Snout to Tail, the exciting food trend which utilizes the entire animal is gaining favor with locavores and holistic health practitioners alike. Seared Foie Gras, Roasted Bone Marrow (God’s Butter),and Anticuchos (grilled beef heart), aside from some fancy names, have a long history on the plates of people from around the world. If you can get past the 'bleh' factor, this sustainable culinary practice is packed with good nutrition. The glands and organ meats, also known as Offal or variety meats, are rich in vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, polypeptides, enzymes, and many other substances including intrinsic factor. Ayurvedic medicine and Traditional Chinese medicine have long used the extracts of animal organs and glands to assist the body. The ancient Greeks and Egyptians made reference to what’s now called Organotherapy or Glandular therapy in their basic premise that ‘like heals like’.

Organotherapy, the treatment of a disorder of a gland or organ of a human with extracts of the same organ or gland from an animal, was in full swing in the the 1920’s. It gained even more popularity under the name of Live Cell Therapy back in 1931 when Swiss physician Paul Niehans treated a woman who inadvertently had her parathyroid damaged during surgery. Having no drug to help her and knowing that without a functioning parathyroid gland this woman would die within a few weeks, he had to get creative. So he stepped out on a limb and injected her with a saline solution of chopped up parathyroid from a freshly slaughtered sheep. She felt better within minutes and lived for many years by continuing the injections throughout her life.

Organotherapy wasn’t so lucky. The advent of pharmaceutical drugs led to it's steep decline in popularity. Research dollars for organotherapy completely dried up in the 1940's when synthetic hormones came on the scene. Doctor's didn't want to appear 'behind the times' if they were still prescribing extracts when there was a cool new drug as an option. But organotherapy didn’t completely disappear, the thyroid glandular Armour is still used today and a bone marrow transplant where live cells are injected into the patient is really a relative of glandular therapy.

Eating the organs and glands of animals has never fallen out of favor in places around the globe and not so long ago it wasn’t unusual for American families to eat liver, stomach, heart, and other organ meats. Compared to muscle meats, organ meats are more densely packed with nutrients. Organic liver is rich in vitamin A, kidney has loads of B12 and other B vitamins, and heart is the richest dietary source of Co-enzyme Q10. In many cultures the Pancreas is prized and high doses of Pancreatic Enzymes are being used today by Alternative Doctors, most famously by Dr Nicholas Gonzalez, for the treatment of cancer.

It's said that the earliest references of glandular therapy date back to China in 618AD where animal liver was being used to assist humans with liver ailments. The concept of 'like heals like' in organotherapy is still utilized today by many naturopathic doctors around the globe. Some examples are thymus extract which is being used to increase immunity and restore function to the thymus and parathyroid extract which is used to help the thyroid. Adrenal extract can assist with problems associated with adrenal stress and stomach extract contains intrinsic factor which is necessary for the absorption of B12. (1), (2)

So even if you're a little bit squeamish about putting organs and glands on your dinner plate you can still reap their benefits by supplementing with a good glandular blend. There's some great ones on the market that focus on nourishing the endocrine system which in our stressful world can make a huge difference in supporting the function of those glands. And the best thing is it works and it works fast. Almost as fast my salivary glands start secreting when I see lardo bread with chicken liver mousse on the menu!

Look for glandulars that support the entire endocrine system and not just one gland. There are some good ones on the market without fillers, preservatives or excipients. And don’t worry about mad cow. The FDA actually requires that all bovine extracts come from countries that have no BSE
References: 1. 2.

Author's Bio: 

Christine Danyi, Human Experience Expert, Lover of Life and Good Food. Can be found @