Insulin is a hormone obtained from certain cells of the pancreas (islets of langerhans) of slaughtered animals and is used as a hypodermic injection for diabetic patients to help them burn the sugars and carbohydrates taken with their food.
Insulin is the "internal" or "endocrine secretion" of the pancreas.The pancreas has other digestive secretions which are discharged through its duct into the intestine by way of the common bile duct.
These secretions of the pancreas which are poured into the intestines are called the "external secretion."
The external secretion of the pancreas contains enzymes or ferments which digest starches, fat and protein of the food.The starches and about 60 % of the protein foods are turned into sugar (glucose) ready for burning up (oxidation) by the activity of the muscles.
Whatever portion of the glucose is not burned up is stored for future use in the liver and in the muscles.
These functions of burning and storing the sugars are performed by the insulin.
Insulin is destroyed by the intestinal and other digestive juices, therefore the pancreas discharges the insulin directly into the blood as an internal secretion instead of into the intestine.
When the insulin-secreting cells of the pancreas become diseased or stop functioning for some reason, the sugars formed by digestion, which are so vital to the life activities of the body, cannot be oxidized or stored any longer and are therefore excreted in the urine as waste.
This loss of such a vital portion of the digested foods causes the patient to lose weight, depleting his health and strength so that the diabetic becomes an easy prey to other diseases, infections ,and degenerative changes in vital organs and tissues.
Diabetics are especially subject to pneumonia, tuberculosis, gangrene and degeneration of the eye structures. Dieting was the main reliance in the treatment of diabetes, and it was not very successful in the long run.
Especially was this case with diabetic children and adolescents who require a great deal more of sugars and other elements of the diet for growth and activity.
But since the discovery of insulin by Dr.Banting of Canada, the situation has changed and diabetic children can thrive, grow up, and enjoy life and be active like all other children.
Insulin has made it possible for diabetics to live a long life.Insulin must be taken by injection because, as stated above, it is destroyed and becomes inert when it enters nto the intestine.
Mild cases of diabetes do not need insulin, but those who have a large percentage of sugar in the blood and urine ought to have insulin by all means.
Some people have a small amount of sugar in the urine, but really have no diseased pancreas, and have enough of their own insulin to take care of sugar oxidation and storage, but sugar in their urine originates from a kidney weakening which permits some sugar to filter out into the urine.
These people are not really sick with diabetes and need no insulin. A limitation on their sugar consumption will keep their urine free of sugar.
There are several varieties of insulin at present.The globin zinc insulin is considered the most suitable for constant daily use.
If this kind of insulin is available, one injection in 24 hours will be sufficient providing the patient does not consume an excessive amount of food.
Excessive eating and overweight are harmful to every person and more so for the diabetic.The use of too much insulin may cause insulin shock, on the other hand, no insulin and carelessness in t diet cause diabetic coma