About Metformin

Uses of this medication—and cautions.
Galega officinalis, known as Goat's Rue, growing in the wild.

Metformin’s herbal precursor, Galega officinalis, was used in Europe hundreds of years ago for various health conditions. But it wasn’t until the early twentieth century that a scientist discovered the blood sugar–lowering effect of one of its components.

Uses for Metformin

  • Main Use

    Not a treatment for Type 1 diabetes, metformin is the most prescribed Type 2 diabetes drug for those whose blood sugar is not being controlled by exercise and diet.

  • Off-Label Uses

    Physicians prescribe metformin for conditions that are not part of its FDA approval, including gestational diabetes, prediabetes, PCOS, and weight gain from antipsychotic drugs.

  • Potential Uses

    Ongoing investigations are studying metformin to determine whether it may lower the risk of cancer, dementia, and stroke in Type 2 diabetes patients. Other studies are looking at ways metformin may slow the aging process, prevent diseases of aging, and increase life expectancy.

    A study of more than 1,000 overweight individuals with COVID 19 showed “dramatic benefits when they were treated with metformin,” according to Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, a board-certified internist and recognized expert in chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.

    In addition to decreasing risk of hospitalization and death, the benefits included decreased risk of developing long COVID.

    Dr. Teitelbaum also notes metformin’s contributions to increased energy and quality of life in chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.


Diarrhea is the most reported side effect of metformin, according to a study cited by DrugWatch.com, followed by nausea and vomiting, flatulence, and indigestion.

Although it is generally recognized as having a good safety profile, metformin does carry an FDA “black box” warning for lactic acidosis, a serious side effect that can lead to death.

It is important that anyone taking this drug be closely monitored by their physician.

Metformin should not be taken by anyone with impaired kidney function or diabetic ketoacidosis.

Click to See Our Sources

“Is metformin a wonder drug?” by R.H. Shmerling, Harvard Health Publishing, 9/28/21

“Metformin,” www.DrugWatch.com

“Metformin may prevent long COVID & reduce CFS/fibromyalgia flareups caused by COVID” by J. Teitelbaum, "Vitality 101 with Dr. T"


Nan Fornal

Nan Fornal has experience with fiction, nonfiction, and technical publications, working closely with book and magazine publishers from from first edit to final proofing. She has worked with Exeter Press, Boston magazine, and self-publishers alike.