As you know, doctors widely prescribe metformin to safely and effectively treat Type II diabetes. It lowers blood sugar and hemoglobin A1C (the long-term measure of blood glucose control). Additionally, metformin lowers the risk of diabetic complications in the eyes, heart, kidneys, and peripheral nerves. Studies also show the added benefits of helping to manage a healthy weight and lowering risk of cancer (including lethal pancreatic cancer).
Scientists do not, however, understand metformin’s mechanism of action. In other words, they don’t understand how metformin accomplishes these effects.
Ironically, when scientists don’t understand how a natural treatment works, the mainstream uses it as a reason to ignore overwhelming evidence that the treatment does work. But when scientists don’t understand how a drug (like metformin) works, the mainstream thinks that’s just fine.
Of course, the (bad) joke’s on them this time… as the “drug” metformin originally derives from the ancient European folk medicine remedy called French lilac. (The USDA calls it “goat’s rue” and classifies it as a noxious weed.) And it’s why metformin’s safety and effectiveness doesn’t surprise me at all.
Metformin supports gut health
The latest research shows metformin helps foster a healthy microbiome (healthy bacteria) in your gut. It also shows the importance of creating a healthy microbiome to control blood sugar.
In a new study, researchers placed newly diagnosed Type II diabetics on metformin or placebo for four months. The participants had not been previously treated for diabetes.
After four months, the metformin group showed marked benefits in their microbiome. In fact, metformin seemed to increase the growth of several bacterial species linked to improved blood sugar metabolism.
The benefits were so strong, the researchers switched members of the placebo group over to the drug six months after starting the trial. They also then began to show similar benefits.
In a second part of the study, researchers transferred fecal samples from the metformin-treated patients to mice bred to have no healthy bacteria in their gut. The mice went on to show dramatic improvements in blood sugar metabolism.
A whole new approach to blood sugar control
Textbooks tell us that the body reduces blood sugar by simply pushing sugar from the blood into the tissues, as with insulin. But clearly, there’s much more to the process.
As this study suggests, the microbiome plays a major role in regulating blood sugar. Furthermore, it suggests that metformin positively affects the GI tract before the drug, or the sugar, even enters the bloodstream. And if metformin influences healthy bacteria in the GI tract, then the benefits continue regardless of the drug’s levels in the bloodstream.
This mechanism would also explain why metformin seems to help people maintain a healthy weight by keeping sugar from being absorbed into the blood in the first place. (Just pushing sugar from the blood into the tissues would cause weight gain, not loss.)
Incredibly, metformin has been used for decades by tens of millions of people worldwide. Yet, we’re still learning more and more about its benefits, and the way it actually works safely and effectively.
By comparison, the new findings about the newer Type II diabetes drugs only reveal more problems. As I’ve said over the years, I just don’t understand the medical justification for using these newer, more expensive, dangerous Type II drugs.
Perhaps one day we’ll learn how to treat diabetes without drugs ⎯ even without metformin. As this study suggests, Type II diabetics might one day gain blood sugar control by receiving fecal transplants of living probiotics.
In the meantime, you can learn about all the natural approaches to controlling your blood sugar in my upcoming online learning protocol, Dr. Micozzi’s Integrative Protocol for Defeating Diabetes. I’m putting the finishing touches on it right now. Stay tuned — I’ll be sure to let you know when it is ready.
“Metformin alters the gut microbiome of individuals with treatment-naive type 2 diabetes, contributing to the therapeutic effects of the drug,” Nature Medicine 5/22/2017; 850-858