The History of Testosterone
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The History of Testosterone


Testosterone is widely used today, and there has been a gamut of “discoveries”- mainly in the form it is delivered in, either topical/ injection or implanted. But, testosterone itself has been unchanged and it is really an old drug. Let us explain.

Some of the first experiments involving testosterone were conducted on chickens. In 1767, John Hunter transplanted testes from a rooster into the abdomen of a hen. The testes adhered to the hen’s intestine but produced no noticeable change in the hen. There was little understanding of immune suppression those days.

In 1849, Arnold Berthold conducted an experiment with six chickens to link the effects of castration with the secretions by the testes. Two chickens were used as a control group, two were castrated but had their testes transplanted back into their bodies, and the remaining two were castrated and left to develop with no testes. Berthold found that the two castrated chickens never developed adult male chicken characteristics. The two chickens with the transplanted testes developed into mature adult male chickens. These secretions were later termed to be hormones and the field of study involving hormones or internal secretions blossomed.

Famed for his work in neurology the French physician Brown-Séquard made a presentation about a series of rejuvenation experiments to the Sociète de Biologie in Paris. He claimed that daily injections of testicular blood, seminal fluid and testicular extract from guinea pigs and dogs had made him feel 30 years younger, and reported this in the prestigious journal The Lancet in 1889.  Brown Sequard reported that these injections helped him lift heavier weights, work for hours after dinner, and run up and down steps. His presentation was rather controversial at that time and was received positively by some and negatively by others.

In the decades following these experiments, numerous research teams explored the isolation of sex hormones. A German scientist Adolf Butenandt isolated androsterone in 1931 from a large sample of policemen’s urine. However, the testes proved to contain a more powerful androgenic factor. “Testosterone” was first coined by Kàroly David, E. Dingemanse, J. Freud and Ernst Laqueur who first isolated the hormonal secretion in 1935; it was synthesized later that year by Leopold Ruzicka and A. Wettstein. A Nobel prize was awarded awarded to Adolf Butenandt in 1939. It was speculated that German soldiers received testosterone in the front lines during World War II.

For many years, an oral testosterone called methyl testosterone was used as a prescription, and was later found to be hepatotoxic. Pharmacists were compounding topical testosterone to bypass the liver, but an entrepreneurial drug company (Unimed) packaged and developed testosterone into a gel (Androgel) and developed patents for it. After this, many other products surfaced and as they say the rest is history. If you have a question on the type of testosterone you are needing or are suffering from hypogonadism, please contact us at Opal Medical Clinic and our web address is