Pills Instead of Injections?

a picture of a syringe and insulin at The Diabetes DietWhat are your thoughts on taking pills instead of injections? We type 1s and our colleagues in insulin-taking at the type 2 camp have believed for years an insulin tablet isn’t a go-er because of what stomach acids would do to it.

Recent research says an insulin pill might now be in the offing. My husband got excited about it, emailing me a link to the published article. I was more “meh”. The injections I take seem to be the least bothersome bit of diabetes. Working out how to get your blood sugars in line, constant blood sugar tests (restrictive, dependent on how many sticks you’re prescribed a month), tiredness when you don’t get the dosage right—they’re the things that make diabetes tricky to deal with.

Daily injections

As a child, pre-diabetes, a boy on a neighbouring farm was diagnosed some months ahead of me. “Ooh,” the young me said, “I wouldn’t like to inject myself all the time.” Nine-year-olds tend to think that way, condensing diabetes down to the one thing that seems horrific—more than daily injections.

The nine-year-old obviously tempted fate in that some months later I too was in hospital practising shots on an orange. (What did that poor orange ever do to me?) If someone had promised me a pill at the time, young Emma would have leapt on it.

Back to the research. Professor Samir Mitragotri, who co-authored the study from Harvard University, says his team they took a new approach by dispersing insulin in a liquid made of two components. They were a nutrient called choline, and a substance called geranic acid that is found naturally in cardamom.

Hormone stays intact

They experimented on rats and found the pill lowered the animals’ blood sugar levels rapidly. The team say further experiments suggested the liquid in which the insulin was dispersed inside the capsule stops the hormone from being broken down by enzymes in the digestive system after the capsule dissolves. This helps the insulin pass through the mucus layer of the intestines and opens the seal between adjacent cells lining the intestines, so insulin can pass into the blood vessels.

The article says it will be several years before clinical trials can begin as so far, the method has only been tried in a few small animal studies. It isn’t clear either whether someone could use the pill for background (basal) insulin.

I’m still meh. There is a lot of trials currently being conducted, researching multiple ways to help we folks with diabetes. While there are people who do have genuine needle phobias and find injections unpleasant and painful, I’m lucky enough not to be one.

Pill or injection? Not bothered. Closed loop pump system or (whisper it), the hallowed cure. Okay then…


4 thoughts on “Pills Instead of Injections?”

  1. I like to TRY and keep up with all the new advances in diabetic care. This is one I had not heard of yet. Novel approach I will give them. There are many concerns I have about it but if I does work great. All these people who fear a shot can no relax a little about being diagnosed as diabetic. My first endocrinologist told me that he and his nurses had to hold down pregnant women to give them their first shot for gestational diabetes. I get that. I can remember the fears I had the first time of injecting my self back in Sept of 1977. Once I had done it, eh, it wasn’t so bad. The true motivator was the fact of dying without it. Recently at work I was sitting at a table getting my shot when a coworker sat down. The guy next to me had been watching the whole process. He was fascinated. The guy who sat down had not noticed yet. When told to look closer, he freaked out. He grabbed his food into his hands and moved to another table. Now it may be rude of me to not apologize for not right away telling him but I look at another way. I did not ask him and he apparently did not look very close at what I was doing (the syringe was in my hand the whole time). I used to hide in the bathroom to do this until it dawned on me I was endangering myself by going to one of the dirtiest places anywhere to get this shot. Never again. I do sympathize for people with a fear of needles but I stopped apologizing for being a diabetic. If it makes them nervous I will turn away from them as I inject but I am not going to move to another room to make anyone else happy. Take it or leave it. Look the other way if it makes you nervous. I can’t change the fact I am a diabetic and my life depends on getting shots. I’m not asking you to get over being afraid of needles either. We just need to work together so I can keep living.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Totally, Robert. I’ve always done my injections in front of people. (I, er, used to do them through my clothes but can’t do that these days because I use such a tiny needle.) Bathrooms are NOT for injections.


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