- Side Effects
- Drug Interactions
- Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
- What Else to Know
Generic Name: glandular products
Other Names: adrenal extract, aortic glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), liver extract, pancreatic extract, spleen extract, thymus extract, thyroid extract
Drug Class: Herbals
What are glandular products, and what are they used for?
Glandular products are nutritional supplements prepared with extracts from dried organ tissues of animals such as cows, pigs or sheep. Glands form part of the body’s endocrine system, a network of organs that secrete hormones into the bloodstream. Endocrine glands include pineal, pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, thymus, adrenal, pancreas, and gonads (testes and ovaries). Glandular products taken as supplements, however, also refer to extracts from other organs such as the heart, spleen, uterus, prostate, brain, and other tissues.
Glandular products have been historically used to enhance the function or mimic the effect of the corresponding organ in the body. Glandular products contain vitamins, minerals, enzymes, peptides, nucleotides, and other nutrients, specific to each organ. Organ meats are valued for their rich nutrient content in cultures where they are consumed as food. Studies show glandular products taken as supplements have efficacy for their listed uses, however, it is safer to take them in consultation with a healthcare provider and avoid over-the-counter (OTC) products.
Glandular products and their suggested uses include the following:
- Oral: Low adrenal function, fatigue, stress, impaired resistance to illness, severe allergies, asthma, eczema, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other inflammatory conditions
- Sublingual: Fatigue or exhaustion, poor stress tolerance, allergies, auto-immune disorders, depression, inflammation, low blood pressure, hypoglycemia, drug and alcohol withdrawal, and discontinuing cortisone drugs
- Intravenous (IV): Adrenocortical insufficiency, hyperkalemia, ulcerative colitis, status thymicolymphaticus, and preventing spontaneous abortion
Aortic glycosaminoglycans (GAGs)
- Vascular insufficiencies
- Adjunctive therapy in liver disorders, source of heme iron, allergies, chronic fatigue syndrome, enhancing muscle development in bodybuilders, and improving strength and stamina
- Digestive aid (with food), anti-inflammatory, herpes zoster, and immune complex diseases
- Post-splenectomy, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), colitis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), low white blood cell (WBC) count, thrombocytopenia, ulcerative colitis, and enhancing immune function in cancer patients
- Immune system modulation (upper respiratory infection [URI], hepatitis B, AIDS, allergies), cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), lupus, WBC production in cancer patients treated with radiation or chemotherapy, and aging
What are the side effects of glandular products?
- Do not take glandular products if you are hypersensitive to animal products including ovine/bovine/porcine extracts.
- Glandular extracts are usually prepared from organs gathered from slaughterhouses, which presents a potential risk for infection from contaminants.
- Avoid taking glandular products from countries where the cattle disease bovine spongiform encephalitis (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease, occurs.
Common side effects of glandular products include:
- Allergic reactions
- Hyperthyroidism symptoms from thyroid extracts (dose-related)
- Iron overload from liver extracts
- Infection and other complications from contaminants in the product (rare)
Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms or serious side effects while using this drug:
- Serious heart symptoms include fast or pounding heartbeats, fluttering in your chest, shortness of breath, and sudden dizziness;
- Severe headache, confusion, slurred speech, severe weakness, vomiting, loss of coordination, feeling unsteady;
- Severe nervous system reaction with very stiff muscles, high fever, sweating, confusion, fast or uneven heartbeats, tremors, and feeling like you might pass out; or
- Serious eye symptoms include blurred vision, tunnel vision, eye pain or swelling, or seeing halos around lights.
This is not a complete list of all side effects or adverse reactions that may occur from the use of this drug. Call your doctor for medical advice about serious side effects or adverse reactions. You may also report side effects or health problems to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
What are the dosages of glandular products?
Appropriate dosages vary depending on the product and there is inadequate information to determine a standard appropriate dosing. Follow the manufacturer’s label.
- Varies depending on product; follow label recommendations, and titrate as indicated
Aortic glycosaminoglycans (GAGs)
- Typical Dose
- 100 mg orally once daily
- Cerebrovascular disease
- 100-144 mg/day orally
- 30 mg intramuscular (IM) twice daily
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
- 72 mg/day orally
- 96 mg/day orally
- Varies depending on product; follow label recommendations, and titrate as indicated
Pancreas USP extract
- 500-1000 mg orally thrice daily, with or without meals
- 1.5 g spleen peptides (50 mg tuftsin and splenopentin)/day
- 120 mg pure polypeptides or 750 mg crude polypeptide fraction/day
- Varies depending on product; follow label recommendations, and titrate as indicated
- Overdose of glandular products can have serious adverse effects because each product can overstimulate the particular organ’s function. For instance, overdose of thyroid extract can lead to overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) and overdose of liver extract can cause iron overload.
- Treatment of glandular products overdose includes discontinuation of the product and appropriate symptomatic and supportive care.
What drugs interact with glandular products?
Inform your doctor of all medications you are currently taking, who can advise you on any possible drug interactions. Never begin taking, suddenly discontinue, or change the dosage of any medication without your doctor’s recommendation.
- Glandular products have no listed serious, severe, or moderate interactions with other drugs.
- Mild interactions of glandular products include:
- thyroid desiccated
The drug interactions listed above are not all of the possible interactions or adverse effects. For more information on drug interactions, visit the RxList Drug Interaction Checker.
It is important to always tell your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider about all prescription and over-the-counter medications you use, as well as the dosage for each, and keep a list of the information. Check with your doctor or healthcare provider if you have any questions about the medication.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
- There is no reliable information on the safety of glandular products use during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Avoid taking glandular products if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, unless specifically prescribed by your healthcare provider.
- Never take any nutritional supplement including glandular products without first checking with your healthcare provider, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
What else should I know about glandular products?
- Take glandular products exactly as prescribed, or as per label instructions if you use OTC products.
- Check with your healthcare provider before taking any dietary/nutritional supplement, including glandular products.
- Dietary supplements often contain many ingredients. Check labels for the components in the glandular product you choose.
- Glandular products are marketed as nutritional supplements and are not stringently regulated by the FDA. Products may differ in formulations and strengths, and labels may not always match contents; exercise caution in choosing your product.
- Store glandular products safely out of reach of children.
- In case of overdose, seek medical help or contact Poison Control.
Glandular products are nutritional supplements used to enhance the function or mimic the effect of an organ. Glandular products can be used to treat hypothyroidism, low adrenal function, autoimmune disorders, adrenocortical insufficiency, hyperkalemia, ulcerative colitis, liver disorders, vascular insufficiencies, pancreatic disorders, and others. Common side effects of glandular products include allergic reactions, hyperthyroidism symptoms, iron overload, infection, and others.
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What Happens to Your Body When You Have Thyroid Cancer?
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How Invasive Is Thyroid Surgery?
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What Is the Treatment of Thyroid Eye Disease?
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Can Ulcerative Colitis Be Cured With Surgery?
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What Effect Does Hypothyroidism Have On You?
What is hypothyroidism? Learn the signs of hypothyroidism, what causes hypothyroidism, and how hypothyroidism affects the body.
How Do They Check for Thyroid Cancer?
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What Is the Best Medicine for Ulcerative Colitis?
Treatment strategies for ulcerative colitis (UC) vary from person to person. Your doctor will base recommendations for medication on the intensity of your symptoms and severity of the disease.
How Serious Is Ulcerative Colitis?
Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a lifelong disease with constant periods of flare-ups and remissions (periods without symptoms, which may last for weeks or years). Presently, there is no permanent medical cure for it, but there are various medications that can provide symptomatic relief, reduce inflammation and manage flare-ups.
How Is Thyroid Cancer Detected and Diagnosed?
Thyroid cancer arises from the cells of the thyroid gland. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of the neck, just below Adam's apple. The thyroid gland produces hormones (chemicals acting as messengers in the body) that regulate body weight, temperature, blood pressure and heart rate.
Are There Stages of Thyroid Cancer?
Stages used to describe thyroid cancer are based on the type of thyroid cancer and the patient’s age. The different types of thyroid cancer include papillary and follicular thyroid cancer in patients younger than 55 years of age, papillary and follicular thyroid cancer in patients 55 years of age and older, medullary thyroid cancer in patients of all ages, and anaplastic thyroid cancer in patients of all ages.
What Happens To a Person With Hypothyroidism?
Low thyroid hormone levels result in a sluggish metabolism, which can appear in the following symptoms of hypothyroidism.
How Is Thyroid Cancer Detected?
In addition to your medical history and a physical exam, a variety of diagnostic and lab tests can help your doctor detect the presence of thyroid cancer.
How Do You Diagnose Ulcerative Colitis?
Ulcerative colitis is a condition that causes blood stool, diarrhea, rectal pain, and other symptoms. Ulcerative colitis is diagnosed with blood tests, stool tests, and imaging tests.
How Common Is Differentiated Thyroid Cancer?
Differentiated thyroid cancers are the most common types of thyroid cancer with papillary accounting for 8 in 10 cases and follicular account for 1 in 10 cases.
What Happens When You Have Ulcerative Colitis?
Ulcerative colitis is a systemic disease that mainly manifests as intestinal ulcers. The ulcers may result in bleeding and cause bloody stools. Excessive bleeding can lead to anemia.
Treatment & Diagnosis
- Thyroid Peroxidase Test
- Parathyroidectomy Surgery
- What Are the Side Effects of Having Your Left Adrenal Gland Removed?
- What Are the Side Effects of Having Your Right Adrenal Gland Removed?
- Fine-Needle Aspiration Biopsy of the Thyroid
- Thyroid Blood Tests
- Thyroid Scan
- What Are the Types of Thyroidectomy?
- Ulcerative Colitis Surgery
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
- Ulcerative Colitis
- Addison's Disease (Adrenal Insufficiency)
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Thyroid Cancer
- Thyroid Nodule
- Thyroid Diseases, Living Well With
- Thyroid Disorders: The Doctor Is In
- Hashimoto's Thyroiditis
- Thyroid Q & A
- Chronic Fatigue FAQs
- Thyroid FAQs
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus FAQs
- Ulcerative Colitis FAQs
- Thyroid and Aging - Helping to Keep the Golden Years Golden
- Roger Ebert and Thyroid Cancer
- Thyroid Cancer in Children and Teenagers
- Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar) Symptoms and Diabetes
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 2002 Arthritis Conference Report
- Screening for Thyroid Disease?
- Thyroid Cancer: Chief Justice Has Thyroid Cancer
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: 2004 Perspectives
- Thyroid Cancer Symptoms and Warning Signs
- Hyperthyroidism...The Heart of the Matter
- Thyroid: Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- Thyroid and Iodine - Part 1
- Thyroid and Iodine - Part 2
- Exercise Therapy in Diabetes - Part 2
- Thyroid Disease, Osteoporosis and Calcium
- Autoimmune Polyglandular Syndrome . . . Exploring Autoimmunity
- Thyroid Nodule Surgery - Tipper's Thyroid
- Thyroid Disease and Menopause
- Thyroid Hormone Replacement Therapy - Tricks of the Trade
- Sub-Clinical Hypothyroidism - To Treat or Not ?
- Natural vs. Synthetic Thyroid Medications for Thyroid
- Can Synthroid Taken for Hypothyroidism Cause Osteoporosis?
- Does Hashimoto's Thyroiditis Cause Other Diseases?
- Should People With Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) Avoid Smoking?
- Does Stress Cause Ulcerative Colitis?
- How Do You Lose Weight if You're on Thyroid Hormones?
- Does IBS Cause Crohn's Disease or Ulcerative Colitis?
- Does Hypothyroidism Cause High Cholesterol?
- Does Hypothyroidism Cause Palpitations?
- Thyroid Disease Types and Treatments
- Adrenal Fatigue, Adrenal Exhaustion: Is It "Real?"
- Thyroid Storm
- Hypothyroidism Symptoms
- Hyperthyroidism and Pregnancy
- Ask The Experts - Thyroid
Medications & Supplements
Prevention & Wellness
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