The human thymus gland is responsible for the production of some important immune cells, such as T-cells. Thymus extract is produced from the thymus glands of cows. Some people use it as medicine. But the quality and potency of thymus extract products can vary greatly.
Thymus extract is used for hay fever, infection of the airways, the common cold, flu, food allergies, asthma, weakened and enlarged heart (dilated cardiomyopathy), and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support most of these uses.
Thymus extract may work by improving or boosting the immune system.
When taken by mouth: Thymus extract is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when taken appropriately.
Because thymus extract comes from animals, there is concern about contamination with diseased animal parts. However, so far, there are no reports of diseases in humans due to use of contaminated thymus extract. There is also some concern about the possibility of catching "mad cow disease" (bovine spongiform encephalitis, BSE) from products that come from animals. There are no reports of getting "mad cow disease" from thymus extract. But it is probably wise to avoid animal products from countries where "mad cow disease" has been found.
When given as a shot: There isn't enough reliable information to know if thymus extract is safe or what the side effects might be.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if thymus extract is safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Weakened immune system: People who have a weakened immune system (HIV/AIDS patients, for example) or people who are taking drugs to weaken their immune system (organ transplant recipients, for example) have a higher risk of infection. These people should avoid thymus extract products unless these products are certified germ-free.
Medications that decrease the immune system (Immunosuppressants)
Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Medications that decrease the immune system can increase your chances of getting sick. Thymus extract is made from animals. There is some concern that products made from animals might contain harmful diseases and cause infections. Taking medications that decrease the immune system along with thymus extract might increase your chances of getting sick. Do not take thymus extract if you are taking medications that decrease the immune system.
Some medications that decrease the immune system include azathioprine (Imuran), basiliximab (Simulect), cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune), daclizumab (Zenapax), muromonab-CD3 (OKT3, Orthoclone OKT3), mycophenolate (CellCept), tacrolimus (FK506, Prograf), sirolimus (Rapamune), prednisone (Deltasone, Orasone), corticosteroids (glucocorticoids), and others.
There are no known interactions with herbs and supplements.
There are no known interactions with foods.
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
- For infection of the airways: Thymomodulin (calf thymus extract) 120 mg daily, on 20 days of each month, for 4 months.
- For weakened and enlarged heart (dilated cardiomyopathy): Thymomodulin (calf thymus extract) 10 mg injected under the skin three times each week for 3 months.
- For food allergies: Thymomodulin (calf thymus extract) 120 mg daily for 3 months.
- For infection of the airways: Thymomodulin (calf thymus extract) 120 mg daily, on 20 days of each month, for 4 months. Thymomodulin 3 mg/kg daily for 3 months.
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