Here’s Everything You Need To Know About Berberine

Here’s Everything You Need To Know About Berberine

Berberine is a naturally occurring compound in many plants. For thousands of years, it has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Ayurveda, and other medicinal traditions to treat digestive disorders, inflammatory conditions, and infections. Some research indicates that it may offer protection against high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol, among other conditions. 

What Is Berberine?

Extracted from several plants, berberine is a bioactive compound that belongs to the alkaloid class. It is yellow and typically used as a dye, despite its long history in traditional medicinal applications. Modern evidence suggests that it exhibits impressive health benefits that may address chronic conditions. As of now, limited human research indicates that berberine may lower cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood sugar levels. This is of great interest to the health experts because these are reversible risk factors for heart disease. Although it appears to be safe and only causes a few mild side effects, you may want to consult a healthcare professional if you are interested in taking it. 

How Does Berberine Work?

There have been hundreds of studies on berberine’s effects on the body. According to animal studies, one of berberine’s primary actions is to activate AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), an enzyme inside cells. Found in cells throughout the body, AMPK has an active role in regulating metabolism and energy levels. Berberine also has an effect on other molecules inside cells, potentially affecting which genes are turned on or off. That may help protect against many chronic health conditions, but more research is necessary on this matter. Continue reading to learn more about berberine’s health benefits. 

May Protect Against Bacterial Infections

A 2022 study found that berberine helped prevent the growth of Staphylococcus aureus. Researchers note that this bacterial strain can cause sepsis, pneumonia, meningitis, and a range of skin conditions. Another study found that berberine exhibited an ability to damage the DNA and protein of certain bacteria, due to its antimicrobial activity. 

It Helps Lower Blood Sugar Levels

According to many studies, berberine can significantly lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. In 2008, study authors monitored a group of 116 participants who took one gram of berberine per day. The results indicated that berberine lowered fasting blood sugar by 20%, and it also lowered hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) by 12%. Additionally, berberine improved blood lipids, including cholesterol and triglycerides. Researchers note that berberine seems to work in several ways to aid these processes:

  • Decreases sugar production in the liver
  • Reduces insulin resistance to make insulin more effective
  • Increases the amount of beneficial bacteria in the gut
  • Slows the breakdown of carbohydrates in the gut
  • Increases glycolysis, which helps the body break down sugars inside cells

May Aid Weight Loss

There is a lot of attention on berberine because it may be a viable weight loss supplement. An older 12-week study involved people with obesity who took 500 milligrams (mg) of berberine three times daily. At the end of the study, participants experienced five pounds of weight loss, on average, with a 3.6% reduction in body fat. A review of 12 studies noted that supplementing with berberine led to significant reductionist body weight, belly fat, and body mass index. It was also effective at decreasing C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation. Other research found that berberine works to inhibit the growth of fat cells at a molecular level, which may promote weight loss. Although existing research is promising, more research is necessary to determine berberine’s weight loss effects.

It Helps Lower Cholesterol

If you have high levels of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, you have a higher risk of heart disease and stroke. Some research suggests that berberine may help lower LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels. One review of both animal and human studies found that berberine exhibits cholesterol lowering effects. Researchers believe that berberine’s effects are similar to drugs that reduce high cholesterol. The only difference is that berberine does not cause the same side effects. 

May Benefit People With Obesity

There is an obesity epidemic in the United States, and it increases a person’s risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. One review found that people who took 750 mg of berberine twice daily for three months experienced significant weight loss. Another double-blind study monitored people with metabolic syndrome who took 200 mg of berberine three times daily. Participants experience decreases in their body mass index scores. Finally, some research suggests that berberine works similarly to metformin, a drug that doctors typically prescribe people with type 2 diabetes. Additionally, berberine works to alter gut bacteria, which may benefit people with diabetes and obesity.



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