Q. I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes a few years ago and my doctor started me on metformin. At first it caused horrible diarrhea. Taking the drug with food lessened that problem a bit.
Now I find that the constant burning in my throat and chest is unbearable. Even the Nexium I take doesn’t help.
My short-term memory is deteriorating. Could metformin be responsible? Are there any natural approaches that might help with my blood sugar control and my heartburn?
A. Metformin is a very useful medication to control blood sugar in type 2 diabetes. Gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, flatulence or indigestion are fairly common side effects. They usually fade after several months of use, so if your heartburn has just started you should contact your doctor promptly.
Metformin and Nexium (esomeprazole) can interfere with the absorption of vitamin B12. Over time, the level of this vitamin could become low enough to affect memory. Ask your doctor to check your B12 level so that you will know if you should take a supplement.
We discuss these issues and many others in Best Choices From The People’s Pharmacy (in libraries or online at www.peoplespharmacy.com). We also discuss special diets and natural approaches to blood sugar control such as cinnamon, vinegar, oolong tea and herbs like bitter melon, fenugreek, nopal, stevia and Gymnema sylvestre. The book also contains many recommendations for natural ways to relieve heartburn, and will help you to work with your doctor to get your blood sugar under control.