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Home > Alternative Therapy > Glandular Therapy

Glandular Therapy - An Introduction


One of the basic concepts of glandular therapy is that the oral ingestion of glandular material of a certain animal gland will strengthen the corresponding human gland. The result is a broad general effect indicative of improved glandular function. Thus, glandular therapy increases the tone, function, and/or activity of the corresponding gland. This principle is a mainstay of oriental therapy.

In case of infection of immune system deficiencies, thymus extracts and spleen extracts have been found to be quite useful. Glandular therapy is used extensively in the treatment of cancer, and AIDS.


Prior to the 1940s, glandular extracts were in wide use all over the world including the western world, and a considerable amount of research was in progress to support their use. With the development of antibiotics, and the advent of "modern" technological medicine, the research was concentrated on developing more and more antibiotics and other pharmaceutical drugs that was more profitable to the drug companies. The research in glandular therapy came to a halt as a result. Just because the glandular approach was not being pursued in clinical research does not invalidate the usefulness of the approach or diminish the validity of its therapeutic value. It is still one of the cornerstones to traditional Chinese Medicine  and India's Ayurvedic Medicine. Glandular therapy is also receiving renewed interest as a treatment for cancer.


In glandular therapy, purified extracts from the endocrine glands of animals are used to help restore a patient's overall metabolism. Key glandular extracts frequently used are thyroid, thymus, and adrenal.

Glandular and organ extracts are usually taken from animals. These are known clinically as protomorphogens. Protomorphogens can be an important component of a complete nutritional program. They provide short term (immediate) as well as long term benefits. Typical extracts drawn from animal sources include extracts from the:

  • Pituitary
  • Thyroid
  • Adrenals
  • Pancreas
  • Heart
  • Liver
  • Kidney
  • Thymus
  • Other glands and organs.

Glandular and organ extracts are indicated when a patient's endocrine system is under producing or under secreting a specific hormone or when an organ is weakened or diseased, such as is often the case with cancer patients. The treatment is generally recognized as effective.


There are three principal nutritional benefits to glandular and organ extracts:

  1. Active components

    It is believed that glands and organs in animals and humans contain similar biochemical substances as their functions are very similar. This is especially true with the sheep from which most of these extracts are prepared. For example, sheep digestive system produces enzymes very similar to humans. Sheep tissue contains 2 enzymes found in only one other living organism-the human body. These enzymes are

    1. Aldose reductase, an enzyme for sugar breakdown.
    2. Steroid 17 -20 lyase, an enzyme for both producing steroidal hormones and for the subsequent detoxification of those hormones from the body.

      Thus, the effect of using the biochemical compounds extracted from animals is often one of "substituting" an exogenous (externally generated) source to make up for the endogenous (internally generated) deficiency.

    Thymosin from the thymus.
    Thyroid hormone from the thyroid gland.
  2. Associated nutritional factors

    Glandular tissues are rich in nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, polypeptides, enzymes, and many other substances. Glandular therapy can supply essential nutritional needs in a highly efficient manner.

  3. Adaptogenic effect

    For a tissue cell to repair or replace itself, it must have the raw materials necessary. Glandular therapy provides the raw materials to the failing organs, glands, and tissues so that they can start the process of regeneration.
    Biochemist Jeffrey Bland, Ph. D ., suggested a rational explanation for how glandular therapy products work. According to him, glandular-based food supplements may contain small polypeptide, protein-like substances which have specific messenger activity and which act on target tissues. Dr. Bland suggested that many of the hormones found in the glandular tissues, even at low concentrations, still have potent tissue-specific activities. For example, a small polypeptide material present in one tissue can have selective effects in encouraging another tissue at a different site in the body to produce hormonal materials, which then may affect a final target tissue and change its physiological function.

    One of the key organ for metabolism is the thyroid gland. It regulates metabolism by releasing hormones that control energy production in all the body's cells. Administration of thyroid extract helps cells eliminate cellular waste and speeds up their restorative functions. A healthy thyroid is an important prerequisite to a healthy immune system.


Orally administered calf thymus extracts have been found to be quite effective in restoring and enhancing immune function. It resulted in a broad- spectrum immune system enhancement. Scientists believe that this is from an improved thymus gland activity, as a result of administering thymus extracts.

Thymus extracts may provide a solution to chronic viral infections and low immune function. Double blind studies with groups of children with a history of recurrent respiratory tract infections showed that orally administered thymus extracts were able to effectively eliminate infection. The treatment, over the course of a year, also significantly reduced the number of respiratory infections and significantly improved numerous immune parameters.

Thymus extract has also been shown to normalize the ratio of T helper cells to suppressor cells, whether the ratio is low (as in AIDS or cancer) or high (as in allergies or rheumatoid arthritis).


Pharmaceutical grade bovine spleen extracts are useful in the treatment of infectious conditions and as an immune-enhancing agent in cancer. The benefits are attributed to small-molecular-weight proteins (eg., tuftsin and splenopentin ) that stimulate macrophages in the liver, spleen, and lymph nodes. Macrophages are large cells that engulf and destroy foreign particles, including bacteria, cancer cells, and cellular debris. Macrophages are essential in protecting against invasion by microorganisms as well as cancer. Tuftsin also helps mobilize other white blood cells to fight against infection and cancer. A deficiency of tuftsin is associated with signs and symptoms of frequent infections.

Spienopentin is a small-molecular-weight protein that enhances the immune system's response to regulating compounds known as colony-stimulating factors. These compounds stimulate the production of white blood cells. Splenopentin has also been shown to enhance natural killer cell activity.

The primary use of spleen extracts is after a splenectomy, or removal of the spleen. The removal of the spleen is associated with an increased risk for infection, particularly bacterial infection. Spleen extracts can be quite helpful in such cases.

Spleen extracts are also useful in the treatment of low white blood cell counts and bacterial infections and as an adjunct to cancer therapy.


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