Reviewed on 6/11/2021
Other Name(s):

Oxykrinin, Secretina, Sécrétine.


Secretin is a hormone produced by the digestive tract. It is used as a medicine. Some secretin products are taken from pigs. Others are made in the laboratory.

Secretin is used to treat autism. Two dosage forms are available. Secretin is either placed under the tongue or given by IV (intravenously).

Secretin is also given by IV for pervasive developmental disorder (PDD), pancreatitis and other pancreas problems, overactive parathyroid gland, duodenal ulcers, bleeding in the stomach and intestines, and heart failure. It is also given by IV for preventing stress ulcers and for diagnosing a rare digestive tract condition called Zollinger-Ellison syndrome.

How does it work?

Secretin is a hormone that is produced by the digestive tract. It stimulates the release of bicarbonate and water from the pancreas to aid digestion.


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Uses & Effectiveness

Likely Ineffective for...

  • Autism and pervasive developmental disorder (PDD). The use of secretin for autism is controversial. Some people have reported they have seen an improvement in stomach and intestinal function, social and behavioral abilities, and language skills after single intravenous doses of secretin. But most of the evidence shows that secretin, both lab-made and derived from pigs, doesn't improve autism or pervasive developmental disorder when given in single or repeated doses.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Stress ulcers in severe trauma or disease. Developing evidence suggests that secretin might help prevent stress ulcers.
  • Pancreatitis. There is some evidence that secretin might help symptoms of ongoing pancreatitis.
  • Intestinal ulcers.
  • Digestive tract bleeding.
  • Heart failure.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of secretin for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Side Effects

Secretin is available as a prescription product that is used intravenously. Intravenous products are safe when used appropriately. Common side effects of secretin include flushing of the face, neck, and chest immediately after a dose. Less common side effects are vomiting, diarrhea, fainting, blood clot, fever, and rapid heartbeat. Some people can have allergic reactions including hives, redness of the skin, and a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).

There isn't enough information to know whether the under-the-tongue dosage form of secretin is safe to use.


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Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of secretin during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.


The appropriate dose of secretin depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for secretin. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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Coniglio SJ, Lewis JD, Lang C, et al. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of single-dose intravenous secretin as treatment for children with autism. J Pediatr 2001;138:649-55. View abstract.

Horvath K, Stefatos G, Sokolski KN. Improved social and language skills after secretin administration. J Assoc Acad Minor Phys 1998;9:9-15. View abstract.

Jowell PS, Robuck-Mangum G, Mergener K, et al. A double-blind, randomized, dose response study testing the pharmacological efficacy of synthetic porcine secretin. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2000;14:1679-84.. View abstract.

Lightdale JR, Hayer C, Duer A, et al. Effects of intravenous secretin on language and behavior of children with autism and gastrointestinal symptoms: a single-blinded, open-label pilot study. Pediatrics 2001;108:90. View abstract.

Mulvihill SJ, Debas HT. Regulatory peptides in the gut. In: Greenspan FS, Strewler GJ, Eds. Basic & Clinical Endocrinology. 5th ed. Stamford, CT: Appleton & Lange, 1997:581.

Roberts W, Weaver L, Brian J, et al. Repeated doses of porcine secretin in the treatment of autism: A randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Pediatrics 2001;107:e71.

Sandler AD, Sutton KA, DeWeese J, et al. Lack of benefit of a single dose of synthetic human secretin in the treatment of autism and pervasive developmental disorder. N Engl J Med 1999;341(24):1801-6. View abstract.

Secretin for the treatment of autism. Pharmacist's Letter/Prescriber's Letter 1998;14(12):141212.

Spilker G, Theisinger W, Bader, Seidel G. [Long-acting secretin for the prevention of stress ulcers in surgery]. Nouv Presse Med 1982;11: 267-9. View abstract.

Theisinger W, Spilker G, Bader M . [Prevention of stress ulcers with synthetic depot secretin]. Med Klin 1981;76:291-3. View abstract.

Tympner F, Rosch W. The treatment of chronic recurrent pancreatitis with depot secretin-a preliminary report. Hepatogastroenterology 1986;33:159-62. View abstract.