Metformin - a tool for a longer, healthier life. Next Health discusses its potential benefits and impact in well-being. Contact us for more information.
Written by Next Health CEO & Founder, Dr. Darshan Shah
If you haven’t heard of Metformin, also known as glucophage or metformin hydrochloride, yet, chances are you soon will. It’s one of the biggest little secrets of celebrities and billionaires who are looking to extend their lives indefinitely.
Metformin use has actually been around for decades as a safe, effective treatment of type 2 diabetes or high blood sugar levels/blood glucose levels (hypoglycemia) in the blood stream. This is compared to insulin which can treat type 1 diabetes, but Metformin is beneficial for those that have insulin resistance or insulin sensitivity. Produced from the French lilac plant, Metformin has been in use before it was a pharmaceutical as an herbal remedy for frequent urination, measles, worms, among many other conditions. It is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help fight aging compared to other brand name products.
Recently, Metformin has seen a surge of buzz around the burgeoning field of longevity science. Numerous studies, mostly on diabetics, have shown that people taking Metformin through their healthcare tend to have less heart attacks, heart failure, cancer diagnoses, and also seem to stave off dementia and Alzheimer’s. In addition, people seem to live longer and put off most age-related diseases for years compared to people not on the drug. The drug interaction of Metformin seems to work to not only increase lifespan with proper dosing, but to increase your health span, which is arguably more important.
How does it work? The effects of metformin have been shown to increase the production of mTOR and AMPK, both of which promote youthful function inside the cell, promote fat utilization, and decrease sugar storage. Cellular AMPK levels decline with aging, which biologically leads to some of the cellular signs of aging such as the inability to repair damaged DNA. Considering the overwhelming evidence, The FDA has now approved the first longevity study ever, called TAME (Targeting Aging with Metformin), which aims to eventually prove these benefits over the long term.
Like any prescription drug, Metformin does have some side effects and adverse effects in some people, such as low blood sugar and gastrointestinal disturbances (diarrhea, nausea, gas). There is potentially an increased risk of lactic acidosis (symptoms include tiredness, muscle pain, breathing difficulty, slow heart rate), is talked about in the literature but several large studies have debunked the association of Metformin with this condition. A good disclaimer is that people with liver disease or kidney disease or kidney problems should not take Metformin. To be safe, before and after (on regular intervals) taking Metformin, you should have bloodwork done to make sure you have proper live impairment and kidney function.
With billions of dollars being poured by tech titans into longevity research, we are likely to see many more breakthroughs in longevity science coming at us rapidly. Billionaires Sergey Brin, Jeff Bezos, and Mark Zuckerberg are investing in extending their healthy lifespans, sidestepping the traditional Big Pharma/FDA research pathways that could take decades. Big data, artificial intelligence and the overwhelming amount of money being invested into biotech has exponentially increased the rate of discovery in the anti-aging space.
So, where do you start? First, no amount of Metformin or medical advice from your healthcare provider will help if you don’t make healthy lifestyle changes. You must get the basics right first- 7 hours of sleep, a plant-based diet while watching your carbohydrate intake and cholesterol levels, and daily physical activity to keep obesity in check and balance weight loss and weight gain. Second, you need some objective measures of your health and cellular age. A NextHealth baseline blood panel, combined with a telomere test (a measurement of the length of the end caps of your DNA which indicate your cellular age) is a great starting point. Third, talk to our medical professionals to see if Metformin, or its known brands such as fortamet, glumetza or riomet is a good addition to your daily supplement protocol. Other than losing some weight, you may not see or feel any immediate results. But stick with it, as the long-term studies show you may help yourself live a longer, healthier life.