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 Vitamins & Dietary Supplements: Glandulars 

In the early 1920s, insulin was isolated by Sir Frederick Banting and Charles H. Best, who received the Nobel Prize for their discovery. Insulin has been a lifesaver for many diabetics, but it is also a very dangerous drug because it has such a narrow range of safe uses. Overdoses can cause very low blood sugar and shock. Insulin is destroyed in the gut, so it must be injected. It is possible that in the pancreas, as in other glands, certain molecules protect the active hormones from digestive juices, and some of these substances actually get into the body. The whole pancreas gland, which had previously been used, is definitely safer than insulin, but pancreas itself is not strong enough to treat diabetes once it is established.

Currently, opinion is split over the use of animal glands and hormones, separating those in the medical profession from other practitioners, such as naturopaths and chiropractors, who cannot write prescriptions. Allopathic medicine usually is not very supportive of the nondrug or natural approaches used by its professional competitors; however, glandular therapy is much more accepted by physicians in other countries, particularly in Europe. Currently in this country, there is not much definitive research to support those approaches, and the M.D.s might say those "doctors" are not trained to treat disease. Natural practitioners often feel that what they do is safe and effective for many people who do not have advanced disease; they work preventively. But the science and dollars are behind the medical profession, even though there is a lot of good experience with the more natural therapies. There does need to be more research to show exactly what effects use of these glandulars has so that we can all better apply them to health.

Glandulars such as thyroid, ovary, adrenal, and thymus are not prescription items and can be purchased by anyone in health food stores. Practitioners such as chiropractors, naturopaths, and nutritionists often suggest certain glandular protomorphogens in an attempt to strengthen or balance the internal function and energies of their patients/clients.

I, personally, am not sure what to do with glandular therapy. It does not seem to cause harm, and it may do some good. As I said earlier, I am becoming more comfortable with this therapy, and I occasionally suggest adrenal, pancreas, thymus, or non-prescription thyroid for people who seem to need that support. I do not use these in medical conditions that I feel need actual hormone therapy. It is clear that more research and understanding are needed in this still-mysterious practice of using glandular substitutes.

Glandular supplements are made in a variety of ways. The best products are prepared from freeze-dried, defatted, fresh glands, as no heat or chemicals that can destroy the enzymes are used. A vacuum process is used to dry the glands after freezing. Because no chemical solvents are used to pull out the fat and potentially toxic chemicals stored in the glands, it is suggested that the glandular tissue be obtained from range-grazed cattle that have not been given chemicals, hormones, or antibiotics. Many companies use this type of processing, and the majority of these glandulars are imported from New Zealand. Some practitioners believe that removing the fat from the glands in the least toxic way is important, as the fat can contain any harmful residues of substances contacted by the animal, and is subject to oxidize and go rancid; the remaining protein tissues are stable. Another current safe method is by use of an organic, inert solvent in a low-temperature process termed "azeotrophic" extraction. As yet there is no clear answer to which process is best, but these two glandular preparations lead the way.

(Excerpted from Staying Healthy with Nutrition ISBN: 1587611791)
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 About The Author
Elson Haas MDElson M. Haas, MD is founder & Director of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin (since 1984), an Integrated Health Care Facility in San Rafael, CA and author of many books on Health and Nutrition, including ...more
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