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The use of liquid thymus extract in the management of allergies.

The immune system is a remarkable defense system that has evolved over centuries to protect us from invading pathogenic organisms and cancer. To fulfill this task, it must be able to generate an enormous variety of cells and molecules capable of specifically recognizing and eliminating an almost limitless variety of foreign invaders.

This state of "immunity" has both specific and nonspecific components. Innate refers to the non-specific immunity an individual is born with and therefore does not require repeated exposure to pathogens. On the other hand, acquired or "specific immunity" develops through activation of lymphocytes when the body is exposed to various antigens. Both systems function to augment one another, supplying both specific and nonspecific defense mechanisms in order to provide a more total immune response.

An effective immune response involves two major groups of cells -- lymphocytes and antigen-presenting cells. Lymphocytes are one of many white cell types produced in the bone marrow during hematopoiesis. The two major populations of lymphocytes are B-lymphocytes (B-cells) and T-lymphocytes (T-cells).

B-Lymphocytes

B-lymphocytes mature in the bone marrow and leave the marrow expressing a unique antigen-binding receptor on their membrane. (1) When a naive B-cell, one which has not previously encountered an antigen, first encounters the antigen for which its membrane antibody is specific for, the cell begins to divide rapidly and matures into memory B-cells and effector B-cells called plasma cells.

T-Lymphocytes

T-lymphocytes also arise from hematopoietic stem cells in the bone marrow, but unlike B-cells, they migrate to the thymus gland to mature. There are two well defined subpopulations of T-cells: T-helper (TH) and T-cytotoxic (Tc) cells. T-helper and T-cytotoxic cells can be distinguished from one another by the presence of either membrane glycoproteins CD4 or CD8 on their cell surfaces. Those displaying CD4 usually function as TH cells, whereas those displaying CD8 generally function as Tc cells. (2)

After a TH cell recognizes and interacts with an antigen, the cell is activated and becomes an effector cell that secretes various growth factors known as cytokines. Differences in the pattern of cytokines produced by activated TH cells results in qualitative differences in the type of immune response that develops.

TH Subsets

Maintaining the correct balance between the cellular and humoral immune responses is fundamental to the body's ability to amount an effective immune response to viral and other challenges. Several distinct sub-populations of T-cells have been identified and play an important role as effectors and regulators of the immune response. Of these, the most important are known as TH1 and TH2, so called because they exhibit helper function for both B- and T-cells. (3)

The TH1 and TH2 patterns of cytokine response are mutually inhibitory and between them are responsible for maintaining the balance between the humoral and cell-mediated responses. The body is considered to be in a state of balance when there exists an equilibrium between TH1 and TH2 states over a 24-hour period of time. If the body shifts to a TH2 state and fails to return to a TH1 state, then a TH1 to TH2 shift has taken place. With such a pattern, pro-allergic inflammatory cytokines would be produced and a lowering of NK cells would take place with the possibility of increased vulnerability to infectious disease.

T-Lymphocyte Imbalances

TH2-dominated conditions include allergies, chronic sinusitis, atopic eczema, asthma, systemic autoimmune conditions (such as lupus), hyperinsulinism, hepatitis C, cancer, viral infections, and ulcerative colitis. The conditions that are considered to be TH1 -dominated include diabetes type I, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, uveitis, Crohn's disease, psoriasis, H. pylori infections, sarcoidosis, and Hashimoto's disease. (4)

Allergy

An immune response evokes a battery of effector molecules that act to remove antigens by various specific biochemical and immunological mechanisms. Food and environmental allergies have both been implicated in a wide range of medical conditions affecting virtually every part of the body. These include gastrointestinal symptoms, fatigue, joint pain, and chronic infections, as well as diseases of the nervous system like depression, anxiety, and fatigue. Allergy causes the immune system to release various reactive agents, such as cytokines, histamines, lymphokines and interferons. These substances influence the cellular physiology, affecting the immune, endocrine, and nervous systems.

The number of food allergies and environmental reactions has greatly increased over the past several years. Atopic reactions are also rising dramatically. Symptoms related to bronchial allergies and asthma have nearly doubled in the last 10 years. (5) It is now estimated that atopic dermatitis now affects 10-15% of the population at some time in their lives. (6) Adverse reactions to foods, especially in children has been reported in nearly 25% of younger children. (7) Many physicians today feel that allergies may be the main problem for many individuals with undiagnosed conditions.

Role of the Thymus and Immune System Regulation

As previously mentioned, the immune system plays an important role in defending humans against invading organisms. Central to immune regulation is the thymus gland. The earliest evidence linking the thymus to immune regulation came from experiments involving neonatal thymectomy in newborn mice. These mice showed a dramatic decrease in circulating lymphocytes of the T-cell line and an absence of cell-mediated immunity. A congenital birth defect seen in humans, DiGeorge's syndrome, involves the failure of the thymus to develop and an absence of circulating T-cells and cell-mediated immunity. (1) The resulting immune deficit translates into susceptibility to infection and autoimmune diseases.

The immune decline seen in aging that leads to an increase in infections, autoimmunity, and cancer, probably also results from changes in the T-cell component of the immune system. The thymus reaches maximum size at puberty and then atrophies, with an increase in fat component of the gland. The weight of the gland in infancy averages about 70 grams; in the elderly, the weight is about three grams. (1) This involution, increase in fat, and lowered thymic function precede the decrease in immune system function seen in aging.

The human thymus produces at least seven thymic proteins: thymopoietin, thymosin alpha, thymulin, thymic humoral factor, hormonal thymic factor, serum thymic factor, and other thymic factors. (8) Thymus gland hormones increase key immune signals called "lymphokines" that include interleukin-2 (IL-2), interferon, colony-stimulating factors, and others. (4)

Thymus Extracts

The use of cell extracts to treat illness has been an integral part of the healing arts for many years. Animal and plant preparations have been used throughout time for healing and for maintaining good health. Bovine thymus extracts have been available for more than 65 years. Extracts from the glands of healthy animals contain signaling factors that regulate functions of the corresponding glands, which leads to optimal physiological responses. Numerous studies have been published documenting the use of oral thymus extracts for a wide variety of clinical problems.

Liquid Thymus Extracts

Liquid thymus extracts are derived from juvenile calves for oral administration. One such product developed by a Canadian company uses only thymus glands from federally inspected herds in Canada that meet the requirements of a country free of bovine spongirform encephalopathy (BSE). An exclusive fractionation process is used which allows for the breakup of cell membranes and the ability to extract the specific thymic proteins required for immune modulation. They are then filtered according to their molecular weight, less than 50,000 Daltons. (12) This procedure is carried out at a low temperature near zero degrees Celsius to preserve the integrity of the peptides.

Administration is via the sublingual route allowing for maximal absorption via the mucosae of the mouth. This avoids degradation by the gastrointestinal tract and therefore preserves the integrity of the proteins. Studies have shown liquid thymus extracts to be completely non-toxic and without side effects.

Case Studies

Over the last several years, I have had the opportunity to treat a number of patients suffering from allergies using liquid thymus extracts. I would like to take this opportunity to share several success stories with you.

Case #1: DB was a 34-year-old executive with a chronic history of allergies, asthma, and candidiasis. He frequently was treated by his physician for sinusitis with antibiotics. He was also treated with corticosteroids and anti-inflammatory drugs with mixed results. His diet was discussed, and he was placed on a vitamin regime. Liquid thymic extracts were added. He was advised to take two vials per week for two months. After the third week he mentioned that he felt much better, had more energy, and was able to breathe better. He continued on this protocol for six months. Upon follow-up, he reports he has not been sick in months and has no sinus attacks.

Case #2: JS was a 37-year-old lawyer who complained of being sick all the time. She had her tonsils removed at age five. She reports constant infections, coughing, and upper respiratory infections as a child. She had tried various supplements and botanicals to strengthen her immune system. Thymus support was started, one vial weekly. She reported no results until the fifth week, when she reported she felt stronger and a general improvement in her health. She continued with her program for five months. She has remained in good health since.

Case #3: MM, a 5-year-old, was brought to my office for evaluation and treatment. He was six weeks premature and had been sick since birth. His skin was covered with blotches, especially his elbows, thighs and the back of his neck. He was not able to eat many foods without experiencing gas, belching, and bloating. There were multiple bouts with ear infection and multiple antibiotic treatments. The suggestion was made to place tubes in his ears to get rid of the built-up fluid that collected there. He was started on half a vial of thymus every four days. Within four weeks his skin was clear and his ears no longer bothered him. Other supplements were added to his regime. He remains asymptomatic some three years later.

Conclusion

Maintaining normal immune system function and balance has become an integral part of managing numerous infectious and immunological conditions seen in clinical practice. Through the development of unique substances, such as live proteins, a risk-free, adjunctive therapy is now available for the management of imbalanced immune conditions. As a nutritional supplement, liquid thymus extracts have proven to be beneficial in restoring the balance between THl and TH2 cells that can be altered in many conditions, including allergies.

REFERENCES

(1.) Kuby J. Immunology, 3rd edition, Freeham and Company, New York, 1997.

(2.) Stites D, Abba T, and Parslow T (Eds). Medical Immunology, 1997; Appleton & Lange, Stanford, Connecticut.

(3.) Brodley B. "Involution of the mammalian thymus, one of the leading regulators of aging: in vivo." Sept-Oct 1997; 11 (5):421-440.

(4.) Bock S. "Transfer factor and its clinical application." Int Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2000; 2(4): 44-49.

(5.) Chandra RK. "Food allergy and food intolerance: lessons from the past and hopes for the 21st century." In: Somoyogi JC, Muller HR, Ockhuizen T, editors. Food allergy and food intolerance. Nutritional aspects and developments, Bibi Nutr DIETA 1991; 48:149-156.

(6.) Sampson HA. "Food hypersensitivity and dietary management in atopic dermatitis." Pediatric Dermatology 1992; 9(4):376-379.

(7.) Kjellman NI. "Natural history and prevention of food sensitivity." In: Food Allergy: Adverse Reactions to Foods and Additives, Metcalfe DDM, Sampson HA, and Simon RA, (eds), 1991; Blackwell Scientific Publications, Boston; 319-331.

(8.) Written communication. Dr. Alain Thibodeau, PhD. Atrium Biotechnologies, Quebec City, Canada.

About the Author

Howard Benedict, DC, did his undergraduate work at Queens College, Flushing, New York. He then went on to get his chiropractic degree from the National University of Health Sciences in Lombard, Illinois. In 1984, he received his MS in Human Biology/Nutrition from the CW Post Campus at Long Island University. As well as maintaining a private practice in new York, Dr. Benedict serves also as a consultant for several health food companies.
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Author:Benedict, Howard
Publication:Original Internist
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2002
Words:1960
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