2265 North Clybourn Avenue    Chicago, IL 60614    P: 773.296.6700     F: 773.296.1131

Pre-diabetes Prescription Drugs

Click here for the Health Tip link.

Q: My doctor told me I need to take drugs for something he calls pre-diabetes. After reading your tips on the pharmaceutical industry, can you give me any advice on whether or not I need to take them?

A That’s a great question because it exemplifies how doctors let themselves off the hook by reaching for a prescription pad. Generally, most pre-diabetics are overweight and maybe diabetes runs in the family. You carry your weight in your midsection. Your primary exercise is lifting a fork and you do like your refined “white” carbohydrates.

Here’s what happens: Whenever we eat, our blood sugar (glucose) rises and in order to move the glucose molecule into our cells, where it’s used for energy, the pancreas, a gland safely tucked behind your intestines, produces the hormone insulin.

In pre-diabetes, this entire response system becomes fatigued. The cells receiving glucose become resistant to the insulin (insulin resistance) and the pancreas responds by going into overdrive and producing more insulin (hyperinsulinemia). In time, the system finally breaks down, blood sugar starts to rise, and the “pre-diabetes” of hyperinsulinism and insulin resistance changes to diabetes, which is high blood sugar.

The prescription drug for pre-diabetes is metformin, which works by reducing insulin resistance. Later, when you develop diabetes, a second drug is added that literally flogs your pancreas to make more insulin. When the action of these two meds starts to fail (you can only flog so much before the system collapses altogether), your doctor gives up and you start taking injections of synthetic insulin.

Pre-diabetes is considered a risk not only because it can lead to diabetes but also because it increases your risk of developing heart disease. Doctors do know that most prediabetes can be reversed without medication. What’s needed is a highly motivated patient committed to some major lifestyle changes. When your doctor looks at your health records and is reminded of all the times she said “You need to lose weight” and yet your weight steadily rises, she figures you’re not going to get religion at this stage of your life and writes you a prescription.

Hard work is indeed required. You must get your weight down to a number appropriate to your build and height. You must begin a daily exercise routine and say goodbye to sugary foods, anything containing high fructose corn syrup, and also foods that act just like sugar in your body–“white” carbohydrates prepared with refined white or wheat flour such as pasta, any non-whole grain bread, and most breakfast cereals. Eat a diet of fruits and vegetables along with lean protein and whole grains, including brown rice and oatmeal. Here’s a link that can help.

Taking metformin, which does work, is not a wrong choice, but it can lull you into a false sense of security (“Now that I’m covered with metformin. I’ll have another piece of pie.”). Most people end up steadily increasing their metformin dose until it loses effect. At that point your doctor will add another diabetes drug and then another until finally she says, “Looks like we’ve got to switch you to insulin.”

Leave a Comment


  1. Excellent site you have here but I was curious if you knew of any message
    boards that cover the same topics talked about in this article?
    I’d really love to be a part of group where I can get comments from other knowledgeable people that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Kudos!

  2. Adel says:

    My weight : 205
    High:5′ 8″
    My A1C is 6.1
    My doctor recommended to take two medformin 500 mg
    After medication my Glucose reading out of between rang 110 to117
    Can you give me any more advice and that reading are good to protect me to be diabetic ?
    Thanks

  3. Dr E says:

    Hi Adel
    People want their “pre-diabetes” to just go away. That’s a fine goal but it takes serious work. Based on your height, your ideal body weight is between 140 and 150 lbs. By giving you the Metformin (which actually helps with weight loss), your doctor figures that you are among the majority of patients who go from “pre-diabetes” to regular diabetes and he’s starting you on meds early in the game.
    If you really really want to avoid becoming a diabetic, work with a nutritionist and get your weight down to ideal level; join a health club and go several times a week. Follow your nutritionist’s guidelines and just accept the fact that you’ll be a watchdog about your eating for the rest of your life. No “going off” the diet, ever.

  4. I have been diagnosed with prediabetes. I weigh 143 amd 5ft.5 in. 86 yrs old . My Dr. wants to put me on Metformin and before I get a med I want to know what I can do to eat my way to health. I do have belly fat which as been with me even when I lose wt. My number for pre is 125. I was going to pool 5 days a week but since our pool has not had its heaters turned on it is to cool to go in I have been out of pool for 1 week. I thought I was eating right by adding green smoothies every a.m. and watching what I was eating but after 3 months my bld sugar went from 124 to 125. I am at a loss for what to do now.??

  5. Dr E says:

    Hi Mildred
    Your numbers suggested only the mildest of prediabetes and in my opinion your lifestyle choices are sufficient. Your weight is normal; your diet is excellent; you’re exercising regularly.
    I think you’ve done quite well

  6. Ken W says:

    Hi. I am 44 years old, male. 10 months ago, I weighed 285 lbs. My AC1 was 5.9. I am 6’2” I have always been heavy for about 20 years now.

    I now weigh 255 lbs. I have lost 30 pounds. I look so much better and feel better! However my AC1 has gone UP to 6.1.

    I have regularly engaged in rigorous exercise during this period of time. Sometimes I am so sore I can barely move. I rarely drink alcohol, if ever. Oh also my fasting glucose was 100. Actually I am not sore much these days because I am used to exercising.

    What’s happening?

  7. Dr E says:

    Hi Ken
    What? You expect fairness and justice?
    Keep up the exercise and healthful eating, directing yourself to additional weight loss. Try also giving up gluten. After 8 weeks of this, repeat your HbA1c

  8. Ken W says:

    Thanks for your answer. My aunt, a nurse practitioner, emailed me and said that maybe my A1C hasn’t caught up yet.

    My doctor said I am looking at it all wrong. She said I could have gone into being a full blown diabetic had I not done anything instead.

  9. Kristi Dobson says:

    Hello,
    I am following a low sugar, gluten free, vegetarian diet. I am 5 foot 4 inches and 170 pounds. I practice yoga three times a week. I have bought a fitbit and use it every day to make my 10,000 steps or more each day. Did I had I eat 98% organic food with almond milk. I am now on metphorim. I get tired of people telling me I have to stay of refined sugars. I haven’t eaten any of this for years. What to do?

  10. Dr E says:

    Hi Kristi
    The most recent research on weight loss focuses less on “what” you eat and more on “how much” you eat. Gluten free vegetarians can gain weight just like everyone else if they’re eating too much, no matter how healthful it is. I suggest getting a food scale and learn how to compute the exact number of calories in all your foods. If you limit yourself to a carefully measured 1400-1500 calories a day you should lose weight

Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, delicious and time-saving recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!

BIRTHDAY
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Health Tips

Dr. Edelberg’s Health Tips contain concise bits of advice, medical news, nutritional supplement and pharmaceutical updates, and stress relief ideas. With every Health Tip, you’ll also receive an easy, delicious, and healthful recipe.

When you sign up to receive Health Tips, you can look forward to Dr. Edelberg’s smart and very current observations arriving in your in-box weekly. They’re packed with helpful information and are often slightly irreverent. One of the most common responses to the tips is “I wish my doctor talked to me like this!”

Quick Connect

Get One Click Access to our

patient-portal

The Knowledge Base

Patient education is an integral part of our practice. Here you will find a comprehensive collection of staff articles, descriptions of therapies and nutritional supplements, information addressing your health concerns, and the latest research on nutritional supplements and alternative therapies.

Telemedicine – Now Available at WholeHealth Chicago

In order to maintain your continuity of care, WholeHealth Chicago now offers telemedicine appointments with most of our practitioners. During a telemedicine visit, you and your healthcare provider can review medical history, discuss symptoms, arrange for prescriptions, and more. When necessary, labs and diagnostic imaging can be ordered from a facility near your home, and our Natural Apothecary can ship supplements quickly to your door.

Please contact Patient Services for details and scheduling a telemedicine appointment, or to change a regular appointment to telemedicine by calling 773-296-6700.

We’re looking forward to meeting with you in our virtual consultation room soon.

Upcoming Workshops

**Adrenal Boost!
Tue, April 28, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
With Naturopath Caley Scott and Yoga Therapist Renee Zambo

Course Fee: $75.00
(Includes custom adrenal herbal tincture and a description of yoga practices you can do at home.)

Feeling Tired? Need help improving fatigue? Learn to boost your energy! Dr. Scott will teach you about herbs that support your adrenal glands to help boost your energy and adapt to stress. Renee will teach practices that restore and build energy, support daily activities, and ensure sound rest at night. More →

Recent Health Tips

  • Immune Superstar #2: Zinc

    Take zinc picolinate 50 mg daily. We’ve known for decades that the element zinc plays many significant roles in physiology, especially when it comes to the immune system. It’s also true that zinc-deficient individuals are more susceptible to a variety of diseases caused by bacteria and viruses. Zinc is a powerful player It’s involved in maintaining the protective barrier of your skin, respiratory, and gastrointestinal Read More

  • Ibuprofen And Other NSAIDs: Yes or No in the Age of Covid-19?

    The story’s familiar. You have joint aches and pains, a headache, fever, or menstrual cramps and you reach for a bottle of aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve). What these drugs have in common is that they belong to a class called NSAIDs—non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Here’s a list of them. NSAIDs are generally safe, typically effective, and inexpensive, and as a chiropractic physician when Read More

  • Coronavirus Immune Superstar #1: Vitamin D

    Take 5000 IU daily. Here’s why: • The role of vitamin D in the human body is complex, with ramifications well beyond healthy bones. One of D’s effects is to trigger your immune system into a high-alert, anti-viral state. • Low Vitamin D increases your susceptibility to viral infections, likely including Covid-19. Former CDC director Tom Frieden has publicly stated that vitamin D may protect Read More

Join our Discount Program

Member benefits include 10% off all your purchases. Low, one-time membership fee of $25 ($35 for family).

MORE INFORMATION

Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!