The thymus gland: moderator of the immune system

If you want to enhance the function of your thymus gland, you have to take care of your diet, get enough exercise, and manage stress to improve your immune system response.
The thymus gland: moderator of the immune system
Gilberto Adaulfo Sánchez Abreu

Written and verified by the doctor Gilberto Adaulfo Sánchez Abreu.

Last update: 27 May, 2022

Historically, the thymus gland has had spiritual aspects associated with it. Its name comes from the Greek word thýmos, which means “vital energy” and is located right in the center of the chest, behind the sternum.

For many people, it’s a biological center of power, where the “fourth chakra” is located. And, according to those traditions, it represents the heart or the capacity to love.

Perhaps that’s why it has always had that magical connotation for different cultures and practices, far removed, of course, from a scientific approach. Now, is there any truth to all these ideas? Is this little gland so relevant to physical and emotional health and well-being?

Considering that it’s a gland, it fulfills a specific and essential purpose for your health. In this case, it’s interesting to note that the interior of the thymus gland contains a very important type of cell: the T lymphocytes. These cells are essential for the immune system. This is why it’s interesting to know more about this prominent gland that’s sometimes so poorly understood.

Does the thymus gland moderate your positive emotions?

thymus gland regulates emotion?

If you review some of the information about the thymus gland, you’ll find that a lot of it contains a rather unscientific approach. A lot of it is concerned with the spiritual realm, which somewhat masks the true function of this gland that, by itself, is already as interesting as it is relevant.

To begin with, the thymus gland doesn’t control your emotions or enhance your happiness. However, it does control your appropriate immune response.

The function of the thymus gland

The thymus gland isn’t a single physical structure, but rather an organ formed by two lobes found in the mediastinum, right in front of the heart. What it actually does is receive immature T cells from your bone marrow. In that favorable environment, it creates the mature form of these essential bodies that allow your immune system to respond to foreign cells and pathogens when they attack.

It also carries out this process through positive selection, meaning that any T cells which are not suitable will be removed by a type of macrophage.

Once the most suitable T cells have fully developed and are functional, they can be released into the bloodstream to eliminate pathogens. Another important function is that it activates the B cells to produce more antibodies and store any “memories” about how they have coped with infections in the past.

The thymus gland changes over time

thymus gland

Another popular idea about this gland is that it sometimes enlarges or contracts depending on your emotions. However, this isn’t true. The thymus is larger when you’re a child and shrinks once you reach puberty. The tissues are gradually replaced by adipose tissue.

Is this a negative or bad thing? No, it’s just a simple and natural process that doesn’t pose any health risks. Why not? Well, the maturation of the T cells is something that happens all the time as it’s an essential process for the immune response.

What diseases are associated with this gland?

The thymus gland, like any other gland, can become inflamed, lose its functionality, develop cancer cells, or form cysts. Let’s delve deeper into this:

  • Thymus aplasia, or DiGeorge Syndrome, is a rare disease when your immune system response is deficient and small cysts appear.
  • With thymic hyperplasia, on the other hand, patients experience the presence of lymphoid follicles within the thymus. This is derived from Lupus.
  • Also, a thymoma is a type of tumor that appears primarily in women. The tumors may be benign or malignant.

A few recommendations

thymus health

As you’ve seen, your thymus gland is often misunderstood. However, it’s essential for your well-being and for having a strong and responsive immune system. Below, we want to propose some simple things you can do to enhance its functionality:

  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, preferably organic.
  • Ensure your diet is as natural as possible. Avoid pre-cooked and ultra-processed meals that are high in saturated fats, preservatives, refined sugars, etc.
  • Consume foods that are rich in vitamin E, such as avocados and wheat germ.
  • Also, consume fruit rich in vitamin C.
  • Broccoli, garlic, and onions are also very good choices.
  • Consume turmeric.
  • Green tea is also recommended.
  • Opt for fish that’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
  • It’s important that you don’t neglect vitamin D.
  • Do low-impact exercises every day that improve cellular oxygenation and good circulation.

To conclude, leading a healthy lifestyle that also adequately manages stress will undoubtedly keep your thymus healthy.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Rhodes RT. (2015). Understanding DiGeorge syndrome.
  • Liu, D., & Ellis, H. (2016, April 2). The mystery of the thymus gland
  • Sargis, R. (2014, June 10). An overview of the thymus

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.