Drugs A - Z

Adrenal extract

Generic Name: Adrenal cortex extract

Category

Herbs & Supplements

Synonyms

ACE, Adrena Support©, adrenal, adrenal complex, adrenal concentrate, adrenal cortex extract, adrenal factors, adrenal substance, glandular, protomorphogen (adrenal), suprarenal extract, whole adrenal extract.

Background

Adrenal extracts are derived from the adrenal glands of cows, pigs, or sheep gathered from slaughterhouses. The adrenal glands, which are above the kidneys, secrete adrenal hormones. The adrenal medulla secretes epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline) while the adrenal cortex secretes a group of hormones called corticosteroids.

Adrenal extracts have been used medicinally since 1931, primarily in the injectable form. Today, adrenal extract is available only in the form of capsules or tablets. Commercially available adrenal extracts are made from the whole gland (whole or total adrenal extracts) or just from the outer part of the gland (adrenal cortex extracts). Although adrenal extract has been used to treat fatigue and low adrenal function, currently no human trials of adrenal extract have been performed to support these claims.

Evidence

DISCLAIMER: These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Tradition

WARNING: DISCLAIMER: The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
Adrenal insufficiency, alcohol withdrawal, allergies, asthma, autoimmune disorders, blood disorders, bone healing, burns, cholesterol, colds, coughs, depression, drug withdrawal, dyspepsia, eczema, enlarged glands (status thymicolymphaticus), exhaustion, fatigue, fibromyalgia, high blood potassium level, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), hypotension (low blood pressure), immune enhancement, infections, inflammation, long-term debility, miscarriage (prevention), psoriasis, purification procedure for chromogranin A, rheumatoid arthritis, spermatogenesis, stress (physical or emotional), ulcerative colitis.

Dosing

Adults (18 years and older)

There is no proven safe or effective dose for adrenal extract. Commercially available adrenal extracts are made from the whole gland (whole or total adrenal extracts) or just from the outer part of the gland (adrenal cortex extracts).

Children (younger than 18 years)

There is no proven safe or effective dose for adrenal extract in children.

Safety

DISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.

Allergies

Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to adrenal extract.

Side Effects and Warnings

When taken by mouth, no adverse reactions have been reported. However, adrenal extracts are derived from raw cow, pig, or sheep adrenal glands, so there is concern about contamination with diseased animal parts. To date, no reports of disease transmission to humans due to use of contaminated adrenal extracts have been documented. Bovine spongiform encephalitis (BSE) has been reported in some countries, and adrenal extract products should be avoided in these areas.

Adrenal extract is likely unsafe when used parenterally. Use of injectable adrenal extract has been associated with serious bacterial infections and abscesses at injection sites, when contaminated with diseased animal parts. In 1996, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a nationwide alert regarding an injectable adrenal cortex extract after more than 50 cases of serious bacterial infections were reported.

Avoid in immunocompromised patients. Theoretically, adrenal extracts may increase the risk of infection, as the extracts might harbor pathogens. Injectable adrenal extract reportedly caused serious infections.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Adrenal extract is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence.

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