This common cough remedy could be just what the doctor ordered for diabetes sufferers

1.7 million Australians have diabetes, making it one of the most prevalent and preventable diseases in Australia. Those who suffer from diabetes may not have been able to prevent it or treat their symptoms easily, however a new medicine has been found to help …and you can buy it over the counter at any chemist.

Dextromethorphan, better known as Robitussin, is an over-the-counter cough suppressant but new research in Nature Medicine has found an interesting side effect of the cough medicine for Type 2 diabetes sufferers.

Antidiabetic drugs that are typically prescribed for Type 2 diabetes cannot slow the disease down, leading to dangerously low blood sugar levels, but dextromethorphan can inhibit N-Methyl-D-Aspartate (NMDA) receptors. These receptors are expressed in tiny clusters of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas.

Eckhard Lammert and colleagues found that genetic deletion of a key part of this class of receptors, or their pharmacological inhibition by drugs such as dextromethorphan, results in more potent glucose-stimulated insulin secretion in a sample of normal mouse and human pancreatic tissue.

When administered, the results showed the above, as well as improved glucose control in a mouse model of Type 2 diabetes. In a small, phase 2a, clinical trial involving 20 men with Type 2 diabetes, the authors also found that dextromethorphan increased serum insulin concentrations and lowered blood glucose.

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At the moment, it’s not advised to rush to the chemist and stock up on Robitussin, but keep your ears peeled for more as this treatment develops.


Are you suffering from diabetes? What treatment works or doesn’t work for you? Would you try this if it was approved in Australia? Tell us below.