National Geographic : 1975 Nov
the spa, some are outrageous with odor. "We can employ the waters in many ways," said Dr. Raileanu Bogdan, medical director at Herculane, "but generally for baths. The emphasis here is on easing the pain of rheu matism." Patients at other spas plaster them selves with mud (pages 712-13). Controversial Treatment Lures Thousands Germans, Austrians, and Scandinavians have been swarming to Romania for years to take the waters and the mud. But in Bucha rest, at Dr. Ana Aslan's Institute of Geriatrics, Romania exerts its prominence in the world of eccentric medical care. Patients-20,000 last year-come to the institute to take a controversial and scientifically unproved medication called Gerovital H 3 , both orally and through injections. Its main component is procaine hydrochloride (more familiar as novocaine), and if one wants to accept testi monials from some who have taken the treat ment, it comes as close to the Fountain of Youth as anything available today. Dr. Aslan, who is now in her late 70's, developed Gerovital H3 more than twenty years ago for the treatment of rheumatic diseases. "But it also proved effective in other ailments, such as mental depression, high blood pressure, and general weakness," said Dr. Vladimir-Iulius Gusic of the institute. "Most of all, Gerovital H 3 is effective against the disease of aging, the deterioration of the capacity to feed the cells."