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Thymus extract

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Related terms
Background
Evidencetable
Tradition
Dosing
Safety
Interactions
Attribution
Bibliography

Related Terms
  • Aqueous calf thymus extract, bovine thymic extract, calf thymus, calf thymus acid lysate, calf thymus extract, calf-thymus lysate, calf thymus nuclear extract, Complete Thymic Formula®, CSFa, CSFb, CTE, facteur thymique serique, fetal thymus, fraction V, FTS, glandular therapy, hormonal thymic factor, IFX, immunophan, Leucotrofina, leucotrofina-L (Timolimfotropina-T), leukotrophin, oligopeptide (fractionV), organotherapy, peptide thymosin alpha 1, polypeptides, polypeptide thymus extract, rabbit thymus, RTE, serum thymic factor, tactivin, T-activin, taktivin, Talpha1, TFX, TFX-JELFA ini., ThymalfasinT (thymosin alpha1, Talpha1, Zadaxin®, SciClone Pharmaceuticals, Inc.), thymalin, thymex L, thymex-L, thymic calf extract (leucotrofina), thymic extract, thymic factor, thymic factor X, thymus glandular extract, thymic hormones, thymic humoral factor, thymic peptides, Thymoject®, thymomodulin, thymomodulins, thymopoietin, thymosin, thymosin alpha, thymosin alpha 1, thymosin fraction 5, thymosin fraction V, thymostimulin (TS, TST, Tp-1, Serono, bovine thymic extract), thymsin (TP-1), thymulin, thymus extract (TFX-JELFA ini.), Thymus Extract Mulli®, thymus gland, TP1, TP-1, Tp-1 Serono, TS, TST, ubiquitin, umoral factor, vilozen, whole calf thymus extract (TFX-Polfa), Zadaxin®.
  • Combination products (examples): ThymuskinT treatment gel (contains synthetic thymus hydrolysate, etc.), ThymuskinT shampoo (contains thymus extract, etc.).

Background
  • The thymus is a lobular gland located under the breastbone near the thyroid gland that plays a role in immune function. With age, the thymus is replaced by fat and connective tissue.
  • According to legend, glandular or organotherapy, which refers to the use of animal tissues or cell preparations to improve physiologic functioning and support the natural healing process, first gained popularity in the early to mid 1900s. The idea of homeopathic glandular therapy was first introduced almost 200 years ago. Thymus extracts for nutritional supplements usually come from young calves (bovine). Bovine thymus extracts are found in capsules and tablets as dietary supplements.
  • Thymus extract is commonly used to stimulate the immune system and to treat bone marrow failure, autoimmune disorders, chronic skin diseases, recurrent viral and bacterial infections, hepatitis, allergies, chemotherapy side effects, and cancer. Most basic and clinical research involving oral and injectable thymus extract has been conducted in Europe.
  • Studies in humans suggest promising results in terms of allergies, asthma, cancer, chemotherapeutic side effects, cardiomyopathy (weakening of the heart muscle), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, HIV/AIDS, liver disease, respiratory tract infections, systemic lupus erythematosus, and tuberculosis and to stimulate the immune system However, not all study results agree, and more well designed studies are still needed in many fields.

Evidence Table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. GRADE *


Preliminary evidence suggests that thymus extract may be useful for allergy symptom reduction. More studies are needed before a conclusion can be made involving thymus extract for this use.

C


Preliminary evidence suggests that thymus extract may be useful for hair re-growth. More studies are needed before a conclusion can be made involving thymus extract for this use.

C


Thymus extract has been investigated for use in immune-modulating acute stress and adaptive disorders. More studies are needed before a conclusion can be made involving thymus extract for this use.

C


From the available evidence, any potential benefit of thymus extract is unclear. More studies are needed before a conclusion can be made involving thymus extract for this use.

C


Preliminary evidence suggests that thymus extract may be useful for asthma symptom reduction. More studies are needed before a conclusion can be made involving thymus extract for this use.

C


Thymus extract may be useful for reducing infections, septicemia, and mortality. However, the evidence is mixed. More studies are needed before a conclusion can be made involving thymus extract for this use.

C


Preliminary evidence suggests that thymus extract may reduce side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy and increase disease-free survival. Early studies have investigated thymus extract for the treatment of hematopoietic cancer, histiocytosis X, larynx and oropharnygeal cancer, and skin cancer, among others. Additional study is needed in this area.

C


Preliminary evidence suggests that thymus extract may increase left ventricular function, exercise tolerance, and survival. Additional study is needed in this area.

C


Preliminary evidence suggests that thymus extract may be useful for reducing disease exacerbations and hospital admission. More studies are needed before a conclusion can be made involving thymus extract for this use.

C


Thymus extract is of interest for treatment of dermatomyositis (inflammation of the muscles) due to its role in stimulating the immune system. Additional study is needed in this area.

C


Preliminary evidence in conventionally treated patients with type I diabetes suggests that a combination of azathioprine and thymostimulin increased remission. Thymostimulin alone had no effect. Additional study is needed in this area.

C


Preliminary evidence suggests that thymus extract has no clinical effect in patients with subacute sclerosing panencephalitis. However, additional study is needed in this area.

C


More studies are needed before a conclusion can be made involving thymus extract for the treatment of glaucoma or keratitis.

C


Preliminary evidence suggests that thymus extract speeds healing of gastric lesions. More studies are needed before a conclusion can be made involving thymus extract for this use.

C


Preliminary evidence found no improvement in HIV progression to AIDS or immunostimulation, although some immunological activity was noted in a non-randomized controlled trial. Additional study is needed in this area.

C


Thymus extract is of interest in the treatment of human papillomavirus due to its role in immunostimulation. Preliminary positive results were found in five cases. Additional study is needed in this area.

C


Preliminary evidence suggests that thymus extract increases T- and B-lymphocyte counts, the number of rosette-forming cells, and response of T-lymphocytes. Also, in cancer patients, T-activin significantly increases the number of natural killer cells (CD16+). Additional study is needed in this area.

C


Preliminary evidence suggests that thymus extract may offer benefit to individuals with HIV/AIDS and human papillomavirus. Also, thymus extract is of interest due to its role in immunostimulation. More well-designed studies are required in the area of non-hepatitis B and hepatitis B liver disorders before conclusions can be made involving thymus extract for this use.

C


Thymus extract is of interest in the treatment of myelodysplastic syndrome due to its role in immunostimulation in vitro and in human and animal studies. Additional study is needed in this area.

C


Preliminary evidence suggests that both intramuscular and oral thymus extract may be useful for reducing the presence of respiratory tract symptoms. Additional study is need in this area.

C


Despite use of thymus extracts for dermatological conditions, there is currently inconclusive evidence recommending thymus extract for or against the use in skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema.

C


Preliminary results indicate that articular and cutaneous symptoms associated with systemic lupus erythematosus can be improved with thymus extract use. More studies are needed before a conclusion can be made involving thymus extract for this use.

C


Although inconclusive, preliminary evidence suggests that thymus extract may improve effectiveness of antibacterial therapy in patients with tuberculosis. More studies are needed before a conclusion can be made involving thymus extract for this use.

C


Preliminary evidence from a controlled trial suggests that thymus extract reduces re-infection frequency and infection persistence. More studies are needed before a conclusion can be made involving thymus extract for this use.

C
* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)


Tradition / Theory

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

  • Aging, allergic rhinitis, anemia, angina (chest pain), antifungal (adjuvant), antimicrobial (adjuvant), antiparasitic, antiviral, aphthous stomatitis (RAS, mouth sores), asthma, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), atopic dermatitis, autoimmune disorders (hemolytic anemias), bacterial infection (severe diarrhea due to Shigella infection), bone disorders (bone marrow protection), bronchiolitis, cardiac bypass, cardiac (heart) disease, chicken pox, colorectal cancer, connective tissue disorders, Crohn's disease, depressed immune system, depression (short-term), diabetic retinopathy, fatigue, food allergy diagnosis/treatment, gastrointestinal inflammation (appendicitis), herpes, high cholesterol, Hodgkin's disease, infections, inflammation, ischemic heart disease, leukemia (chronic), leukopenia (abnormally low white blood cell count), liver disease (cirrhosis, hepatitis, echinocciasis), lymphedema, lymphoma, male infertility, multiple myeloma, multiple sclerosis, otitis media (middle ear infection), pre-eclampsia, rheumatoid arthritis, sarcoidosis, sepsis, sinusitis, surgery, viral myocarditis, warts, weight loss (wasting or catabolic), wound healing, yeast infections.

Dosing

Adults (18 years and older)

  • There is no proven effective dose for thymus extract. Thymus extract is typically given as an injection, although thymomodulin 80 milligrams has been taken by mouth daily for up to 90 days for the treatment of asthma, and hepatitis B and C. Injections have been given for the treatment of arthritis, breast cancer, burns, cancer, cardiomyopathy, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, eczema, hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, human papillomavirus infections, immunostimulation, keratitis, liver disease, male infertility, psoriasis, sinusitis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and urinary tract infections. A number of doses have been used, but none have been standardized. Injections should only be given under the supervision of qualified healthcare professionals, including a pharmacist.

Children (younger than 18 years)

  • There is no proven effective dose for thymus extract in children. A thymus extract has been taken by mouth for three months for the treatment of bronchial asthma. Injections have also been given for recurrent respiratory infections. For example, a dose of thymostimulin 1.5-3 milligrams per kilogram has been injected into the muscle daily for up to 30 days. Injections should only be given under the supervision of qualified healthcare professionals, including a pharmacist.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to thymus extracts. A severe anaphylactic reaction to injected thymostimulin has been documented in a case report. Allergy to thymic extracts has not been demonstrated in currently available clinical trials

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Use bovine thymus extract supplements cautiously due to potential for exposure to the virus that causes "mad cow disease."
  • Use of thymus extracts may result in atopic eczema or a decreased thyroid gland weights, decreased levels of dihydrotestosterone, increased connective tissue, resorption vacuoles and hyperemia (excess of blood), increased human sperm motility and progression, mild and transient leukopenia (abnormally low white blood cell count), reduction in thyroid follicle size and colloid content.
  • Avoid use in patients with an organ transplant or other forms of allografts or xenografts due to the possibility of thymus extract stimulating an immune response and thus transplant rejection.
  • Use cautiously with drugs that suppress the immune system. antibacterials, drugs that lower blood sugar levels, antihistamines, antineoplastic (anticancer) agents, anxiolytics, bronchodilators, cardiovascular (heart) agents, corticosteroids, fumaric acid, hormonal agents, immunomodulators, methylxanthines, and sedatives.
  • Use of thymus extract is not recommended in patients with myasthenia gravis, untreated hypothyroidism, or thymic tumors due to inadequate available safety information.
  • Avoid use in patients on hormonal therapy due to preliminary evidence suggesting thyroid extract may alter the levels of certain hormones. Also, avoid in patients with a known allergy to thymus or who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Thymic extract increases human sperm motility and progression. Avoid use during pregnancy or breastfeeding due to inadequate available safety information.

Interactions

Interactions with Drugs

  • In humans, a combination of azathioprine and thymostimulin may be beneficial in the management of type I diabetes. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, and medication adjustments may be necessary.
  • Thymus extract may increase the amount of drowsiness caused by some drugs. Examples include benzodiazepines such as lorazepam (Ativan®) or diazepam (Valium®), barbiturates such as phenobarbital, narcotics such as codeine, some antidepressants, and alcohol. Caution is advised while driving or operating machinery.
  • Although not well studied in humans, purified thymus gland extract may decrease average thyroid gland weights and serum T3 serum levels and significantly decreased serum T4 levels. It is not clear what effects thymus gland extract would have on external thyroid hormones.
  • Thyroid extract may increase the effects of antibiotics, antihistamines, anticancer drugs that reduce anxiety (anxiolytics), bronchodilators, conventional medications for the treatment of cardiomyopathy, corticosteroids, drugs with hormonal effects, drugs that affect the immune system, fumaric acid, methylxanthines, and thyroid hormones.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • In humans, a combination of azathioprine and thymostimulin may be beneficial in the management of type I diabetes. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may alter blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.
  • In humans, thymomodulin had an additive effect on 'conventional medications' for cardiomyopathy. Thymomodulin may also have additive effects on herbal agents that act in a similar manner.
  • Thymus extract may increase the amount of drowsiness caused by some herbs or supplements. Caution is advised while driving or operating machinery.
  • Although not well studied in humans, purified thymus gland extract may nonsignificantly decrease average thyroid gland weights and serum T3 levels and significantly decrease serum T4 levels. It is not clear what effects thymus gland extract would have on external thyroid hormone-like herbs or supplements.
  • Thyroid extract may increase the effects of antibacterials, antihistamines, chemotherapy, herbs and supplements that reduce anxiety (anxiolytics), bronchodilators, corticosteroids, essential, fumaric acid, herbs and supplements with hormonal effects, herbs and supplements that affect the immune system, selenium, thyroid herbs and supplements.

Attribution
  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

Bibliography
  1. Akhmedov RM, Ochilov UB, Mirkhodzhaev IA, et al. [Prevention and treatment of postoperative complications of hepatic echinococcosis]. Med Parazitol (Mosk) 2003;(2):18-21.
  2. Aleksandrovskii IuA, Chekhonin VP. [Clinical and immunological studies in borderline mental disorders: problems and solutions]. Vestn Ross Akad.Med Nauk 1999;(7):12-15.
  3. Arutiunian VM, Grigorian EG. [Effectiveness of using immunomodulators in combined treatment of patients with chronic gastritis and ulcer disease]. Klin Med (Mosk) 2003;81(5):33-35.
  4. Chien RN, Liaw YF. Thymalfasin for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B. Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther 2004;2(1):9-16.
  5. Christ HW. [Immunomodulating therapy of psoriasis vulgaris]. Med Klin (Munich) 10-15-1999;94 Suppl 3:90-92.
  6. Jablonowska E, Tchorzewski H, Lewkowicz P, et al. Reactive oxygen intermediates and serum antioxidative system in patients with chronic C hepatitis treated with IFN-alpha and thymus factor X. Arch Immunol Ther Exp (Warsz.) 2005;53(6):529-533.
  7. Kevorkov NN, Gorovits GA, Bakhmet'ev SA. [Likopid in the complex immunomodulating treatment of patients with sarcoidosis of the lung and intrathoracic lymph nodes]. Ter Arkh 2002;74(3):55-58.
  8. Liberati AM, Ballatori E, Fizzotti M, et al. A randomized trial to evaluate the immunorestorative properties of thymostimulin in patients with Hodgkin's disease in complete remission. Cancer Immunol Immunother 1988;26(1):87-93.
  9. Mustacchi G, Pavesi L, Milani S, et al. High-dose folinic acid (FA) and fluorouracil (FU) plus or minus thymostimulin (TS) for treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer: results of a randomized multicenter clinical trial. Anticancer Res 1994;14(2B):617-619.
  10. Nazarov IP, Popov AA, Protopopov BV, et al. [Ways of correcting immunodeficiency at different stages of burns with the aim of prevention and treatment of sepsis]. Anesteziol Reanimatol 1999;(1):63-68.
  11. Popiela T, Kulig J, Klek S, et al. Enzyme therapy in patients with advanced colorectal cancer. Przegl Lek 2000;57 Suppl 5:138-139.
  12. Raymond RS, Fallon MB, Abrams GA. Oral thymic extract for chronic hepatitis C in patients previously treated with interferon. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Ann Intern Med 11-15-1998;129(10):797-800.
  13. Romeo F, Arcoria D, Palmisano L, et al. Effectiveness of thymostimulin treatment in hepatitis B surface antigen-positive chronic active liver disease. Results of a randomized clinical trial. Arzneimittelforschung 1985;35(8):1317-1322.
  14. Salvati F, Pallotta G, Antilli A, et al. [MACC plus thymostimulin (TP-1 Serono) therapy of small cell bronchogenic carcinoma. Clinico-immunologic evaluation of the results of a randomized trial]. G Ital Chemioter 1984;31(1-2):185-189.
  15. Sanchiz F, Milla A. A randomised study comparing granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) with G-CSF plus thymostimulin in the treatment of haematological toxicity in patients with advanced breast cancer after high dose mitoxantrone therapy. Eur J Cancer 1996;32A(1):52-56.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)


The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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