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May 4, 2002

Alternative Therapies and Explanations

Question from Hazleton, Pennsylvania, USA:

My two year old son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes a month ago, and I have read that sterolins when used properly help the immune system and will after time decrease blood sugar levels. One particular product is Moducare. Are sterolins safe? Can children use them? Will they harm the immune system if used for long periods of time? Are there any studies that prove sterolins are helpful?


Sterolins are plant lipids, and a number of animal studies have suggested that they can influence the balance between CD4 lymphocytes that promote the autoimmune process when activated and those that protect against it. This has never been formally investigated in relation to diabetes in childhood and Moducare is not approved for this purpose by the FDA.

I assume that your son has type�1A (autoimmune) diabetes as confirmed by a positive antibody test, which is by far the most common form in a child of Caucasian descent. In this condition, the autoimmune destruction of the islet cells has been going on for months, and by the time that clinical diabetes (or insulin dependence) develops, this process is almost complete. This is the reason that a range of clinical trials of immunomodulatory drugs at this stage have been unsuccessful although a few new ones like MMF are still being looked at.

At the same, Moducare, a nutrition additive, does not seem to be harmful, even though it has no scientific role in the management of type 1A diabetes may still have a placebo benefit for you in letting you feel that you are making a special and unique contribution to care of your son which the technical demands of modern medicine often take away.