Pork Insulin-What I Have Learned

By Crashnot Latest Reply 2016-01-30 06:25:32 -0600
Started 2010-03-16 18:35:35 -0500

Here's an update on what I've learned about Pork Insulin since last week. If you missed that discussion, I had learned that many people have adverse reactions to today's synthetic, "analog" insulins, and these quickly disappear with going back to the old "pork" standard which is still available from England.

If you have any of these problems, or don't notice when your sugar is getting low, read on!

extreme lethargy
mental confusion
memory loss
joint and muscle pains
general feeling of being unwell
"brittle" condition or unaware of low sugars

My best resource has become e-mailing with Jinny Hurst at the Insulin Dependent Diabetes Trust in Britain. Her daughter had problems with analog insulin years ago and had immediate success reverting to pork-based insulins. Their website is www.iddtinternational.org .

They have a monthly newsletter you can subscribe to online or by mail. They also have an info packet for people who are considering converting to help you approach your doctors, who generally are very resistant to going "backward" to pork. This packet will be sent on request but is not online at the moment.

I have also been in touch with Wockhart Labs, which produces the pork insulin. They told me the insulin is fine for use with an insulin pump, and Jinny noted that the original pumps were made to be used with pork and beef. There is no problem with tubes clogging. The pork insulin is also more stable than the synthetic analogs like Humalog, so are fine in the reservoir. I currently get six days per reservoir, so will be able to continue that on pork.

While pork insulin is cheaper to produce than the analog insulins in use now, it is very expensive to buy. Mostly because it has to be imported from Britain. In Canada I can get it at Costco for $99/vial, and some online sites range from $114 to $124. I'm sure the price in the US is even higher, given the steep price for Humalog there versus here.

Pork insulin is slower acting than Humalin R, Novalin R and Humalog, so pump users to have to adjust for that difference when giving boluses, but your pump can easily be reprogrammed to figure out what your insulin on board is for delivering boluses.

The link for the report on problems with synthetic insulins can be found at:


Years ago I became aware of a sorta radical "anti" synthetic organization here in the states that was protesting Eli Lilly discontinuing their beef and pork insulins. They've disappeared since then, so I was greatly relieved to learn of the very well-organized trust in England that is carrying on educating people that we are NOT nuts to feel like walking zombies. Some of us really do not do well on synthetic! I've had horrible experiences with both Lantus and Levemir, so will be contacting my medical team to try the pork for a few weeks and see how I feel. Generally people feel an immediate change, so hoping that will be the case for me. I need my energy for my 3 and 5 year old kids!!!

Lisa in Ontario

5 replies

Mother of Diabetic
Mother of Diabetic 2012-01-13 13:32:15 -0600 Report

I'm against the Protect IP Act as written. If it passes, then it will be more difficult for diabetics to import the natural pork & beef insulin that they need for survival and quality of life. Even Eli Lilly stated that rDNA synthetic human insulin wouldn’t work for many diabetics and rDNA human insulin is the only insulin available in America. Why isn’t natural pork & beef insulin protected by the “Orphan Drug Act”? Pork & Beef insulin should be available in America again for diabetics. Please watch the movie "Puncture", because the same thing is happening with insulin in America.

Crashnot 2010-06-05 21:38:57 -0500 Report

Hi guys! This conversation has disappeared from the current list for awhile now. But wanted to give you interested folks an update.

Tried to win my endo over to trying the pork insulin last month and got a cold stare, and a reined-in tirade on how could I be feeding my family organic food, have watched what they feed pigs on "Food Inc." and want to even consider an animal-based insulin???

True enough. But this past Thursday I made the switch anyway. Couldn't hurt to see if it helped, right?

So far, I woke up Friday and it was pretty weird. It was like everything was brighter, sharper and more defined with my vision. I sound like I'm a junkie here, but that's just my immediate observation. It was nice at any rate!

Next noticable difference is that the fog at the front of my brain has lifted and I feel like I can actually think again. That's a first in YEARS.

I'm still figuring out how to adjust for the longer duration of when the insulin is active, but while I'm running too high in the morning my sugars are amazingly stable at whatever number I'm at. On the synthetic Humalog I'd bounce from 22 to 360 to 180 to 56 and all over again. It was exhausting. The past two days I've pretty well been locked in within a 20-point range. Had a low overnight last night after making a correction before bed, but once I had a snack, I held right around 120-180, ALL NIGHT! Was wearing the CGM and it was so amazing to wake up at 150 instead of 350 which is a constant problem for me. Hope that lasts for sure!

I've also been labeled brittle for about 25 years (since starting the Humalog come to think of it) for not sensing when I'm going low. No sweating, shakes, I just get tired when I drop down to rock bottom. Yesterday and today, I'm breaking out in a sweat anytime my sugars start to slide down quickly. Even if I'm way too high, I start to sweat as the insulin takes over. Still no shakes, but I can work with sweat!

My fatigue is still there, but unfortunately a lot of that is from getting exposed to wheat somewhere this week which is the kiss of death with my Celiac Disease. As that exposure wears off over the next few days, I'm hoping I'll have more zip in my step when I wake up in the morning too. A problem that has plagued me for longer than I can recall.

Can't say switching to animal insulin is the be-all, end all. But I am noticing a lot of nice changes in just the two days I have switched. Most people feel a change immediately to within a week. So keeping lots of mental notes to see if I want to stay with it. My cost is $100 here in Canada versus $25 for Humalog, so plenty of incentive to go back to synthetic if I don't feel a lot of changes!

bren99 2016-01-30 06:25:32 -0600 Report

Hi there, do you have any update on your experience with animal insulin? I have a lot of the symptoms with Humalog that were mentioned on the www.iddt.org website and need to try anything to reduce this.

packrat2 2010-03-16 18:43:35 -0500 Report

after getting type 1 years ago I was on the pork insulin for a long time, it was a life saver..I seem to be able to handle the synthetic insulin O.K…regards packrat2