One of the most effective natural supplements available, berberine has many health benefits, affecting the human body at the most basic, molecular level. Berberine is basically a bioactive compound, that may be extracted from several different plants, including a group of shrubs called Berberis.
Berberine belongs to a class of compounds called alkaloids. Yellow in color, it may even be used as a dye! Berberine has been used in traditional Chinese medicine, where it was used to treat various ailments. Now, thanks to modern science, we are exposed to the benefits of berberine for our health problems.
Health Benefits of Berberine
1. Good for diabetics
According to certain studies, berberine may be instrumental in reducing blood sugar in individuals with type 2 diabetes(1). Via different mechanisms, berberine may help decrease insulin resistance, thus making the blood-sugar-lowering hormone insulin more effective. It may increase glycolysis, and help the body break down sugars inside cells. Berberine may help decrease sugar production in the liver.
Consumption of berberine may even slow down the breakdown of carbohydrates in the gut. Berberine also increases the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Berberine may work in conjunction with lifestyle modifications and may have additive effects when ingested along with other blood-sugar-lowering drugs.
Berberine is known to work as well as pharmaceutical drugs. Hence people with diabetes might do well to include this wonder supplement in their diet.
2. Enhances lung health
Due to its powerful anti-inflammatory properties, Berberine boosts lung health to a great extent. According to a study (2), the alkaloids present in Berberine have been shown to lessen the effect of acute lung inflammation caused by cigarette smoke.
3. Helps with weight loss
A popular weight-loss supplement, berberine may help you shed those extra kilos. According to one study, 500 mg of berberine given 3 times of day for 12 weeks, resulting in an average weight loss of 2.5 kgs, as well as an improvement of triglyceride and cholesterol statistics in obese patients(3). Berberine may also inhibit the growth of fat cells at the molecular level.
Another study on Berberine for weight loss was carried out on 37 men and women with metabolic syndrome. The course of the study was 3 months, and participants took 300 mg of berberine, 3 times a day. Their Body Mass Index (BMI) levels fell from 31.5 to 27.4, or from obese to overweight in just 90 days. They also lost belly fat and improved on other parameters(4).
4. Lowers cholesterol, and subsequently the risk of heart disease
There are many factors that can be measured in the blood, which are associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Berberine may improve many of these factors. A review of 11 studies was carried out, according to which berberine lowered total cholesterol by 24 mg/dl, lowered LDL cholesterol by 25mg/dL, lowered blood triglycerides by 44 mg/dL, and raised HDL cholesterol by 2 mg/dL. Some studies indicate that berberine works by inhibiting an enzyme called PCSK9. This leads to more bad cholesterol or LDL being expelled from the bloodstream (5).
5. Anti-parasitic potential
When combined with malaria medication, (pyrimethamine), berberine was more effective against getting rid of the infection, than other combinations of drugs (pyrimethamine and tetracycline or pyrimethamine and cotrimoxazole, in 215 patients(6).
In addition to the above, there are studies that support the fact that berberine may be useful in curing or at least helping to cure other health issues like depression, infections, and fatty liver. What’s more? According to the test tube and animal studies, berberine may reduce the growth and spread of various types of cancers.
How to use Berberine?
Berberine may commonly be available in supplement form. Berberine supplements may be taken in the quantity of around 500 mg, 3 times a day, before meals, which totals to around 1500 mg a day. Berberine has a shelf-life of several hours, so it is vital to spread your dosage across several times a day to achieve stable blood sugar levels. Before you start taking regular doses of berberine, do consult your physician to find out whether you are allowed to take this supplement or not.
Berberine is likely unsafe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding mother. It may also be unsafe to give berberine to children. The side effect of berberine is that it may lower blood sugar and blood pressure. So, it is safe to check with the doctor or physician for people especially with low blood pressure and blood sugar to know how much Berberine to take.
Preliminary studies have shown that berberine may have benefits against depression, cancer, infections, fatty liver, and heart failure. This powerful little supplement may also have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Taken commonly for diabetes, high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, hyperlipidemia, and other issues, berberine may be quite helpful. Include this powerful supplement in your diet, after consulting with your physician, and you may see positive changes in your overall health.
1. How Long Does It Take for Berberine to Start Working?
It might take about two weeks for you to start seeing the effects of berberine.
2. How Long Can You Take Berberine?
You may take berberine for up to 3 months if you are using it to control blood sugar. However, talk to your physician for a better understanding.