The pancreas is an organ that stretches behind the abdomen. The pancreas have areas known as the islets of Langerhans which are predominantly made up of beta cells.
Beta cells have some very important functions:
1.Beta cells produce the hormone insulin that controls blood sugar levels. Insulin stimulates skeletal muscle fibers to convert glucose into glycogen and amino acids into protein. Insulin also causes liver cells to convert glucose into glycogen and to prevent conversion of fats and proteins into glucose. Insulin also helps in the synthesis of fat and send signals to the hypothalamus to reduce appetite.
2.C-peptide is a byproduct of insulin production and helps to prevent neuropathy.
3.Amylin or Islet Amyloid Polypeptoid is also produced by beta cells. Amylin helps to inhibit glucose and reduces the intake of food in the short term.
The destruction of beta cells is the main cause of Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus or Insulin Dependant Diabetes Mellitus (IDDM). The lack of beta cells causes very little or no insulin circulating in the blood.
In Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus or Non-insulin dependant diabetes mellitus, there is insulin resistance where the ability to remove glucose from the blood is reduced by over 80%. In type 2 diabetes, beta cells undergo a slow degeneration and there can a reduction in beta cell mass thereby causing insufficient insulin to be produced. Patients with Type 2 Diabetes have shown abnormalities in beta cell function and secretion
Oral hypoglycaemic drugs are very important in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes mellitus but none of them are effective in maintaining normal glucose levels. In almost 25% of patients who respond well initially, the drugs later lose their effectiveness.
Diabecon which contains herbs such as Gymnema sylvestre, Momordica charantia, Pterocarpus marsupium, Commiphora wightii, Tinospora cordifolia, Boerhaavia diffusa and others, acts like insulin and is a very useful in maintaining normal blood sugar levels. Gymnema sylvestre has been shown to increase beta cell function by repair and regeneration of the beta cells. Momordica charantia (Bitter melon) contains molecules that have insulin like activity.
In one study it was found that plasma insulin and C-peptide levels increased significantly within 2 weeks of treatment with Diabecon. Diabecon helped maintain normal blood sugar levels by improving plasma insulin levels, increasing peripheral utilization of glucose and improving the liver glycogen store.