MONDAY, July 9, 2007 (HealthDay News) — Pumpkin extract may replace or reduce daily insulin injections for type 1 diabetics, new research suggests.
Insulin is usually produced by the pancreas to use blood sugar to feed the body’s cells. People with type 1 diabetes rely on insulin injections to manage their blood sugar levels.
Type 1 diabetic rats fed the extract had only 5 percent fewer plasma insulin and 8 percent fewer insulin positive (beta) cells than rats without diabetes. According to the researchers, the extract helped damaged pancreatic cells responsible for insulin production to regenerate and make more insulin.
The study was published in the July issue of the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.
Lead researcher Tao Xia, of East China Normal University in Shanghai, noted that although insulin shots will probably always be necessary for type 1 diabetics, pumpkin extract could drastically reduce the amount of insulin needed.
About 20.8 million people in the United States have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. About one in five people over the age of 60 have diabetes.