what is metformin and how does it wrk
Written by DiabeTV

Finding proper methods for managing type 2 diabetes is a lot harder to come by than the method applied by people with type 1 diabetes (insulin therapy). Some believe that a healthy change in lifestyle such as diet and exercise can normally help people with type 2 diabetes manage their condition; however, this is not always the case for a large group of people suffering with type 2 diabetes. Today, people with type 2 diabetes are often prescribed an oral pill called metformin to help in managing their diabetes. Let’s take a closer look at what metformin is and how it benefits people with type 2 diabetes.

Metformin, also known as Fortamet, Glucophage, or Glumetza, is one of the top drugs used in treating type 2 diabetes. The main function of metformin is to lower the amount of glucose produced in your liver. One common misconception about metformin is that people believe that metformin is related to the amount of insulin being produced in our bodies. This is not true at all; metformin has no effect on insulin production in our body (for more information on the differences and applications of insulin vs metformin check out……).

So if metformin doesn’t have any effect on insulin productivity, then how would it be beneficial for someone with diabetes (specifically type 2 diabetes)??? Type 2 diabetes is normally referred to people who are insulin resistance while people with type 1 diabetes are people who are insulin dependent (for the differences between type 1 and 2 diabetes, take a look at…..). Under normal conditions, when you are not digesting any carbs, glucose is usually produced by the liver in order to provide energy for cellular metabolism.

When sugar (glucose) is eaten as a meal, a person’s body would normally slow down or sometimes completely stop the production of glucose being created by the liver due to the fact that insulin is released into the blood stream. This is how blood glucose is balanced within our body. Since people with type 2 diabetes deal with insulin resistance, the liver does not receive the signal to turn off the production of glucose causing blood sugars levels to rise (even though the body is still making insulin at the time).

This phenomenon is what metformin assists with. Even though metformin helps lower glucose levels produced by the liver, it doesn’t help with glucose metabolism at all (has nothing to do with insulin secretion only insulin sensitivity). Because of this, metformin is normally used with other types of anti-diabetic medications such as sulfonylurea (a drug that increases insulin production) or even insulin.

Metformin has a bunch of other benefits and has been known to help treat not only type 2 diabetes but Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome as well. It is also known to reduce the risks of metabolic syndrome which lessens your chance of developing a stroke or heart attack. A recent study done by the national institute of aging tested the effects of metformin on mice and found that mice taking a small dose of metformin were shown to have a 5.83% increase in lifespan. So now doctors are looking into the relationship between metformin and aging.

Metformin has a number of benefits for people with type 2 diabetes. Although it is not a one pill cures all, it has shown to do a lot more good than harm not only in the area of diabetes either. Remember before taking metformin, talk to your doctor about any questions you may have regarding the drug. Some minor side effects exist including:

  • Mild diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Upset stomach

However, most of these symptoms go away a few months after taking the pill. If symptoms persist, then it is advised to take the pill with some sort of food.


Note: The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek medical advice for any questions regarding a medical condition or changes in your treatment.


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