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What is Metformin?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 17, 2024
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Metformin is a medication that is utilized by people with Type 2 diabetes to maintain healthy blood glucose levels. When taken at strategic times during the day, the drug helps to support the body’s use of carbohydrates in a manner that minimizes blood sugar spikes. When used in conjunction with a sensible diet and regular exercise, this medication can allow diabetics to enjoy many more years of good health without the damage to various body organs that normally result from constantly having high blood glucose levels.

The medication is available as part of a number of different formulas, such as Glipizide and Glyburide, or may be obtained as a stand-alone medication for treating diabetes. One of the more common trade names for the drug in a number of countries is Glucophage. A number of drug companies produce generic products that are marketed simply as metformin, with the cost of the generic versions being considerably less than the name brands.

Metformin helps to minimize blood sugar spikes by blocking the release of glucose in the liver. This means that less glucose enters the bloodstream and is unable to result in the undesirable effects that higher blood sugar has on the function of the eyes, heart, and lungs. In addition, metformin is also helpful in increasing the sensitivity of the body to the insulin that is produced by the body, allowing the individual to obtain greater benefits from that limited amount of insulin release. The end result is that people who are prone to blood sugar spikes are less likely to experience levels outside a safe range, either in terms of high blood sugar or sudden drops that are below normal limits.

While a typical daily dose of metformin is 500 mg, some patients may require additional doses throughout the day. Many doctors recommend that the medication be taken with the largest meal of the day, while others recommend taking 500 mg at breakfast and another 500 mg with the evening meal. The frequency and amount of the dosage will vary, based on the current condition of the patient, and how well he or she responds to the each individual dose.

While metformin alone is an effective medication for many diabetics, it is sometimes combined with other medicines in order to produce the desired result. For example, drug products containing both metformin and sitagliptin may be necessary if metformin used along with a low carbohydrate diet and regular exercise is not sufficient to control blood glucose levels. In any of its forms, metformin represents a first line of defense for people needing assistance with controlling blood sugar, providing results that are far superior to medications used in past decades.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum , Writer
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including WiseGEEK, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Malcolm Tatum

Malcolm Tatum


Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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