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.
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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.