the scientific literature that demonstrate the benefit of hormone supplementation?
There are two basic reasons.....................
Firstly, human nature demonstrates a preference to continue established lines of thinking. Generally, there is an antagonistic reaction to new ideas.
An example that may be known to you is the concept that cosmic impacts have caused mass extinctions in the past. It took twenty years for this theory to gain credence in academic circles.
Medicine is famous for pillorying new ideas.
Have you heard of Ignaz Semelweis the Hungarian obstetric doctor working in Vienna who in 1847 began advocating washing hands with an antiseptic solution before delivering a baby. At that time it was common for doctors to go from delivery to delivery without hand washing and wearing the same filthy, bloody smock. Meanwhile, the incidence of "childbed" or puerperal fever at the time was very high with a 20% mortality rate! The other doctors responded by kicking him off the medical staff of the hospital. Such is the benefit to the public of "peer review". Dr. Semelweis persisted in aggressively advocating his cause at every opportunity. As a result of his stridency, he was committed to an insane asylum where he died within several weeks after being beaten by guards. Now, he is remembered as the "savior of mothers." 
Currently, doctors are the result of a training process that favors individuals who thoroughly accept all information obtained from authority figures. The academic institution (medical school) is commonly considered to be the source of all medical knowledge and practice. There is a wide body of scientific literature, but only a small part of it is touted on the lecture circuit by a relatively small number of influential professors.
Secondly, unnatural substances are able to acquire patent. The power of pharmaceutical companies is amazing! They are the most profitable corporations in the world. They support research grants for favored professors. Those academics who cooperate with drug companies and support new drugs have outsized influence in medicine.
Biological organisms are incredibly complex. What is truly amazing is the very idea of using a completely alien molecule in such a complex environment and expecting no side effects!
Drugs approved by the FDA cause thousands of deaths per year2. Worse, many drugs are effective in only 30 to 50% of patients!  Conventional drug treatments used for irritable bowel syndrome, chronic pain, psoriasis, and fatigue at best yield modest results but continue to be accepted therapies.
The movement to use substances native to the human body to treat deficiency syndromes encounters immediate opposition from pharmaceutical companies...... unless, of course, they control the natural substance.
Human insulin and human growth hormone are examples of substances exactly the same as those produced in the human body, but are able to be patented due to their manufacturing process.
Vitamin E and DHEA are examples of substances native to the human body that have recently undergone tremendous criticism from agents of pharmaceutical companies who view these over-the-counter substances as streams of revenue flowing in the wrong direction!
We may view drugs as unnatural substances designed to temporarily obviate a single symptom, whereas supplementation of deficient substances provides restoration.
"Aging is not an unalterable process of decline and loss. Hormones are now responsible for this change in attitude. Therefore, routine medical intervention programs offering long term replacement therapy with .........hormones to delay the aging process, allowing us to live for a longer period in a relatively intact state are becoming popular."  For more information about natural hormone replacement therapy, I highly suggest the book by Neal Rouzier, MD, How to Achieve Healthy Aging .
Next, I will tell you a little about each specific hormone. But, with the proviso that you understand that hormones do not work alone. No, they play as an orchestra. Moreover, they play in the concert hall of the body, each biochemically unique. So, discussing the effects of hormones, please remember that I am giving you generalizations that may not describe the exact spectrum of effects in any particular individual.
Thyroid hormone raises the metabolic rate, giving a sense of energy and warmth. There is age-related decline of Thyroid hormone production. As well, there is low thyroid function that is caused ultimately by Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and Grave’s Disease. Hashimoto’s is more commonly seen in women than men.
Current conventional protocols promote the unscientific idea that one blood test, the TSH or Thyroid Stimulating Hormone, which is a brain hormone, not a thyroid hormone, is all that is needed to both define low thyroid function and characterize the adequacy of treatment of low thyroid function. Moreover, the only product advocated by conventional sources for treatment of this condition is levothyroxine, the synthetic, inactive form of the thyroid hormone!
Natural hormone replacement therapists, on the other hand, commonly prescribe Thyroid USP, a combination of both the active form of the thyroid hormone (T3) and the inactive form (T4). This product is highly processed porcine thyroid material conforming to standards of the United States Pharmacopoeia. Alternatively, a combination of synthetically produced T4 & T3 can be prescribed.
A much more detailed article is available on this same website.
Dehydroepiandrosterone, or DHEA, is by far the most common hormone in the human body. It is produced in the adrenal glands, small knuckle shaped organs perched atop the kidney on each side. Receptor sites for this steroid are found in all parts of the human body, including the brain and the heart. DHEA is produced in largest quantities at about age 20. After that, there is a linear decline with very low levels seen in the seventies.
Low levels are associated with fatigue, depression, lack of motivation, lack of a sense of pleasure, sadness, difficulty coping with day to day details, and worry. DHEA improves insulin sensitivity; raises the good cholesterol, HDL; decreases mortality due to heart disease; and decreases mortality due to any cause. High levels of DHEA counter the anatomical changes that occur with stress.
Many people have low levels of DHEA earlier in life. All people ill with heart disease and cancer have low levels of DHEA. Low levels of DHEA are found to be correlated to hypothyroidism, another common cause of fatigue.
Although the fatigue seen with low levels of DHEA can be rapidly reversed, other of the above-listed problems are generally reversed gradually over time with regular supplementation over months. As well, the full benefit of hormone supplementation with all hormones are seen gradually over months with regular supplementation. Thus, consistency is vital.
Optimal blood levels seen in youth in males for the DHEA-sulfate is 300-600 micrograms/deciliter (mcg/dl). In females, the optimal blood levels are 200-300 mcg/dl.
So far, in the United States of America, DHEA is still available over-the-counter. No prescription is required. This is not true for Canada and the European Union, where a prescription is mandatory. The same rules apply for the hormones, melatonin and pregnenolone.
When Lufthansa Airline pilots have a few hours while refueling at our local (Fairbanks, Alaska) airport, they buzz into town in a taxi and purchase melatonin at the local health food store. Although melatonin also declines with aging, dropping into low levels in the mid-50's, it is commonly used in pharmaceutical amounts to promote sleep and as well to allay the effects of jet lag.
But, back to DHEA.......
The dose for males is typically 50 mg per day, also sometimes more or less as adjusted in consultation with the doctor. With females, the dose is typically 25 mg, but can be as low as 5 mg and as much as 50 mg.
For further information about DHEA, please read the dedicated DHEA article on this website.
Although DHEA, Testosterone, Progesterone, and Estradiol are bio-identical steroidal hormones, Growth Hormone is a protein, and thus a string of amino acids folding in upon itself to produce a specific 3-dimensional shape. Growth Hormone is typically referred to as hGH, with the “h” standing for “human”.
Growth Hormone levels spike in humans during puberty and remain at a reasonably stable, youthful level until age 30 or so. By age 60, hGH levels are about 25% of youthful levels.
hGH is considered to be a repair hormone, allowing healing to proceed faster in youth.
Supplementation with bio-identical hGH produced via high tech “recombinant DNA” technology produces the same health benefits of hGH seen in youth.
Please read the article dedicated to Growth Hormone on this website.
This steroidal hormone is produced in both men and women, declines in both gender with age, and is important for a sense of vitality and for prevention of age-related decline. Although known generally for its correlation to sexual interest in both males and females, it’s important to recognize that it prevents osteoporosis and frailty. It should be supplemented in both men and women after andropause / menopause.
On this website are separate articles devoted to Testosterone supplementation for men and women.
Estradiol & Progesterone
Estradiol is the major estrogen in humans. Referred to commonly as E2, Estradiol is vital for protection of the brain, heart, and bones in humans as we age.
Estradiol does not cause cancer, but has been associated with the acceleration of certain cancers, especially certain breast cancers in women. Progesterone is the correct and natural balance to E2 in women, and should always be prescribed to be taken simultaneously with Estradiol. Progesterone has a general cancer preventive effect.
While E2 prevents bone loss in women (& men), Progesterone promotes bone production in women, as Testosterone does in both women and men.
Although different hormones produce a feeling of vitality, cheerfulness, and optimism in different people; in general, Progesterone causes a sense of satisfaction and well being in women.
Please review detailed articles about Estradiol and Progesterone on this same website.
Just take natural hormones? Is that all you have to do to engage in anti-aging and stay healthy longer in life? Uhhh, no! Nutrition and exercise are vital.
You cannot live life from the kitchen to the bathroom to the couch and stay healthy regardless of how many supplements you take.
You need to walk or engage in cardiovascular exercise daily. Your body was made for that. Some moderate weight training is a good idea. So, do both cardiovascular and resistance exercise. If you do not know how or what to do, obtain the services of a personal trainer.
Yoga is an art of exercise that allows preservation of flexibility and youthful posture. It does much, much more than that. I highly advise yoga.
Do you like to dance or move? Or have you always wanted to? Then sign up for some Zumba classes.
Nobody is an expert at first, but benefit comes with consistent practice.
The combination of nutrition, exercise, adequate sleep, and avoidance of smoking, drugs, and alcohol obviously benefit health. Two mechanisms of cumulative physiological damage countered by excellent lifestyle are glycation (damage caused by sugar) [ 6] and oxidative stress (damage caused by highly reactive free radicals) .
Nutrition consists of both diet and any use of nutraceuticals. I advise a diet higher in protein and lower in carbohydrate. My advice is to stay away from modern GMO wheat. Read Wheat Belly by cardiologist William R. Davis, MD .
Weight control for many, if not most people in our society, requires vigilance, not allowing weight to climb above a predetermined amount.
(See article, “Doctor Supervised Weight Loss That Works” on this website)
Autologous Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cells are unspecialized cells that function to change into specialized cells, but also have the capacity to produce more stem cells.
Autologous means that these unspecialized cells are extracted from a person, concentrated, and then given back to the same person in a way that produces health benefit by tissue restoration.
Where do we obtain these cells? They are commonly derived from either bone marrow or fat.
One of the most common autologous stem cell procedures is joint restoration. A patient may present with complaints of knee damage that is “bone-on-bone”, and may be advised to obtain joint replacement surgery. Instead, a needle is inserted into the marrow compartment of the pelvic bone, allowing marrow material to be sucked into a syringe. The marrow is then rapidly centrifuged, gaining the fraction of the substance containing the stem cells, which are then injected into the knee joint. Thus, surgery is avoided.
An alternate method is to remove some fat by liposuction, which is then processed to obtain the fraction containing the stem cells. This process is more involved and time consuming than taking bone marrow. The advantage of the fat source is providing a greater number of stem cells. About one-half of cells in adipose tissue, by number, are stem cells. However, by size, the bloated fat cells have by far the greater volume.
Each milliliter of fat contain 500,00 to 1,000,000 stem cells! 
The advantage of using bone marrow is speed. The disadvantage of bone marrow is soreness at the site of bone puncture, not major, that can be noticeable for several months.
Back in 2011, when I received my training regarding extraction of stem cells from fat, there were vials of fat, open to the air, to which were added enzymes to digest unwanted tissue, then, mechanical washings, centrifugation, and pouring out unwanted layers of substance by hand. So, a good 6 steps were involved in a separate laboratory room.
The extraction of stem cells from fat has become less involved in the last several years, with machinery allowing “closed” processing of fat to stem cells in one step for the operator. The machine conducts all the separate steps of extraction automatically with equipment preventing bacterial contamination.
So, with the advent of superior processing devices, the tide has turned, with the advantages of extracting stem cells from fat now outweighing the rapidity of processing bone marrow derived cells.
The number of stems cells obtained from fat can be enhanced by engaging in bio-identical hormone replacement therapy. As well, certain botanicals taken prior to fat extraction can increase derived stem cells.
Point of care stem cell procedures are commonly done in the United States .
The difference of autologous stem cell treatment between the US and certain other countries, including Mexico, is that the use of stem cell number “expansion” using media culture is forbidden in the US by the FDA.
The FDA does not regulate the “practice of medicine”, but does regulate drugs. However, the FDA defines “drugs”, thus in one way defining the practice of medicine.
The federal regulators are saying that if the patient’s fat is extracted and stem cells are processed and given back to the patient within one sitting (during the same appointment, on the same day), that is the “practice of medicine”.
But, if the cells are extracted, then the patient returns 2 or 3 days later to receive the expanded number of cells that were cultured in the meantime, the product is a “drug”. Doctors are not allowed to produce drugs without going through the same process as pharmaceutical companies. There is no such prohibition in Mexico, and very good autologous stem cell therapy occurs in Tijuana.
This is all in the name of protecting the public. As well, but not mentioned, is that pharmaceutical companies are also protected.
Still, a lot of marvelous stem cell therapies, which I will not go into in this article, [6,7] can be accomplished simply by processing more fat to obtain more stem cells.
Telomeres are the protective end caps on strands of DNA. The are made up of nucleic acids, just as is the DNA itself, but are repetitive without signaling genetic programming. Their importance is that each time a cell divides, the telomeres shorten just a bit. When they reach a critical minimum, then the cells can no longer divide accelerating the aging process. This issue is important for somatic (differentiated) cells, and ultimately for stem cells as well .
Unlike somatic cells, Stem cells produce telomerase, a substance that increases the length of telomeres, but this process degrades over time. A nutraceutical, called TA-65, extracted from the shrub, astragalus, can lengthen telomeres and demonstrates restorative health benefit. To understand this subject in greater detail, please read Telomere Timebombs, an excellent book by Ed Park, MD .
This article is meant to be a short overview of anti-aging or restoration medicine in its current state. Obviously, we live in a transitional period of great change regarding biology and medicine.
So, this article will need to be updated often.
As well, I avoided much detail.
Please read the more complete articles available on this website. As well, please ask questions, and I will gladly answer them to my best ability.
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignaz_Semmelweis, Accessed 13Apr08.
- Dangerous Medicine, Life Extension Magazine, March 2004, pgs 9-12, http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2004/mar2004_awsi_01.htm
- Biomedicina 2000 Jan;Vol 3(1):6-7.
- How To Achieve Healthy Aging, 2nd Ed., Neal Rouzier, MD, Worldlink Medical Publishing, 2008.
- Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health, William R. Davis, MD, Rodale Books (2011)
- The Stem Cell Revolution, Mark Berman, MD & Elliot Lander, MD, AuthorHouse, 2015.
- Telomere Timebombs - Defusing the Terror of Aging, Ed Park, MD, ISBN: 978-0-4942-5309-7 (2013)