What is Insulin?
Insulin is a peptide hormone, produced by beta cells of the pancreas to regulating carbohydrate and fat metabolism in the body. Insulin causes cells in the liver, skeletal muscles, and fat tissue to absorb glucose from the blood.
In the liver and skeletal muscles, glucose is stored as glycogen, and in fat cells (adipocytes) stored as triglycerides .Insulin stops the use of fat as an energy source by inhibiting the
release of glucagon .
With the exception of the metabolic disorder diabetes mellitus and
metabolic syndrome, insulin is provided within the body in a constant proportion to remove excess glucose from
the blood, which otherwise would be toxic. When blood glucose levels fall below a certain level, the body begins to use stored sugar as an
energy source through glycogenolysis, which breaks down the glycogen stored in the liver and muscles into glucose,
which can then be utilized as an energy source. As a central metabolic
control mechanism, its status is also used as a control signal to other
body systems (such as amino acid uptake by body cells). It has several other anabolic effects throughout the body.
When control of insulin levels fails, diabetes mellitus can result. As a consequence, insulin is used
medically to treat some forms of diabetes mellitus. Patients with type 1
diabetes depend on external insulin ( commonly injected
subcutaneously) for their survival because the hormone is no longer produced
internally. Patients with type 2 diabetes are often insulin resistant and, because of such
resistance, may suffer from a "relative" insulin deficiency. Some patients with type 2 diabetes may eventually require insulin if other
medications fail to control blood glucose levels adequately. Over 40% of
those with Type 2 diabetes require insulin as part of their diabetes management plan.
The human insulin protein is composed of 51 amino acids.
In 1923 J. B Collip and C.H. Best received Nobel Prize for Medicine for
co-discovery of insulin with Banting and MacLeod. Pancreatic insulin was
discovered in 1921-1922 and insulin was established as the universal drug for the treatment of diabetes.
Right after the discovery of insulin, J. B. Collip and C. H. Best reported the presence of insulin-like substances in plant materials like
green tops of onions, lettuce leaves, green bean leaves, barley roots,etc.
According to International Journal of Ayurveda Research a new study on
Insulin plant (Costus igneus) was pblished recently. The leaves of insulin plant (Costus igneus) reduced the fasting and
postprandial blood sugar levels, bringing them down towards normal, in dexamethasone-induced hyperglycemia in rats. Reduction in the fasting
and the postprandial blood sugar levels with leaves of insulin plant was comparable with that obtained with Glibenclamide 500 µg/kg
at 250 mg/kg/day and 500 mg/kg/day of powdered leaves of the insulin plant(Costus igneus).
1. Devi VD, Urooj A (August 2008). "Hypoglycemic potential of
Morus indica.. L and Costus igneus./ Nak.—A preliminary study"
2. Arun N, Udhaya A & Rajaguru P (December 2011).
"In vitro root induction and studies on antibacterial activity of root
extract of Costus igneus on clinically important human pathogens."
3. Babu V, Gangadevi T, Subramonium A. Antidiabetic activity of ethanol
extract of Cassia "Kleinii" leaf in streptozotocin induced diabetic rats
and isolation of an active fraction and toxicity evaluation of the extract. Indian J Pharmacol. 2003
4. Sathyaprakash R, Henry RR. Preventing diabetes by treating aspects ofthe metabolic syndrome.
Insulin Plant (Costus igneus) - Video
Costus igneus plant flower
In the year 1923 C.H. Best who received Nobel Prize for Medicine
reported the presence of insulin-like materials in plants. He presented results on preparations from beetroot, the extracts
from which exert their effects on the lowering of blood sugar as rapidly
Medicinal plants are beneficial in many cases of diabetes. Use of
medicinal herbs and food, combined with diet, is safe in diabetes type 2
when the blood sugar is under 10 mmol/L. In all cases you should be in
regular contact with your doctor.