Medicines for diabetes: know the main options

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Injectable insulin, oral medications and medicinal plants: learn about the alternatives for treating the disease

You diabetes medicine help control blood sugar levels when other measures in the treatment of the disease, such as diet and physical exercise, are not enough to normalize blood glucose. They are essential to prevent the evolution and complications in different types of diabetes mellitus.

Medications may vary for type 1 and type 2 diabetes. In addition, only an endocrinologist can indicate what is the best medicine for diabetes for each patient, taking into account disease severity and clinical history.

The following are the main options for diabetes drugs, their indications and characteristics:

Remedies for type 1 diabetes

Treatment for type 1 diabetes should be based on insulin replacement, as it is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system destroys the cells that produce this hormone. Therefore, the main medicine to lower diabetes type 1 is, precisely, the application of injectable insulin.

According to Pedro Saddi, endocrinologist at Fleury Medicina e Saúde, there are two types of insulin that can be used in the treatment of diabetes 1: slow insulin, for periods of fasting, and fast insulin, for meals. The main examples of the two types of insulin are:

  • Fast-acting insulin: Regular, Asparte, Lispro, Glulisine;

  • Slow insulin: NPH, Detemir, Glargine.

Know more: How to apply insulin correctly?

Remedies for type 2 diabetes

Between the medicines to control diabetes type 2, the most used are oral hypoglycemic or antidiabetic drugs. In some cases, injectable insulin may also be used. “This choice will be made by the doctor according to the characteristics and preferences of the patient”, explains endocrinologist Pedro Saddi.

However, the professional points out that, although insulin can be prescribed for both types of diabetes, most drugs available for type 2 are not suitable for type 1.

Next, get to know what types of medicine for diabetes type 2 are most commonly used today:

  • Biguanides: act as insulin sensitizers, increasing the body’s response to the hormone. Example: Metformin, Glyphage and Glyphage XR;

  • Sulphonylureas: Stimulate the pancreas to produce more insulin. Example: Glibenclamide, Glimepiride, Glipizide and Gliclazide;

  • Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors: slow the absorption of glucose from the intestine. Example: Acarbose, Miglitol;

  • DPP-4 Inhibitors: Lower glucose after meals. Example: Saxagliptin, Sitagliptin and Linagliptin;

  • GLP-1 receptor agonists: Increase insulin release, lowering glucose. Example: Exenatide and Liraglutide.

Read more: Type 1 and 2 diabetes: do you know the difference?

Diabetes drug for weight loss: is it safe?

Some medications used to treat diabetes can help you lose weight, depending on how they work in your body. As a result, many people became interested in using diabetes remedies for weight loss. But is this really safe?

According to Pedro Saddi, there are medications that were originally approved for the treatment of diabetes mellitus and, later, were studied and approved for weight loss. This is the case for liraglutide and semaglutide.

Both are from the class of GLP1 agonists, that is, they act by imitating a substance produced in the body that generates a feeling of satiety. Therefore, patients who use these drugs feel satisfied more quickly and end up eating little.

Know more: Weight loss remedy: the most used to lose weight

Therefore, these medicines for diabetes favor weight loss. “These are safe and effective medications and should be used in accordance with the package leaflet approval”, emphasizes the endocrinologist.

Liraglutide has been authorized by the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) for use in the treatment of obesity, in a different dosage from the use for diabetes, since 2016. regulatory agency in the United States, is still awaiting approval by Anvisa.

Home remedy for diabetes: which options work?

In addition to conventional medicines, some plants and herbs can serve as a complementary treatment for diabetes, especially type 2. This is because their properties help control blood glucose levels.

One of the options for home remedy for diabetes it’s chamomile. Studies in animals and humans have shown the effect of the plant in reducing the complications of diabetes through glycemic control. Another alternative, present in many Brazilian homes, is cinnamon, which can also improve the glycemic index in patients with type 2 diabetes.

A medicinal plant that can serve as home remedy to control diabetes is fenugreek, which has a strong effect on controlling blood sugar levels and is capable, according to studies, of increasing the production of insulin in the pancreas. Another example with the same benefit is Asian ginseng.

Read more: Fruits for people with diabetes

Finally, turmeric is also an option for those who want to bet on a complementary home treatment. The root has a strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antibacterial effect, being widely used in the treatment and prevention of various diseases, including diabetes.

To include these plants, roots and herbs in the routine, one idea is to make teas using these ingredients. The preparation of fruit juices that help regulate blood glucose is also a suggestion of home treatment for diabetes. Bet on São Caetano melon, strawberry, guava, grape, kiwki and mango, for example.


Dr. Pedro Saddi, endocrinologist at Fleury Medicina e Saúde (CRM 107,742)

MSD Handbook – Drug Management of Diabetes Mellitus

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Hajizadeh-Sharafabad F, Varshosaz P, Jafari-Vayghan H, Alizadeh M, Maleki V. Chamomile (Matricaria recutita L.) and diabetes mellitus, current knowledge and the way forward: A systematic review. Complement Ther Med. 2020 Jan;48:102284. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2019.102284. Epub 2019 Dec 17. PMID: 31987240.

Content for educational purposes only. Consult a Doctor.

The translator user relied on the following source:

Minha Vida Website – REF99827

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Isenção de responsabilidade – (versão em português): Este conteúdo foi preparado com base em informações de pesquisas, publicações adicionais ou no trabalho de tradução/verificação de um editor voluntário deste conselho web. Este é um serviço sem fins lucrativos. É altamente recomendável que todos os detalhes e informações publicadas sejam verificadas cuidadosamente. Nunca permitimos recomendações de medicamentos, bulas ou qualquer orientação sobre medicamentos. Nunca permitimos a política partidária como base para checagem. Para mais informações, leia nossos termos.

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