In a recent study published in Nature Medicine, an active ingredient in many over-the-counter cough remedies improved blood glucose levels in type 2 diabetes and could also be beneficial for type 1 diabetes.

Researchers at the Institute for Physiology and Pharmacology at the Medical University of Vienna measured electrical currents through cell membranes using electrophysiological methods to evaluate the reaction of NMDA antagonist dextromethorphan (DXM) on electrical activity. DXM extended the periods of this electrical activity in beta cells, which is the time that cells secrete insulin. Via NMDA receptors, DXM stimulated the pancreatic beta cells to secrete additional insulin at increased blood glucose levels. The secretion led to an improvement in blood glucose and a reduction in spikes in blood glucose.

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Because studies from the team suggest that DXM protects beta cell from cell death, this could also help patients with type 1 diabetes, as it is thought that the gradual production of less insulin by beta cells or beta cell death over the course of the illness contributes to a consistently high insulin requirement.

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