Gland - its overlooked but vital role
by James South MA
The thymus gland is a small gland in the
upper chest. It weighs one third to one half ounce at birth, and reaches its
peak weight of about 17 ounces at puberty. Thereafter, under the influence of
many factors, including adrenal and sex hormones, the active thymus gland
cells begin to die off, with much of the thymus gland tissue being gradually
replaced by fat and connective tissue.
Much of the healthy thymus gland
structure typically atrophies by age 20, and the decline accelerates through-out
life thereafter. As immunologist Keith Kelly notes: "The involution
[shrinkage] of the thymus gland is one of the cardinal bio-markers of
aging." (1). In the past 40 years, science has discovered that the
thymus gland is the key regulator of immunity.
In the 1960's research showed that
immature white blood cells would "incubate" for a period inside the
thymus gland, and exit transformed into one of the specific types of
T-lymphocytes, such as T4 helper cells or T8 suppresser or cytotoxic T cells.
By the 1970's, the thymus gland
began to be viewed as an endocrine gland, similar to other endocrine glands,
such as the pituitary or thyroid.
Thus, pioneer thymus gland hormone
researcher Allan Goldstein, M.D. stated in concluding his classic 1974 paper
Thymosin and the Immunopathology of Aging: "Our studies indicate that the
thymus controls the maturation of T cells by an endocrine mechanism, and that
the hypothesis that the [ thymus gland] must come into contact with T-cell
precursors is no longer tenable. We propose that the [ thymus gland] secretes
thymosin, and perhaps other hormones, which can act at sites distant from the
thymus to influence the ontogenesis [and] function... of lymphoid cells involved
in cell mediated immunity." (2)
By the 1990's, at least 4 different
peptide hormones naturally secreted by the thymus gland had been discovered and
clinically tested. These included the Thymosins, a group of 40 or so related
peptides, found in thymus extracts called "Thymic Fraction 5";
Thymopoietin; Thymulin; also called "Facteur Thymique Serique"; and
Thymus Humoral Factor (3).
Collectively, these thymus gland
hormones have been shown, in human, animal and in vitro studies, to have a broad
range of action, well beyond merely maturing and differentiating T cells.
Thymus gland hormones can increase key
immune signals, called "lymphokines", including interleukin 2 (IL2),
interferon, colony stimulating factor, and others (4,6). thymus gland hormones
can cause greater numbers of T cells to develop more IL2 receptors more quickly,
which is critically necessary to allow rapid white blood cell proliferation and
activation to fight invading germs (4).
Thymus gland hormones can prevent the
tissue wasting that occurs with thymus gland removal or severe
thymus gland atrophy, and promote healthy weight gain in disease states- such as
AIDS- where catabolic body wasting is typical (3).
Thymus gland hormones can reduce
autoimmune reactions, clinically and experimentally, such as occur in rheumatoid
Thymus gland hormones prevent the bone
marrow injury and subsequent reduction in white and red blood cell production,
frequently produced by X-ray or chemotherapy cancer treatment (5).
Thymus gland hormones can increase
disease-fighting antibodies when they're needed, yet reduce the levels of the
"allergic antibody" IgE, in patients suffering allergic rhinitis,
asthma, and atopic dermatitis (5). These are just some of the many ways thymus
gland hormones have been shown to enhance, restore, and balance immunity!
As cellular physiologist Dennis Fahy has
noted: "If you restore immune function, your ability to make DNA, to have
normal cell division, to have normal insulin sensitivity, to have normal thyroid
levels and other things, such as normal population of certain molecules in the
brain that change with age, all these things are restored by an improvement in
the immune system." (1).
Thymus- aging and growth hormone
As the thymus gland shrinks with age, so
the blood levels and activity of various thymus gland hormones decline with age.
Thus, Goldstein observed a significant drop in blood thymosin levels in normal
individuals between the ages of 20 and 40 (2). Thymulin, a zinc-activated thymus
gland hormone, shows bioassay evidence of a significant drop in activity in
aging, healthy adults, and in hypothyroidism (3).
Since thymus gland hormones are secreted
by the very thymus gland cells that "shrivel up" and waste away due to
aging, stress, disease, radiation and malnutrition etc., the drop in thymus
gland hormone activity with aging should hardly be surprising.
Part of the restorative, rejuvenate,
anabolic, general health-enhancing effects of thymus gland hormones may relate
to the parallel and synergistic interactions between the pituitary and thymus
gland, and growth hormone (GH) and thymus gland hormones.
Thymus gland hormones increase the number,
activity, and healthy structure of T cells, and T cells secrete GH and GH
releasing hormone (7,8). Furthermore, they can stimulate the pituitary to
release GH (3). Also, experimental thymus gland removal is accompanied by
degeneration of the pituitary cells that produce GH (3).
Thymus- immune system
Another important effect of thymus gland
hormones is their immune normalizing action. thymus gland hormones do not
automatically just "turn up the volume" and increase all immune
activity. Rather, thymus gland hormones tend to reduce immunity when excessive,
as evidenced by overly high T4: T8 ratios, often seen in rheumatoid arthritis. T
hymus gland hormones increase immune
activity when it is weak, as shown by low T4: T8 ratios, a hallmark of AIDS.
Thymus gland hormones will also more precisely normalize the T4: T8 ratio in
persons whose T4: T8 ratio is already more or less normal, and bring the ratio
closer to the "ideal", healthy T4: T8 ratio of 1.74.
A retrospective study of the results from
clinical trials with 130 patients suffering various ailments, who received oral
pharmaceutical thymus extract demonstrates this clearly. 40 subjects had T4: T8
ratios below normal (under 1.02); 78 had normal ratios (between 1.02 and 2.46);
while 12 cases had above normal rations.
After 3-months the oral therapy had
increased the below-normal group's T4: T8 ratio from 0.72 to 1.10, while the
above-normal ratio group decreased from 3.33 to 2.18.
The already normal T4: T8 ratio group
increased their ratio slightly from 1.53 to 1.70, almost exactly the
"ideal", healthy ratio of 1.74 (9).
Thymus- little known
Although it is little known, even to most
alternative/ anti-aging medicine devotees, there is a large body of published,
human clinical research supporting the use of oral thymus gland extracts. They
have been used in a broad range of conditions, ranging from cancer treatment, to
rheumatoid arthritis, to various allergy and asthma conditions, to recurrent
respiratory infections and hepatitis (see reference 5 for a detailed list of
These studies have generally shown thymus
gland extracts to be extremely non-toxic and side-effect free, with few
contraindications for use.
The main block to the acceptance of the
efficacy of oral thymus gland extracts is the erroneous yet widespread belief
that all proteins and peptides taken orally, as food or supplements, are 100%
digested to individual amino acids before absorption, from the intestine into
If this were true, then indeed orally
administered thymus gland peptide hormone extracts would be broken down
completely during digestion, becoming merely very expensive, low dose amino acid
supplements, with no more immune activity than (for example) a few hundred
milligrams of ground beef protein! Yet it has been known since the 1970's that
significant quantities of various proteins, such as gliadin from wheat, milk
casein, ferritin, haemoglobin and milk immunoglobins routinely survive digestion
and enter the body- and even the brain- intact.
The pioneering research of W.A. Hemmings
(10) and Ziovdrov and colleagues (11) had repeatedly demonstrated this in a wide
variety of experiments using many different proteins, by the late 1970's.
In the 1997 textbook Oxidology (12),
Bradford and Allen even explain the mechanism of how this occurs. It is based on
a cellular process called "pinocytosis."
Thym-Uvocal is not just a "desiccated
whole thymus glandular extract" of the sort found in health food stores.
The active substances in Thym-Uvocal are
obtained by a selective, multi-stage biotechnology process. The starting
material is thymus gland's from strictly selected and healthy calves.
Tissue from any given animal is used only
after a veterinary physician has examined the live animal and issued a
certificate of good health.
Before the tissue is processed,
histological and bacteriological tests are performed. During the multi-stage
processing, proteins and prohormones in the tissue are enzymatically cleaved to
short-chain pharmaceutically active oligopeptides.
Filtration and special heat treatment
ensure the inactivation and removal of any microorganisms. The controlled and
reproducible manufacturing process produces an activation and concentration of
the desired low molecular weight peptides.
The various major thymus gland hormones
range in molecular weight from 860 Daltons (Thymulin) to 5600 Daltons
(Thymopoietin). Injectable Thym-Uvocal is standardized to be under 2000 Daltons
molecular weight, thus minimizing the risk of allergic reaction, while the oral
form Thym-Uvocal has a molecular weight under 10,000 Daltons.
Since animal experiments and human
clinical research has found no single thymus gland hormone to be capable of
performing all the immune-optimizing functions induced by the thymus gland
family of hormones as a whole, pharmaceutically balanced thymus gland
polypeptide hormone mixture is both more "natural", and more likely to
be safe and effective, than any specific thymic hormone.
Thym-Uvocal has been in clinical use in
Europe since 1976. The German company- Mulli which produces Thym-Uvocal has
published research, as well as in-house and physician anecdotal evidence to
support the efficacy and safety of Thym-Uvocal (13).
Who can benefit from Thym-Uvocal?
1. Patients, both children and adults,
with infections, autoimmune, allergic and cancerous conditions, both acute and
chronic, have been shown to benefit from Thym-Uvocal, whether taken by injection
or orally. Hepatitis, recurrent respiratory infections, early-stage AIDS,
candidiasis, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and skin conditions have all been
treated successfully with Thym-Uvocal or similar pharmaceutical thymus gland
2. Thym-Uvocal is useful as a key
endocrine-normalizing, anti-aging therapy, especially for those over 20! Thymus
size and hormone activity shrink significantly by the age of 20, after peaking
in the first 10-12 years of life. Further significant decline usually occurs by
the age of 40, and it's all downhill from there- until death, at whatever age.
3. Thym-Uvocal is useful as part of a
growth hormone-increasing program. GH and thymic hormones are mutually
supporting and synergistic.
4. Thym-Uvocal is useful even for those
who are relatively healthy, but who suffer frequent colds, flu, and other minor
5. Thym-Uvocal is useful as an agent to
increase energy and vitality, and to "lift the spirits." In his book
Life Energy (14), John Diamond, M.D. provides evidence that the thymus gland
controls the acupuncture energy meridians of the human body, and is the
glandular key to vitality, love, courage and the will to live/ will to be well.
Diamond specifically recommends thymus
gland extracts as a major method to restore thymus gland structure/ function.
Thym-Uvocal may be given by subcutaneous
or intramuscular injection from the Thym-Uvocal ampoules, or it can be taken
orally as Thym-Uvocal tablets.
How to use Thym-Uvocal
For rapid results, the injections are
taken on alternative days with the tablets. For those not suffering major or
life-threatening illness, Thym-Uvocal tablets alone may be sufficient.
1 or 2 ampoules are injected every other
day, while 2 tablets (240mg each) are taken 3 times a daily, or 2-4 tablets
twice daily are taken on an empty stomach.
Thym-Uvocal should be taken daily by those
not using injections.
Long term, even permanent Thym-Uvocal use
is both safe and effective.
Thym-Uvocal cream may also be used
topically for minor skin allergic conditions, infections and simply to
"youthify" normal skin.
There are few known contraindications for
Thym-Uvocal use. Thym-Uvocal should NOT be used during pregnancy, unless
prescribed by a physician.
Thym-Uvocal should NOT be used by those
with thymic tumours, myasthenia gravis, untreated hypothyroidism and those
receiving immunosuppressive therapy- e.g. to prevent transplanted organ
To conclude on a personal note; my wife
and I have used Thym-Uvocal off an on since 1993, and continuously since 1996.
Aside from the obvious immune benefits (no
colds or flu, almost perfect allergy control), we have both noticed a unique
effect from Thym-Uvocal that nothing else in our (rather massive) health/
anti-aging regimen can replace.
We both notice a distinct
"vitalizing" and "joie de vivre" effect from oral
I have been using various thymus extracts
since the late 1970's, and I have never found any other thymus product to give
this unique effect.
We have periodically stopped taking
Thym-Uvocal until we noticed a drop in mood or energy, and upon resuming
Thym-Uvocal we notice the uplift after taking just one or two doses! It's an
extremely pronounced effect within 3-7 days.
Our personal experience with Thym-Uvocal
very much confirms John Diamond's views on the thymus gland in his book Life
Thym-Uvocal is one of our core pro-health
(1). R. Klatz & C. Khan "Grow
Young with HGH" NY: Harper Collins 1997.
(2). A. Goldstein et al. "Thymosin
and the Immunopathology of Aging." Federation Proc., 33, 2053-56, 1974.
(3). J. Goss & M. Flye. "The
Thymus Regulator of Cellular Immunity." Austin: R.G. Landes Co. 1993.
(4). M. Sztein et al. "Modulation of
Interleukin 2 Receptor Expression on Normal Human Lymphocytes by Thymic
Hormones." Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA, 83, 6107-11, 1986.
(5). N. Kouttab et al. "Thymomodulin:
Biological Properties and Clinical Applications." Med. Oncol. and Tumor
Pharmacother. 6, 5-9, 1989.
(6). M. Zatz & A. Goldstein.
"Mechanism of Action of Thymosin." J. Immunol., 134, 1032-38, 1985.
(7). D. Weigant and J. Blalock.
"Immunoreactive Growth Hormone- Releasing Hormone in Rat Leukocytes."
J. Neuroimmunol. 29, 1-13, 1990.
(8). K. Kelly et al. "A pituitary-
Thymus Connection During Aging." Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 521, 88-98, 1988.
(9). P. Cazzola et al. "In Vivo
Modulating Effect of a Calf Thymus Acid Lysate on Human T Lymphocyte Subsets and
CD4+/ CD8+ Ratio in the Course of Different Diseases." Curr. Ther. Res.,
42, 1011-17, 1987.
(10). W. Hemmings. "Dietary Protein
Reaches the Brain." Orthomol. Psychiatry, 6, 309-16, 1977.
(11). C. Ziovdrou et al. "Opiod
Peptides Derived from Food Proteins." J. Biol. Chem., 254, 2446-49, 1979.
(12). R. Bradford & H. Allen.
"Oxidology." Chula Vista, CA: R.W. Bradford Foundation, 1997.
(13). Thym-Uvocal, Immunotherapeutic
Agent; A 32 page booklet published by Medalfa AG, Pratteln, Switzerland, no date
but 31 references plus many case histories.
(14). J. Diamond. "Life Energy."
N.Y. Paragon House, 1985.
(15). Z. Fahmy. "Immunostimulation
therapy with Thymus Extract in rheumatoid arthritis." A journal of medical
practice (in German titled- Erfahrungsheilkunde), Vol. 31, No 5, May 1982, pp.