Written by Dr.Albana Greca Sejdini, Md, MMedSc
Medically reviewed by Dr.Ruden Cakoni, MD, Endocrinologist
What's behind the Metformin Insulin Resistance link? What is the effect of metformin in insulin resistance? How does metformin work to ameliorate the situation?
Metformin is the most popularly used diabetic medication worldwide. If you have diabetes type 2, or if you are a pre-diabetic, the American Diabetes Association recommends metformin to treat your condition.
There are 3 ways through which Metformin (its trademark underGlucophage) regulates your blood glucose levels:
2. decreases the amount of glucose absorbed into your body from food,
3. and finally, metformin activates insulin receptors found in your muscle and fat cells, thus increases transport of insulin through these cells, eventually, more amounts of glucose will be removed from your blood stream.
As metformin does not force your pancreas to produce more amounts of insulin, it is really less common to have serious hypoglycemia with metformin than many other diabetes drugs.
Metformin Insulin Resistance – The effects of combined therapy?
The Diabetes Prevention Program has studied the effect of metformin whencombined with proper diet and regular physical exercise on the prevention of diabetes type 2 onset while diagnosed with Insulin Resistance.
The results were amazing: metformin has successfully reduced the development of diabetes type 2 by thirty one percent.
Though metformin is a fairly safe diabetic drug, you might suffer from some side effects after using it, including nausea, diarrhea and headaches; most people tolerate these side effects easily.
What other effects does metformin have?
There are many reports suggesting a link between metformin and weight loss. Unfortunately, till now this link is still mixed and unclear; it is not completely known whether metformin is causing weight loss in individuals with diabetes type 2 or not.
But under all circumstances, individuals taking metformin don’t suffer from weight gain, which is a common problem with other diabetic drugs. However, scientists are not sure from the influence of metformin on weight for individuals who aren’t diabetics.
Occasionally, your doctor might prescribe metformin for treatment of other conditions, like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) in women.
Plus, metformin can be used to treat a condition called HIV lipodystrophy, which involves abnormal fat areas in the body of AIDS or HIV patients.
It is also claimed that metformin can reduce the levels of TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) in people suffering from under-active thyroid function or Hashimoto's thyroiditis, but at the same time, it doesn’t affect the levels of thyroid hormone itself.
This should be kept in mind when monitoring TSH in people taking metformin.
How long after initiating Metformin therapy I will get these results?
Usually, one drug takes up to 2 weeks to show the desired effects. However, when using Metformin within few days you'll have the desired results that will last for much more longer compared to other drugs.
Metformin Insulin resistance – the side effects
The most common side effects of Metformin are:
Gastro-intestinal: diarrhea, gas, nausea, difficulty in digestion, discomfort in your stomach,
General: fatigue, headaches, chest pain and signs of allergic reactions (in cases of hypersensitivity),
Lactic acidosis (weakness, muscular pain, problems in breathing, feeling cold, and irregular heartbeat),
Signs of high or low blood sugar levels.
Metformin Insulin Resistance - alternatives
Fortunately, if you experienced serious side effects when using metformin, your doctor can prescribe other alternatives as substitutes as following:
Changing your lifestyle habits (eating healthy foods, losing weight, being physically active),
Taking other oral medication for diabetes (including sulfonylureas, meglitinides, thiazolidinediones, alpha glucosidase inhibitors, dipeptidyl peptidase inhibitors, ergot alkaloids, or combination drugs),
Insulin or other injectable diabetes medications, like incretin mimetics, or amylin analogues are some other preferred choices.
Metformin Insulin Resistance