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PEVEI t1_j447pst wrote

Extraction and purification of adrenaline from the adrenal glands of cattle and sheep is one way you can produce it at scale. Since the early 1900’s though synthetic production of epinephrine has been ongoing, and generally involves reacting catechol and chloroacetyl chloride.


Choosyhealer16 t1_j44aj37 wrote

Does this harm the environment or cattle in any way at all? I'd assume not as tbag doesn't exactly seem threatening.


PEVEI t1_j44bhf8 wrote

Well the animals are killed, the adrenal glands sit on top if the kidneys, but you have to keep in mind that cattle and sheep aren’t exactly just used for that. So yes, this harms the animal in that they’re killed, but the environmental impact is the same as raising any livestock, and the animals required to supply adrenaline is a small fraction of the animals raised to be eaten or produce dairy products.

I couldn’t even begin to estimate the environmental impact of synthesis, but as far as I know this isn’t really done at any scale, but if it had to be ramped up… I don’t know.


[deleted] t1_j44q0t7 wrote



[deleted] t1_j45leis wrote



backfist1 t1_j461wmu wrote

i work in an ICU, if anyone requests vegan EPI, i'm protesting my assignment and not treating that patient. also if you need EPI, you probably are too sick to even ask for anything.


bawki t1_j46ji8u wrote

Let's open a company and call it "organic epi", it still comes from organs but that's why we can call it "organic" right? 😂


backfist1 t1_j46luq5 wrote

Better yet, open a vegan hospital and let them all go there. See how they survive


Aethyx_ t1_j46ifwg wrote

Can I ask why you feel so strong about this? What's wrong in asking? If you tell them there's no time/option for that and they just agree, is that an issue?


gluckspilze t1_j46bso4 wrote

hehe. You sound like you're getting very angry at this annoying vegan you've imagined. You're absolutely right that if a patient needs it, they're probably not in a state where you'd query it. But really, relax. There's millions of vegans, and few if any that would ever think of asking you for vegan EPI in an emergency. Whilst there are religious people who refuse life-saving medications, for most vegans, their principles are simply to make the less harmful choices where there is one, not to die for an ideology. And in a non emergency, what's so threatening hypothetically about a vegan asking if there's an option for a medication that's the more ethical choice? I use asthma inhalers, and requested the dry powder version rather than the aerosol. They're the same drug, but the aerosol is environmentally harmful. The doctor, nurse and pharmacists were all delighted to help. If they protested their assignment in treating me, I think they'd look a little crazy...


shtonkalot t1_j46dnk5 wrote

>but the aerosol is environmentally harmful.

Why is that?


Duenss t1_j46h47z wrote

Aerosols usually contains greenhouse gases, like way more efficient (maybe not the right word) than CO2


Sometimes_Stutters t1_j462q6b wrote

I think the generally accepted definition of “by product”, especially in terms of production, is the secondary value that can be derived from primary value. A cows value is determined by its meat. They are economically feasible on that alone. Secondary value can be recovered from bone, skin, and organs but that value is still much less than the value of the meat. You couldn’t economically derive sufficient value from a cow with the secondary value alone.


gluckspilze t1_j46aen9 wrote

Again, you're not 'wrong' but the economics are not that simple. They once were... maybe still are in some places. But in the developed world, the economic model of industrialised animal farming is now getting weird. There is not such a direct line between the volume of meat produced (the primary commodity) and the viability of the business. You are saying that the value of the meat is primary because you couldn't derive sufficient value from the rest, but in Europe where I live, you usually can't derive sufficient value from all the products together! The industry is heavily subsidised, and the viability to farmers and to agrobusinesses relies on taxpayer subsidies paid per head of cattle, or per unit of land. So to the farmer/business selling the cow, its market value can't really be reduced to one product, even if it's the product with the biggest value. That's what I mean when I say that nothing is a byproduct. Every part that is paid for (including the subsidies) contributes to putting the business in the red or the black. If a quirk of the market meant that the most valuable part of the cow was, briefly, the gall bladder from which a powerful new anti-cancer drug was derived, vegans would probably not decide that meat was therefore a secondary 'byproduct' that was ethical to consume.


UsedUpSunshine t1_j46dxb4 wrote

They use everything though. If it’s stuff that isn’t desired to be eaten it is used as compost for crops or turned into something else.


Choosyhealer16 t1_j44ialv wrote

True, they'd have alot of adrenaline, and the impacts of making meat and getting other products out of animals seems alot more costly from what you said.


Coquenico t1_j455utc wrote

the thing is, you're getting the meat anyway. might as well save the glands


SparseGhostC2C t1_j46pjrt wrote

That's my curiosity though, knowing the inefficiencies of a lot of industries, are we actually smart enough to be harvesting this stuff from beef or dairy livestock, or are they slaughtering them expressly for epinephrine?

I have no idea, just genuinely curious


Nago_Jolokio t1_j46rj6o wrote

We've been using livestock for meat for tens of thousands of years, we've had a long time to learn how to be efficient harvesting the resources.


SparseGhostC2C t1_j46s4io wrote

I know that historically there are human cultures that are efficient in using everything they take from an animal, but modern westernized humanity is not really among those, inefficiency in the name of profit is kind of... everything now.

Citing to me that we know how to do it doesn't prove to me that we do, I'm perfectly aware its possible. I don't mean to come off as hostile, but this isn't really an answer to my question


thedeebo t1_j4712wi wrote

You don't think there's a profit motive in using all the parts of slaughtered livestock?


SparseGhostC2C t1_j472mh5 wrote

No, I don't. Because I don't know what it takes to process and extract epinephrine from an adrenal gland of livestock, for all I know it's prohibitively expensive to harvest, and maybe the cows need to be raised a certain way for the product to be viable.

There are absolutely industries with manufactured inefficiency for the sake of convenience and profit, I really don't think it's unreasonable just to ask the damn question


thedeebo t1_j477krv wrote

It's fine to ask the question, but you've already reached a conclusion despite acknowledging that you don't know the specifics.


Doc_Lewis t1_j4769nr wrote

I would assume that its use as a durg would mean you can't just extract from meat animals, similar to the chicken farms whose sole purpose is to provide clean eggs for vaccine production you'd probably have a farm growing cows or whatever specifically to get the epinephrine (if you didn't synthesize it).

That being said, extracting more profit is the name of the game, slaughterhouses absolutely find ways to use all of the animal if it can be done. Why raise a whole cow only to sell the steaks? The offal, blood, bones, off cuts and little bits of remaining meat all have uses. That's why pink slime exists, trying to extract all the meat, even if you've got to sanitize it and press it into nuggets.


SparseGhostC2C t1_j477wn8 wrote

I totally understand the impetus with meat products to maximize gains and make everything a product for profit's sake, but as you also illustrated that Epinephrine being for medical use might restrict how it can be harvested.

That was kind of the nuts and bolts of what I was asking about, I've tried googling around because I'm curious and its not the easiest to find citable sources on whether meat or dairy cows are also harvested for their adrenal glands. I suppose the biggest question is how much more difficult it is to synthesize vs harvest, as I'm sure whichever is easier and cheaper is where most of it comes from.


FireTyme t1_j46zlan wrote

if anything we've become less efficient at it. in older days we'd use the bones for stock/arrows/tools etc. we'd use the skin for leathers. sinew for string/rope. fat for fuel and preserving and soap. meat and organ meat for food. nowadays we throw most of it out to waste, organ meat barely gets eaten. leather = murder to some people so its used less and less in clothing taken over by much higher environmental impacting synthetic leather. i've spent a project on waste meats for biofuel and theres so much crap that just doesnt get used anymore.


jejcicodjntbyifid3 t1_j47874d wrote

Exactly. And that was all done within the context of a tribe

It didn't need to be somehow shipped to a different plant just so that they can extract the hooves and re use those

Be nice if we synthesized these sorts of things, assuming it is equally as effective


Bowinja t1_j4754ft wrote

The term that would clear things up would be by-product. Adrenal production from glands of sheep and cattle would be a by-product of the meat industry. Extrapolating based on scale, extraction of adrenaline wouldn't significantly increase the environmental impact of the meat industry since I would be confident the supply of glands would be saturated by the supply of livestock.


leSchaf t1_j476kb9 wrote

I don't actually have first hand knowledge but slaughtering livestock just for adrenal glands simply makes no sense. A meat processing facility will buy livestock, slaughter them, process them and then sell the various components. There's a certain demand by companies making compounds such as epinephrine for animal parts used in synthesis. They will go through a supplier that will purchase animal parts from meat processor that they know they can sell at a certain price. I'm sure for at least some meat processors it's more lucrative to separate out kidneys with adrenal glands to sell separately at a higher price than e.g. just sell them together with all the rest to a company making dog food.


sighthoundman t1_j49fby3 wrote

>I don't actually have first hand knowledge but slaughtering livestock just for adrenal glands simply makes no sense.

And yet.

We (as in humans, not as in you and me) slaughter rhinos for their horns, sharks for their fins, (both of those are "traditional medicine") and elephants for their teeth (to make trinkets and piano keys).

Bezoars (most frequently gallstones but sometimes other types of spherical objects from an animal's intestines) were popular in Europe from the 11th to the 17th centuries. Unicorn bezoars could cure anything.

Only the piano keys is /s. Everything else went away when we adopted a more scientific approach to life (/s), but was once believed to be true.


MostCuriousExplorer t1_j44ngls wrote

Obviously it can’t be ethically sourced from humans in mass production, but are the effects of human-human epinephrine transfusions the same as sheep/cattle?


EmilyU1F984 t1_j451u2q wrote

Epinephrine is a small molecule. It doesn‘t matter where you get it from. If it is pure it is identical.

Doesn‘t matter what animal, planet or universe you get it from.

Insulin for example is different, because that‘s just a class of peptide hormones, not a specific one. Meaning human insulin is slightly different from say a pigs insulin. It still works the same on insulin receptors, but it‘s different enough that sometimes your immunesystem might go ‚wsit, this doesn‘t look right, let’s destroy it‘.

But you can also make human insulin through genetic engineering from E. coli bacteria or yeast, that molecule will be identical to the insulin your body produces.

Just modern insulins are modified more heavily, cause actual human insulin only works well if it’s secreted continuously at the correct levels. And not just once you eat food/measure your sugar levels.


Chemputer t1_j44xjsq wrote

I mean... Epinephrine is epinephrine. It looks like this regardless of if it comes from a cow, a sheep, a human, a lizard, or synthesized in a lab.

I suppose it's like asked if caffeine in a Coke has a different effect to that of caffeine in a Pepsi. No, it's caffeine. Provided the dosage is the same, it's identical (barring tolerance and something weird like the molecule degrading to not be caffeine anymore.)


MostCuriousExplorer t1_j4525zh wrote

I just assumed there’d be different degrees of potency based on size & potentially even chemical composition.


Seicair t1_j46lt0m wrote

It’s this, just barely down the wiki page they linked. That’s it, that’s the chemical composition of adrenaline, no matter where it comes from. I don’t know what you mean by size.


Nago_Jolokio t1_j46rx8j wrote

It's easy to assume a bigger animal means a bigger molecule size. But in the case of hormones, it just means there's a heck of a lot more of it.


charlesfire t1_j46txx0 wrote

Bigger animals have more cells, not bigger ones. Why would it be different for molecules?


MetricJester t1_j452ct3 wrote

You say that, but the glucose derived from sugar cane gives me an allergic reaction that the glucose derived from other plants do not. I am allergic to sugar cane.


Kriggy_ t1_j454aua wrote

Likely because it was not pure enough and contained traces of dtuff that makes you react to it. Glucose is glucose no matter the source


StingerAE t1_j45sg1f wrote

Isn't cane sugar sucrose anyway?


Chemputer t1_j45z8at wrote

Yes, but he said derived from sugar cane, so you take cane sugar, sucrose, which can then be (either by your body or through industrial processes, usually using enzymes) split into fructose and glucose.

Like the other poster said, it's impurities in that from the cane sugar that would cause that, not the glucose itself. To put it mildly, if you're allergic to glucose, I don't think you could live. (Yes, the body can digest other forms of sugar for energy, but energy storage is done as glycogen which is a linked branching polymer of glucose molecules, and when it releases those from storage, it's glucose.)

The processes involved in extracting sucrose from cane sugar and then breaking it down into it's components, fructose and glucose, and then purifying just the glucose are likely not set up to purify it to 99% purity. Obviously, if they did have glucose from cane sugar that was purified to a significant enough degree (say 99.99% or LCMS grade), they'd get no allergic reaction to it unless it was nocebo/psychosomatic.

I mean, it's like saying you're allergic to the letter L in light but not in any other word. It's ridiculous. The letter L is the letter L, glucose is glucose, therefore glucose cannot be responsible for their allergy.


StingerAE t1_j463b3t wrote

Yeah, I realise it is ridiculous. I just want sure is they had understood and meant what they said. Why would anyone source glucose that way? The fact sucrose from sugar cane would need processing and into glucose is the craziest part.


Chemputer t1_j466ha9 wrote

Because it's an easy source of glucose. You have to process something into glucose, it isn't a naturally occurring sugar in large quantities in plants, so since sucrose is literally just glucose and fructose stuck together, why wouldn't you? It's one of the many ways it's made at industrial scale efficiently.

This short article describes the process and the various feedstocks commonly used, if you're curious.

Edit: While the most dominant feedstock is starch, processed sugarcane (i.e. once the sugar has been largely removed) is used as a feedstock for glucose since it would otherwise just go to waste. Interesting research article here.


shadowyams t1_j44pu6c wrote

At least for insulin, which used to be harvested from pig and cow pancreases, the use of animal insulin caused allergic reactions in many diabetes patients. I’d assume there’d be similar immune problems with animal epinephrine.


propargyl t1_j44vama wrote

Insulin is a peptide hormone. The human insulin protein is composed of 51 amino acids, and has a molecular mass of 5808 Da.

Epinephrine is a small molecule, and has a molecular mass of 183 Da.


EmilyU1F984 t1_j4528z0 wrote

Nah, that‘s crap.

Insulin is a group of hormones. Not any specific molecule.

Epinephrine is a specific molecule.

There cannot physically be any immune problems, assuming it is pure, and any reaction would not be to the epinephrine but contaminants.

Insulin however is all peptides that work on insulin receptors in their specific animals.

Bovine insulin is physically different to human insulins. Three amino acids are completely different of the 51 that make up insulin.

And thus with bad luck, the immune system can detect it as foreign.

If you genetically engineered a cow to produce human insulin; the extracted insulin would not cause allergic reactions if sufficiently purified.

Class of drugs and specific molecules are the important point here.


Erathen t1_j47oari wrote

Where are you getting this information?...

It's not correct. We don't extract adrenaline anymore. It's synthesized from adrenalone. It has been since about 1906


Twerck t1_j47408z wrote

Scientists are working on lab-grown beef. I wonder if lab-grown adrenal glands would be a viable alternative to how it's done today


Erathen t1_j47ood5 wrote

>I wonder if lab-grown adrenal glands would be a viable alternative to how it's done today

We don't get adrenaline from animals anymore. We haven't since around 1906 when Friedrich Stolz figured out how to synthesize from adrenalone


Electronic-Jury-3579 t1_j48vtjl wrote

So if the environmentalists/vegans/others that don't want farm meat, fully shutdown farming animals for food, sounds like the medical supply of things like this are at risk of not existing anymore. What's healthcare going to look like. Such a balancing act.


Beginning_Cat_4972 t1_j6cdw9w wrote

Animals are no longer used for epinephrine production. If we still did this, it would be pretty harmful to the animals and the environment. I imagine we would not use the same animals used for food. They would be raised in labs. If there was a use for other organs, we might keep those but most of the animal would be incinerated. BUT! that's not happening anymore. The precursors are just mixed together and probably there's some heating and maybe some refluxing and some form of purification. No animals necessary. That's way too expensive and wasteful.


Choosyhealer16 t1_j6deqgy wrote

Ah, thanks for the info! I reckon it's wasteful due to the energy used to incinerate animals and the amount of animals wasted due to the process?


outofgamut t1_j45bv53 wrote

The Lancet paper on the history of adrenaline is terrific - thanks a lot!