What can you do if you don't want to take metformin or can't tolerate its unpleasant side effects?
Actually, there are a number of things you can do that should be equally effective, but don't have any side effects.
Several medical research studies have shown that just changing your diet and lifestyle can be just as effective as taken metformin.
For example, the Universidade de São Paulo in Brazil studied 40 women who had PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome).(1) Fifteen women took metformin for six months and 12 just improved their lifestyle.
At the end of six months, the results were virtually the same for both groups. About 67% in each group had improvements in their menstrual cycle. Both groups had smaller waists and lost weight.
Of course, taking drugs to manage your PCOS symptoms and improving your lifestyle are not mutually exclusive! So you're into taking drugs, you can do both!
OK, so maybe you're wondering what a "lifestyle" consists of.
For starters, it consists of a diet especially designed to rebalance your hormones, increased exercise, better management of chronic stress, and getting enough sleep.
There are several compelling reasons why you should consider a more "holistic" approach using physical activity, healthy diet, stress management, and special nutrients.
The role of healthy diet, exercise and stress management is extensively described in The Natural Diet Solution to PCOS and Infertility e-book. Studies have shown that these inexpensive measures are as effective as metformin -- and, they obviously have no side effects.
If you improve your diet and increase your level of exercise, you may be able to reduce or even eliminate your Glucophage therapy.
According to recently published results from the Diabetes Prevention Program, exercise and diet changes are more effective than metformin in preventing diabetes.(5) This study divided 3,234 non-diabetics with elevated blood glucose into 3 groups. One group was given metformin but no diet or lifestyle education and support. The second group was given only diet and lifestyle education and support (no metformin). The third group received a placebo and no diet or lifestyle support.
After 2.8 years in the study, the incidence of diabetes in the placebo group was 11 per 100 people. In the metformin group, the incidence was only 7.8 per 100 people.
But the diet/lifestyle group had the best results of all: only 4.8 of every 100 developed diabetes. In other words, diet and exercise were 38% more effective than metformin in preventing diabetes in high-risk people.
Other studies have shown that reducing weight and increasing exercise improves ovulation rates and reduces male hormone levels. There's no question that healthy diet, exercise and lifestyle habits will significantly improve PCOS-related health problems, as well as reduce the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
There are herbs, vitamins and minerals, and other specialty natural foods and supplements that have effects similar to Glucophage. These nutrients have an excellent safety record and are a valuable complement to regular exercise and healthy diet.
Berberine is a natural herbal product that has been shown to be as effective as metformin and appears to be quite effective in reducing problems associated with polycystic ovary syndrome. Find out more about the benefits of berberine here.
Erciyes University in Turkey has reported that NAC was equally effective as metformin for reducing the symptoms of PCOS.
NAC is an amino acid that is available as a nutritional supplement.
In this study, 100 women with PCOS were evaluated for six months. One group took 500 mg. of metformin 3 times a day. The other group took 600 mg of NAC 3 times a day. And guess what? The researchers reported that there was almost no difference between NAC and metformin. Both groups of women had improvement in testosterone reduction, improvement of hirsutism, insulin normalization, and normalization of cycles.
Inositol is member of the B-vitamin group. There is some evidence to indicate that women who have PCOS have some difficulty in metabolizing and utilizing this nutrient. Research has shown that supplementing with this vitamin has a very significant effect in reducing symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome.(36)
There are 3 forms of this vitamin that can be helpful: myo-inositol, d-pinitol and d-chiro inositol. These nutrients help you to normalize insulin, reduce testosterone levels, and have a more regular cycle.
The d-pinitol formula is an excellent candidate as an alternative or complement to metformin. It contains a combination of d-pinitol, vitamin D, and chromium, all of which work to improve insulin performance and help to bring your hormones back into balance.
As a first step, you can protect yourself from the possible side effects of metformin (such as GI malabsorption and increased homocysteine) by taking a high-quality B-complex vitamin.
Blood sugar levels, insulin resistance, and male hormone levels can be favorably influenced by chromium, vitamin E, certain fish oils, magnesium, CoQ10, zinc, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), biotin, certain amino acids, and soluble fiber from particular plants.(31-35)
While on metformin, you should seriously consider taking a high-quality multiple vitamin & mineral supplement as well as extra calcium (37), magnesium and vitamin D.
Berberine may be better than metformin for reducing PCOS symptoms. Also may reduce testosterone, help ovarian function, reduce liver disease.
A frustrating aspect of PCOS is the absence of a regular cycle, which prevents pregnancy. Inositol and NAC may help.
Women with PCOS have a higher rate of poor pregnancy outcomes. NAC may reduce this risk and provide additional antioxidant protection.