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Adrenal extract is a chemical that is made from the adrenal glands of slaughtered cows, pigs, and sheep. Adrenal glands make certain hormones. People use the extract as a medicine. It can be taken by mouth, placed under the tongue (used sublingually) or injected into the veins (given intravenously).
By mouth, adrenal extract is used for low adrenal function, fatigue, stress, lowered resistance to illness, severe allergies, asthma, certain skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Some people put adrenal extract under the tongue for physical or emotional stress, poor stress tolerance, general fatigue, allergies, autoimmune disorders, depression, pain and swelling (inflammation), low blood pressure, low blood sugar, drug and alcohol withdrawal, and discontinuation of cortisone drugs.
Intravenously, adrenal extract has been used for treating low adrenal function, high levels of potassium in the blood, and ulcerative colitis, and for preventing miscarriage.
How does it work?
The adrenal glands sit on top of the kidneys. They regulate the body’s response to stress by making hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. People use adrenal extract taken from animals in the hope that the extract will function like the body’s adrenal gland. But it’s not known whether the human body can absorb adrenal extract or how it might work.
Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...
- Low adrenal function.
- Fighting off illness.
- Skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
- Low blood pressure.
- Low blood sugar.
- Drug and alcohol withdrawal.
- Other conditions.
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).
Adrenal extract is UNSAFE when injected. There have been at least 50 reports of serious infection at the injection site.
There isn’t enough information available about the safety of adrenal extract when taken by mouth. But, there are serious concerns. Adrenal extract is made from adrenal glands gathered from slaughterhouses, and possibly from sick or diseased animals. Do not use adrenal extract from countries where a condition known as bovine spongiform encephalitis (BSE) has been reported, more commonly known as "mad cow disease." Countries where BSE has been reported include Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, Luxembourg, Ireland, Switzerland, Oman, Belgium, and others. If you can't tell if the adrenal extract is from a country without BSE, don't use it.
Low immune system function: If your body is not able to fight disease normally because of low immune system function (for example, you have HIV/AIDS or you are taking medicines to prevent your body from rejecting an organ transplant) you might be more likely than other people to become infected if you take adrenal extract.
The appropriate dose of adrenal extract depends on several factors such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for adrenal extract. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.
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GRUNDY, H. M., SIMPSON, S. A., and TAIT, J. F. Isolation of a highly active mineralocorticoid from beef adrenal extract. Nature 5-10-1952;169(4306):795-796. View abstract.
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MATTOX, V. R., MASON, H. L., and ALBERT, A. Isolation of a sodium-retaining substance from beef adrenal extract. Mayo Clin Proc 10-7-1953;28(20):569-576. View abstract.
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Nationwide alert on hallmark labs injectable adrenal cortex extract. FDA. Available at: www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/NEW00539.html