Preparedness for People with Diabetes (part. 1 – How to Make Insulin)

Chris Black
By Chris Black June 30, 2014 07:03

Preparedness for People with Diabetes (part. 1 – How to Make Insulin)

It’s not easy to live with diabetes, especially when you are insulin dependent. Even now, under normal circumstances, when you have almost unlimited access to medical services and medication. Think about how radically your life will change when SHTF. In a collapsed society knowing how to make insulin can make the difference between life and death.

Type 1 diabetes is a tricky disease that requires a special diet and constant medication, i.e. insulin. In a disaster scenario, a diabetic person is very vulnerable, way more vulnerable than the regular Joe, because insulin dependency is yet another thing that must be taken care of, besides regular survival needs, such as food, water and shelter. When you have diabetes, you’re playing a perpetual chess game with your body. Type 1 diabetics, besides being insulin dependent, are prone to various diseases/infections and a multitude of metabolic problems.

Knowing how to make insulin at home is like the ultimate level when it comes to preparedness. But before getting there, let’s make a few notes about how a person with diabetes should prepare for the worst case scenario.

8First thing, you should stockpile lots of testing strips and syringes. These are pretty cheap hence making a serious stockpile would present no significant problem. In case you’ll need them, you’ll see that they are more valuable than money/gold/diamonds/ammo or whatever.

Another thing to stockpile is obviously insulin. But, keep in mind that a stockpile of insulin, if stored properly (the temperature must not exceed 84F, refrigeration isn’t a must-have), has a “shelf life” of just a few months (even days). Keep in mind that expired insulin will kill you (expired insulin forms crystals that are lethal when injected).

How To Tell When The Insulin Goes Bad

Don’t use bottled insulin past the expiration date printed on the label. And no matter what the expiration date is, throw away a bottle one month after you open it. To help you keep track, write the date that you opened the bottle on the bottle’s label.

There are two ways to tell when insulin is no longer good: poor performance and unusual appearance.
If your blood sugar stays high even though you’re following your treatment plan, your insulin may have lost its effectiveness.

1. Poor performance could be due to two things:

  • The insulin bottle has been open for more than 28 days.
  • There are a lot of punctures in the rubber stopper because you take very small doses of insulin and you’re getting close to the end of the bottle.

2. If your insulin has an unusual appearance:

  • The insulin is cloudy when it is supposed to be clear.
  • The insulin is supposed to be cloudy but it has clumps, even after rolling it between your palms.
  • The insulin looks stringy.
  • The insulin has changed in color.


Diabetes VeggiesDiet is another crucial thing to consider. The human body needs insulin to break down carbohydrates. So, a low carb-protein rich diet will keep your insulin dependency a little bit under control. But of course you probably know that. If you’re on a protein-rich diet, you should drink lots of water and prevent your blood from becoming too acidic (ketones are the culprit in this case, for a diabetic in survival mode) by ingesting a solution of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda, cheap and excellent for lots of uses). Baking soda alkalizes the body (the opposite of acidification).

Your diet must be very strict, just enough to maintain your weight and must consist of lots of small meals during the day, protein rich meals and as little carbs as possible. You must be moderately active given the limited caloric intake and avoid heavy-duty activities that can drain your body of energy.

You must keep an eye on the symptoms of hyper/hypoglycemia, hence monitoring your blood sugar must be high on your priority list. These symptoms include sweating, hunger, dizziness, fatigue, erratic heartbeat, confusion and in extreme cases even the loss of consciousness.

There is so much to say about this subject! A few months ago a friend of mine with type 2 diabetes succeeded in overcoming his disease with a proper program, including a very specific diet. He is writing a book together with his doctor about it. He promised the book will be posted on this website.

How To Make Insulin When SHTF

Now, let’s get back to our main problem: how to make insulin in a long-term survival scenario. I must warn you: this is not a simple task. It’s actually very complicated and you’ll need access to some equipment. Actually, I think you’ll also need a degree in Chemistry just to make sense of the “lecture” I will give you a little later.

The most important thing when SHTF is to help your body make insulin by providing it with the proper diet and with a little help from over-the-counter medication, such as Metformin/Berberine/NovoNorm (go for the highest dosage available). These are different types of oral medication for diabetics that can replace insulin by counteracting your body’s insulin resistance. They have a very long shelf life by the way so you can easily store them. In this way, even the small quantities of insulin that your body produces will have a significant impact when it comes to lowering your blood sugar levels.

Now, if you want to know how to make insulin at home, you should go back to basics, i.e. to read a lecture about how the first batch of insulin was created in the lab almost 100 years ago (actually, in 1922 and the scientists got the Nobel prize for that).

As I already told you and I must emphasize, knowing how to make insulin at home is not enough. You’ll need to have access to lots of stuff, such as pancreatic organs of cows or pigs, power (very unlikely in a SHTF scenario) in order to use centrifuges and lab equipment, not to mention very solid Chemistry knowledge. Truth be told, it is highly improbable that you’ll manage to make insulin at home, to put together all the chemicals and all the equipment in a disaster-scenario, but who knows, maybe you can do it, hence let me show you the actual transcript of a lecture from the 1920’s, given by the insulin inventors themselves, describing the process.

“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 Sodium Hydroxide. The clear filtrate is concentrated in vacuo to about 1/15 of its original volume.

The concentrate is then heated to 50o degrees Centigrade, 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.”

Good luck, have fun with that folks!

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Chris Black
By Chris Black June 30, 2014 07:03
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  1. SallyAshus May 14, 00:24

    Wow! This increases my respect for Banting and Best even greater than it already was–and makes the current method of genetically-modified E. coli bacteria that secrete bio-identical human insulin sound elegantly simple! It also reminds me of just how precarious my own survival is in the even of disaster. The longest I’ve had to “bug-in” was for 6-1/2 days, after a major storm had knocked out the electrical transmission lines and downed power lines and fallen trees blocked the roads that weren’t flooded. I’ve learned to always keep a month’s supply ahead of insulin, pens, syringes, and I always keep “blue ice” gel packs in the freezer. I have a small Igloo cooler that will fit inside a larger one, and by putting my insulin in the small one with ice packs, then surrounding it with more gel frozen gel packs inside the larger cooler, I was able to keep the insulin cool for the week;I had done the same for 5 days when we were stuck in the house after the Loma Prieta earthquake. (People were pretty civil in the aftermath of that major quake, but then San Francisco did have electric power restored to all parts of the City within 5 days; the gas lines took longer. The biggest problem was the Bay Bridge being closed for a month.) I have asked the Red Cross and other disaster agencies what should I do in case of another such event, and the response has been,”go to the nearest undamaged hospital.” That does NOT solve the problem! I can grow a garden; I’ve learned about medicinal plants; I can build a shelter from the bamboo that fences my yard; I’ve tamed the feral cats that keep the rodents controlled and love my dog who keeps racoons and vandals away; I can cook on a small fire in cast iron and a pressure cooker; I’ve sun-dried fruits and herbs and turkey-jerky. My son is an Army medic But I still haven’t figured out how to survive a long-term SHTF event with insulin-dependent diabetes! Do I have to just accept that I won’t survive?

    Reply to this comment
    • Chris October 15, 20:21

      If I were you I’d look into the diet treatments they used a long time ago and adjust my food stores to support that. This whole ketogenic fad was originally for diabetics and epileptics. You might not thrive at optimal health, but you might be able to keep functioning with diet changes.

      Reply to this comment
    • tweell November 21, 20:37

      The techniques that type 2 diabetics can use should extend the type 1’s survival time. How much depends on the person. Reducing carbs as much as possible (meat, cheese, eggs, some nuts, green leafy vegetables, nothing more), turmeric and cinnamon, a stash of metformin…

      The trick is to test these on yourself before you have to depend on them. I also recommend having someone there to monitor you while you experiment. As a type 2, I found 1/2 tsp of cinnamon would drop my blood sugar 10 points or so, the turmeric needed pepper and oil to make it effective, while ginger and bitter melon didn’t make any difference.

      If you can get a metformin prescription, that will definitely help. It dropped my father’s insulin dose to half of what he was taking, and reduced his blood sugar spikes. It’s cheap, stores at room temperature for months, and would reduce your insulin requirements.

      Finally, how about getting a small refrigerator that can use something besides 120V? They’re not cheap, but a Unique UGP-3 is a dorm sized refrigerator that can run on 120v, 12v or propane. The one in my brother-in-law’s trailer ran for over a month off of a single 25 pound bottle, or you could run it off a battery + solar panel.

      Long term survival and insulin dependency don’t intersect much. Until the big brains figure out how to use stem cells to regenerate a pancreas, anyways.

      Reply to this comment
      • Ann Bear November 21, 22:30

        I too use cinnamon to lower my blood sugar quickly if I’ve “misjudged” my food choices. I seem to be one of the lucky few that has, so far anyway, been able to avoid needing insulin. I test a half dozen times a day, and make small diet adjustments as necessary to “tweak” my numbers. The whole point of this reply, however….was to point out that several companies (Coleman is one, I think) make a small picnic-sized cooler that runs on 12 volts. I wouldn’t trust it to keep milk fresh, for example, but for keeping medication cool its perfect. Forty bucks at WalMart. Good investment, in my opinion.

        Reply to this comment
      • Allen November 22, 20:15

        Good ideas. but hope the EMP didn’t destroy your generator, frig as well. There might be a few that have this down packed. But for the most part those depended on isulan are going to die best guess 999 to 1. After all look around most people aren’t even prepared for a week if something goes down. I can tell you for sure most neighbors around me within a mile have less then 2 weeks food and most of it refrigerated.

        Reply to this comment
        • Ann Bear November 22, 21:09

          Excuse me, Allen, but how does ANY of this rely on a generator…? Is a picnic cooler! And if youre worried about EMPs (like I am), you can keep them packed in a Faraday crate (like I do). Yes, them, cuz I have a backup. Also keep the solar panels to run them and a battery charger in a Faraday box too. This really isn’t my first disaster rodeo. Finally–yes, a lot of unprepared people are going to die. With God’s help and maybe the right pinch of luck, me and my family won’t be among them.

          Reply to this comment
  2. MOE December 12, 11:35

    Love this article does it come in video format and can you email them both to me my phone won’t crunch it! Thanks and happy holiday!

    Reply to this comment
  3. Dia Pal September 30, 19:04

    Loved this article. Thanks for taking the time to write it. Currently wondering about how long Frio bags last. They stay cool as long as they are damp, and can be resoaked as needed. They take a couple of weeks at least before they dry out.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Allen November 8, 18:50

    After reading this which I think is great. Thank goodness I’m not a diabetic. But over all what I see here when SHTF to the fullest degree. Like the electric grid destroyed. There going to be a lot of diabetics that are just going to die.

    Reply to this comment
    • Elena December 1, 04:33


      I don’t see how anything you have said is pertinent to the above post, nor helpful to the diabetics here trying to educate themselves and be prepared. Your final comment can best be summed up: “Thank god I’m not diabetic because a lot of you are going to die”. That’s akin to telling someone with stage 4 cancer: “You inspired me to get screened and, well, thank god I don’t have cancer…” That is by no means a comparison of cancer to diabetes but you’re telling the target audience of this post— diabetics– you’re glad you’re not one of them because they’re inevitably doomed. It’s insensitive. Maybe offer to help educate your neighbors instead of talking about them being idiots on a random forum. I, too, am not diabetic but I am married to one. I’ll be damned if I don’t hunt down every farm animal I can find and get really good at chemistry if it came to a real disaster situation. Please try to find some perspective and work to be helpful rather just typing to read your own words.

      Reply to this comment
      • tail dragger January 3, 05:39

        Reminds me of the snake bit fellows prognosis when his friend found out he had to suck the poison out. imminent death he was told by his friend who was not going to deal with the mamba bite on his scrotum.

        Reply to this comment
  5. tail dragger January 3, 05:37

    Reminds me of the snake bit fellows prognosis when his friend found out he had to suck the poison out. imminent death he was told by his friend who was not going to deal with the mamba bite on his scrotum.

    Reply to this comment
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