Mar 13, 2015 03:46 PM EDT
A plant named Ayahuasca contains the chemicals that can be potentially used to regenerate lost pancreatic cells, which would then reverse diabetes.
According to a recent research published in the Nature Medicine, this new discovery can help us successfully reverse diabetes. Beta cells are the ones that work in small clusters called the islets that help produce insulin necessary to keep your body's blood sugar levels in check.
Andrew Stewart, the director of the Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City says, "In children and adults with type 1 diabetes, they have lost 99 percent of their beta cells, so they cannot make enough insulin. That's the cause of their diabetes."
"People with type 2 diabetes also have about a 50 or 60 per cent reduction in their number of beta cells in their pancreas, and so they too cannot make enough insulin," he added.
Currently, there are many medications/drugs that can control the symptoms of diabetes but there is no reliable drug or chemical that can successfully replicate the beta cells.
Steward says, "In the world of beta cell regeneration, you can do it in two ways. You can either use stem cells, create stem cells and then transplant them. Or you could take a drug that makes your own beta cells grow."
Though the stem cell method looks promising, Steward says that there will definitely be difficulties with the procedure as it is invasive, and also considering the current demand, there won't be enough supply.
According to the recent data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, diabetes currently affects more than 20 million people across America.
Steward's team has been screening a huge volume of chemicals (more than 100,000) to see which chemical has the potential/ability to regenerate the beta cells. They ended with 86 possible solutions that were then tested manually.
Out of those 86 chemicals, one drug triggered the beta cell growth. This drug is known as harmine.
Harmine is a chemical that naturally occurs in a number of plants around the world, and it is one of the ingredients recently found in the psychoactive mixture of the plant Ayahuasca.
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