Thymus health

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How to balance and support the master gland of the immune system.

The immune system is one of the most complex and fascinating systems of the human body. Its prime functions are involved in protecting the body against infection and against the development of cancer. Support and enhancement of the immune system is the most important and vital step in reducing our susceptibility to colds, the flu, and even cancer. The most effective method in maintaining or attaining a healthy immune system is supporting the functions of the thymus gland.
What is the thymus?

Most people don't know that the thymus is the central gland of our immune system. It is composed of two soft pinkish-gray lobes lying in a bib-like fashion just below the thyroid gland and above the heart. To a very large extent, the health of the thymus determines the health of the immune system. People who get frequent infections or suffer from chronic illnesses typically have impaired thymus activity. Also, people affected with hayfever, allergies, migraine headaches, and rheumatoid arthritis are usually found to have altered thymus function.
Dietary and lifestyle factors

The health of the thymus gland is greatly impacted by a person's dietary habits and nutritional status. Dietary factors which depress thymus function include nutrient deficiency, excess consumption of sugar, consumption of allergenic foods, and high cholesterol levels in the blood. Dietary factors which enhance thymus function include essential nutrients, especially antioxidants.

Consistent with good health, optimal thymus function requires a healthful diet that is (1) rich in whole, natural foods, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, seeds, and nuts; (2) low in fats and refined sugars; and (3) contains adequate, but not excessive, amounts of protein. On top of this, individuals are encouraged to drink five or six 8-ounce glasses of pure water per day. These dietary recommendations, along with a positive mental attitude, a good high-potency multivitamin-mineral supplement, a regular exercise program, daily deep breathing and relaxation exercises (meditation, prayer, etc.), and at least seven to eight hours of sleep daily will go a long way in helping the immune system function at an optimum level.
Thymus extract supplements

When additional support for the thymus gland is required, one of the best methods is to take calf thymus extracts in capsule form. Numerous clinical trials have shown thymus extracts are effective in: (1) preventing recurrent respiratory infections in children; (2) correcting the T-cell defects in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections (or in AIDS); (3) treating acute hepatitis B infections; (4) restoring the number of peripheral leukocytes in cancer patients with chemotherapy-induced depression of white-blood cell counts; and (5) allergies, including asthma, hayfever, and food allergies in children.

The effectiveness of the thymus extract in helping these conditions is reflective of broad-spectrum immune-system enhancement, presumably mediated by improved thymus gland activity. This effect fits in nicely with one of the basic concepts of glandular therapy (i.e., that the oral ingestion of glandular material of a certain animal gland will strengthen the corresponding human gland).

Thymus extracts are available in the United States in pill form (tablets or capsules). The dosage will vary from one manufacturer to another, as there are no quality control procedures or standards enforced in the glandular industry; it is left up to the individual company to adopt quality control and good manufacturing procedures.

From a practical view, products concentrated and standardized to polypeptide content are preferable to crude preparations.

No side effects or adverse effects are known with the use of thymus preparations.

PHOTO (COLOR): Michael T. Murray

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By Michael T. Murray, N.D.

Adapted by N.D.

Michael T. Murray, N.D., is widely regarded as one of the world's leading authorities on natural medicine. In addition to maintaining a private medical practice, Dr. Murray is a noted writer, educator, and lecturer. He is currently the editor of the Natural Medicine Journal. Visit Dr. Murray's website at: www.doctormurray.com.

MORE SUPPORT?
How do I know if I need to support my thymus?

Everyone needs to support the thymus, but, if you answer "yes" to any of the following questions, then you may need to take additional measures:

* Do you catch colds easily?
* Do you get more than two colds a year?
* Are you suffering chronic infection?
* Do you get frequent cold sores or have genital herpes?
* Are your lymph glands sore and swollen at times?
* Do you now have or ever had cancer?

Recurrent or chronic infections, even very mild colds, only happen when the immune system is weakened. What makes it difficult for these people to overcome their tendency for infection is a repetitive cycle: a weakened immune system leads to infection, infection leads to damage to the immune system, further weakening resistance. Enhancing thymus function may provide the answer to breaking the cycle.

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