The Best Diabetes Medications

Managing diabetes, regardless of whether it’s type 1 or type 2, is a lifelong commitment. That’s because this condition, unfortunately, isn’t something you can cure. Instead, you should provide continuous help to your body in managing your blood sugar (glucose) levels.

First of all, diabetes will require lifestyle changes. Those who suffer from this condition need to pay increased attention to their diet and body weight. Regular exercise is also extremely valuable in this regard. But while lifestyle changes are important, they cannot completely replace medications for diabetes.

Since the two types of diabetes have notable differences between them, the associated medications will also be different. With type 1 diabetes, your body doesn’t produce insulin. That’s why insulin replacement is the primary treatment in this case.

On the other hand, type 2 diabetes means your body can make insulin but can’t use it properly. So in order to restore this balance, there are different types of medications out there. Some cause the pancreas to make more insulin, while others reduce the amount of glucose released by your liver, etc. But depending on the severity of their condition, some people with type 2 diabetes also need to take insulin.

Best Diabetes Medication

As mentioned, there are quite a few different types of diabetes medications. While no single medication will help in every situation, these could be considered some of the best ones.


As mentioned, people with type 1 diabetes need to replace the insulin their bodies can’t make. You can’t take it orally – it needs to either be delivered through an injection or a pump.

There are different types of insulin:

  • Regular or short-acting
  • Rapid-acting
  • Intermediate-acting
  • Long-acting

For regular insulin, you will likely have heard of Novolin R and Humulin R. Humalog is also a famous brand of rapid-acting insulin.

Intermediate-acting insulins include Novolin N and Humulin N – the trade names of insulin isophane. Insulin glargine is fast acting – Toujeo and Lantus are two trade names you’ll encounter.

Alpha-Glucosidase Inhibitors

While the treatment of type 1 diabetes primarily revolves around insulin, there are many different types of medications for type 2. Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors are one option. They help your body deal with starches and sugars. Acarbose and miglitol (sold as Precose and Glyset) are two such drugs.


These drugs reduce the amount of glucose your liver releases. Metformin is the most common one, and you’ll see it under many names (Glucophage, Glumetza, Fortamet, etc.). Many experts agree that metformin should be the first medication people with type 2 diabetes should try. This makes it one of the best diabetes medications around.

DPP-4 Inhibitors

These medications will help your body release insulin as your blood glucose rises. Saxagliptin and linagliptin (trade names: Onglyza and Januvia) are two examples.

Incretin Mimetics

These drugs also help your body use insulin. Bydureon (the brand name of exenatide extended-release) is a fine example, as it can be used as a once-per-week medication.

Sodium-Glucose Transporter 2 Inhibitors

SGLT2 inhibitors prevent your kidneys from reabsorbing glucose. Instead, you’ll get rid of it through urine. Empagliflozin (you may know it as Jardiance) is one such drug. It can also help patients with type 2 diabetes reduce the risk of cardiovascular death.

How to Manage Diabetes with Medications

This list contains some excellent diabetes medications, but the truth is that it only scratches the surface. There are other types of medications out there, as well as many more individual drugs. In reality, no medication can help every diabetes patient and none are without possible side effects.

That’s why it is important to work with your doctor as closely as possible. There is no other way to determine which medication (or a combination of several) will be best for you. But once you get it right, you can avoid the complications of diabetes.

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