Dr. R. W. Bernard (Walter Siegmeister)

Science Discovers the Physiological Value of Continence


A Biochemical Theory of Neurosis and Psychosis

Part 2 of 3

Dr. R. W. Bernard, a.k.a. Walter Siegmeister

top of page


Basis of Understanding


It is the purpose of this chapter to present the basis for a new biochemical understanding of the origin and treatment of neuroses and psychoses, based on new knowledge of the chemical effects of the secretions of the sex glands, both internal and external, upon the central nervous system.

The eminent physiologist, Prof. Eugen Steinach [1] has performed experiments which definitely showed that the internal secretions of the sex glands, after being resorbed into the circulation, pass principally to the brain and spinal cord, wherein they are stored. Steinach's experiments consisted in injecting into a series of castrated frogs extracts of the brain and spinal cord of frogs in heat, and into a second series of castrates extracts of the brain and spinal cord of similar castrates were injected.

[1. (1861-1944) en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugen_Steinach ]

In the first series a good clasp reflex appeared, while in the second series no changes were visible. Steinach also found that injections of other organs of frogs in heat were unable to evoke the clasp reflex in the castrate. He therefore concluded that the primary action of the internal secretion of the sex glands, after passing into the blood, is upon the central nervous system, through the medium of which, probably by producing local changes in blood supply, effects are produced in various parts of the body.

The physiologist, Nussbaum, [2] conducted similar experiments, on the basis of which he concluded that "the internal secretion of the testicle acts in a specific manner only on certain nervous centers from which impulses are sent to certain organs, and the metabolism of the latter is changed in a given direction." He observed that at the approach of the breeding season in the male frog, there appeared a thickened pad of skin on the first digit of each forelimb associated with an increased muscular development of the forearm. This modification is used in the act of copulation. If the male frog is castrated, the pad is not formed and the muscle fails to develop.

[2. Referenced by Havelock Ellis.]

Nussbaum then noted that if pieces of testis from another frog are grafted into the dorsal lymph sac of a frog previously castrated, the secondary sexual characters of the latter developed just as in a normal frog. He also found that if the nerves supplying the first digit were severed, the pad did not develop, and if the nerves supplying the clasping muscles of the fore-arm were severed, the enlargement did not occur. He concluded that the internal secretion of the testis had a specific action on certain local groups of ganglion cells, and that the influence of the testis on the metabolism of different tissues is intermediated through the nervous system.

In the light of these and other physiological experiments, the fact is well established that the action of the secretions produced by the sex glands and resorbed into the blood-stream is primarily on the brain and spinal cord. The eminent authority, Professor [Max] Thorek, in his work, "The Human Testis," [3] writes as follows on this subject:

[3. Published 1924. Google Books ]

"The gonad elaborates through its internal secretions the chemical products which are taken up by the circulation and carried to the central nervous system, and there erotization results. That these substances of internal secretion have a selective action seems probable, and that such substances are stored in the central nervous system, seems, in view of recent experiments, quite certain. ... O'Malleey thinks that the direct action of the chemical products of the gonads through the nervous system influences the growth and increased metabolism of every tissue of the body. That there is a direct relationship between the gonads and the hypophysis is fairly well established... Since the time of Hippocrates and Aristotle, it has been believed that there was a coordination between the testicular fluid and the nervous system, brain and cord."

top of page


Sex Glands and the Brain

There exists considerable evidence from the field of psychiatry to indicate a definite relationship between the sex glands and the brain, and that the degeneration of the latter organ is usually accompanied by a degeneration of the former. Sir Frederick Mott [4] found that the testicles in 27 cases of dementia praecox show atrophy of the seminiferous tubules and absence of spermatogenesis.

[4. (1853-1926) A pioneer of biochemistry in Britain. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Walker_Mott ]

The similarity between the state of the testicles and that of the brain suggests that this disease might result from a premature atrophy of the gonads, commencing at puberty or early adolescence and becoming more marked until it culminates in impotency accompanied by cerebral involution.

In this connection it should be noted that the majority of these insane subjects studied by Mott were habitual masturbators, which practice should have a relation to their testicular degeneration, which Mott considers the primary cause of their brain involution and degeneration. Mott's observations were confirmed by [Alexandru] Obregia [1860-1937], [C.I.] Parhon and [C.I.] Urechia who also found degeneration of the seminiferous tubules and absence of spermatogenesis in dementia praecox. These investigators conclude that spermatozoa may have an internal function that is necessary for the normal metabolism of the brain, and that dementia praecox may be due to an alteration or deficiency of their production due to degeneration of the seminiferous tubules of auto-intoxication.

That the latter may result from masturbation and sexual excess in causing a chemical withdrawal from the circulation of lecithin, cholesterin and phosphorus compounds necessary for the nutrition of the brain (all of which substances are especially abundant in the semen), is indicated by the studies of the eminent American neurologist and psychiatrist, Dr. E.C. Spitzka, [5] a celebrated brain anatomist who was formerly president of the New York Neurological Society. In his psychiatric textbook, "Insanity, Its Classification, Diagnosis and Treatment," Dr. Spitzka writes:

[5. (1852-1914) wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Charles_Spitzka ]

"That a connection between the development of the mind and the male genitals exists is indisputable. Even if we assume that the defective development of the genital system found in brain monstrosities, idiots, imbeciles, original monomaniacs and the periodically insane is an accidental accompaniment of the neural maldevelopment, we must admit the convincing proof that the early extirpation of the testicles, as in eunuchs and castrated animals, exerts and influence on the mental complexion and development.

"The functional abuse of the male sexual apparatus is of more general importance to the alienist than its organic affections. Excessive venery and masturbation have from time immemorial been supposed to exert a deleterious influence on the nervous system, and may provoke insanity, partly through their weakening effect on the general nutrition.

"That there is a close connection between pathological nervous states and the sexual function is exemplified in the satryriasis of mania and in the early stages of paretic dementia, as well as in the sexual delusions of manomania, and abnormal genital sensations of that condition. In the former case the sexual exaltation is a result, in the latter the genital sensations are collateral phenomena of the psychosis, but there are certain cases in which, while an original predisposition may have existed, masturbation is the factor responsible for the production of insanity."

In his "Masturbatic Insanity," Dr. Spitzka presents a study of twelve cases of insanity, all of which he attributes to masturbation. He claims that the occurrence of psychoses as the result of masturbation is primarily due to arrested brain nutrition. This results from the withdrawal from the circulation of brain-nourishing lecithin and other phosphorus compounds through excessive seminal discharges. For we must remember that lecithin is a chief constituent of the myelin sheaths of nerve-cells and essential for their activity, during which it is consumed; for it is the nerve-oil that keeps the fire of nerve and brain activity burning. Since lecithin is also a principal constituent of the semen, we can readily understand why excessive sexual activity should lead to lecithin deficiency and undernutrition of nerve and brain cells.

top of page


Mental Precocity

While degeneration and diminished size of the testicles have been found to accompany the involution of the brain in dementia praecox and other psychoses, excessive development of the testes had been found to be associated with mental precocity. Professors Morro of Turin and Snochi of Genoa came across a child of nine who had three testicles and whose intelligence was far above that which is considered normal at its age. The parents, alarmed by the unusual characteristics of the child, had the extra testicle removed. Some months later the child's intellectual development underwent a regression, which brought it down to the mental level corresponding to its age.

In this connection, it is interesting to note that in contrast with the lasciviousness of idiots and the insane, which, according to Dr. Spitzka, is largely responsible for their arrested brain nutrition and development, most of the greatest mental geniuses in history led strictly continent lives (which should result in superior brain nutrition from the conservation of lecithin and other brain-nourishing seminal constituents). Thus among philosophers we have Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, Porphyry, Proclus, Leibniz, Berkeley, Locke, Spinoza, Kant and Spencer; among artists, Leonardo da Vinci, Michael Angelo, Raphael and Fra Angelica; among composers, Handel and Beethoven; and among scientists Newton.

We have just seen how profoundly the sex glands influence the brain. Their influence on the nerves, however, is more immediate and profound. Deficiency of lecithin, present in the myelin sheaths of the nerves and necessary for their nourishment and the generation of their vitality, as the result of external discharge through the semen (which is very rich in this substance), provides a biochemical explanation of the etiology of neurasthenia, and indicates the proper method of therapy for this common malady. This fact has been suspected by Dr. Beard, [6] originator of the term, "neurasthenia," [c. 1869] who, in the latter part of the nineteenth century, first studied this ailment, subsequently known as the "American disease."

[6. (1839-1883) en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Miller_Beard ]

In his work, "Sexual Neurasthenia," [Archive.Org] Beard first called attention to the fact that though other factors may promote it, neurasthenia has a sexual origin, the weakened condition of the nerves being intimately related to the sexual life of the individual. He came to the conclusion that neurasthenia has its origin in abnormal functioning of the sexual organs by the observation that in patients who came to him with functional nervous diseases, examination invariably showed that there was a condition of inflammation of the prostatic urethra. He wrote:

"In men, as in women, a large group of nervous symptoms, which are very common indeed, would not exist but for morbid states in the reproductive system... A morbid state of this part of the body is both an effect and a cause of nervous exhaustion."

Beard then proceeded to determine what caused this morbid condition in the reproductive organs (inflammation of the prostatic urethra), which he considered the predisposing cause of neurasthenia. A study of the symtomatology of spermatorrhea, [Wikipedia] a disease characterized by an involuntary loss of sexual secretions (in the urine, after defecation, or at other times), led him to a solution of this problem. Beard noted that spermatorrhea was a frequent symptom of all kinds of neurasthenic as well as other debilitating diseases, and that there was a direct relationship between the amount of seminal fluid discharged and the intensity of the nervous symptoms.

He also found that frequent nocturnal emissions likewise led to neurasthenic symptoms. "Seminal emissions," he concluded, are frequently the cause of nervous and other diseases." In spite of their universality (among civilized males, but not among animals), Beard believed that nocturnal emissions are pathological; and like spermatorrhea, a related condition of seminal emission, they are suscepstantially cured, he stated. This, he claimed, by the conservation of nerve-nourishing seminal constituents that results, would markedly reduce the nervous symptoms thus produced.

As the result of his observations, Beard came to the conclusion that neurasthenia is a direct effect of the withdrawal from the blood of certain chemical substances needed for the nutrition of nervous tissue, which results from seminal discharges; and that the loss of considerable quantities of seminal fluid, involuntarily or voluntarily, leads to undernourishment of the cells of the central nervous system, causing them to be weakened and exhausted. He also pointed out that this condition is usually associated with an inflammatory state of the prostatic urethra "which is so often the source whence all these difficulties originate, and by which they are maintained." The prostatic urethra, he claimed, is the most important center of reflex irritation of the body, a morbid state of which is both an effect and cause of nervous exhaustion.

top of page


Prostate and Indulgence

The next question that arises is: What is the cause of this congested and inflammatory condition of the prostatic urethra, which predisposes the individual to spermatorrhea and neurasthenia. This, Beard claims, is primarily a result of sexual indulgence, especially involving the practices of contraception and coitus interruptus. Neurasthenic symptoms also follow involuntary seminal emissions by night or day, whether they assume the form of excessive nocturnal emissions, diurnal emissions or true spermatorrhea. "There is quite a long series of diseases, symptoms and hygienic problems involved in the relation of the genital function to the nervous system," he concluded.

There appears to be a definite relation between disturbed functioning of the prostate gland and neurasthenia. In view of the fact that the prostatic secretion was found by Stern to contain "abundant amounts" of lecithin, which is an important constituent of nervous tissue, we can readily understand why the loss of prostatic secretion, a constituent of the semen, should tend to cause undernutrition of nerve-cells by depriving them of lecithin, and thus bring about chronic undernourishment of the nervous system, manifesting in neurasthenia. For this reason, lecithin preparations have been used for years by European physicians for the cure of neurasthenia, and with marked success. But there is no sense in administering lecithin externally if the organism is losing its own physiological lecithin through seminal discharges, the dietary prevention of which should be the first step in the treatment of neurasthenia.

Concerning the relation between the prostate gland and neurasthenia, Dr. [G. Frank] Lydston, professor of diseases of the genito-urinary organs and syphilology at the Medical School of the University of Illinois, says:

"Considering the abundant sensory and sympathetic nerve supply of the prostate and its intimate relation to the sympathetic nervous system in general, the frequency with which nervous symptoms develop in patients suffering from prostatic disease is not remarkable... Disturbed prostate may lead to the male equivalent of hysteria, to melancholia, headache and depression... It is the author's belief that the prostate secretes a hormone, the perversion of which, conjoined with the absorption of infection toxins, often has much to do with the etiology of sexual neurasthenia."

In his book, "Psychopathia Sexualis," [7] Kraft-Ebing mentions a number of cases of neurasthenia caused by masturbation and sexual excess. In all these cases, the nervous derangement, which was often the starting-point of a mental derangement, had one primary cause: loss of prostatic and other seminal constituents through orgasms or involuntary seminal emissions. He considers sexual neurasthenia to commence, as a local neurosis of the genitalia, accompanied by frequent seminal emissions, and to progressively develop into a neurosis of the lumbar cord, [8] accompanied by frequent nocturnal emissions, diurnal emissions and impairment of sexual vigor.

[7. Epub version: selfdefinition.org/hearing-voices/ ]

[8. Richard Rose: "... a 'body' means you’re a mouth at one end and a sex organ at the other ..." From 1977-0405-Zen-Columbus.]

Professor Casper, [9] of the University of Berlin, regards spermatorrhea and neurasthenia as going hand in hand, and that both result from excessive seminal losses through sexual excess, leading to involuntary emissions.

[9. (1859-1959, lived to 100) en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leopold_Casper ]

In his "Textbook of Genito-Urinary Diseases," speaking of spermatorrhea, he says: "Sexual excesses may cause the symptom, either directly or by causing neurasthenia. Of the sexual excesses, masturbation occupies first place. It must be conceded that if the habit is persisted in for years it will impair the soundness of both body and mind, that it will result in enfeeblement and hyperesthenia of the nervous system... Frequent pollutions may occur in certain organic diseases of the spinal cord, in the early stages of tabes and myelitis, for instance." Among the causes of nervous diseases Casper refers to coitus interruptus as a prominent one.

Modern studies of the etiology of neurasthenia trace this disorder to a disturbance in the functioning of the endocrine glands, which glandular dysfunction has a sexual causation. According to Dr. Harrower, "The more we study the neurasthenic individual and closely observe the incidental variations in functional activity, the more evident it becomes that neurasthenia rarely exists without some associated disturbance in the work of the ductless glands."

The fluids elaborated by the testes, the prostate gland and the accessory sex glands are very rich in phosphorus, as are the spermatozoa themselves. The loss of semen must therefore lower the phosphorus content of the blood, for it is from here that these glands derive the phosphorus for the manufacture of their secretions. This must deprive the nervous system of an element so necessary for its nutrition and normal well-being. This explains the neurasthenic effects of masturbation and sexual excess, which are due to loss of phosphorus through seminal emissions. The same occurs in prostatitis, where considerable phosphorus is lost through the expelled prostatic fluid. Lorand points out the beneficial influence of phosphorus when administered in many brain disorders, which are accompanied by a diminution of the phosphorus content of the brain, as Marie found in idiocy and dementia praecox. In the brain phosphorus is present chiefly in the form of lecithin, a phosphorized fat.

top of page


Without Phosphorus, No Thought

Dr. Evans, an English physiologist, has presented the interesting idea that thinking is merely a phase of phosphorus metabolism in the brain, which recalls the saying of German biochemists, "Ohne Phosphor keine Gedanken" (Without phosphorus, no thought). Evans states that during thinking and mental exertion, phosphates are increased in the excreta; and he therefore concludes that thinking involves an oxidation of phosphorus compounds in the brain (under the catalytic influence of the iodine of the thyroid hormone).

Evans says: "If we take a fresh brain (either human or animal), and immerse it in either absolute alcohol, sulphuric ether or olive oil, we obtain a luminous solution of phosphorus." This may be the origin of the phosphorescent "brain glow" observed by Dr. G.W. Crile as given off by the living brain in a dark room. In this oxidation of phosphorus in the brain, Evans sees the origin of the generation of electric nerve-currents (for the oxidation of phosphorus in the atmosphere causes an electric discharge to be given off. Crile has shown that the electrical energy of the nervous system is generated in the brain, which represents a central storage battery of the body.)

It is thus clear that phosphorus, oxygen and sufficient thyroid hormone (iodine) are all necessary for the normal generation of brain electricity, and that in the absence of either of these three elements, there will be deficient brain action. For it is well known that the brain is richer in phosphorus than any other part of the body, and also uses up oxygen three times as rapidly as other tissues; also without the catalytic influence of the thyroid hormone, it cannot function normally -- or without iodine on which element the thyroid depends for the manufacture of its secretion.

According to this point of view, neurasthenia may be considered as representing a condition of phosphorus deficiency, or rather lecithin deficiency -- for lecithin is the form in which phosphorus is present in the myelin sheaths of the nerves, the nerve-oil whose burning keeps the fires of nerve vitality burning. Since lecithin is a prominent constituent of the semen, we can understand why excessive loss of semen can cause nerve starvation and all the symptoms of neurasthenia.

When the lack of lecithin and organic phosphorus is more serious, the brain itself suffers lecithin deficiency and becomes disturbed in its functioning, just as any other starved organ is when deprived of the elements it requires for its normal nutrition and functioning. In this way, psychoses commence to manifest. From beri beri to polyneuritis, to psychoses, is only a transition or more graver nerve-and-brain-cell starvation of the vitamin B complex and lecithin, both of which are intimately related and to a large extent replaceable. (Foods rich in vitamin B complex, like the germ of grains, legumes, Brewer's yeast, etc., are generally also rich sources of lecithin.)

That a basic cause of nervous and mental disorders is a lecithin deficiency in the organism, produced by excessive withdrawals of this substance to replace expended secretions (the semen, like nerve and brain cells, being very rich in lecithin) is probable. The action of alcohol, like that of anesthetics, is dependent on its activity to dissolve and remove lecithin from the brain; and when the concentration of brain lecithin is sufficiently lowered, insanity is the result. Sexual excess produces a similar effect; and, together with alcohol, constitutes a principal cause of neuropsychopathic conditions.

top of page


Endocrine Glands

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.

[F.] Fenger, in an article, "Phosphatides in the Ductless Glands," [1916] 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.

Maternal Bloodstream

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 bloodstream. 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.

top of page


Thymus Gland

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 nucleoprotein 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 [Dr. Louis] Berman, [10] Raphael, noted for his chastity, was such a thymocentric individual in whom thymus degeneration did not occur. [11] 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.

[10. Author of "The Glands Regulating Personality," as referenced by Bernard in Prenatal Origions of Genius, 1962. See Google Books. Raphael is mentioned on page 27: "Raphael, whose face is feminine and hairless, is also a thymo-centric type."]

[11. Raphael died at 37, supposedly after a period of sexual excess. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raphael in section "Private_life_and_death". ]

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.

top of page


Nervous Tissues

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.

top of page


Lecithin, a Phosphorized Fat

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.

top of page


Phosphorus and Brain

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."

top of page



Continence results in a greater supply of lecithin, cholesterol 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.

top of page