If you have a large network of friends like I do you might have a friend who suffers from Type 2 Diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder in which the body does not produce the insulin needed to regulate blood sugar or the body simply ignores the insulin. This disease is most common in older people as well as those obese. Now, when we think of obese, it is not those who could lose 10-20 pounds. We are talking those who are about double the size of what you should be. Type 2 diabetes has symptoms which typically are excess thirst, frequently needing to urinate and constantly hungry. I think the first two are a vicious cycle since the more you drink, the more you go to the bathroom.
What is Metformin?
Metformin which is also known as Glucophage (glucose eater) is an antidiabetic drug used to help treat Type 2 diabetes. It is not a cure but rather a way to regulate the blood sugar level in your body. Metformin works by stopping the production of glucose (sugar) by the liver and therefore lowering the levels in your blood. Another benefit of Metformin is no association with weight gain.
Think of it, when you eat any foods or snacks, the body breaks down all of the sugars and starches into glucose. Glucose is essentially a complex sugar the body uses for energy. Glucose is the basic fuel for the cells in the body. Insulin takes the sugar from the blood into the cells for consumption. When glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, then problems arise.
What To Do With Too Much Sugar
Too much sugar in your blood causes your cholesterol to rise. As cholesterol rises, triglycerides increase, causing your blood to thicken. As your blood thickens, cholesterol builds up in the artery walls which cause your veins to start to clog. We all know what happens next: high blood pressure if you are lucky which means more medication. If you are not so lucky, heart attack or triple bypass surgery. It just doesn’t look good.
Metformin is not perfect and has some side effects. The common side effects are mild and include: upset stomach, diarrhea, cramps, nausea, vomiting and increased flatulence (not just gas, farts). The worst side effect you can get is lactic acidosis which is very rare. The body normally breaks down glucose to form water and carbon dioxide in the presence of oxygen. If oxygen isn’t present, lactate is formed (think heavy weight lifting). The lactate is released into your bloodstream making your blood more acidic which can cause stiff muscles, kidney and liver damage.
Metformin originated in a plant known as the French lilac or goats rue. Historically, this plant was used in folk medicine to treat various diseases. Once science caught up to folk medicine, Metformin was discovered along with Phenformin and Buformin. Metformin was initially found to reduce blood sugar and as it was further studied, it was found to help treat polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a condition in women where there is an imbalance in the sex hormones which causes changes in the menstrual cycle and cysts in the ovaries to name a few. Have you used Metformin for anything other than diabetes?