Berberine might just be one of the best supplements you’ve never heard of.
However, many people are not able to control their blood sugar levels with diet and exercise alone and turn to prescriptions medications from their doctor.
WHAT WE RECOMMEND
Works as well as Metformin
Berberine seems to work via multiple different mechanisms (12):
- Decreases insulin resistance, so it is more effective at lowering blood sugar levels
- Increases glycolysis inside the cells
- Signals the liver to decrease glucose production.
- Slows the breakdown of carbohydrates in the gut.
- Increases the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Remarkable as it seems that it acts in all these pathways, also seems to affect various other enzymes, molecules and genes related to blood sugar control.
Normalized Blood Sugar Levels
116 diabetic patients given 1 gram of berberine per day for 3 months.
These patients experienced fasting blood sugar levels lowered to normal levels, from 126 to 101 mg/dL (13).
Lowers Bad Cholesterol Levels
These same 116 patients experienced A1c levels lowered by 12% on average, and greatly lowered levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.
Triglyceride decreased from 2.51 to 1.61, total cholesterol from 5.31 to 4.35, and LDL cholesterol. from 3.23 to 2.55 mm/liter. (14).
Berberine has been found to work well with other interventions such as reduced calorie diets and exercise, and has synergistic effects when taking with other diabetes medications (16).
Conclusion: Berberine is very effective at lowering blood sugar level
INCREASED NAD+ AND AMPK
THE METABOLIC MASTER SWITCH
When ingested, it travels thru the blood to cells and binds to several different molecules to actually change their function (5). This is similar to how pharmaceutical drugs work.
Target insulin resistance and helps treat diabetes (some studies have shown it to be as effective as metformin)
Increases the number of mitochondria and boosts metabolism (more energy production = more weight loss)
Induces brown fat break down and increases fat
break down overall
Lowers inflammation in fat & liver cells (Improves thyroid function and reduces leptin resistance)
Treats GI imbalances (berberine has anti bacterial
and anti fungal action)
Boost the effects of other medications
Further exploration of the mechanism that berberine and metformin utilized for elevating AMPK and NAD+ was shown in this study.
Berberine acts at the molecular level activating the AMPK enzyme, which increases metabolism.
Berberine and Weight Loss
2 recent studies found positive results for weight loss with supplementation of Berberine.
In a 12 week long study of obese individuals that were given 500 mg of berberine 3 times a day, they lost an average of 5 pounds, and 3.6% of their body fat (17).
The second study was for 3 months, during which 37 individuals with metabolic syndrome were given 300 mg of berberine 3 times per day. These patients saw their body mass index (BMI) drop from 31.5 to 27.4, lost significant amounts of belly fat, and saw improvement in several other markers of health (18).
Note: AE: adverse effect; Asp: aspirin; Ber: berberine; Glip: glipizide;
LM: lifestyle modification; Met: metformin; Qi: Qihuang capsule.
Improved insulin resistance and regulation of hunger hormones adiponectin and leptin were believed to be responsible for the positive results in this study.
Berberine has been used for thousands of years
in Chinese and Native American medicine
With our heavy emphasis on corporate profits driven by man-made, patented medicines, we often are late in learning about natural products such as Berberine and Niagen, but rest assured you will be hearing about it more in the future.
Berberine is now being studied extensively and has been proven to lower blood sugar as well as the most commonly prescribed prescription drug metformin (1, 2), aid in weight loss, improve heart health, and several other benefits (3)
patients had improved strength, and had lower blood pressure with declining blood glucose levels
Here are just some of the things research is now proving Berberine is able to help with.
- Significantly Lowers blood sugar levels
- Aids in Weight Loss
- Improves Heart Health
- Lowers Cholesterol
- Decrease belly fat
- Improve Immune System
- Anti-oxident and Anti-Inflammatory
- Lower Blood Triglyceride levels
- Help fight Cancer
- Fight Depression
What is Berberine?
Berberine is the active ingredient in a several different plants that have been used in natural remedies for centuries, such as Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), Oregon grape (Berberis aquifolium), Barberry (Berberis vulgaris), and Chinese Goldthread (Coptis chinensis) (4).
An alkaloid, it has a yellow color, and has often been used as a dye.
Berberine Lowers Cholesterol and May Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease
Berberine has been shown to improve many of the factors that lead to heart disease.
This review (21) of 11 different studies show that Berberine can:
- Lower blood triglycerides by 44 mg/dL.
- Lower LDL (bad) cholesterol by 25 mg/dL.
- Raise HDL (good) cholesterol by 2 mg/dL.
- Lower total cholesterol by 24 mg/dL.
Other Health Benefits
Berberine may also have numerous other health benefits:
- Cancer:These studies (26, 27)
seem to indicate that Berberine plays a role in reducing the growth of different types of cancer
- Depression: These studies with rats (24, 25, 26) show that Berberine may lessen depression
- Infections: These studies(27, 28, 29, 30)show Berberine fights harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites
- Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory: These studies (31, 32, 33) indicate Berberine has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects
Overall, berberine is very safe with the main side effects being indigestion, and possible cramping, diarrhea, flatulence, constipation and stomach pain (10).
Some potential interactions with other medications:
- Berberine is known to inhibit CYP2D6, CYP2C9, and CYP3A4, which can lead to a host of drug interactions, some of which can be serious
- Berberine may interact with microlide antibiotics such as azithromycin and clarithromycin at hERG channels on the heart, leading to serious cardiotoxicit
As fantastic as Berberine is, the main problem it has is bioavailability. One of our bodies main defense mechanisms, P-Glycoproteins, bind with foreign objects in the small intestine and carries them away.
Unfortunately it does a great job of stopping the absorption of beneficial plant based compounds like Curcumin and Berberine. The result is very low absorption rates of 5% or less, meaning we have to take a LOT more than what our bodies actually use.
Your body has to process and excrete a LOT of Berberine
Too much Berberine can lead to mild side effects such as:
These minor discomforts appear at higher dosages only, so you should start slowly and work your way up
Berberine has a half-life of about 4 hours, so you do need to take it more than once a day.
Most research has used 4-500mg dosage, taken 2 -3 times a day. Higher dosages are more effective, but tend to result in more Gastro-Intestinal issues.
The Bottom Line
- There is no such thing as a magic weight loss supplement or medication.
- There are however many medications and supplements that can help.
- You just need to make sure that you are using the right dose for your body.
- Berberine is one of very few supplements that are as powerful as a prescription drug.
- It has numerous beneficial effects, most notably blood sugar control.
- It is also be useful for general health, fighing chronic disease, and anti-aging.
- If you need some help controlling your weight, blood sugar levels or want to improve your heart and overall health, Berberine may be right for you.
- Remember that you may need to use berberine for as long as 6+ months to get the full benefit, and dosages up to 2,000mg per day may be necessary.