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Natural Alternatives To Metformin

Whether your goal is to get off pharmaceutical medications or you are alarmed at the FDA recall of metformin, [1] many are looking for natural, effective alternatives.


Fortunately, there are ways that some patients can safely transition to natural, high grade supplements with similar benefits of metformin without the side effects.


an image with herbal, natural medicine with text overlay that says natural alternatives to metformin DrBrianLum.com functional medicine doctor

What Does Metformin Do?


Metformin is currently a first line therapy for type 2 diabetes and is the most prescribed blood sugar lowering medicine in the world.


It was first prescribed in Europe in the 1920s for the treatment of type 2 diabetes but it was discontinued because of its risk of causing life-threatening lactic acidosis. [2]


Metformin has been used since the 90s in the United States for a wide spectrum of blood sugar related and insulin resistance disorders as well as for off label uses like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), fertility problems, longevity and diabetes prevention.


Metformin works by decreasing the liver's ability to produce glucose (blood sugar), which decreases the intestinal absorption of glucose and increases insulin sensitivity.


Side Effects Of Metformin


Metformin has a black box warning for lactic acidosis.  This is where lactic acid accumulates in the muscles and liver and can be life-threatening. 


Though this scenario is rare, it can happen, especially in those with kidney, liver, or heart diseases. [3]


Taking metformin can cause B12 deficiency.


B12 deficiency can contribute to many conditions including memory problems and several studies show that long term use increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. [4, 5, 6]


For those patients who have neuropathy, anemia and chronic pain syndrome, and those with MTHFR genetic variants, it can be disastrous.


A long-term severe B12 deficiency has been linked with increased risk of cancer [7], heart disease, and can contribute to severe detoxification problems.


Metformin can hinder benefits of progressive resistance training including muscle hypertrophy. [8]


Lifestyle Changes To Improve Blood Sugar


Rather than swapping metformin for another pill, you can introduce lifestyle changes to drastically improve your blood sugar regulation and overall metabolic health.


Incorporating just a few small changes along with adding some nutritional support can make a world of difference.


Read How To Reverse Type II Diabetes Naturally

Alternatives To Metformin 


N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) 


NAC is considered a semi-essential amino acid, which means that it can be made in your body from other amino acids.


It is crucial for the production of glutathione which is a powerful detoxifier and antioxidant.


In women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), a condition where insulin resistance is the primary contributor to the disease, NAC was shown to be superior to metformin in improving cholesterol levels, fasting blood sugar and fasting insulin levels. [9, 10]


NAC has been shown have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that improve insulin sensitivity.


It also protects the body from cellular damage, promotes optimal liver detoxification, can protect the lungs, and thins mucous for those with allergies or respiratory congestion. [11]


Berberine 


Berberine is a plant derived chemical that is found in plants like goldenseal, goldenthread and oregon grape.


Berberine protects against atherosclerosis and has potent anti-inflammatory properties.


Its properties can reduce heart failure pathology, reduce insulin resistance, and has been shown to reduce fat mass in those with diabetes while improving cholesterol levels.[12]