By Dr Al Sears Integrative Medicine Practitioner/Anti-Aging Researcher
Metformin has become a really trendy drug in the anti-aging community. A lot of my anti-aging colleagues prescribe it and take it themselves. They call it a “wonder drug.”
In fact, they’re absolutely shocked when they find out I don’t take it.
These are people I respect and usually see eye-to-eye with. But they’re missing something important when it comes to metformin. (You might know it as Glucophage.)
For a drug that’s considered the biggest new thing in anti-aging medicine, it’s actually causing some of the worst conditions associated with aging.
A new study shows that using metformin over many years increases the risk of dementia.1 Chinese researchers followed 9,300 diabetics for up to 12 years. Half the patients were taking metformin. The results showed that people on the drug had more than double the risk of Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s.
Compared to non-users, metformin increased:
- Parkinson’s rates by 127%
- Alzheimer’s dementia rates by 113%
- Vascular dementia by 130%
And the risk went up the longer the patients took the drug and the higher their dose…
People who took the highest doses had a 254% higher rate of Parkinson’s compared to the controls. For people who took the drug for more than 400 days, rates of Parkinson’s were a whopping 349% higher!
But the biggest problem is that metformin increases deadly cardiac events like heart attack and stroke. It’s a tragic irony… because heart attacks and strokes are what kills people with diabetes. They’re the top two causes of death for diabetics.
And yet “diabetes experts” recommend diabetics eat a low-fat diet. It’s insanity! Studies have shown that people who eat more fat — not less — significantly reduce their risk of heart disease.2
What they should be recommending is a low GI diet. That’s the Glycemic Index.
Foods that are high on the GI cause your blood sugar to spike. Elevated blood sugar levels damage your blood vessels. And the foods most likely to cause these spikes are starches — especially grains. Even “whole grains.”
Here’s what I need you to understand…
When you eat foods that spike your blood sugar, a wave of insulin floods your body. Insulin then triggers your liver to produce more triglycerides and body fat. When this happens repeatedly, your body gets stuck on a program of making and storing fat. It leads to diabetes.
How much insulin do you secrete in response to fat in the diet? Zero. Starches trigger insulin.
It’s important to control your blood sugar. But if you don’t eat the right diet, nothing else you do is going to help. It’s like inviting an elephant onto a life raft. You’re going to sink.
Choose foods that are low on the Glycemic Index. See my GI chart here.
Once you have your diet under control, you can supplement with herbs that help regulate blood sugar. Here are three that I recommend to my patients…
3 Powerful Herbs That Balance Blood Sugar
1. Purslane. Chinese medicine has been using this herb for thousands of years as a natural remedy for diabetes. In a study of 30 diabetics, half took 1,500 mg per day of metformin. The other half ate five grams of purslane seeds twice a day. After eight weeks, purslane reduced triglycerides, blood sugar levels, insulin and weight just as well as metformin.3
Use purslane leaves in place of spinach in your recipes. Or add a handful to pesto, salads or sandwiches. You can also find organic purslane seeds on the Internet. Add 5 to 10 grams per day to yogurt, salads or smoothies.
2. Berberine. A Chinese study of 84 patients with diabetes found that berberine lowered blood sugar levels just as well as metformin. After only one week, berberine lowered both fasting and post-meal blood glucose levels. In addition, their fasting plasma insulin, insulin resistance, triglycerides and hemoglobin A1C all dropped significantly.4
Another review of 14 other studies involving 1,068 participants found berberine performed just as well as metformin. It was also just as good as glipizide and rosiglitazone, two other top diabetes drugs.5 In one study, diabetics who took 1,000 mg of berberine per day lowered fasting blood sugar levels by more than 20%, from diabetic to normal levels.6
You can find berberine in your health food store or online. It’s also sold under the names “Goldenseal Root” or “Oregon Grape.” I recommend taking one 500 mg capsule two to three times a day with food.
3. Grape Seed. Animal research shows that antioxidants in grape seeds reduce blood sugar and insulin levels just as well as metformin.7 At the same time, it protects your heart.
Grape seed extract comes in capsules, tablets and liquids. It’s widely available at health food stores and on the Internet. To balance blood sugar, I recommend taking 150 to 250 mg per day.