The Powerful Effects Of Berberine (No, We Aren’t Talking About Carpet!)

Photo credit: bigstock.com

Photo credit: bigstock.com

When talking about supplements, there is one that has gotten very little attention, despite the fact that it is probably one of the most impressive ones on the planet. Berberine has been shown to have many powerful health benefits and can actually work at the molecular level.

This little supplement can help you lose weight, strengthen heart health, and lower blood sugar just as effectively as some prescription drugs.

This supplement is a bioactive compound extracted from a group of plants called Berberis. This yellow-colored compound has been used as a dye and belongs to a type of compounds called alkaloids. Berberine has long been used in Chinese medicine to treat all types of health problems, and scientists have now proven through hundreds of studies that this one supplement can affect many biological systems in the body.

The biological mechanisms of this supplement are diverse and can be complicated, so we will keep it simple. The major way in which berberine works is by activating a type of enzyme inside our cells called AMP-activated protein kinase or AMPK, for short. AMPK is often called the master metabolic switch because it is found in numerous organs of the body, including the heart, liver, kidneys, muscles, and the brain. AMPK also regulates metabolism.

Berberine can influence the body’s’ genes, and it affects which one gets turned on or off.

Let’s take a look at just some of the things that science knows about this amazing supplement.

 

1.  Lowers Blood Sugar

Type 2 diabetes is a terrible problem around the world. Characterized by high blood sugar levels and either a deficiency of insulin or a resistance to insulin, this disease causes damage to the body’s organs and tissues, causing serious health problems and a shorter lifespan. Numerous studies reveal that berberine reduces the levels of blood sugar significantly. In fact, these studies show that this supplement is just as effective as the common diabetes drug, metformin. Berberine works on multiple levels including:

  • Slowing the breakdown of carbs in the digestive system
  • Decreases the resistance to insulin
  • Increases the beneficial bacteria in the gut
  • Decreases sugar production by the liver
  • Increases glycolysis, which helps the body break down sugar in the cells
  • Makes insulin more effective

One study involved 116 subjects with diabetes. These subjects were given one gram of berberine each day. At the end of the study period, all subjects had lowered their fasting blood sugar levels by 20 percent. For many, this brought them from the diabetic range into the normal range. It also lowered their hemoglobin A1c count by 12 percent.  A large review of more than 14 studies found that berberine was just as effective as many diabetes drugs including glipizide, rosiglitazone, and metformin.

Take the time to read some online discussions, and you will see that many people who formerly had very high blood sugar levels brought those levels back to normal simply by consuming berberine.

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2. Reduces The Risk Of Heart Disease

If you haven’t already heard, heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death worldwide. Although there are numerous factors for developing heart disease, one of the most common is high cholesterol levels. Berberine can lower your risk of heart disease by lowering your cholesterol levels. A recent review of 11 studies found that berberine lowered total cholesterol by 24 mg/dl, lowered LDL (bad) cholesterol by 25mg/dl, lowered triglycerides by 4mg/dl, and improved HDL (good) cholesterol levels by 2mg/dl. Some scientists believe that this plant extract works by inhibiting the PCSK9 enzyme, which leads to less LDL cholesterol in the blood.

 

3.  Reduces Depression

Although studies are limited in this area and need to be conducted on human beings, initial studies are promising. One study involving rats showed that berberine fights the symptoms of depression.

 

4. Fights Infections And Viruses

This supplement has anti-viral, antibacterial, and anti-fungal compounds which can help to fight a wide variety of infection and viruses in the body, including the fungus infection Candida.

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5.  Helps To Lose Weight

Although there have only been two studies done on this plant extract as far as weight loss is concerned, so far the results are quite impressive.

One 12-week study involving obese subjects found that when these subjects consumed three 500 mg supplements of berberine each day (a total of 1500 mg) they lost 3.6 percent of their body fat and about five pounds on average.

The second study used 37 obese men and women with metabolic syndrome. This was a three-month study where the subjects consumed 300 mg of berberine three times each day for a total of 900 mg. All subjects dropped their BMI (body mass index) levels from an average of 31.5 to 27.4. In other words, these subjects went from obese to overweight in just a three-month period. They also lost a great deal of belly fat and improved many of their health markers.

Scientists believe that these subjects lost weight due to the improved function and regulation of fat-regulating hormones such as leptin, insulin, and adiponectin. Berberine is also believed to inhibit the growth of fat cells.

 

SEE ALSO: This One Kitchen Spice Can Help You Lose Weight, Fight Alzheimer’s and More

 

This amazing little plant extract also has numerous other health benefits, including:

  • Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds
  • Anti-Cancer Capabilities – Studies done involving test tubes and animals have shown that berberine reduced the growth and spread of several types of cancer. More tests are needed in this area.
  • Reduced Risk of Heart Failure – One study showed that berberine dramatically improved the symptoms and reduced the overall risk of death in patients with heart failure.
  • Reduces Fatty Liver – Berberine was shown in several studies to reduce the fat build-up in the liver, which offers protection from NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease).

Most studies used dosages of between 900 mg and 1500 mg each day. The most typical dosage was to consume 500 mg supplements three times each day, one tablet before each meal, for a total of 1500 mg. This extract has a half-life of a few hours, so dosages should be consumed at regular intervals throughout the day to attain stable blood levels.

Never stop taking medications without consulting your doctor. Always speak with your doctor before starting any herbal program, especially if you are taking any medications that lower blood sugar.

Berberine has a fantastic safety record, but a few side effects have been noted including diarrhea, gas, stomach pain, and cramps.

Berberine appears to be one of those supplements which seem to be good for just about everything. You can find this supplement online or in many health foods stores.

References:

Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Journals.lww.com