The Main Immune Organ
The bi-lobed thymus gland is located in the center of the chest behind the sternum, equidistant between the lungs just above the heart. Each lobe appears bumpy due to the smaller sections called lobules. It facilitates the incubation and development of T cells critical for immunity. It remains a mystery that thymus functions best when we are young and weakens with age. This explains the fewer effects of COVID-19 on children compared to adults. Our thymus atrophies with passing age and gets functionally weaker.
The nascent T cells travel from bone marrow to thymus and undergo “thymic maturation”. They get selected for their efficiency and mature into CD4+ “helper” or CD8+ “killer” lymphocytes. Thus they play diverse key roles like vaccination response, resistance to viral infections, allergies, autoimmunity and inflammatory cascade, tissue repair, regulating healthy pregnancy and so on.
Thymus also produces immune regulators called cytokines which if produced in excess can kill a patient by “cytokine storm” such as in initial coronavirus infections. The cytokine storms are common in older patients compared to young people with the functional thymus. It also secretes hormones namely thymosins, thymopoiten, and thymulin peptides and interleukins, a class of immune-modulating molecules like IL-6 that influence the inflammatory response to infection and helps to combat cancer. Thymosin helps to regulate aging and maintains immune balance.
The only method to assess thymic function is through T and B-lymphocyte test to assess the immune status.
The Thymus as Lifespan Pacemaker
In the 1930s, a Swiss physician, Dr. Paul Niehans, was among the first to introduce animal thymic extracts into patients. In 1955, another Swiss physician and student of Niehans’, Dr. Alfred Pfister, developed a method to stabilize processed thymus cells, to avoid using fresh extracts. And in the 1970s, a Swedish physician, Dr. Elis Sandberg, developed a high molecular thymus extract which is still used today for thymus restorative therapy.
The gland in humans ages faster than other organs and reaches 1/6 of its maximum weight by 75 years. Atrophy of thymus leads to increased chances of infection, autoimmunity and high incidence of cancer. The majority of physicians and doctors are not aware of the relevance of thymus glands towards aging. The weakening of the thymus leads to chronic fatigue syndrome and slower wound healing. Hence it becomes relevant to develop model of thymus deficiency to study its medical effects and find means to restore thymic function.
Strategies to Regenerate Thymic Function
Restoring the thymus is crucial to surviving infections, stopping cancer, and prolonging health during aging. Europeans attach more importance to healthy thymic functions compared to Americans and this includes thymus injections, food supplements and herbs that regenerate the gland.
Thymus-Friendly Diet & Lifestyle are crucial for sustained regeneration of thymus and restoration of immune strength. A plant-based healthy diet rich in micronutrients and proteins supports healthy immunity healthy aging. Undisturbed sleep of longer duration enhances overall good health. Uptake of melatonin not only improves sleep quality but reverses age-related thymic involution and immune function of the spleen.
Nutrients & Plant Compounds
Zinc plays an essential role in growth and development and is necessary for a healthy immune system. A zinc deficiency causes reduced T cell function, slower wound healing, and other immune system defects. Zinc is first-line therapy for thymus restoration.
Vitamin A supports the thymus and stimulates the immune response. Daily supplementation with high-dose vitamin C maintains the size and weight of the thymus and increases the number of T cells. Selenium also boosts immunity against viruses and cancer. Astragaloside IV is an extract of the traditional Chinese medicine Huangqi (Astragalus membranaceous) and helps to improve energy, build stamina, and prevent common illnesses like a cold or the flu, and to slow aging. It contains numerous biochemically active compounds such as polysaccharides, flavonoids, and saponins which enhance telomerase activity, have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immunoregulatory effects.
Thymus Gland Extracts
Glandular extracts have a long history of use in Europe, as well as in traditional Chinese medicine though their mode of action remains unknown. There is clinical evidence that thymus and spleen extracts controls inflammation, speed wound healing, help eliminate viruses, and inhibit cancer cells. Thymic Protein A (TPA) is an oral nutritional supplement made from calf thymus with immune-modulating and antiviral properties. Inspite of limited research, TPA was observed to support CD4+ helper T lymphocytes and reverse thymus atrophy, strengthening the thymus’ role of programming T cells.
Immune Supportive Supplement Cocktails
A comprehensive approach works best including thymus live cell injections and oral extracts. Immuno Caps from Priority One contain nutrients, the herb echinacea, organ extracts, and thymus enzyme polypeptide fractions. Along with medicinal mushroom extracts and beta-glucan, it is found to be invaluable in preventing infections. Formulas like this serve as cornerstones for restoring immune integration.
Supercharge Your Thymus Function
The natural ways to enhance thymus health are foundational and useful as a starting point. Optimization of thymus function, the treatment of chronic disease, and adjunctive therapy for cancer require close working with personal physicians for best outcomes.
Thymalin Live Cell Injections
So-called “live cell” glandular therapies are pharmaceutically prepared extracts of thymus and other animal glands for injection. The therapeutic goal is to bring back immune homeostasis, a natural balanced state of how the body defends against and prevents disease. A standard course involves intramuscular injections given daily for ten days to prime the immune system. A combination of thymus and spleen cell therapy works well for immune restoration. Weekly or monthly injections can follow the initial course. European laboratories follow rigid standards to produce live-cell preparations in German and Switzerland. They are considered safe with rare side effects. They are not FDA approved for use in the United States; however, naturopathic doctors do provide these therapies.
Thymic Peptides and Hormone Injections – Thymalin
Thymic peptides are pharmaceutical preparations synthesized from E. coli. They help restore and balance the immune response. Thymalin is the synthetic version of thymulin and was first isolated from the thymus gland in 1977. Thymalin helps to reduce inflammation, increases T cell activity, and raises immunoglobulin A, and it has neuroprotective effects. Post 60 years of age, thymus stops synthesizing immunoglobulin A. Anti-aging physicians use combinations of thymalin and pineal gland peptides for life extension. Thymosin Beta 4 (TB-500) protects against viral infections and enhances tissue regeneration for wound healing. It also promotes bone remodeling from fractures, including spinal stress fractures due to osteoporosis. Thymosin Alpha-1 is considered a potent immune regulator. It supports immune function against chronic viruses and fungal infections. Hormones such as Human growth hormone (HGH) and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) also improve the function of thymus cells and may influence thymus gland size. During aging, the production of HGH and IGF-1 decline and immunity weakens. Animal studies show that boosting IGF-1 restores thymic size and function and may increase T cell count.
A healthy, well-functioning thymus gland is necessary to protect the body from infections and ward off cancer. It also sets the pace of aging. The gland functions best at young age. With progressing age, thymus loses its competency and often fails to protect against cancer and viral infections, like influenza and coronaviruses. Though zinc is the cornerstone nutrient for a competent thymus, additional nutrients, oral and injectable organ extracts, peptides, and hormones also contribute to regenerate the thymus gland. Governments and researchers spend lot of time and money on methods to destroy viruses, including the new coronavirus, but of most of these efforts are rendered unsuccessful. Vaccination makes more immunological sense, but keeping our own immunity relevant is a better solution. Restoring immune homeostasis is an overlooked means to prolonging health during aging.
Disclaimer: The products mentioned are not for human or animal consumption. All the information shared in this article is for educational purposes only.