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Thymus Extracts

Illustration

Thymus extracts are extracts derived from the thymus glands usually of young calves (bovine). The thymus is one of our major immune system glands. It is composed of two soft pinkish-gray lobes lying in bib-like fashion just below the thyroid gland and above the heart. To a large extent, the health of the thymus determines the health of the immune system. The thymus is responsible for many immune system functions, including the production of T lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell responsible for "cell-mediated immunity." Cell-mediated immunity refers to immune mechanisms not controlled or mediated by antibodies. Cell-mediated immunity is extremely important in the resistance to infection by certain bacteria, yeast (including Candida albicans), fungi, parasites, and viruses (including herpes simplex, Epstein-Barr, and the viruses that cause hepatitis). Cell-mediated immunity is also critical in protecting against the development of cancer, allergies, and autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis. The thymus gland also releases several hormones, such as thymosin, thymopoeitin, and serum thymic factor, that regulate many immune functions.

Where are they found?

Thymus extracts (from bovine sources) are found in capsules and tablets as a dietary supplement. Thymomodulin is not available in the United States, and it is unknown whether any of the thymus extracts that are available have the same effects as Thymomodulin.

Thymus extracthave been used in connection with the following conditions (refer to the individual health concern for complete information):

Science Ratings Health Concerns
3Stars

Bronchitis

2Stars

Allergies

Hay fever

Hepatitis

Immune function

Recurrent upper respiratory tract infections

1Star

Asthma

HIV infection

3Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support and/or minimal health benefit.

Who is likely to be deficient?

Since it is not an essential nutrient, no deficiency state exists.

How much is usually taken?

A number of different thymus preparations are commercially available. However, whether any of them have the same effects as Thymomodulin, which is not available in the United States, is still unknown. The recommended amount of thymus extract varies according to the type of preparation.

Are there any side effects or interactions?

No side effects or adverse reactions have been reported with the use of thymus preparations.

Are there any drug interactions?
Certain medicines may interact with thymus extracts. Refer to drug interactions for a list of those medicines.

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