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Journal of Integrative Medicine ›› 2014, Vol. 12 ›› Issue (1): 1-6.doi: 10.1016/S2095-4964(14)60008-X

Special Issue: Traditional Chinese Medicine

• Review •     Next Articles

The role of central nervous system on hypoglycemia and the feasibility of the brain theory in traditional Chinese medicine on treatment of diabetes mellitus

Hai-li Jianga,b,c, Jing-jing Niua,b,c, Wei-fei Zhangb,c,d, Wen-jin Huanga,c, Ming-yue Zhoub,c,e, Wen-jun Shab,c, Jun-yan Lib,c, Fu-feng Lid, Zhu Tingf, Xin Xiag, Jun Zhangh, Yuan-dong Shenb,c, Li-gang Zhoua,b,c   

  1. Department of Endocrinology, Shanghai Pudong Hospital, Fudan University Pudong Medical Center, Shanghai 201399, China
    Department of Endocrinology, Shuguang Hospital, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 200032, China
    c Diabetes Research Center, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 200032, China
    d Basic Medical Department, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 200032, China
    Biology and Biological Science Program, University of California, Santa Barbara, California 93106, USA
    f Department of Gerontology, Shuguang Hospital, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 200032, China
    Department of Endocrinology, Shanghai East Hospital, Shanghai 200120, China
    h. Department of Police Training, Shanghai Police College, Shanghai 200137, China
  • Received:2013-10-20 Accepted:2013-12-09 Online:2014-01-10 Published:2014-01-15

The central nervous system (CNS) plays a key regulatory role in glucose homeostasis. In particular, the brain is important in initiating and coordinating protective counterregulatory responses when blood glucose levels fall. This may due to the metabolic dependency of the CNS on glucose, and protection of food supply to the brain. In healthy subjects, blood glucose is normally maintained within a relatively narrow range. Hypoglycemia in diabetic patients can increase the risk of complications, such as heart disease and diabetic peripheral neuropathy. The clinical research finds that the use of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has a positive effect on the treatment of hypoglycemia. Here the authors reviewed the current understanding of sensing and counterregulatory responses to hypoglycemia, and discuss combining traditional Chinese and Western medicine and the theory of iatrogenic hypoglycemia in diabetes treatment. Furthermore, the authors clarify the feasibility of treating hypoglycemia on the basis of TCM theory and CNS and have an insight on its clinical practice.

Key words: Diabetes mellitus, Hypoglycemia, Counterrugulation hormone response, Neuroendocrine systems, Hypothalamus, Brain, Review

Figure 1

The proposed mechanism of counterregulatory hormone response to hypoglycemia Decreases in plasma glucose can initiate 1) reduced insulin secretion and increased glucagon secretion, 2) release of epinephrine (E) and norepinephrine (NE) via activation of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis, and 3) neuron activation in the hypothalamus, modulating intra-pancreatic hormone responses and hepatic glucose production via sympathetic nervous system in the spinal cord (adapted from Zhou et al 2007[11])."

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