There are two types of diabetes. Type I is commonly referred to as juvenile diabetes or insulin dependent which typically develops in children prior to puberty. Type II diabetes usually develops after age 40 and is often associated with obesity. An estimated 16 million people in the United States suffer from Type 1 or Type II diabetes.
In cases of Type I diabetes, the destruction of the insulin producing cells (islet cells) in the pancreas leaves the body without insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. Severe complications, even with daily insulin injections, can include blindness, limb amputation, kidney failure or death.
It has been generally accepted that Type I diabetes occurs after a severe malfunction of the immune system which causes insulin-producing cells in the pancreas to be destroyed. However, current research suggests the immune system isn’t the only culprit; the nerve system also plays a pivotal role.
Research conducted at the Hospital for Sick Children and the University of Calgary discovered there is a “control circuit” necessary to retain the health and normal function of the cells that produce insulin located in the pancreas between insulin-producing cells and nerves. This “control circuit” has long been known within the Upper Cervical profession as the “brain to body communication circuit,” the same brain to body communication that was recently studied by the medical profession to determine not only the cause or contributing factors associated with diabetes but other diseases as well. As part of the study, scientists “knocked out” specific nerve cells and discovered that doing so created an interference with the brain to body communication. These nerve cells had a direct and profound effect on the pancreas, diabetes, and blood sugar levels, and the research concluded that the nerves are critical in the development of diabetes.
This helps explain a condition that diabetics often suffer from called peripheral neuropathy, a numbness or pain described as a burning sensation or a feeling like “pins and needles” being stuck in the arms or legs. The research suggests that neuropathy may be more than a result of diabetes; it may be related to the nervous system’s role in the whole disease process.
Commenting on the research project published in The Scientific Journal, cell immunologist, Dr. Terry Delovitch, said the work illustrates the importance of not viewing one system of the body in isolation. “It’s an excellent example of system biology, where different systems interact and cross-regulate each other’s activity.” Delovitch is a diabetes and immune system specialist at Robarts Research Institute.
Looking at the nervous system as a possible cure for diabetes is a new concept, but one that is research based and gives hope to millions. The idea that a component of one body system can have a positive impact and even prevent disease in another body system is gaining wider acceptance.