Glandular Therapy

Chapter 38 Glandular Therapy

image Introduction

For almost as long as historic records have been kept, glandular therapy has been an important form of medicine. The basic concept underlying the medicinal use of glandular substances from animals is that “like heals like.” For example, if the liver needs support or a patient is suffering from liver disease, then he or she may benefit from eating beef liver. Modern glandular therapy, however, primarily involves the use of concentrated glandular extracts.

A gland is defined as a secretory organ. The internal secretory organs of the body are called endocrine glands. These ductless glands secrete hormones directly into the bloodstream. The glands known to have endocrine function include the pineal, pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, thymus, adrenal, pancreas, and gonads (testes or ovaries). Although not technically glands, it is common to refer to other organs of the body as glandulars when they are used in glandular therapy. For example, tissue extracts of heart, spleen, prostate, uterus, brain, and other tissues are often used in glandular or organotherapy.

Research has shown that certain glandular preparations and hormones are quite effective when taken orally. A number of glandular preparations are effective orally because of active hormone or enzyme content (e.g., thyroid, adrenal cortex, and pancreatin preparations). A good deal of literature supports pharmaceutical grade liver, aorta, and thymus extracts, and some support exists for pituitary, spleen, orchic (testes), and ovarian extracts as well. However, despite this scientific support, many still question the effectiveness of glandular products on human health.

A key challenge to the use of glandulars is the lack of widely accepted standards for extraction and quantification. Each manufacturer of a glandular product claims its method of extraction is the most ideal. However, the majority of these contentions are based on theoretic or philosophic grounds, not on research or clinical results. No quality control procedures or standards are enforced in the glandular industry. It is left up to the individual company to adopt quality control and good manufacturing procedures. Nonetheless, many glandular preparations available in the U.S. marketplace appear to be effective.

image Methods of Manufacture of Glandular Preparations

It is critical that properly processed glandular material be used, since the biologically active material such as enzymes, soluble proteins, natural lipid factors, vitamins, minerals, and hormone precursors are destroyed or eliminated if the product is not prepared properly.

Most glandular products are derived from beef (bovine) sources, the exception being pancreatic extracts, which are most often derived from pork (porcine) sources. The four most widely known methods of processing are the azeotrophic method, salt precipitation, freeze-drying, and predigestion.

image Spongiform Encephalopathy

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as mad cow disease, is a transmissible, slowly progressive, degenerative, fatal disease affecting the central nervous system of adult cattle. The transmissible agent in BSE is a modified form of a normal cell surface component known as a prion protein. Unlike infectious organisms, prions are resistant to common treatments, such as heat and digestive secretions. Eating the meat of an animal with BSE may lead to a disease similar to BSE in humans called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

BSE was first reported among cattle in the United Kingdom in 1986 and has been a major concern since then. The outbreak in the United Kingdom may have started from the feeding of scrapie-contaminated sheep meat-and-bone meal to cattle. Scrapie is a disease of sheep that is related to BSE in cattle. Evidence is strong that the outbreak in cattle was amplified in the United Kingdom by feeding rendered bovine meat-and-bone meal to young calves.

BSE has been reported in cattle throughout Europe. There has been a single case in Canada and, most recently, in the United States from a cow imported from Canada. Wild game in the United States such as deer and elk have been affected with a similar disease known as chronic wasting disease. The reason American cattle have been spared may be due to the active surveillance and import measures taken by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The USDA has restricted the importation of live ruminants, such as cows and sheep, and food products from these animals from BSE countries since 1989, and from all European countries since 1997. In addition, the FDA prohibits the use of most mammalian protein in the manufacture of animal feeds given to ruminants because this kind of feeding practice is believed to have initiated and amplified the outbreak of BSE in the United Kingdom.

To reduce the risk of ingesting beef with BSE, it is critical to use products manufactured under the following guidelines:

image Clinical Applications

An adequate body of research now exists to support the use of orally administered glandular extracts. The following is a brief discussion of several glandular preparations and their use. Table 38-1 lists the primary conditions responding to glandular therapy.

TABLE 38-1 Therapeutic Uses of Glandular Extracts

Adrenal extracts Chronic fatigue
Rheumatoid arthritis
Aortic glycosaminoglycans Cerebral and peripheral arterial insufficiency
Venous insufficiency and varicose veins
Vascular retinopathies, including macular degeneration
Postsurgical edema
Liver extracts Chronic hepatitis
Chronic liver disease
Pancreatic extracts Pancreatic insufficiency
Cystic fibrosis
Inflammatory and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, athletic injuries, and tendinitis
Spleen extracts After splenectomy
Immune potentiation
Celiac disease
Dermatitis herpetiformis
Ulcerative colitis
Rheumatoid arthritis
Systemic lupus erythematosus
Low white cell counts
Thymus extracts Recurrent and chronic viral infections, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, respiratory infections, AIDS, acute hepatitis B infection
Cancer patients with immune depression from chemotherapy or radiation
Asthma, hay fever, eczema, and food allergies
Autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus erythematosus, and scleroderma
Thyroid extracts Hypothyroidism

AIDS, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.

Liver Extracts

Beef (bovine) liver extracts and concentrates are a rich natural source of many vitamins and minerals, including iron. Liver extracts can contain as much as 3 to 4 mg of heme iron per gram. In addition to its use as a source of iron and other nutrients, hydrolyzed liver extracts have been used to treat chronic liver diseases since 1896. Numerous scientific investigations into the therapeutic efficacy of liver extracts demonstrated that these extracts improved fat utilization, promoted tissue regeneration, and prevented damage to the liver.2932 In short, clinical studies demonstrated that oral administration of hydrolyzed liver extracts can be quite effective in improving liver function.

For example, in one double-blind study, 556 patients with chronic hepatitis were given either 70 mg of liver hydrolysate or a placebo three times daily.32 After 3 months of treatment, the group that received the liver extract had far lower serum liver enzyme levels. Because the level of liver enzymes in the blood reflects damage to the liver, it can be concluded that liver extract is effective in chronic hepatitis via an ability to improve the function of damaged liver cells, as well as prevent further damage to the liver.

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Sep 12, 2016 | Posted by in MANUAL THERAPIST | Comments Off on Glandular Therapy

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