Metformin Could Act By Altering Gut Bacteria

| June 16, 2017

The drug metformin is the mainstay of conventional type 2 diabetes treatment and has been in clinical use for the last 60 years. Despite this, scientists still don’t have a clear understanding of how it works. But a new study shows metformin may lower blood sugar through its effects on our gut bacteria.

Researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, carried out genetic sequencing of all the gutmicrobes (the microbiome) of 22 new-onset type 2 diabetes patients. They then gave half the patients a standard daily dose of metformin and the other half a look-alike placebo. After four months, the microbiome of all patients was sequenced again, showing that metformin had substantially altered it.1

In the next part of the study, faecal samples were taken from the metformin-treated patients and transplanted into germ-free mice, which are specially bred to have no gut bacteria of their own. The result was that glucose tolerance increased in the mice receiving the transplants. This showed that changes in the microbiome were causing better blood sugar control and were not simply a result of it.

If you’re getting a “déjà vu” feeling at this point, it’s because I told you here a few months ago about a very similar study – only that time it wasn’t metformin under investigation but the red grape compound, resveratrol. And yes, resveratrol also changes the gut bacteria in ways that lead to improved blood sugar control (in mice at least).

Unfortunately, while many doctors will have heard about the new study with metformin, the earlier one involving resveratrol probably went unnoticed by most. Which is why, instead of suggesting you try a safe, natural plant compound, your doctor will probably continue to prescribe metformin – a drug that depletes your body of vital vitamin B12 and could potentiallyraise your risks of heart failure, low thyroid function, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Wishing you the best of health,

Martin Hum
PhD DHD Nutritionist
for Real Diabetes Truth

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1. Wu H, Esteve E, Tremaroli V et al. Metformin alters the gut microbiome of individuals with treatment-naive type 2 diabetes, contributing to the therapeutic effects of the drug. Nat Med. 2017 May 22 (Online ahead of print).

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Category: Diabetes Drugs

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