Sensitizers (also known as insulin sensitizers):  these are tablets that are used to treat insulin resistance.  They help the body’s cells use the insulin properly. There are 2 types of sensitizers.

  • Metformin:  

Metformin’s main function is to improve the action of insulin at the liver, and to stop the liver from producing too much glucose. Metformin also helps the body’s cells (muscle and fat cells) to use insulin better and thus helps to move sugar (glucose) out of the blood into the body’s cells lowering blood sugar levels.

Metformin does not increase the amount of insulin the body produces, and therefore hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar levels) are not common with the use of metformin.  Metformin (if used on its own) does not cause weight gain, and in fact, some patients may lose weight when using metformin.

Metformin may cause stomach upsets, and should always be taken with meals or even after meals. If you are taking metformin and you often have stomach upsets then you should speak to your doctor.

  • Thiazolidinedione:

Also known as TZDs.  TZDs work mainly on the body’s cells to help the body use the insulin better (to overcome insulin resistance). TZDs are not very commonly used oral agents in South Africa.