Could Harmine Be A Key In Diabetes Treatment?

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Could Harmine Be A Key In Diabetes Treatment?

A key ingredient in the mysterious Ayahuasca brew - the Banisteriopsis caapi vine is being investigated as a potential treatment for diabetes.

Psychedelic drugs are playing a more and more prominent role in psychological research these days. Ayahuasca is just one such drug and has its roots in psychological healing through traditional practice. It is used as a treatment for addiction, chronic anxiety and PTSD for those willing to travel and take part in the ceremonies of the Amazonian tribes. However, it is not just the mind that stands to benefit. New research would suggest that a key ingredient in the mysterious Ayahuasca brew could offer insights into diabetes treatment. To be more precise, it is the harmine contained within the vines used to make the brew that is of interest, and has implications for treating people across the globe. Although harmine can be found in other plants, it is most common in the Banisteriopsis caapi.


Around 380 million people are diagnosed with diabetes worldwide and, although it can be manageable, diabetes is a disease that must be kept under control in order for a person to survive. It was the 7th leading cause of death in America in 2010 according to the number of people diagnosed. Some complications associated with diabetes include hypoglecmia, heart attacks, stroke, kidney disease, blindness and more.

It is a disease caused by a deficiency in pancreatic insulin-producing beta cells. Beta cells only grow in humans for a brief time during the first few years of childhood and replication of cells rarely occurs.

Research published by Nature Medicine shows that harmine has the ability to regenerate and grow beta cells as well as improve glycaemic control. It also increases islet cells in the pancreas. Islets cells are what produces insulin and controls blood sugar in the pancreas.

In a press release to Science Daily, senior study author Andrew Stewart said "the harmine drug class can make human beta cells proliferate at levels that may be relevant for diabetes treatment."

The challenge now is for scientists to find a way to specifically target the drug to beta cells in the pancreas, however there is no proof that the cells that are generated won’t be destroyed over time. Researchers are still pleased with the results and it would seem that the medical community are looking forward to finding out more about how harmine could be used as a potential treatment for diabetes.