|Science Discovers the Physiological Value of Continence|
The modern view is that the origin of nervous and mental disorders is to be looked for in the endocrine glands. Now it is interesting to note that organic phosphorus, in the form of lecithin, is not only a prominent constituent of nerve and brain tissue but also of the endocrine glands, and is as necessary to the nutrition of the latter as it is of the former. Fenger, in an article, "Phosphatides in the Ductless Glands," points out that all the ductless gland, like nervous tissue, are rich in lecithin (phosphatides, phospholipins). An ether-extract of the pituitary gland was found to contain 62.61% lecithin. The anterior portion of the gland was found to contain ten times as much phosphatides (lecithin) as lean meat; the posterior pituitary, seven times this amount, being similar in composition to the brain. The pineal gland was found to contain thirteen times as much lecithin as lean meat. Jeleffy showed, the pineal gland is filled with neuroglia and rich in phosphorus; these neuroglia are believed to possess photo-sensibility to ultra-violet rays. The corpus luteum of the ovary was found by Fenger to contain 15 times as much phosphatides as lean meat, and the suprarenal gland was found to contain the most of all, seventeen times as much as lean meat.
In view of these observations, we can understand the reason why Dr. Brinkley places the sex glands in the position of master glands in the endocrine chain, for they alone, through their external secretion, are able to withdraw considerable amounts of lecithin and phosphatides from the circulation, and thus directly affect the functioning of the other glands, which are so dependent on phosphatides for their normal functioning. The immediate effect of such sudden lowering of the phosphatide content of the blood, as the result of seminal emissions, is to produce hyperactivity of other endocrines. This explains the observed swelling of the thyroid gland during menstruation, and as the result of coitus, which is noticeable in women, in whom this gland enlarges and over-secretes at this time. For this reason hyperthyroidism and goiter have a relation to sexual excess. Enlargement of the thyroid gland in the bride the morning after the wedding has traditionally been taken as a sign that intercourse has taken place. But while the immediate effect of such phosphatide withdrawal is overactivity of the other endocrines, as a compensatory factor in the body's effort to maintain a normal concentration of phosphatides in the blood, the final effect is to produce underactivity and atrophy of the endocrines, due to chronic phosphatide deficiency; and this is why sexual excess leads to an earlier appearance of senility, a condition resulting from endocrine hypofunction and degeneration. Thus the basic cause of endocrine dysfunctions--hypoactivity or hyperactivity--is to be found in the sex glands and their ability to alter the lecithin or phosphatide content of the blood, which is the primary raw material from which the endocrines manufacture their hormones.
There is no time in life when the endocrine glands of the individual may be more powerfully affected by a deficiency of phosphatides than during the months of embryonic development, when these glands are most sensitive to their chemical environment, the maternal blood-stream. Deficiency of phosphatides in the mother's blood at this time, due to ovarian overactivity (as the result of sexual intercourse) may affect the development of the thyroid and other endocrine glands of the embryo, as well as of its central nervous system. This explains the origin of cretins and Mongolian idiots, when born of parents with normal heredity. Prof. M. Schlapp, neuropsychiatrist of the New York Post-Graduate Hospital, has made a special study of this problem, studying hundreds of cases of cretins born of normal parents, and his conclusion is that a prenatal injury to the thyroid and other glands of the embryo by an endocrine disturbance in the mother was the basic cause of such conditions. He noted a preponderance of such children born from adolescent mothers or those approaching the climateric, when the ovaries tend to be most active. Dr. Schlapp believes that glandular depletion of the mother during gestation is the basic cause of the production of cretins and idiots, when there is no direct hereditary causation. It is clear that such "glandular depletion" can result from the excessive withdrawal of phosphatides from the mother's blood as the result of sexual intercourse during pregnancy, which also tends to produce endocrine dysfunction in the form of glandular hyper-and-hypoactivities.
The phosphatide withdrawal caused by activity of the sex glands and seminal emission exercises a most powerful effect upon the thymus glands, which are most dependent on adequate phosphorus supply for their normal well-being and activity. Now it is interesting to note that coincident with the increased activity of the sex glands at puberty and the subsequent withdrawal by them of phosphatides, the thymus gland degenerates. Such degeneration may be viewed as a product of lecithin deficiency, similar to the endocrine degeneration which McCarrison notes to result from vitamin B deficiency. If lack of vitamin B causes the thymus to degenerate, lack of lecithin, which is similar in its action, should do the same. Experiments on animals have shown that the thymus is more easily affected than other glands by deficiency of phosphorus and vitamins in the diet, and atrophies then deprived of these elements. The lymphoid cells of the thymus, according Chittenden, contain 3.5% of a nucleo-protein rich in phosphorus.
According to Hammar, the thymus increases in weight from 5 grams at birth to 25 grams at puberty, after which it commences to diminish, losing 5 grams between the ages of 15 and 25. However there are individuals in whom this thymus degeneration does not occur and in whom the thymus persist throughout life. According to Berman, Raphael, noted for his chastity, was such a thymocentric individual in whom thymus degeneration did not occur. It is probable that phosphatide starvation as the result of the seminal emissions of puberty cause the customary degeneration of the thymus at this time. This results from a disturbance of phosphorus metabolism, which leads to a similar disturbance of calcium metabolism. Basch found considerable excretion of calcium in thymectomized animals, which leads to ricket-like symptoms.
The parenchyma of the thymus contains nucleinates rich in phosphorus. Nucleohiston, the most important protein of the thymus, contains 3.7% phosphorus. The richness of the thymus in phosphorus shows that it is important not only for the proper development of the bones, but also the brain, for which reason premature atrophy of the thymus leads to the appearance of idiocy. At the Bicetre Hospital, according to Morel, 75 per cent of non-myxedematous idiotic children, from one to five years old, showed absence of the thymus gland on post-mortem examination. Bourneville also found absence of the thymus in 28 feeble-minded children examined. Basch, Kloss, Vogt, Morel and others observed mental disorders in puppies the fifth or sixth month after removal of the thymus. The animals appeared idiotic and retarded in development. Both bone and brain deformities appeared as the result of the phosphorus deficiency thus produced.
That the internal secretion of the sex glands may have a nutritive function in relation to nervous tissue and brain cells, and that mental diseases may result from its absence, is indicated by the observation of McCarrison, who found that atrophy of the testicles is frequently found in cerebral and spinal diseases. Thorek, in his work on the testis, notes developmental defects in the reproductive system of idiots and cretins. Todde found diminished weight of the testicle in 88% of 25 cases of dementia praecox studied. Many physicians also noted an improvement in dementia praecox after gland transplantation. Frequently, in operating upon women having dementia praecox and other psychoses, atrophied ovaries are found. Neurotic phenomena usually follow the removal of the ovaries. Matsumotot, in study of 20 cases of dementia praecox, found cessation of spermatogenesis.
These facts indicate an intimate relation between spermatozoa and the cells of the cerebral cortex, absence of the formation of the former leading to decline of the latter. There is evidence that spermatozoa, when not discharged, are resorbed into the blood-stream and carried to the brain. Both in their chemical composition and their elongated form, they have a remarkable similarity to brain-cells, which, like them, lack the capacity of reproduction, in contrast to most other cells of the body which have this capacity. Could spermatozoa, passing to the brain and spinal marrow, have a relation to the mobile neuroglia, which likewise move about by flagellated motions of their tail, and which are potential cells of the central nervous system? This is an interesting speculation. Norret must have had some such thought in mind when he remarked, "The resorption of what Dr.LeCamus called a mass of microscopic brains is a source of vigor and longevity."
That the semen contains substances of great physiological value, especially in relation to the nutrition of the nervous system, is clear from its chemical analysis, which shows that it is extremely rich in lecithin, cholesterin and phosphorus, the chief constituents of nerve and brain tissue. It therefore follows that the withdrawal of these substances from the circulation by seminal discharges (voluntarily or involuntarily) must have an adverse effect on the nutrition of nerve and brain tissue and result in disturbed functioning. Such biochemical consideration support the view that loss of seminal fluid involves lowered nutrition of nerve and brain tissue, and, when excessive, to nervous and mental disorders. The remarkable similarity in chemical composition between the semen and the central nervous system indicates such a relationship. Older physiologists suspected this fact. Hoffman wrote:
"One easily understands why there is so intimate a connection between the brain and the testicles, since these two organs separate from the blood the most exquisite part of the lymph... The seminal fluid is distributed in all the nerves of the body; it seems to be of the same nature." (Could this "most exquisite" part of the lymph which both the testicles and the brain extract from the blood be lecithin?)
That the semen contains substances of great importance for the nutrition of the central nervous system was clearly shown by the isolation from the semen of Spermine, the active principle of testicular extracts, by Poehl, a Russian physiologist. Poehl found that when Spermine was injected into animals it acted as a catalyst of cell activity, resulting in an increased rate of oxidation in all tissues, metabolic processes being accelerated and nervous citality increased. The effects were similar to those observed by Brown-Sequard after spermatic injections. Since Schreiner, the discoverer of spermin, had shown in 1878 that it is a normal constituent of the semen, this indicates that the latter acts as a nerve stimulant in the organism in which it is formed and resorbed, and that its loss must deprive the nervous system and brain of its stimulating action. It may be for this reason that natives in some parts of Australia, according to Havelock Ellis, administer a potion of semen to feeble and dying members of their tribe.
Both the semen and the brain are composed largely of phosphorized fats, or phospholipins, to which class lecithin belongs. Lecithin is a substance of great importance for the nervous tissue. It is claimed by some that the nerve fatigue experienced at the end of the day's activities is due to an exhaustion of the daily supply of lecithin in the myelin sheaths of the nerves, and that the invigorating effect of sleep is due to this lecithin being replenished during the night. The chronic fatigue of old age is considered to be due to a lecithin deficiency of the endocrine glands and the body as a whole. Lecithin is essential to the life of the nervous system, the brain and the endocrine glands. Alderhalden, in his "Physiological Chemistry", describes the distribution of lecithin as follows: "It occurs principally in animal tissues, in the brain, nerves, fish-eggs, yolk of eggs and in the spermatozoa." According to Prof. Sajous, lecithin is "a conspicuous component of the brain, nerves, yolk of egg and the semen."
Now since both the brain and the semen depend for their supply of lecithin on what exists in the blood, it is clear that excessive withdrawal of lecithin by the sex glands would mean that a smaller amount would be available for the nutrition of nerve and brain tissue. May not neuroses and psychoses be due to such diminished nutrition of nerve and brain cells due to such diminished nutrition of nerve and brain cells due to excessive withdrawal of lecithin and cholesterol from the blood to replace expended seminal secretions? The tonic effect of lecithin preparations upon the nervous system would indicate that the conservation of the body's own lecithin should constitute a therapeutic measure of primary importance in the treatment of neurasthenia and mental disorders.
Lecithin is readily combustible, and containing a large amount of stored potential energy, it is well adapted to sustaining the ceaseless activities of the brain and nervous system, as well as the respiratory organs, through its oxidation, which releases nerve electricity. As oil burns in the fine ramifications of a wick so does lecithin burn in the fine ramifications of the nerve fibers.
The only other part of the body that can compare with brain, nerve and endocrine tissue in high content of lecithin is the semen and spermatozoa, for like the brain, the semen is a fatty substance rich in phosphorized fats, the phosphatides or phospholipins. That considerable lecithin is required for the forming of spermatozoa is indicated by Miescher's observation that the amount of lecithin in the blood is increased during the period of formation of the reproductive cells.
The fat content of the human blood is abut 2 per cent. It is present either combined with phosphorus as the group of esthers known as the lecithins, or with waxy alcohols in the form of cholesterols. The concentration of these substances, both of which are constituents of the semen and the brain and nerves, often vary, depending on intake and outgo; thus the eating of egg yolk can increase the concentration of both. Activity of the sex glands causes withdrawal of both. This means a lessened supply available to the nervous system. Neurasthenia may be the result of such lecithin and cholesterol withdrawals, which, if excessive can lead to actual psychoses.
One of the earliest discoveries about the chemistry of the brain is its high content of phosphorus, which is either combined with proteins and sugar as nucleo-proteins, with proteins alone as phosphoproteins, or with lipoids as phospholipins, to which group lecithin belongs. On the basis of such observations arose the saying of Moleschotte and Liebig, "There can be no thinking without phosphorus." Thus started the tradition that phosphorus and foods rich in it are good for one leading a brainly life. Dr.Louis Berman, biochemist, suggests that the properties of characteristic of the brain are connected with the presence of phospholipins (oxygen-poor fats combined with phosphoric acid) within it. "That they increase in amount proportionate to the degree of complexity of the nervous system as it gets older and more learned also supports the view of their importance," he observes, so answering himself a question he elsewhere brings up in another part of his book, "Food and Character": "No one has yet isolated the various substances which make for the best metabolism of the nerve cells, and their quickest recovery from fatigue. When these substances will be in our hands, the chemistry of the superman will be in view. The artificial creation of mentally superior human beings will then become the definitely achievable ultimate goal of chemistry." These substances for the best nutrition of nerve and brain tissue are without doubt the phospholipins, including lecithin. They are present in the semen and internally fed to the body when the seminal fluid is conserved and resorbed, rather than wasted. It then becomes a true internal nerve and brain food.
The gray matter of the brain contains 17% lecithin, which is the essential and indispensable medium through which the higher intellectual processes manifest themselves. The greater the purity in which lecithin is found, the higher the intelligence of the animal, even in insects. The superior acuteness displayed, for instance, by bees and ants, is due to this fact. The quality of these highly organized phosphorus compounds (i.e., lecithin) appears to be vitally connected with the intellectual capacity of the brain. In idiocy and insanity there is a qualitative and quantitative diminution of brain lecithin.
That insanity might be due to a deficiency of lecithin in the brain, resulting from a deficiency in the blood, is indicated by the observations of Lassaigne, who found a decreased quantity of lecithin in the white brain matter of the insane. Commenting on this subject, Fischer, a French biochemist, states: "The content of the brain in combined lipoids seems, then, to have some relation to intellectual power and to its modifications as well." Similarly, insanity due to alcohol has been shown to be due to the same cause, since alcohol is a lipoid solvent. It has been shown by experiment that in the series of agents which act as narcotics, the anesthetic power increases in proportion to the quantity of lipoids that the liquids employed are capable of dissolving from the brain. Chloroform and ether both possess the property of dissolving lipoids, as was shown in 1905 by Overton, the discoverer of the lipoids. It has also been shown that after anesthesia, ether and chloroform accumulate in the nervous tissues. The experiments of Niclous and Frison have proven that the white matter of the brain, which contains twice as much lipoids as the gray, can fix twice as much chloroform. May not the deep unconsciousness that follows sexual activity be due to withdrawals of lipoids from the brain by the sexual orgasm, producing results similar to those that follow the administration of an anesthetic, which likewise withdraws lipoids from this organ?
Since both the brain and the sex organs extract identical substances from the blood (lecithin, cholesterol, etc.), this would mean that there exists a chemical antagonism between them since increased activity of the latter means decreased nutrition of the former. The more lipoids that the sex glands withdraw from the blood, the less is available to the brain. This is confirmed by the observation of Darwin that the brain of rabbits diminishes in size under domestication. It is well known that domesticated animals have more frequent estrual periods and reproductive activity than wild ones. The diminished size of the brain in the domesticated species is associated with greater sexual activity and resulting withdrawal of brain lipoids.
These considerations indicate that all loss of seminal lipoids, whether through coitus, masturbation or nocturnal emissions, are at the expense of the brain: and this effect is most detrimental during childhood and before maturity, when the brain is in the process of growth. Chakraberty, discussing the adverse effect of seminal losses upon the brain, writes: "The loss of concentration of lecithin and phosphates becomes a serious drain on the nervous system. Lecithin and phosphates are the principal components in the structure of the brain."
Continence results in a greater supply of lecithin, cholester(?) and phosphates in the blood, and consequently in the brain. Brown-Sequard has shown that testicular secretions increase nerve and brain vitality. Chakraberty remarks that the eating of desiccated testicles has a stimulating effect on the central nervous system "due to the nucleo-albumins, lecithin and phosphorus in which they are so rich, and which are also prominent constituents of nervous tissues." (However, there is no need to eat desiccated testicles when each individual can conserve and resorb the valuable secretions of his own). According to Fischer, the sex glands may be considered as reservoirs of lipoids, which they release into the blood to energize the brain. And conversely, through external emission, they can withdraw lipoids from the blood, and thus indirectly from the brain.
No adequate comprehension of the sexual question can be had without understanding the chemical composition of the semen and spermatozoa. When it is realized that they contain in high concentration phospholipins essential to the nutrition and normal functioning of the central nervous system, it will be realized that withdrawal of these substances from the body by seminal emissions must have an adverse effect on the nutrition of the brain and nerves, predisposing to neurasthenia and other nervous and mental affections. Here we have the biochemical basis for a new neurology and psychiatry.