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Adrenal extract


Related terms

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

  • 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 Table

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. GRADE *
* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)

Tradition / Theory

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.


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.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.


  • 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.


Interactions with Drugs

  • Insufficient available evidence.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • In theory, taking hypophysis extract with adrenal extract (cortine) may augment the preputial glands.
  • Adrenal extract might affect mineral metabolism.

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (

  1. Constantopoulos G, Carpenter A, Satoh P, et al. Formation of isocaproaldehyde in the enzymatic cleavage of cholesterol side chain by adrenal extract. Biochemistry 1966;5(5):1650-1652.
  2. Fujii Y, Kato N, Kito J, et al. Experimental autoimmune adrenalitis: a murine model for Addison's disease. Autoimmunity 1992;12(1):47-52.
  3. Grundy HM, Simpson SA, Tait JF. Isolation of a highly active mineralocorticoid from beef adrenal extract. Nature 5-10-1952;169(4306):795-796.
  4. Kooij R. Augmentor effect of hypophysis-extract and adrenal-extract (cortine) on the preputial glands of rats. Arch Int Pharmacodyn Ther 8-1-1953;94(4):475-482.
  5. Koritz SB, Hall PF. End-product inhibition of the conversion of cholesterol to pregnenolone in an adrenal extract. Biochemistry 1964;14:1298-1304.
  6. Mason HL, Mattox VR. Chromatographic fraction of beef adrenal extract. I. Isolation of aldosterone. J Biol Chem 1956;223(1):215-225.
  7. Mattox VR. Isolation of 19-hydroxy-11-desoxycorticosterone from beef adrenal extract. Mayo Clin Proc 5-4-1955;30(9):180-182.
  8. Mattox VR, Mason HL, Albert A. Isolation of a sodium-retaining substance from beef adrenal extract. Mayo Clin Proc 10-7-1953;28(20):569-576.
  9. Nagao Y. Viability of meiotic prophase spermatocytes of rats is facilitated in primary culture of dispersed testicular cells on collagen gel by supplementing epinephrine or norepinephrine: evidence that meiotic prophase spermatocytes complete meiotic divisions in vitro. In Vitro Cell Dev Biol 1989;25(12):1088-1098.
  10. Oberst BB. Exchange transfusion. I. Technic and use of adrenal extract as an adjunct to therapy. Nebr State Med J 1955;40(4):121-128.
  11. Schreiber V, Stepan J, Gregorova I, et al. Crossed digoxin immunoreactivity in chromatographic fractions of rat adrenal extract. Biochem Pharmacol 4-1-1981;30(7):805-806.
  12. Tait JF, Simpson SA, Grundy HM. The effect of adrenal extract on mineral metabolism. Lancet 1-19-1952;1(3):122-124.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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