Playing doctor with acarbose

My family has insurance problems, so my dad is afraid to go get diagnosed as diabetic despite being aware of his condition. If he’s diagnosed with diabetes, he’ll never be able to get new insurance again, but the company we have now is treating us horribly. American health insurance is tragic, but that’s not the topic here. So help me out with this doctor-less diabetes treatment situation.

His numbers have been below 200, but above 130 after meals. He’s making some huge changes to his diet with my help, and has started eating low carb and started to exercise more. This seems to be helping, and he’s losing weight.

But I think it might not be enough; I think he will need to go on medication. Without a doctor in the picture, this is problematic. I subscribe to Jenny’s view in her truth about oral diabetic drugs article (, wherein metformin isn’t an effective way to prevent the onset of diabetes. It just masks the onset. Instead, I like acarbose, and I want to start him on it. I understand that patients start off taking 25 mg of acarbose 3 times a day (eaten with the first bite of every meal) and then adjust their dose thereafter, up to 50mg and then no more than 100mg. Possible side effects include gas and diarrhea, which can be limited by eating less carbs and especially less wheat. It should be avoided if there are problems with “iron deficiency, kidney disease, liver disease, stomach/digestive or intestinal disorders, any allergies.” It interferes with “‘water pills’ (diuretics), thyroid hormone, steroids, digoxin, estrogen hormone, birth control pills, phenytoin, isoniazid, other drugs that treat diabetes, phenothiazines (e.g., chlorpromazine), niacin, adrenalin-like drugs (e.g., albuterol, metaproterenol, pseudoephedrine, phenylpropanolamine), calcium blockers (e.g., nifedipine, verapamil, diltiazem), certain digestive aids (e.g., amylase, pancreatin).” Used alone, there should be no hypos, but we’ll start checking his blood sugar more often and be prepared for it.

I think my dad isn’t going to go to a doctor, but we need to do something. What do you think about my plan to start him off on this? I can order it online from Canada. I know it’s a bad idea, I know it’s not recommended, but you all know how fun it is footing the bill. I’ve done all my type 1 treatment on my own, everything short of writing insulin prescriptions, and I think my dad and I will be fine with my help. Later on, it’s very likely that his numbers won’t turn around and he’ll end up going to a doctor, but he won’t go unless he has to.

Does anyone have any useful advice for us?

Thanks a lot.

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That is what many of us do in egypt,treat ourselves.What is wrong with metformin? My father started on it,with diet and more daily activities ( he is old),he normalised his blood glucose and came off metformin now,still on low carbohydrate diet and checking his blood glucose routinely,though not daily ( expensive strips).In EGYPT we pay for every thing.

I’ve started to use it and it works pretty well. I’m using the lowest dose. I may need to follow up with 1 unit of insulin occasionally for a large carbohydrate heavy meal.