Chinese researchers have given diabetics a new hope by discovering pumpkin compounds believed to be able to reduce or replace the need of daily insulin injections.

A study done by the researchers from the East China Normal University showed that diabetic rats that had been fed with the extract had only 5 % less plasma insulin and 8 % fewer insulin-positive (beta) cells in comparison to normal healthy rats.

The pumpkin extract may be used as a potential treatment in pre-diabetics as well as those who have already developed the disease, looking for a way to reduce the amount of their daily insulin intakes.

The researchers are very excited but won’t make any definite conclusions until tests are carried out on humans. They have found that the pumpkin extract prevents the progressive destruction of pancreatic beta-cells but are unsure of the fact whether it will be able to promote regeneration in humans.

It is believed that pumpkin’s protective effects are due to the presence of both antioxidants and D-chiro-inositol, a molecule that mediates insulin activity. By increasing the insulin levels blood sugar levels decrease reducing further the levels of oxidative oxygen species that damage beta-cell membranes, preventing further damage and allowing for some regeneration.

However, beta cells levels in the diabetic rats could never reach the levels of healthy controls because once these cells get damaged, there is no turning back.
The studies were done on rats that suffered from type I diabetes, but it is believed that the pumpkin extract may be beneficial in treatment of type II diabetes too.

Researchers as well as patients are very optimistic about getting a medication that may be taken by mouth.