What is Berberine?
Berberine is a chemical found in several plants including European barberry, goldenseal, goldthread, Oregon grape, phellodendron, and tree turmeric.
A compound called berberine is one of the most effective natural supplements available.
It has very impressive health benefits, and affects your body at the molecular level.
Berberine has been shown to lower blood sugar, cause weight loss and improve heart health, to name a few.
It is one of the few supplements shown to be as effective as a pharmaceutical drug.
Technically, it belongs to a class of compounds called alkaloids. It has a yellow color, and has often been used as a dye.
Berberine has a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine, where it was used to treat various ailments.
Now, modern science has confirmed that it has impressive benefits for several different health problems.
How does it work?
Berberine has now been tested in hundreds of different studies.
It has been shown to have powerful effects on many different biological systems (1).
After you ingest berberine, it gets taken in by the body and transported into the bloodstream. Then it travels into the body’s cells.
Inside the cells, it binds to several different “molecular targets” and changes their function (2). This is similar to how pharmaceutical drugs work.
I am not going to get into much detail here, because the biological mechanisms are complicated and diverse.
This enzyme is sometimes referred to as a “metabolic master switch” (4).
Berberine also affects various other molecules inside cells, and may even affect which genes are turned on or off (7).
I found this article while searching for other uses of Berberine. Written by Dr Jonathan Wright…
For treatment of type-2 diabetes, insulin resistance and the high lipid levels resulting from insulin resistance, berberine has been found to be equal (in blood sugar and insulin resistance regulating effect) or superior (in lowering high lipids) to metformin.
Although allergy to anything at all is possible, including berberine, there’s little to no reported incidence of the potential side effects of metformin when using berberine. Lactic acidosis is a rare but sometimes life-threatening adverse effect of metformin, but Berberine does not cause lactic acidosis!
When taken alone for blood-sugar regulation, berberine is associated with a very low incidence of digestive disorders. But when patent medicines for the treatment of blood sugar problems are taken together with berberine, the rate of digestive disturbance becomes significant. The response of researchers has been to decrease the amount of berberine taken, but since berberine alone causes very few problems, a more reasonable approach might be to remove the patent medicines instead!
Berberine has not been reported to cause low blood sugar, vitamin B12 or folate deficiency, raise homocysteine levels, or increase the risk of heart attacks. In fact, berberine actually lowers—not raises—homocysteine levels, and has been reported superior to placebo in improving heart function in individuals with congestive heart failure, as well as being useful for treating heart rhythm problems.
Fight Alzheimer’s and repair nerve damage naturally
Berberine inhibits cholinesterase, a principal target of many current anti-Alzheimer’s patent medicines approved by the FDA. One animal study has already found that berberine suppresses brain cell’s inflammatory response to beta amyloid, a major factor in Alzheimer’s dementia.
A second animal study—done with mice genetically engineered to develop human-style Alzheimer’s disease—found that berberine reduced both the damage caused by beta amyloid, and the amount of cognitive impairment. These animal studies were building on earlier research that had already shown berberine significantly reduces beta-amyloid production in cultured human brain cells.
Other animal studies have found that berberine may help repair peripheral nerve damage. Animals with sciatic nerve damage were given berberine by injection; within a month, there was a noticeable regrowth of the damaged sciatic nerve. In the same publication, the researchers reported that berberine stimulated increased growth of dendrites, the very thin extensions branching out from the main body of a nerve cell which transmit information in and out. Metformin hasn’t been reported to have these effects!
Berberine also protects against osteoporosis and is a major natural antibiotic, with activity against a wide spectrum of pathogenic (“bad guy”) bacteria, including some strains of MRSA. Berberine has the ability to kill helicobacter pylori, the bacterium known to cause gastric erosion, ulceration, and even stomach cancer. One group of researchers reported— using DNA testing of animal intestinal bacteria—that berberine “got rid of ‘bad guy’ bacteria, but didn’t interfere with the good guys”!
Benefits of Berberine:
Possible Berberine Side Effects
If you have a medical condition or are on any medications, including antibiotics, then it is recommended that you speak to your doctor before taking berberine. This is especially important if you are currently taking blood sugar-lowering medications.
Since it can lower blood sugar, diabetics who are controlling their blood sugar with insulin or other medications must use caution when using this supplement to avoid dangerously low blood sugar levels. People with low blood pressure should also be careful when using it since it can naturally lower blood pressure. Pregnant and nursing women should not take berberine.
Overall, this alkaloid has an outstanding safety profile. The main side effects are related to digestion and are minor, as there are some reports of cramping, diarrhea, flatulence, constipation and stomach pain. Again, by sticking with recommended smaller dosages — spread out through your day and after meals — these possible minor negative berberine side effects can be avoided all together
- Popular in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine treatments, berberine is a natural alkaloid found in a wide variety of herbs.
- It’s proven to possess antibacterial, antimicrobial, antitumor, anti-inflammatory and blood glucose–lowering effects.
- Berberine benefits include potentially treating diabetes, lowering high cholesterol, combating obesity, protecting against neurological diseases, treating SIBO, supporting heart health and boosting lung health.
- It also shows potential for cancer inhibition, digestive issues, osteoporosis, burns, bacterial infections and even depression, though further research is needed.
As always, make sure to check with a physician skilled and knowledgeable in natural medicine to make sure if any or all of the natural items mentioned above are a “fit” for you!