Metformin's Journey from Herbal Origins to Anti-aging Therapy

This is a picture of the Goat's Rue plant, which is the original source of the insulin sensitizing medicine metformin. It is also known as French lilac, not known to Hippocrates, but it has been used since the middle ages to reduce thirst and frequent urination, before these symptoms were known to be due to diabetes specifically. Once only used as a treatment for diabetes, metformin today is one of the most widely prescribed medications used in PCOS, infertility, weight loss, and to preserve cardiovascular health in those with metabolic syndrome.Studies prove that it can reduce a pre-diabetic's chance of becoming a diabetic. It is critical to realize that radical lifestyle and diet changes might do even better in early treatment of many of these conditions including diabetes and PCOS. Its chemical mechanism of action is quite complicated, but it has an effect on skeletal muscle to enhance it's uptake of glucose (sugar). Overall it leads to fat burning, decreased new production of sugar, improvements in how your liver handles fats and sugars, and decreased appetite. It also leads to shifts in the type of bacteria in the gut. These and other effects have thus led to metformin's gaining in popularity as an anti-aging treatment. Metformin can have side effects, especially GI, and thus it is not for everyone. Other issues can be that metformin can lower B12 levels, and most on it should discuss with their provider how to get adequate B12 levels or whether they need a pharmacologic boost in levels. Metformin can also interact with other medicines and that can interfere with the effectiveness, so that needs to be evaluated. Come in to Women's Health Practice if you have questions.

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