Sometimes even helpful medications have side effects that are difficult to tolerate. For example, metformin is a first-line treatment for type 2 diabetes. It even has benefits beyond blood sugar. In addition to diabetes, some studies suggest that metformin may be helpful against prostate, kidney and bladder cancer. But what can a patient do about the uncomfortable and embarrassing gas from metformin?
Do You Get Gas from Metformin?
Q. I take metformin to control blood sugar because I have type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, it produces an alarming amount of gas, bloating and bellyaches. Sometimes I have diarrhea and other times severe constipation.
I am at my wits’ end. Do you have any remedies that might work?
Remedies for Digestive Distress:
A. People often attribute their flatulence to dietary factors, but many medications can also lead to unpleasant problems with gas. Metformin is one of these.
We are sending you our Guide to Digestive Disorders in which we discuss remedies for flatulence, constipation and diarrhea. Many people report that taking fennel seed in tea or as seeds can help quiet gas.
Moreover, probiotics like Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG can sometimes be beneficial in reducing troublesome flatulence (Pace, Pace & Quartarone, Minerva Gastroenterologica e Dietologica, Dec. 2015).
Herbs That May Ease Gas from Metformin:
Ginger is a traditional treatment for a wide range of digestive maladies, including flatulence. Additionally, recent research shows that ginger may also help protect against digestive tract cancers (Prasad & Tyagi, Gastroenterology Research and Practice, online March 8, 2015).
Finally, peppermint seems to limit flatulence and diarrhea as well as abdominal pain in people with irritable bowel syndrome (Prescrire International, June 2008). As a result, you might want to try some of these herbs singly or in combination to see if they help you overcome the gas from metformin. None of them should have affect your blood sugar negatively.
What About Diarrhea or Constipation?
On another note, coconut may help against diarrhea. Many people describe using coconut macaroon cookies for this purpose. However, plain unsweetened coconut is just as effective. What’s more, it doesn’t have extra sugar that could be harmful to a person with diabetes. The Guide has a recipe for “Power Pudding” to treat constipation if that becomes troublesome.