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Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (lunch and breakfast) – Insulin!


(This article in the Sugar Matters series should have been published before last week’s article.)

Ah, my fellow Vincies, the time has finally come for us to take each other’s hands and walk through what is often the most feared and poorly understood medication for diabetes-Insulin. Many people outside of medicine view insulin as some evil medication used as a last resort, only for the “bad diabetes” or as a punishment for not taking care of themselves.{{more}} Some cultures widely believe that insulin causes blindness and limbs to drop off. Needless to say, this simply is not the truth and there are many other wrong ideas floating around about insulin.

We are going to take our time wandering through the life and times of our friend (yes, our friend) insulin because it is important for all of us to understand why it should be used and address concerns about its correct use. This is a great time for you to drop me questions by e-mail. We NEED to address these issues. Misunderstanding will carry us all to the grave, so let’s replace it with some knowledge, shall we?

First, a little history lesson: Insulin is not terribly old as medications go. It was discovered in the 1920’s by a Canadian team led by Dr. Frederick Banting. After learning the problem behind diabetes, he set about finding how to treat it, and after extracting some insulin from a pancreas and trying it out an a diabetic dog (yes, other animals get diabetes, too), the answer was finally found. Now you must understand that Dr. Banting’s discovery changed life for many people around the world. In fact it saved, and continues to save lives every day. Before insulin was discovered, having diabetes (especially Type 1 diabetes) meant dying young from simply wasting away. You were never able to use that sugar in your blood stream because insulin was not around to do its important work, so your body broke itself down piece by piece trying to get energy to keep going. Diabetic comas were a common problem, but when insulin appeared suddenly people who were in diabetic comas were waking up after being treated. Can you imagine the excitement at that time?

Since then, modern science has taken the ball and run with it and now we have many different versions of insulin. Some are made from biological sources and others completely synthetic; they can be very cheap or somewhat expensive. As much as we have reservations about insulin, this is a medication that saves lives and that is no exaggeration. Now we know that the proper use of insulin also saves eyesight, kidneys, hearts, brains and limbs from problems that come from having diabetes that is badly out of control.

I promise you I do not sell insulin out of my truck and do not have stock in insulin companies, as you wonder WHY on earth I am a fan of this medication. The way I see it, we have lots and lots of medications around, but not many can actual save your life.

Next week we will talk about why you may need insulin so you don’t have to hate your doctor when he/she says, “It’s time to start talking about insulin.” Deep breath, let’s keep going.

Have a great week everyone, until next time.

Anita Ramsetty, MD
Medical Director Endocrine Care Group
Tel: 843-798-4227