How Does Metformin Help My Diabetes?

Metformin, also known as Glucophage, is believed to be the biggest-selling oral anti-diabetic medicine in the world.

It is the most frequent first choice of doctors prescribing to overweight and obese individuals who are pre-diabetic or who have been diagnosed as type 2 diabetic.

Metformin was first developed back in the early 1920s and found to be very effective in lowering blood sugar levels. This was just before the discovery of insulin and its efficacy in treating diabetics. Forgotten for the next few decades, it wasn’t until 1957 that a formal clinical trial was undertaken in France, where it was determined that metformin was a safe and effective treatment for diabetes.

Metformin became available in the United Kingdom in 1958 and Canada in 1972, but it was not until 1995 that the FDA allowed physicians in the United States to prescribe it.

How It Works

Metformin is a pretty remarkable medication. It works in the liver, where it suppresses glucose production, leading to more stable blood sugar readings. It also decreases absorption of glucose from the intestinal tract, improves insulin sensitivity and enhances glucose uptake by cells.

This control of glucose levels can lead to a reduction of comorbidities with diabetes, like cardiovascular and nervous system damage.
Additionally, there is some evidence that metformin not only prevents weight gain but also sometimes leads to weight loss in patients. There has also been some correlation between metformin and a small decrease in LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.

Possible Side Effects

The use of metformin can sometimes lead to gastrointestinal upsets, like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and increased flatulence. This is most likely to occur when first taking the medication or when the dosage is increased. Side effects become less common the longer the drug is taken.

Long-term use of metformin has been associated with B12 deficiency. There is also a remote possibility of developing lactic acidosis, which can be addressed by not prescribing to those at increased risk, like those with kidney disease or who are alcoholic.

What It Can Do for You

Metformin, by itself, is not a cure for diabetes. However, for those who achieve the recommended 150 minutes of exercise each week and who partake in a balanced, smart carbohydrate diet, there can be a reduction in A1C levels by as much as one full percentage point. This can significantly slow the progression of this disease and limit damage to the body’s systems.

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