Can cough syrup treat diabetes?

An ingredient in many over-the-counter cough syrup remedies may help to improve the body's insulin response, according to a new study.

Dextromethorphan is a compound that acts as a cough suppressant, but researchers found it also produces a byproduct that increases the release of insulin from the pancreas. This is the exact opposite of what researchers thought the drug would do.

Affecting N-Methyl-D-Aspartate (NMDA) receptors, dextromethorphan stimulated insulin release in both animal and human pancreatic tissue sample cells. A small group of 20 diabetic patients were also given the drug and monitored for insulin changes during a single-dose clinical trial.

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A future treatment for type 2 diabetes?

The study authors don't suggest diabetics self-medicate with cough syrup, as the participant pool for the research was small and the results don't provide sufficient evidence of a treatment quite yet.

"My hope is that our study triggers further clinical trials at established diabetes centers," senior study author Eckhard Lammert told Live Science.

Other drugs that act on NMDA-receptors might also be an area of study to explore if dextromethorphan is found to be an ineffective treatment method, the researchers said.

The study is published in the journal Nature Medicine.

Source: Live Science
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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