Metformin as an Anti-Aging Treatment
You may have heard of metformin, a popular medication to treat Type 2 Diabetes. But did you know it may have anti-aging benefits too?
A number of studies are now underway regarding metformin as a longevity and anti-aging treatment. Some studies even demonstrate a benefit in terms of reduced hospitalizations and deaths from COVID in people taking metformin.
What makes metformin a great potential anti-aging and longevity medication is its safety profile. It was discovered over 100 years ago and has been used for decades in the treatment of diabetes. Thus, we know a lot about its safety, side effects and benefits.
Metformin has proven benefits in reducing blood sugar in most people, which is why it’s the mainstay of Type 2 Diabetes treatment. It may also have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. However, even in people who don’t have diabetes, metformin may have benefits in improving diabetes and prolonging one’s lifespan. Unlike many other diabetes medications, metformin doesn’t cause low blood sugar, because it improves glucose metabolism rather than directly lowering glucose.
Side Effects of Metformin
Side effects of metformin include diarrhea, stomach upset and a very low theoretical risk of lactic acidosis. People taking metformin may also notice less muscle mass gains from exercise, although not lower muscle strength.
To mitigate some of these side effects, I generally prescribe metformin SR, the long-acting version, which makes it further into the small bowel before releasing the underlying metformin medication. This seems to reduce the risk of diarrhea and stomach upset.
After several patients have started on this regimen of metformin SR, none have reported intolerable side effects.
In any event, in most patients, any side effects from metformin tend to dissipate with longer term use, and can be further prevented by starting with a low dose and increasing gradually every 3 months.