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What Does Metformin Do And How Does It Work?

Posted by Avery Chernin on

What Does Metformin Do And How Does It Work?

Metformin is one of the most commonly prescribed drugs for patients with type 2 diabetes, but what exactly is Metformin?

What does it do, how does it work, and why do doctors so commonly choose it for treating diabetic patients?

In this post we'll be taking a closer look into Metformin to help further your understanding of diabetes and hopefully help inform your decision-making process.

1. Reduces insulin resistance at the cellular level

If you're not familiar with insulin resistance, you can check out our blog article about it here.

Here's a quick recap: insulin "unlocks" your cells and allows sugar to be shuttled into the cell from the bloodstream.

People with diabetes often have insulin resistance, which means that the cell doesn't unlock (or only partially unlocks) in the presence of insulin.

By reducing insulin resistance, Metformin makes it easier to get sugar from the bloodstream into the cell where it can be burned off as energy.

As a result, there is less sugar left in the blood, and blood sugar levels go down.

2. Decreases sugar absorption in the gut

All of the foods and drinks you consume eventually find their way into your intestines. It is here that many of the nutrients and sugars are absorbed into your bloodstream.

Metformin helps to reduce some of the sugar absorption in the intestines, essentially blocking it from entering your bloodstream to begin with.

3. Lowers sugar production in the liver

While much of the sugar that you have in your body comes from your diet, your body naturally produces sugar as well.

The production of this sugar occurs in the liver, and Metformin has a way of shutting down this sugar production as well.

Does Metformin Have Side Effects?

One of the reasons why Metformin is so commonly prescribed is that it tends to work quite well, and the side-effects are generally quite mild, if they exist at all.

The most common side-effects are gastro-intestinal and include:

  • Stomach pain
  • Cramps
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Nausea

While not particularly pleasant, these side effects are generally mild and tolerated very well by most people. Considering the strong positive effects of the drug, it's no wonder why it has become the go-to prescription for many patients with diabetes.

Is Is Possible To Get Off Metformin?

Fortunately, the answer is yes!

While Metformin is generally considered to be quite safe, the goal for many patients with diabetes is to get off their medications altogether.

It's a great goal, and thankfully it is achievable as well.

If you can naturally lower your blood sugar levels, then you won't have any need for drugs to artificially reduce them.

In fact many doctors will be eager to de-prescribe medications as soon as they see your A1C naturally coming down.

The main way this is done is through diet changes.

While changing your diet can take some getting used to, the results can be quite dramatic and immediate.

We actually have another blog post called The Best Diet For Diabetes that discusses the perfect diet you should follow if you're looking to lower your blood sugar levels naturally.

Closing Thoughts

Metformin is a commonly prescribed medication for those with diabetes because of its effectiveness as well as its generally mild side effects.

It is possible to get off Metformin, so long as you are taking steps to naturally lower blood sugar levels.

Doing so should only be done under supervision and direction from your doctor.

If you do decide to change your diet and try to lower your blood sugar levels naturally, you should schedule regular doctor check-ups to do bloodwork and make sure that you're on track.

This will also give your doctor an opportunity to alter the dosages of your medications as necessary.