Benefits of Glandular Supplements
For hundreds of years, problems affecting the health of glands, organs and tissues were traditionally treated with consumption of raw glands, organs and tissues. Today, glandular supplements in powdered or tablet form have become a popular choice for good health in lieu of a raw product.
Glandular supplements are generally extracted from cow (bovine), sheep (ovine) or pig (porcine) sources and are concentrated into a product for healing equivalent glands in humans. These can be beneficial for individuals not getting adequate daily nutrients - particularly those that support the adrenal and thyroid glands.
Two small glands which are situated on top of the kidneys are the adrenal glands. These are responsible for the body's "fight or flight" response which sends adrenaline and cortisol into the bloodstream. The adrenal glands also help in the maintenance of over 50 hormones within the body.
The term "adrenal fatigue" was coined in the late 1990s by Dr. James Wilson in reference to low adrenal function often associated with high levels of stress. Some indications of adrenal fatigue are muscle weakness, low sex drive, mild depression, foggy thinking, inability to handle stress, cravings for salty foods and heightened PMS, perimenopausal or menopausal symptoms. Adrenal support is particularly important for regulation of hormones in women approaching menopause.
Adrenal supplements come in many forms. There are tablets and capsules containing a variety of mixtures of bovine adrenal, adrenal cortex, anterior pituitary and pineal glands. Users should follow dosing instructions on the product label.
Because caffeine and gluten can negatively affect adrenal health, some health care professionals recommend a gluten-free diet and limited caffeine to individuals with symptoms of adrenal fatigue. Nutrition should emphasize lots of fresh vegetables, lean proteins and healthy oils in the form of nuts and seeds. Because many people with adrenal fatigue have low blood pressure, it is also sometimes helpful to include a little sea salt in the diet. Vitamin B complex, C and E are supportive to the adrenal glands as are minerals like magnesium, calcium, zinc, manganese, selenium and iodine.
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland found in the lower, front of the neck. Thyroid hormones affect many systems and functions within the body including:
- Development of the brain
- Function of the heart and nervous system
- Regulation of breathing
- Formation of blood cells
- Regulation of body temperature and menstrual cycles
- Maintenance of body weight
- Muscle and bone strength
- Cholesterol levels
Symptoms of a sluggish thyroid (hypothyroidism) include severe fatigue, weight gain, depression, joint and muscle pain, headaches, dry skin, brittle nails, hair loss, irregular periods, cold intolerance, constipation, low sex drive, puffy face and extremities, tingling sensation in the hands and wrists, poor memory, fuzzy thinking and the development of a goiter - an enlarged thyroid that is externally visible.
Thyroid supplements can be found in tablet or capsule form and users should follow dosage directions on the product. Typically these come in the form of:
- Porcine Thyroid Glandular, which is made from the thyroid gland of the pig. This is recommended to individuals who can eat pork, as porcine products are more similar to human chemistry than bovine products.
- Bovine Thyroid Glandular, which is made from the thyroid gland of the cow. This is a good option for people with allergies to pork or for people who don't eat pork for religious reasons.
Nutritional and Lifestyle Support
Foods that are high in B vitamins like nuts, seeds and whole grains are recommended as is iodine - found in fish, seaweed and some vegetables. People with low thyroid function should get at least 30 to 60 minutes of exercise four to five days per week and practice methods for relaxation like deep breathing, meditation or guided visualization. It is also important, when possible, to enjoy 15 to 20 minutes of daily sunshine without sunscreen to maintain vitamin D levels.
Low adrenal and thyroid levels can wreak havoc with the body - creating aches and pains, upsetting energy levels and affecting mood. Before supplementation with any product however, consultation with a health care professional is recommended to rule out side effects and prescription drug interactions.