Dr. Pierre Delbet and the Importance of Magnesium


Photo source: http://ihm.nlm.nih.gov/images/B06079, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19291401


Pierre Delbet (1861- 1957) was a French surgeon born in La Ferte-Gaucher. In 1889 he received his medical doctorate, and in 1909 became a professor of clinical surgery in Paris. In 1921 he became a member of the Academie de Medecine. Delbet is remembered for his advocacy of magnesium chloride. During World War I, Delbet was searching for a solution that could cleanse wounds but not damage tissue as traditional antiseptics did. In 1915 he found that magnesium chloride not only worked as an antiseptic, but was also harmless to body tissue. Serendipitously, he discovered that when the magnesium chloride solution was taken orally or intravenously, it appeared to be a remedy for other ailments. Delbet also believed that magnesium was beneficial to the efficiency of white blood cells, of which he described in his treatise “Politique Preventive du Cancer“.With Jean-Fran?ois-Auguste Le Dentu (1841-1926) and others, he was co-publisher of the multi-volume Traite de chirurgie clinique et operatoire (1901 et seq.).


Pierre Delbet, the son of a physician, was conferred doctor of medicine in 1889 in Paris, becoming agrege there in 1892; in 1893 Chirurgien des Hopitaux and 1909 professor of clinical surgery at the Academy of Clinical Surgery in Paris. He was co-publisher of the Traite de chirurgie clinique et operatoire as well as the Nouveau traite de chirurgie. He was a member of the Academie de Medecine from 1921. Pierre Delbet is also remembered for his views on magnesium as a miracle mineral. In 1915 he was looking for a solution to cleanse wounds of soldiers, because he found that traditionally used antiseptics actually damaged tissues and encouraged infections instead of preventing them. In all his tests magnesium chloride solution was by far the best. On September 6 that year, with Dr. Karalanopoulo, he submitted to the French Academy of Science the paper Cytophylaxis, advocating that magnesium increases the efficiency of the white blood cells. Delbet devised three apparatuses that have been named for him in the French literature: for fractures of the humeral diaphysis, for ambulatory treatment of the thigh bone, and one for ambulatory treatment of fractures of the lower leg. He also developed an apparatus for assisted walking, treatment for fractures of the neck of the femur, and treatment for Dupuytren’s fracture. Delbet also devised a clinical test for assessing the patency of the deep femoral veins, used in preparations for operation for varicose veins. With the patient standing and veins filled, a tourniquet is placed around the mid-thigh and the patient walks for 5 minutes. If the saphenous veins collapse below the tourniquet the deep veins are patent and the communicating veins are competent; if unchanged, both saphenous and communicating veins are incompetent and if the veins increase in prominence and pain occurs the deep veins are occluded.


Dr. Pierre Delbet worked with and exchanged ideas with Dr. Joseph Favier, who was also interested in effects of magnesium and showed how valuable magnesium as a medicament is for many diseases. Dr. Delbet and Dr. Favier deserve credit for being the first to discover magnesium chloride as an effective agent in treating urinary troubles of prostate origin. They informed the Medical Academy of France of it, on March 18, 1930. In their continued research they found that many physician colleagues were taking magnesium chloride and that four out of five of them had been disturbed by difficulties in urinating, especially at night. And all of them, after taking the magnesium tablets, found that their nocturnal urinating troubles diminished or disappeared. Twelve prostatic cases were treated with magnesium tablets. Ten of them were cured. One disappeared, and it was not known what the result was with him. The one that was not cured was left with nothing more than nightly urinations. The interesting thing is that the general physical condition of all these patients improved. There seemed to be something about magnesium that was healthful for the body.


Case No. 4, was a 77-year-old prostatic patient who suffered a crisis of complete retention of urine. He had to be probed in order to urinate. His prostate was very much enlarged. Probes were carried on three times a day up to November 24, (1930) and hot clysters (enemas) were administered. The first spontaneous urination took place on November 25; the probes were cut off on December 7. On December 10, the patient urinated five times a night and he had a big residue. The dosage was four tablets (2 g.), and went on until February 21, 1930. The nightly urinations fell from five to three, and the residue dropped to 20 grams. The patient, having recovered his strength, believing he was cured, discontinued the treatment. The frequency of urinations increased, and three days later, on February 24, the residue had gone up to 126 grams. The magnesium treatment was resumed, the frequency of urinations curtailed, and on March 21, the patient informed the doctor that he urinates only two to three times a night.


Patient 13, who had been a case of complete retention of urine: was sent to the hospital in order to have an operation of the prostate performed; that is, to have his prostate removed. But doctors felt that the operation in his case would be too dangerous. He was therefore given the magnesium chloride tablets. Spontaneous urination occurred, and the patient left the hospital without the operation. From then on he had no difficulty or pain with his urinations. Thereafter the patient used to come to the hospital regularly merely as a friendly visitor to show his gratitude to the doctor. He was, of course, taking magnesium tablets after he left the hospital.


Drs Delbet and Favier wrote that among the men who had been taking magnesium chloride tablets for many years, none to their knowledge, suffered from prostatic trouble, again. In connection with some of these cases and their cure, Dr. Pierre Delbet in Academy of Medicine (Paris), session of March 25, 1930, said, in regard to how magnesium acts on the body:


“As magnesium adds to the contractibility of smooth muscle fibers, one may wonder if the treatment doesn’t act uniquely on the bladder, inasmuch as there isn’t any parallel between reduction in size of the adenoma [a tumor of glandular origin] and functional improvement. But if, in certain cases, this improvement is considerable, when reduction in size is slight, which is favorable to the hypothesis, in other cases, it’s quite the contrary, the reduction is quite more marked than functional improvement.

“In an earlier communication, M. Bretau and I have shown that age is accompanied by a reduction in magnesium in the most active organs and that the absorption of halogenated salts permits a struggle against certain manifestations of senility.

“Hypertrophy of the prostate is a complaint of waning life and perhaps the one which strikes most terribly. The facts communicated by M. Stora, which I have just reported and which belong to M. Chevassu, show that it is one illness which can be modified by halogenated magnesium salts.

“The preceding observations show that halogenated magnesium salts sometimes have an extraordinary action in very advanced cases. The sick man in observation XIII, who had complete retention, comes to see me regularly at Cochin to express his gratitude. He came right at the time of my retirement, that is to say during 16 months. He continued to take the treatment and urinated without difficulty.

“Since that time, a number of prostate sufferers, whom I don’t know, have expressed their gratitude to me for the services that delbiase [a magnesium compound] rendered them.

“Its mode of action is completely obscure to me. What is striking is that the effects stop from the moment that the treatment is stopped. The subject of observation IV is an example. His nocturnal urinations were reduced to three and the residue, which had been considerable, fell to 20 grams. He stopped the treatment and in three days, the frequency of his urinations increased and the residue rose to 125 grams.

“One of my former pupils, a distinguished surgeon, has communicated his own observation to me. It appears to be very interesting. He had nocturnal urinations whose frequency increases all the time. He put himself on the delbiase regimen. His urination became less frequent. “My life,“ he said, “was completely untroubled. I could only complain that drinks were a little more frequent and a little more demanding than I should have liked.“ At the beginning of the war, he was mobilized and sent to be a surgeon at the front where he couldn’t get any delbiase. His urinations became more frequent and assumed painful proportions. His general health was affected. Two and a half months after the treatment was stopped, it was noted that he had a residue of 220 grams.

“In sum, the effect of halogenated salts of magnesium isn’t lasting. They improve or even suppress functional difficulties; they don’t heal the lesions. They cause them to retrocede in a certain number of cases, but they don’t cure them. As soon as the treatment is stopped, the development begins anew. Doesn’t that prove in a peremptory manner that an insufficiency of magnesium in the organism is the cause, or at least one of the causes, of these lesions?“

After much research with magnesium, Dr. Delbet developed ideas on senility and concluded: that that “all organs and tissues do not age at the same speed. The muscular system generally lasts the shortest period, the nervous system the longest. The role of magnesium in organic synthesis leads one to think that it must diminish with age. Weiske’s research shows that magnesium is less abundant in the bones of old rabbits than it is in those of young ones. In the human testicles a decline in magnesium was demonstrated as a person ages, but in old age calcium is more abundant than magnesium – three times more abundant. But here is something extremely interesting, calcium is considered as a “framework“ mineral, but magnesium is an “action“ mineral. Calcium is static, magnesium is dynamic. He continues, “Added calcium and reduced magnesium are the characteristics of the senile testicle. In the brain and in the testicle, the relationship with age are the same degree, but it appears certain to us that at the time that life is waning, magnesium diminishes while calcium rises. Now, everything that is known about the chemical magnesium, about its action in the synthesis of chlorophyll, justifies one in thinking that its reduction plays a role in senility, or at least in certain phenomena of senility. If magnesium in the body becomes less abundant as we grow old, and since medical researchers have shown that deficiencies of magnesium lead to many diseases, isn’t it common sense to increase magnesium as a food or food supplement on a permanent basis?



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