Is Metformin the Best First Way to Manage Type 2 Diabetes?

When I was first diagnosed with diabetes, I was under the impression that not being on medications was ‘the way to go.’ That it was the goal, or the challenge to meet. Some of this mindset came from my mother’s attitudes and misconceptions at managing my father’s diabetes. There was this notion that being on medications was ‘being a failure’ at managing one’s condition, or that it was a gateway drug into needing more medications and it would worsen diabetes management itself so that one ‘could never go back’ to just diet and exercise. In many cases, this is simply not true. And though I actually do not technically need Metformin, I am on it for its many benefits.

Metformin is not a risky drug. It is not an experimental drug. It is the oldest diabetes oral agent on the market. Even though Metformin was not introduced to the United States until 1996 – it has been used in many countries, worldwide, for years. First synthesized in the 1920s, Metformin is as old as the discovery of insulin! It is also the safest oral agent on the market, with the least amount of side effects, and many, many health benefits.

While Metformin may cause temporary gastric upset (which usually lasts about a week or so, and may be treated by taking the medication with a high-fiber meal), and absorption issues with Vitamin B-12 and thyroid replacement hormone (which may be adjusted) – its many benefits far outweigh its risks.

1. Metformin can give us more dietary choices: Diet and exercise alone are challenging. One has to be extremely careful with total carbohydrates consumed, starches and grains. Even fruits may need to be closely monitored. When one is on Metformin, one can enjoy more dietary choices without needing to curtail carbohydrate totals as much. Being able to enjoy a few more dietary choices means quality of life to me, as much as having healthy blood glucose levels.
2. Metformin can give the pancreas a rest: Meformin works by helping our tissues and red blood cells become more sensitive to insulin and by restricting the amount of glucose that the liver dumps into our bodies. This means that we can work with the insulin we make, without the pancreas needing to make more and more insulin. It’s a relief for the pancreas.
3. Metformin can help manage PCOS: If you have another obesity/insulin resistance related health condition, such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Metformin can help! By having less resistance to insulin, and less insulin production, Metformin can help restore regular periods. I take Metformin for my PCOS as well as my diabetes.
4. Metformin may also potentially …

5. Metformin may slow down progression onto other medications, and insulin: Now a new study shows how Metformin may be the best first time treatment for type 2 diabetes, by delaying progression and need for second or third drugs.

If you have been avoiding much needed oral agents out of fear, there’s no need. It might be an adjustment curve at first, but you’ll be glad you did. It’s a great drug, and a great time for us to strive to live the longest, healthiest life possible with type 2 diabetes.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Type2Diabetes.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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