The History of Testosterone – From Myth to Reality

Written by Dr. White, Published on April 26th, 2018

Today, most people are aware of the importance of Testosterone. The history of Testosterone is somewhat taken for granted, however. The history of Testosterone intertwines closely with the history of our knowledge of Hormones themselves. The term Hormone was first used in the year 1902. Hormone comes from a Greek word meaning “stir into action.” The first hormone that was discovered and named was called Secretin. Researchers Ernest Starling and William Bayliss figured out that the body releases Secretin in response to food entering the small intestine. Secretin directly influences the release of pancreatic juices which allow for proper digestion.

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The First Studies to Show the Influence of Testosterone

The first scientific experiments that hinted at the existence of Testosterone began in the mid-19th century. In one of the most critical tests, Arnold Berthold made the connection that the testes played a role in the expression of male sexual characteristics. He found that when Testes were removed from roosters, their distinctively full combs wilted and withered. He also saw that by reinserting the testes, the comb would return to its prior state.

This discovery led to an explosion of scientific experimentation to learn more about how the testes are associated with male physiology. In the 1880s, one particularly brave man named Charles-Édouard Brown-Séquard extracted testicular fluid from guinea pigs and dogs in an attempt to prove that these juices had the potential to enhance male health and function. In spite of some observed effects, his scientific efforts were regarded as foolish by the broader community, leading him to abandon the effort.

Men have always been interested in enhancing and improving their performance and masculinity. Recorded history shows that even the ancient Greeks recognized the innate power of the testes, and were known to eat sheep testicles in the hopes of enhancing their physical abilities.

The Discovery of Testosterone

It was not until 1927 that the emasculating effects of Testosterone were clinically proven, due to the efforts of Fred Koch. Fred Koch was able to separate Testicular Fluid through a combination of hard work, inspiration, and column chromatography. The University of Chicago Professor harvested cow testicles from local farmers until he amassed forty pounds of testes. With the help of his students, Koch was able to separate Testicular Fluid from the Testes, comprised primarily of Testosterone. From that forty pounds of meat, he was able to extract twenty milligrams of the fluid. Koch was able to prove that this Hormone was a potent agent of virility. He achieved this by treating castrated rats, pigs, and roosters with the serum, which had restored their masculine sexual characteristics.

Though the power of Testosterone was realized in 1927, it would be many years before the study of Testosterone and its effects would expand, mainly because the Testicular Fluid was so effort-intensive to amass in serviceable quantities.

The Isolation of Testosterone and The First Bio-Identical Testosterone

Eventually, financial investment came from the pharmaceutical industry, interested in using Testicular Serum for male potency. The word Testosterone was officially coined in 1935 when the Dutch Pharmaceutical Giant Organon was able to convert that Testicular Serum into Crystalline Testosterone. The word Testosterone refers to the fact that Testosterone is a sterol molecule that was derived from the Testes. After Testosterone was isolated, a scientist at Schering Pharmaceuticals was able to deduce its molecular structure.

For Testosterone to be utilized effectively as a medical treatment, scientists would have to figure out a way to make Testosterone synthetically. Scientists Adolf Butenandy and Leopold Ruzicka were both able to figure out a way to convert cholesterol into Testosterone in a laboratory environment, leading them both to win Nobel Prizes for their efforts in 1939.

Testosterone In the Modern Era

As soon as Testosterone was synthesized, it could be produced in a laboratory much more cheaply than it could be harvested. Furthermore, clean labs producing isolated Testosterone minimized the risk of contamination, making it safer to use. Soon after its isolation, Testosterone Therapy began to increase, primarily used to treat men and boys that produced insufficient levels of Testosterone naturally. Testosterone has also found use as an aspect of Breast Cancer Treatment.

The first widely available form of Therapeutic Testosterone employed implanted Testosterone Pellets, which degraded, emitting a slow stream of the potent hormone for the benefit of the patient. Soon after Testosterone Pellets were formulated, Testosterone Injections were formulated and found widespread popularity, beginning with Testosterone Propionate and evolving into long-acting formulations such as Testosterone Cypionate and Testosterone Enanthate, which are still available today.

Testosterone Patches and Creams came into vogue in the 1990s, and medical science had advanced to a point in which it was possible to accurately assess a patient’s Testosterone Levels and correctly restore Serum Testosterone to the healthy normal range.

Abuse of Testosterone

Of course, as Testosterone has been used for therapeutic reasons, it has also been used by those interested in Performance Enhancement. Just a year after Testosterone was isolated, it was already being used by German athletes in the Olympics in an attempt to amplify their performance. After World War 2, Testosterone and other Steroids were used in a state-sponsored program to dominate global athletic performance by any means necessary.

One of the most infamous cases of Steroid doping came in 1988, when Ben Johnson won the Gold for the 100-meter sprint in the Seoul Olympics, only to be outed for his use of Stanozol three days later.

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