Vitamins, Minerals and Dietary Supplements
What are spleen extracts? What are they used for?
Spleen extracts are substances derived, oddly enough, from the spleens of bovine animals such as cows and sheep. In humans, the spleen lies on the left side of the body, just above the abdomen, and is protected by the lower ribs. A typical spleen weighs between 7 and 8 ounces, and is usually dark red or dark purple in color. It is the largest mass of lymphatic tissue in the body. It produces white blood cells, helps to destroy bacteria and cellular bacteria, and destroys old red blood cells and platelets.
Spleen extracts have been used to help stimulate the immune system for more than 80 years. Studies conducted in the 1930s showed that spleen extracts ingested orally could raise white blood cell counts, and were able to treat conditions such as malaria and typhoid fever to some degree, but the reliability of these studies has been called into question by some. More current research has examined the effectiveness of injectable spleen extracts, including specific proteins such as tuftsin, thymopepntin and splenopentin. When injected, evidence suggests that they can improve the functioning of a person's immune system. The effectiveness of orally administered spleen extracts and proteins remains questionable, however.
How much spleen extracts should I take?
The amount of spleen extract to be consumed depends on a variety of factors, including the potency of the product, the way in which it is prepared, and the level of its concentration. Patients taking spleen extracts are advised to consult with a licensed health care provider, and to follow the manufacturer's recommendations on the product label.
What forms of spleen extract are available?
Spleen extracts are found primarily as dietary supplements, usually as capsules and tablets. They are available at most health food stores and some supermarkets.
What can happen if I take too much spleen extract? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?
As of this writing, there are no side-effects associated with taking spleen extracts orally. However, some medications may interact with spleen extracts, including fluorouracil, methotrexate, and some chemotherapy medications. Patients taking these and similar drugs should speak with their health care provider before taking spleen extracts. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care practitioner before taking spleen extracts or any other dietary supplement or herbal remedy.
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- Biswas S, Singh VK, Rastogi A, et al. Stimulation of IL-2 production and CD2R expression by splenopentin analogs. Int J Immunopharmacol Jun 1997;19(6):341-5.
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- Singh VK, Biswas S, Mathur KB, et al. Thymopentin and splenopentin as immunomodulators. Current status. Immunol Res 1998;17:345-68.
- Wang J, Rogove AD, Tsirka AE, et al. Protective role of tuftsin fragment 1-3 in an animal model of intracerebral hemorrhage. Ann Neurol Nov 2003;54(5):655-64.