One of the questions I am asked most often is how to deal with Type 1 (Insulin-Dependent) diabetics in a collapse situation. I have been informed that Insulin was prepared in Singapore during WWII, in an effort to produce medicine for those in the Jewish community that were denied access to Insulin. I have been unable to find the specific process used there, but (searching far and wide) I have come upon a post by SWZ-Ben, moderator at the excellent survivalistboards.com forum. The link to his post is:
In this post, Ben published the original lecture by Frederick Banting who, along with Charles Best, produced Insulin for the first time in 1922. The lecture is from 1925. Here it is:
“The present method of preparation is as follows. The beef or pork pancreas is finely minced in a larger grinder and the minced material is then treated with 5 c.c. of concentrated sulphuric acid, appropriately diluted, per pound of glands. The mixture is stirred for a period of three or four hours and 95% alcohol is added until the concentration of alcohol is 60% to 70%. Two extractions of the glands are made. The solid material is then partially removed by centrifuging the mixture and the solution is further clarified by filtering through paper. The filtrate is practically neutralized with NaOH. The clear filtrate is concentrated in vacuo to about 1/15 of its original volume.
The concentrate is then heated to 50oC which results in the separation of lipoid and other materials, which are removed by filtration. Ammonium sulphate (37 grams. per 100 c.c.) is then added to the concentrate and a protein material containing all the Insulin floats to the top of the liquid. The precipitate is skimmed off and dissolved in hot acid alcohol. When the precipitate has completely dissolved, 10 volumes of warm alcohol are added. The solution is then neutralized with NaOH and cooled to room temperature, and kept in a refrigerator at 5oC for two days. At the end of this time the dark coloured supernatant alcohol is decanted off. The alcohol contains practically no potency. The precipitate is dried in vacuo to remove all trace of the alcohol. It is then dissolved in acid water, in which it is readily soluble. The solution is made alkaline with NaOH to PH 7.3 to 7.5. At this alkalinity a dark coloured precipitate settles out, and is immediately centrifuged off. This precipitate is washed once or twice with alkaline water of PH 9.0 and the washings are added to the main liquid.
It is important that this process be carried out fairly quickly as Insulin is destroyed in alkaline solution. The acidity is adjusted to PH 5.0 and a white precipitate readily settles out. Tricresol is added to a concentration of 0.3% in order to assist in the isoelectric precipitation and to act as a preservative. After standing one week in the ice chest the supernatant liquid is decanted off and the resultant liquid is removed by centrifuging. The precipitate is then dissolved in a small quantity of acid water.
A second isoelectric precipitation is carried out by adjusting the acidity to a PH of approximately 5.0. After standing over night the resultant precipitate is removed by centrifuging. The precipitate, which contains the active principle in a comparatively pure form, is dissolved in acid water and the hydrogen ion concentration adjusted to PH 2.5. The material is carefully tested to determine the potency and is then diluted to the desired strength of 10, 20, 40 or 80 units per c.c. Tricresol is added to secure a concentration of 0.1 percent. Sufficient sodium chloride is added to make the solution isotonic. The Insulin solution is passed through a Mandler filter. After passing through the filter the Insulin is retested carefully to determine its potency. There is practically no loss in berkefelding. The tested Insulin is poured into sterile glass vials with aseptic precautions and the sterility of the final product thoroughly tested by approved methods.”
What to Do With Type 1 Diabetes in a Collapse Situation
My first impression is that, in a grid-down situation, we are going to be thrown back medically to a time period before 1922. Banting had access to centrifuges and a number of chemicals that will be inaccessible to us in a collapse. We might not even be able to produce ice! Searching for ingredients, I could only find Tricresol (a type of formalin) at dental supply stores; also, what the heck is Berkfelding? It seems clear that you’ll need a lot more than your kid’s chemistry set to put this stuff together.
So, what can we do? It seems clear to me that perfect control of our Type 1 diabetics will be highly unlikely, but it may be possible to prevent life-threatening glucose levels as seen in Diabetic Ketoacidosis. The strategy I’m discussing is not for use in any circumstance where there are doctors, hospitals, and modern medical care. It is only my thoughts on what to do in a societal collapse.
Consider stockpiling oral medications such as Metformin in the highest doses available, and place your diabetics on these when the Insulin runs out. These medicines help counteract Insulin resistance, and what little Insulin your diabetics produce naturally may have more of an effect to lower blood sugars. Strict dietary restriction barely enough to maintain weight will also be necessary, in the form of frequent, very small meals. Maintain a reasonable level of activity, and hope for society to restabilize. Use whatever natural supplements might have an effect, such as Chromium, Magnesium and ionic Vanadium. Herbs that purport to have an effect in lowering sugar levels include Cinnamon, Fenugreek, Bitter Melon, and American Ginseng. I can’t promise you glucose control, however, as I have no experience with them as a diabetic treatment.
With regards to major medical issues such as Diabetes, we will have to improvise in an effort to keep our people free of life-threatening Ketoacidosis. In a collapse, we will have to realize that, sometimes, something is better than nothing.