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Common ingredient in cough and cold meds improve Type 2 diabetes

Last updated on January 27, 2018

A common cough-suppressant ingredient improves insulin release in Type 2 diabetics.

According to German doctors at Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf, dextromethorphan, a common drug found in cough medicine, has shown to increase the release of insulin from the pancreas.

The medical discovery is the result of a series of studies first conducted on mice, then on human pancreatic tissue, then on a small test group of diabetic people. The report is available in the journal, Nature Medicine.

Dextromethorphan, which is often indicated by the letters DM on cough and cold labels, has very few side effects, especially when compared to the current drugs used to treat Type 2 diabetics. The discovery could lead to new diabetes treatments.

Study authors say they stumbled upon the discovery by mistake. Based on previous work, they were under the impression dextromethorphan would suppress insulin but instead, found that its compound, dextrorphan, increases insulin.

According to World Health Organization, Type 2 diabetes affects about 350 million people around the world. It’s a disease that is characterized by elevated blood sugar levels (glucose), that cells use for fuel.

Hormone produced insulin in humans carries glucose from the blood to cells, however, people with Type 2 diabetes no longer produce the correct amount of hormone, or in some cases, the cells no longer respond properly to the insulin.


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