Does Metformin Cause Hair Loss?

Does Metformin cause hair loss? This is a common question among those considering treatment using this drug. Metformin is a prescription drug to help fight the effects of Type 2 Diabetes. While proving to help alleviate the symptoms, there are some hazards to consider before starting treatment using this medication. Metformin has a Black Box Warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This is the highest warning the FDA issues. This warning is because of the potential a person has of developing lactic acidosis, which will be discussed later in this article.

Overview: What is Metformin?

Metformin is the most common drug prescribed by doctors to those suffering from Type 2 Diabetes. Given its record of performance in the drug market, it is widely thought to be one of the safest drugs. It lowers the blood sugar levels of Type 2 Diabetes sufferers and typically is the first medication prescribed to patients post-diagnosis. The origin of Metformin comes from a plant named galega officinalis, also known as “goat’s rue”. In this plant, there is a compound called guanidine that is toxic alone, but when it is coupled with another guanidine compound, it is great for controlling blood sugar.

When do you need a prescription for Metformin?

Metformin is prescribed when a person’s body does not use insulin normally, causing them to be unable to control the amount of sugar in their blood. Metformin is in a class of drugs known as biguanides. This drug helps those with Type 2 Diabetes decrease the amount of glucose that is absorbed by food and limits the amount of glucose created by the liver. Metformin can either be taken as a liquid, tablet or as an extended-release tablet. Typically, your doctor will tell you to take this medication with meals once or twice a day. You should always take the exact amount as prescribed by your doctor, never take more or less than this dosage, even if you begin to feel better.

Metformin Common Side Effects

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Heartburn
  • Gas

Metformin Life-Threatening Side Effects

  • Lactic acidosis
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Abnormal muscle pain
  • Trouble breathing
  • Abnormal sleepiness
  • Stomach pain, nausea or vomiting
  • Slow or irregular heart rate
  • Low blood sugar
  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Shaking or feeling jitters
  • Sweating
  • Hunger
  • Fast heart rate
  • Dizziness

If you experience any of the life-threatening side effects, contact 911.

Does Metformin cause hair loss?

A major concern among people taking Metformin is hair loss. Losing your hair can be more damaging psychologically than having diabetes. Losing hair can cause damage to your self-identity as well as give you the perception that you are less desirable to others. People might also make predeterminations about you that are not realistic and think there is something wrong with you.

Below are some symptoms of hair loss you should be aware of:

  • Gradual thinning on top of the head
  • Receding hairline
  • Circular or patchy bald spots
  • Hair is suddenly looser
  • Scaly patches that develop over the scalp
  • Horseshoe-shaped pattern of hair that leaves the crown of your head exposed

Why Does Metformin cause hair loss?

Metformin causes hair loss because of its effect on the patient’s body to properly use a couple of vital nutrients. These are Vitamin B9 and Enzyme Q10. Vitamin B9, better known as folic acid, is a crucial vitamin for brain function. It works with other vitamins like B12 to produce RBCs and maintains the function of iron in the body. Enzyme Q10 occurs naturally in the body and the majority of people have enough of it occurring in their body naturally. Yet those who have Type 2 Diabetes and are taking Metformin will have a deficiency of these two vitamins and this will cause hair loss.

Alternatives to Metformin

There are many alternatives on the market today to Metformin that serve the same or a similar function. Below are a list of the drugs that could be a suitable replacement to Metaformin:

  • Actos (pioglitazone)
  • This medication lowers blood sugar effectively, but is not a preferred choice for patients because of the number of side effects that occur when taking it. This medication takes several weeks to lower blood sugar as well as causing weight gain. Another side effect is that it increases the risk of bone fractures.
  • Prandin (repaglinide)
  • This medication quickly lowers blood sugar during the times it spikes (during meals). This medicine may cause hypoglycemia if your diet and exercise are not consistent.
  • Precose (acarbose)
  • This medication has to be taken three times per day and when taken by itself, it does not drop blood sugar levels too low. This medication is not as effective as other medications in lowering blood sugar and is also more expensive than other medications.
  • Januvia (sitagliptin)
  • This medication utilizes the natural hormones produced by your body to manipulate how sugar is produced. Patients have reported cold-like symptoms and in more serious cases, pancreatitis and severe joint pain.
  • Invokana (canagliflozin)
  • This medication only needs to be taken once per day before a meal. However, as it is a brand name, it can be expensive. This medication is not for people who have severe kidney problems. It can also raise your cholesterol. There is also a rare risk of leg and foot amputation due to this medication.
  • Victoza (liraglutide)
  • This medicine is in the form of a once-a-day injectable to help you manage your diabetes, but it can be expensive. Contrary to other medications, this has to be injected every day.
  • Lantus (insulin glargine)
  • This is a long-acting insulin that controls your blood sugar all day. However, it may cause low blood sugar levels.

You may also gain about 4-6 pounds from taking this medication.

There are also holistic methods of treating Type 2 Diabetes if taking Metformin or these alternatives isn’t appropriate for you. The list of herbal replacements includes:

  • Bitter Melon

Bitter melon has a track record of helping those that suffer with diabetes. While the results have not been tracked and are largely mixed, two small studies in 2002 suggested that people experienced lower levels of blood sugar.

  • Berberine

Berberine is a chemical derived from several plants. These are goldenseal, goldenthread, and tree turmeric. In a research study conducted during October 2012, the combination of berberine with a healthy diet and exercise showed a decrease in blood sugar levels.

  • Cinnamon

Cinnamon has long been associated with natural health benefits such as heart health, lowering cancer risk, dental health, serving as an anti-inflammatory, protecting brain function and aiding patients who are fighting diabetes. Cinnamon is not an approved treatment by the FDA, but studies have shown that taking cinnamon lowered blood sugar levels in participants that took it during a set period.

  • Goat’s Rue

While Metformin contains parts of Goat’s Rue, it is man-made, and because of its chemical nature, it would not be classed as a herbal treatment. However, Goat’s Rue alone has been proven to lower blood sugar. Goat’s Rue is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration because of the harm it caused to pregnant animals during testing.

While Metformin is a viable solution if you suffer from Type 2 Diabetes, the side effects could be a major deterrent. The best solution for Type 2 Diabetes is a commitment to a healthy diet and lifestyle to eliminate the need for medication with such side effects. Consult with your doctor at the earliest sign of negative symptoms to make sure you do not have any that are life-threatening.