An In-Depth Look on Metformin’s Role in Hair Loss

An In-Depth Look on Metformin’s Role in Hair Loss

Metformin is a popular medicine for managing type 2 diabetes. It works well to keep blood sugar under control. However, some people are worried that it might cause hair loss. Is there any truth to this concern?

In this article, we’ll look into the experiences of people who think their hair is thinning because of their medication. We’ll also check what the experts and studies say about it. Whether you’ve been taking metformin for a while or just started, stick with us as we explore this topic.

What Is Metformin?

Metformin is a medication that you might be familiar with, especially if you’re managing type 2 diabetes. It’s the go-to first-line treatment to help control your blood sugar levels.

Originally derived from a French Lilac plant, metformin works by:

  • Reducing the amount of glucose your liver releases into your bloodstream.
  • Improving the sensitivity of your body’s cells to insulin, making it easier for them to take up glucose.
  • Decreasing the amount of glucose absorbed by your intestines.

Beyond its primary use, metformin is also being prescribed for its potential benefits in conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and some studies suggest it might have a role in aiding weight loss or addressing metabolic issues beyond diabetes.

It’s typically taken orally, and you might encounter it under various brand names or as a generic medication.

Your doctor will adjust the dosage according to your general health assessment, so it complies with your therapy adequately and safely. As ideal metformin might be for most people, any highlights about it or adverse reactions should be commented to a specialist.

Does Metformin Cause Hair Loss?

Does Metformin Cause Hair Loss

Metformin is commonly prescribed to manage blood sugar levels in individuals with diabetes. Concerns about hair loss are understandable, but it’s worth noting that hair thinning isn’t a recognized side effect of this medication.

Nevertheless, metformin can indirectly affect the cycle of hair growth and the general health of the hair. A study from 2016 on metformin suggests that the drug disrupts the absorption of vitamin B12 in diabetic patients. Deficits of vital nutrients, including vitamin B12, are linked to the problem of shedding a lot of hair. As a consequence, pharmacotherapy for diabetes, such as metformin, could lead to baldness and thinning hair, although the real causes would be lack of vitamins.

The Link Between Metformin and Vitamin B12 Deficiency

In an interview with Jill Crandall, MD with NIH, she highlights that your body may experience a decrease in the gut’s ability to absorb vitamin B12 when taking metformin. Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient crucial for red blood cell formation and neurological function. As metformin interferes with your gut’s absorption capabilities, you might notice symptoms related to vitamin B12 deficiency.

With long-term metformin therapy, the risk of developing a vitamin B12 deficiency could increase. Observations suggest that after extended periods on metformin, some individuals may exhibit signs that are typically associated with insufficient vitamin B12 levels.

To better understand this potential side effect, consider the findings from a large-scale study where the participants on metformin over several years showed a higher likelihood of developing vitamin B12 deficiency. This points toward the importance of monitoring vitamin B12 levels if you are prescribed metformin, especially as the duration of your treatment extends.

Adding B12 monitoring in your health maintenance program could be lifesaving and prevent all the consequences of vitamin B12 deficiency. Make sure you talk to your doctor about having this lab test checked more frequently as part of your long-term medication plan with metformin.

Benefits of Topical Metformin for Hair Loss

It’s essential to address a common concern: does taking metformin orally cause hair loss? The answer, based on current understanding, is reassuring. In fact, taking metformin this way usually doesn’t affect your hair.

A study from 2023 suggests that metformin might actually help your hair if it’s applied directly to your scalp. This promising idea comes from studies that found metformin can kickstart certain processes right at the scalp, like autophagy, which is basically your cells’ way of cleaning out damaged parts, and activating stem cells, which are crucial for new hair growth.

These discoveries suggest that metformin could be more than just a diabetes drug. It might also have a future in treating hair loss. Researchers are looking into how it can encourage hair to grow and become healthier, especially as a potential new treatment for hair loss conditions like alopecia. This could lead to new, innovative ways to tackle hair and scalp health.

Other Causes of Hair Loss

While you might be concerned about whether metformin could be affecting your hair health, there are several other factors that can lead to hair loss. It’s important to consider these if you’re trying to get to the root of the problem.

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are common culprits. Your hair needs a variety of nutrients to grow and stay healthy. Notably, being low in:

  • Iron: Iron is crucial because it helps your blood carry oxygen all over your body. If you don’t have enough iron, your hair may start to fall out more because your hair follicles aren’t getting the oxygen they need.
  • B-Vitamins: Biotin is a key B-vitamin that’s important for keeping your hair, skin, and nails healthy. Not having enough B-vitamins can make your hair weak and more likely to break.

If you suspect your diet might not be well-rounded, it could be worth looking into this.

Another condition you should be aware of is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). If you have this condition, you might experience hair thinning among other symptoms such as weight gain or irregular periods due to hormonal imbalances.

Don’t underestimate the impact of stress on your body. Both physical and emotional stress can trigger hair loss. This might be through a condition called telogen effluvium, which pushes hair follicles into the resting phase prematurely.

Here’s a simple rundown:

  • Dietary gaps? Check your vitamin and iron intake.
  • Experiencing irregular periods or weight changes? Get checked for PCOS.
  • Under a lot of pressure? Your hair might be paying the price for stress.

Your hair’s health is a complex weave of nutrition, hormonal balance, and lifestyle. If metformin or another medication concerns you, it’s always best to discuss it with your doctor.


Other Side Effects of Metformin

While using metformin, you might experience a wide range of other side effects besides potential impacts on hair. Here’s a breakdown of what you might encounter:

Gastrointestinal Issues: It’s common for metformin users to experience digestive problems, particularly when they first start taking the medication. These can include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Stomach pain

To minimize discomfort, take metformin with food.

Lactic Acidosis: This is a rare, but serious condition that can happen due to a buildup of metformin in your body, especially if you have kidney problems or are severely dehydrated.

Metabolic Effects: Metformin can affect how your body handles sugar, leading to low blood sugar levels, especially if you’re taking other diabetes medications or have a change in your diet or exercise.

If you’re concerned about these or any other symptoms, it’s important to consult with your healthcare provider. They can help determine the best course of action for you. Remember, this medication is designed to help manage your condition and your doctor can help you weigh the benefits and any potential risks.

Natural Remedies for Hair Loss

Natural Remedies for Hair Loss

If you’re facing hair loss, certain natural remedies may support hair health. For instance, ensuring that you get enough Vitamin B12 can be pivotal as it plays a vital role in cell production and hair growth. Including foods like fortified cereals and non-dairy milk can boost your Vitamin B12 intake.

Similarly, iron is crucial for carrying oxygen to your hair follicles. Low iron levels can lead to hair loss. Consider adding more spinach, lentils, and pumpkin seeds to your diet.

Here’s a list of brews that might help:

  • Green Tea: Rich in antioxidants, it may prevent hair loss and encourage hair growth.
  • Caffeine: Not just for a morning jolt, caffeine is believed to stimulate hair follicles when applied topically.

Aside from nutritional changes, scalp massage can increase hair thickness by stimulating the scalp. You can do this yourself or seek a professional.

Incorporating these habits and remedies into your routine could potentially improve the health and retention of your hair:


Suggested Method

Vitamin B12

Include fortified products and supplements if necessary.


Consume iron-rich foods like leafy greens and seeds.

Green Tea

Drink daily, or use hair products containing green tea extract.


Apply hair products with caffeine directly to the scalp.

Scalp Massage

Perform regular massages to stimulate the scalp.

Stress Reduction

Engage in relaxing activities that decrease stress levels.

Remember to consult a healthcare professional before making significant changes to your diet or routine, especially if you have underlying health conditions.

When to Consult a Doctor

If you’re experiencing hair loss while taking metformin, it’s important to evaluate whether the medication could be the contributing factor. Hair loss isn’t commonly listed as a side effect of metformin; however, any new or worsening symptom deserves attention. Here’s when reaching out to your healthcare provider is advisable:

  • Persistent Hair Shedding: If you’ve noticed a considerable amount of hair falling out consistently over a period of weeks or months, schedule an appointment.
  • Associated Symptoms: Should hair loss be accompanied by other symptoms, such as a rash, itching, or pain on your scalp, it’s crucial to consult your doctor.
  • Impact on Wellbeing: If hair loss is affecting your emotional or mental wellbeing, do not hesitate to seek advice.
  • Post-Medication Changes: If hair loss started or increased after beginning metformin, inform your healthcare provider.
  • Ineffectiveness of Self-Care: Should you not see any improvement after trying over-the-counter treatments or changes in your hair care routine, professional guidance may be necessary.

Your doctor might perform or suggest:

  • Blood tests to rule out nutrient deficiencies or hormonal imbalances.
  • Medication review to consider if other medications or underlying conditions could be the cause.
  • Referral to a specialist like a dermatologist for further examination.

Frequently Asked Questions

Metformin is primarily used as a treatment for type 2 diabetes. Some individuals have reported hair loss as a potential side effect. However, these reports are not widespread, and further research is needed to establish a direct link.

Hair loss is not listed as a common side effect of metformin. Most side effects are gastrointestinal in nature, such as an upset stomach or diarrhea.

Yes, there are studies exploring the relationship between metformin and hair growth. For instance, metformin has been shown to improve hair growth in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). This is likely due to its effect on insulin levels and hormone balance.

If you notice hair loss after starting metformin, speak with your healthcare provider. They can help determine the cause and suggest appropriate treatments or adjustments to your medication regimen.

Find Comfort and Solutions for Hair Loss

If metformin has you worrying about hair loss, take heart. In How Not to Go Bald,” discover 30 clinically backed and tested methods to rejuvenate your locks. Embrace the opportunity to restore your hair to health and lift your spirits by exploring this guide today.

Discover real, drug-free solutions in our e-book, backed by clinical research.

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And much more!

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