Human insulin is a type of insulin that is identical to the insulin produced by the human body. It is used to treat diabetes, a chronic condition that affects the way the body processes blood sugar.

Before the development of human insulin, insulin was derived from the pancreas of cows and pigs. However, these types of insulin had some drawbacks, including the risk of allergic reactions and inconsistent potency. The development of human insulin in the 1980s was a major breakthrough in the treatment of diabetes.

Human insulin is a hormone that is naturally produced by the pancreas. Its main function is to regulate blood sugar levels by allowing cells in the body to absorb glucose from the bloodstream. For people with diabetes, however, the pancreas either doesn’t produce enough insulin or the body is unable to effectively use the insulin that is produced, resulting in high blood sugar levels.

How Human Insulin Works

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood. In people with diabetes, the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or is unable to use it properly. This leads to high levels of glucose in the blood, which can cause a range of health problems.

Human insulin works by replacing the insulin that the body is unable to produce. It is usually injected subcutaneously (under the skin) and works by regulating the level of glucose in the blood.

Human insulin is available in different forms, including rapid-acting, short-acting, intermediate-acting, and long-acting. The type of insulin prescribed will depend on a person’s individual needs and medical history.

Types of Human Insulin

There are several types of human insulin, each with a different onset, peak, and duration of action:

Rapid-Acting Insulin

Rapid-acting insulin, also known as mealtime insulin, is typically taken just before or after a meal to help regulate blood sugar spikes. Examples include insulin lispro (Humalog), insulin aspart (NovoLog), and insulin glulisine (Apidra).

Short-Acting Insulin

Short-acting insulin, also known as regular insulin, takes effect within 30 minutes and peaks between 2-4 hours. It is typically taken 30 minutes before a meal. Examples include Humulin R and Novolin R.

Intermediate-Acting Insulin

Intermediate-acting insulin takes effect within 2-4 hours and can last up to 18 hours. It is typically taken twice a day, before breakfast and dinner. Examples include NPH insulin (Humulin N, Novolin N).

Long-Acting Insulin

Long-acting insulin takes effect within 1-2 hours and can last up to 24 hours. It is typically taken once a day. Examples include insulin glargine (Lantus) and insulin detemir (Levemir).

Potential Side Effects of Human Insulin

Like all medications, human insulin can cause side effects. The most common side effects include:

  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Allergic reactions
  • Injection site reactions (redness, swelling, itching)

Less common side effects include:

  • Lipodystrophy (thickening or thinning of the skin at the injection site)
  • Weight gain
  • Vision changes
  • Neuropathy (nerve damage)

If you experience any of these side effects, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider.

Advantages of Human Insulin

Human insulin has several advantages over the older animal-derived insulin. These include:

  1. Reduced risk of allergic reactions: Because human insulin is identical to the insulin produced by the human body, there is a reduced risk of allergic reactions compared to animal-derived insulin.
  2. More consistent potency: Human insulin is manufactured to a high degree of purity, which ensures that each dose has the same potency. This reduces the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).
  3. Increased availability: Human insulin is widely available and is produced by many different pharmaceutical companies, which makes it more accessible to people with diabetes.
  4. Improved treatment outcomes: Because human insulin is more consistent and predictable than animal-derived insulin, it can lead to improved treatment outcomes and better control of blood sugar levels.


Human insulin is a revolutionary treatment for diabetes that has improved the lives of millions of people around the world. It is a safe and effective treatment that can help regulate blood sugar levels and prevent the complications associated with diabetes.

If you have diabetes, it is important to work closely with your healthcare provider to develop a treatment plan that meets your individual needs. Human insulin may be part of that plan, and it can help you manage your diabetes and live a healthy, fulfilling life.

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