Glucophage (Metformin)


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Active ingredient: Metformin

Dosages: 500mg, 850mg, 1000mg

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What is Glucophage (Metformin)?

Glucophage, also known by its generic name metformin, is a medication commonly used to help manage type 2 diabetes. If you have type 2 diabetes, your body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or can’t use it properly. Insulin is a hormone that helps control your blood sugar levels.

Metformin works by:

  1. Reducing the amount of sugar your liver releases: Your liver makes and releases glucose (a type of sugar) into your blood. Metformin helps to reduce this release.
  2. Improving your body’s response to insulin: It helps your body use insulin more effectively, which helps lower your blood sugar levels.
  3. Decreasing sugar absorption: It also reduces the amount of sugar absorbed from the food you eat.

People usually take Glucophage with meals to help reduce any stomach-related side effects. Some common side effects include nausea, diarrhea, and stomach upset, but these often improve over time.

What are Glucophage used for?

Glucophage (metformin) is mainly used to help people with type 2 diabetes manage their blood sugar levels. Here are the key uses:

  1. Managing Type 2 Diabetes: The primary use of this drug is to help lower high blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. It works by reducing the amount of sugar your liver makes, helping your body use insulin better, and decreasing the amount of sugar absorbed from food.
  2. Preventing Diabetes Complications: By keeping blood sugar levels in check, it helps prevent complications associated with diabetes, such as nerve damage, kidney problems, and heart disease.
  3. Weight Management: Some doctors may prescribe this medicine to help with weight loss in people who are overweight and have type 2 diabetes or prediabetes. It helps by improving insulin sensitivity, which can make it easier to lose weight.
  4. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): In some cases, it is used to treat PCOS, a condition that affects women and can cause irregular periods, infertility, and other health issues. Metformin can help regulate menstrual cycles and improve insulin resistance, which is often linked to PCOS.

What is the best time to take Glucophage?

The best time to take Glucophage (metformin) can depend on your specific needs and your doctor’s advice. Here are some general guidelines:

  1. With Meals: This medicine is often taken with meals to reduce the chances of stomach upset. It can help prevent nausea, diarrhea, and other digestive side effects when taken with food.
  2. Once or Twice a Day: Depending on your dosage, you might need to take the pill once or twice a day. Your doctor will let you know the best schedule for you.
  3. Evening Dose: Many people are advised to take Glucophage in the evening, especially if they are on a once-daily dose. Taking it at night can be particularly beneficial because it helps control blood sugar levels during sleep, when the liver is most active in producing glucose.

Why should Glucophage be taken at night?

Taking Glucophage at night can help with several things:

  • Better Blood Sugar Control: It helps keep your blood sugar levels stable overnight and in the morning.
  • Reduced Side Effects: Taking it with your evening meal or right before bed can lessen digestive side effects like nausea and stomach upset.
  • Convenience: It can be easier to remember to take your medication as part of your bedtime routine.

Do you gain or lose weight on Glucophage?

Glucophage (metformin) can affect your weight, but it usually helps people lose weight rather than gain it. Here’s how it works:

  1. Weight Loss: Many people experience some weight loss. This is because this anti-diabetic drug helps your body use insulin more effectively, which can reduce your appetite and help your body burn fat more efficiently.
  2. Stable Weight: For some, it helps maintain a stable weight. It doesn’t usually cause weight gain, which makes it a good choice for people who need to manage their blood sugar without gaining extra pounds.
  3. Healthy Lifestyle: The best results with this drug often come when it’s combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise. Eating balanced meals and staying active can enhance the weight loss effects of the medication.

What are the benefits of Glucophage?

Glucophage (metformin) offers several important benefits, especially for people with type 2 diabetes. Here are the main advantages:

  1. Lowers Blood Sugar Levels: It helps reduce high blood sugar, which is essential for managing type 2 diabetes. It helps your body respond better to insulin and decreases the amount of sugar your liver releases into your blood.
  2. Prevents Diabetes Complications: By controlling blood sugar levels, it helps prevent serious complications like nerve damage, kidney problems, and heart disease that are often linked with diabetes.
  3. Supports Weight Management: Many people find that it helps them lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. This is because it can reduce your appetite and improve how your body uses insulin.
  4. Improves Insulin Sensitivity: It makes your body more sensitive to insulin, which helps lower blood sugar levels and reduces the risk of insulin resistance, a condition where your body doesn’t use insulin properly.
  5. Treats Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): For some women with PCOS, this means can help regulate menstrual cycles, improve fertility, and reduce symptoms by addressing insulin resistance.
  6. Easy to Use: It is usually taken in pill form, which makes it easy to incorporate into your daily routine. It can be taken with meals to minimize side effects.

What are the side effects of Glucophage?

Like all medications, Glucophage (metformin) can cause side effects. While many people take it without any problems, some might experience side effects, especially when they first start taking it. Here are the most common ones:

  1. Stomach Upset: This includes symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain. Taking this drug with meals can help reduce these effects.
  2. Loss of Appetite: Some people may feel less hungry, which can be a side effect.
  3. Metallic Taste: A few people report having a metallic taste in their mouth.

These side effects are usually mild and often go away after your body gets used to the medication. However, there are some rare but more serious side effects to be aware of:

  1. Lactic Acidosis: This is a rare but serious condition where lactic acid builds up in the blood. Symptoms include feeling very weak or tired, having trouble breathing, unusual muscle pain, stomach pain, dizziness, and feeling cold. If you experience these symptoms, seek medical help immediately.
  2. Low Vitamin B12 Levels: Long-term use of Glucophage can reduce the levels of vitamin B12 in your body. Your doctor may check your B12 levels and recommend supplements if needed.

Who should not take Glucophage?

Glucophage (metformin) is not suitable for everyone. You should not take it if you:

  1. Have Kidney Problems: Severe kidney disease or poor kidney function.
  2. Have Liver Problems: Severe liver disease.
  3. Are Allergic: To metformin or any ingredients in Glucophage.
  4. Have Severe Illnesses: Serious infections, dehydration, or severe illnesses.
  5. Are Having Certain Medical Procedures: Surgery or tests with contrast dye.
  6. Have Certain Heart Conditions: Recent heart attack or heart failure.

What drugs cannot be taken with metformin?

Certain drugs can interact with metformin. Here are some to be careful with:

  1. Other Diabetes Medications: May cause blood sugar to drop too low.
  2. Diuretics (Water Pills): Can increase the risk of kidney problems.
  3. Steroids: Can raise blood sugar levels.
  4. Blood Pressure Medications: Some can affect metformin’s effectiveness.
  5. Heart Medications: Certain drugs can interfere with blood sugar control.
  6. Contrast Dye: Used in imaging tests, can cause kidney issues.
  7. Alcohol: Increases the risk of a serious side effect called lactic acidosis.

Can a non-diabetic take Metformin to lose weight?

Metformin is primarily used to treat type 2 diabetes, but sometimes doctors prescribe it to help with weight loss, even for people who do not have diabetes. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Off-Label Use: Using metformin for weight loss in non-diabetics is considered an “off-label” use, meaning it’s not the primary purpose of the medication.
  2. How It Works: This substance can help reduce appetite and improve how your body processes insulin, which might help with weight loss.
  3. Doctor’s Supervision: It’s important to only take metformin for weight loss under a doctor’s supervision. They can monitor for side effects and ensure it’s safe for you.
  4. Side Effects: Even if you are not diabetic, you can still experience side effects like stomach upset, nausea, and diarrhea.
  5. Not a Magic Pill: It should be part of a larger weight loss plan, including a healthy diet and regular exercise. It’s not a standalone solution for weight loss.

Where to get more info about Glucophage (Metformin)?

Get more info about the drug here.

Disclaimer: This document does not cover all information about this medication and should not be used as a substitute for the medication guide, a consultation with a pharmacist, or advice from your healthcare provider. For the full medication guide, more detailed information, or any further questions, please contact your pharmacist or healthcare provider directly. It is essential to follow their advice and the official medication guide to ensure the medication is used safely and effectively. Always talk to your healthcare provider before making any changes to your medication regimen and report any unexpected side effects or concerns immediately. Your pharmacist and healthcare provider are the best resources for information and support regarding your health and medications.

By Linda A. Martinez, PhD
Reviewed by Mike Alex, Physician
Last Update: June 17, 2024