Cell responses to insulin.
A lot of tissues respond to too much insulin.
Here's a rundown of the tissue responses to too much insulin from Paul Bergner's class handout:
After liver cells get resistant to insulin they release more glucose, which means that the pancreas releases more insulin. That's a vicious circle. Break it - exercise enough to break a sweat, less than 5 days apart. Other parts of the liver's sugar metabolism go wonky as well, as do parts of its "clean up the blood" routines.
Muscle cells should accept amino acids and retain their protein with the help of insulin, but now that they don't accept all that much insulin, they don't.
As fat cells get jaded about insulin ("Insulin? That's like jehovah's witnesses, it's here all the time. Just stop opening the door, it'll go away."), the breakdown of fats into triglycerides can go on unhampered. Other insulin-resistant tissues can't use the triglycerides either, so blood levels of triglycerides go up.
Platelet cells which don't accept insulin are low in magnesium, which leads to sticky blood.
Bone cells should go slow on the breakdown of bone, and should go fast on collagen production. They don't, if they don't have insulin. Hyperinsulinemia might lead to osteoporosis.
Next, a few cell responses which I've picked up elsewhere:
In the gut, once you have enough insulin floating about, magnesium intake is hampered. You need magnesium to get insulin shooed into a host of cells, so this is vicious circle #2. You have to break that circle by an extremely high intake of magnesium etc. for 10-14 days. Also exercise and ditch the carbs, they're not helping any.
In the reproductive tract, hyperinsulinemia is responsible for most if not all polycystic ovaries - and the infertility that goes with that.
In the kidneys, too much insulin affects water retention and results in high blood pressure. The insulin-induced sticky blood and the triglycerides floating about in the blood don't help matters any.
It's heart-breaking to see people asking for help, and watch them go on to not change their habits, at all, even after the mechanisms of syndrome x are all explained to them.
It's almost as bad to see why somebody is in bad shape, and knowing that even if you were to tell them you could help, they wouldn't be interested. People have to want to change on their own, you can't force your herbs + lifestyle changes on them.
But the news that you can cure syndrome x with a drug? Gah. Expecting a pill (or an herb) to do something which really requires major changes in lifestyle is folly. The pills (and herbs) do nothing about the causes of the problems, and these causes will come through the pills (or herbs) sooner or later, and bite you on the ass, hard.
The Hyperinsulinemia series: Cravings - Craving magnesium - Craving carbs - Doing without carbs - Syndrome X - Cell responses to insulin - Syndrome X supplements
Related entries: Hyperinsulinemia - Lifestyle troubles.