Metformin: The DPP study found that metformin, the safest first-line therapy for type 2 diabetes, may help delay the onset of type 2 diabetes in people with prediabetes. Participants who took the low-cost generic drug had a 31% reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to the control group (those not on metformin or intensive lifestyle intervention). Again, 15-year follow up data showed that 17% of those on metformin continued to have a significant reduction in type 2 progression. At this time, metformin (or any other medication, for that matter) is not currently FDA approved for prediabetes, and it is sometimes prescribed “off-label” by a healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider can give you more information and determine whether metformin is a good option for you.
Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors help control blood sugar levels by preventing the digestion of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates include starchy foods like potatoes and corn. They also include most grains (bread, rice, crackers, cereal) and sugary sweets. The two medicines in this group are acarbose and miglitol. These medicines may cause bloating, nausea, diarrhea, and flatulence (gas).
Qi must flow in the correct quantity and quality through the meridians and organs for health to be maintained. Acupuncture, the insertion of thin, solid metal needles, is performed on 1 or more of the 361 acupuncture points distributed along the meridians in order to regulate and promote the proper flow of Qi.5 Other techniques may be used to stimulate acupuncture points, such as moxibustion, in which the herb “moxa” (Artemesia vulgaris) is used to warm the acupuncture point either above or on the skin. Applied pressure (acupressure), lasers, and magnets also may be used to stimulate acupuncture points.
Because the drugs listed above act in different ways to lower blood glucose levels, they may be used together. For example, a biguanide and a sulfonylurea may be used together. Many combinations can be used. Though taking more than one drug can be more costly and can increase the risk of side effects, combining oral medications can improve blood glucose control when taking only a single pill does not have the desired effects. Switching from one single pill to another is not as effective as adding another type of diabetes medicine.
Researcher Qizhi Tang, PhD, at the University of California, San Francisco, is studying the changes induced in beta cells by the shortage of oxygen and nutrients. Stem cell-derived islets have a low survival rate in the first few days after transplant due to the lack of adequate oxygen and nutrient supplies. However, the American Diabetes Association states, “Evidence suggests that beta cells can be trained to survive oxygen and nutrient shortages that they are exposed to before and after transplantation.”