What is Metformin?
Metformin is a medication that can be used alone or in conjunction with other medications to treat type II diabetes.
Type II diabetes is a medical condition in which a person cannot regulate the amount of glucose, or sugar, in their blood. In type II diabetes, the person is still able to produce the glucose regulating hormone insulin, but the body is resistant or has trouble using the insulin.
When a person has insulin resistance their body builds up sugar in the bloodstream because their cells do not want to use the insulin making it harder for the body to absorb that sugar.
The Benefits of Metformin
Metformin provides three advantages in the battle against type II diabetes. The first benefit metformin provides is more control over the amount of glucose in the bloodstream. With the better control provided by metformin, the patient is able to lower the amount of glucose in the blood if they are experiencing hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) or able to keep their blood sugar levels within a safe range more easily.
The second benefit is the effect metformin has on the food you eat. Metformin helps to decrease the amount of glucose you get from food and decreases the amount of glucose that your liver produces. This effect directly helps your glucose control by lowering the amount of glucose you are creating.
The third benefit has great synergy for a patient with type II diabetes. Metformin makes the body more receptive to insulin thus decreasing the patient’s natural insulin resistance. This means that more of the insulin that has been released into the bloodstream with be effectively used by cells.
There have been various studies done to observe the effects of metformin and they tend to show that metformin is an effective drug for lowering blood glucose levels.
In a 24-week study conducted by Hoffmann, J., and Spengler, M. from the Medical Department, Bayer AG, Leverkusen, Germany, found that both the blood glucose and HbA1c numbers were at more acceptable levels with metformin use when compared against a placebo.
Researcher at the Baylor College of Medicine also found that metformin lowered a fasting blood glucose reading and HbA1c levels. In this study, however, they measured different dosages of metformin ranging from 500mg to 2000mg dosages. The study found that all dosages levels are well tolerated, meaning there were few side effects. The biggest side effect was an increase in the occurrence of diarrhea and other digestive troubles.
Metformin is not only for people with type II diabetes. In the article “Reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes with lifestyle intervention or metformin” by the Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group, metformin use was found to lower the occurrence of type II diabetes when compared to a placebo group. Research is ongoing, but metformin has also been linked to helping with other conditions. Studies anticipate that metformin can help with slowing the aging process, increasing a person’s life span, and fighting certain types of cancer.
Side Effects of Metformin
Metformin is a medication and, like all medication, has possible side effects that may be experienced by the user. Below is the full list of possible side effects associated with metformin. The most common side effect of metformin is gastrointestinal distress, which include diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Other common side effects are decreased appetite, muscle pain, and sleepiness.