Berberine is a bioactive compound and a type of alkaloid that comes from a variety of different plants, including the Berberis plant, European barberry, goldenseal, tree turmeric, Oregon grape and phellodendron.

Traditional Health Benefits of Berberine

Berberine is a type of alkaloid, which are chemicals that are derived from plants and often have similar effects as pharmaceutical drugs. Berberine has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat many different types of ailments. Today, it is still used to treat various health issues in the medical realm.

What is Berberine Used For?

Berberine may have numerous benefits to the body, including the following: Reduces Blood Sugar Levels, Supports Weight Loss, Lowers High Cholesterol, Regulates Blood Pressure, Reduces Symptoms of Canker Sores and Fights Leaky Gut Syndrome

Benefits of Berberine

There are several ailments that berberine may be able to alleviate, including the following: Diabetes Some studies suggest that berberine may be able to reduce blood sugar levels in people suffering from Type II diabetes2. It may even be just as effective as traditional pharmaceutical medication used to target the disease, including metformin3. Berberine may be effective in treating the symptoms associated with diabetes in a few different ways. For instance, it has shown to reduce insulin resistance, which makes insulin more effective at lowering blood sugar levels4. It may also help with the metabolism of sugars inside cells while slowing the breakdown of carbohydrates in the gut. Berberine may also work as a complementary supplement to traditional diabetes medications that are developed to reduce blood sugar levels in those with the disease3. Weight Issues Berberine may be an effective weight loss agent5, according to studies. One particular study found that participants who took 500 mg of berberine three times daily lost an average of 5 pounds over a 12-week period compared those who took a placebo. Further, researchers also discovered that the consumption of berberine also significantly lowered blood lipid levels in the study's subjects. The fat loss effect of berberine may be attributed by an improvement in hormones, such as adiponectin, leptin and insulin, which are instrumental in regulating body fat6. The supplement may also be effective at hindering fat cell development at a molecular level. High Cholesterol People with high levels of bad cholesterol in the blood may find berberine helpful. More specifically, berberine has been shown to reduce total cholesterol, LDL ("bad") cholesterol and blood triglycerides, while increasing HDL ("good") cholesterol7. Further, berberine has also been linked to a reduction in apolipoprotein B, which is associated with an increased risk of heart disease8. Berberine's effect on cholesterol and blood triglycerides may be attributed to its potential ability to inhibit PCSK9, an enzyme that binds to the receptor for LDL particles and transports it in the blood9. By inhibiting the enzyme, berberine may be able to allow more LDL to be removed from the blood. High Blood Pressure High blood pressure can be effectively managed with pharmaceutical medication, but berberine may be an effective natural complement to such medical intervention for this ailment. Studies have shown that berberine may help to reduce blood pressure in some people10. That said, it's important to be careful with dosing and with the exact mix of berberine high blood pressure medications, as taking berberine along with these drugs could cause blood pressure to drop too much. Inflammation Berberine has been shown to potentially possess anti-inflammatory properties. It may be associated with a reduction of inflammation of the airways11, blood vessels12, liver and fat tissues13. Canker Sores Some studies have shown that applying a berberine topical gel to canker sores may help to combat their uncomfortable symptoms14. Gut Issues Berberine may be effective in reducing “leaky gut,” a condition whereby intestinal permeability is increased, allowing toxins to be able to leak through the intestinal wall and cause discomfort15. It may also be able to normalize gut bacteria and reduce the effects of inflammation on the intestinal wall16.

How to Use Berberine

Berberine may be taken orally to treat ailments such as diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels. It may also be applied to the skin to treat topical issues such as canker sores, blisters and burns. Berberine has long been used as a natural medication to target specific ailments, and studies have shown that it may continue to be an effective and powerful supplement that can be taken alongside traditional medications or as a natural alternative. As with any other type of supplement or medication, be sure to consult with a physician prior to consuming berberine, especially when combining it with other medications.

Recommended Daily Allowance of Berberine

Studies on berberine suggest that a daily dosage of anywhere between 900 mg to 1500 mg per day is safe for human consumption17. More specifically, berberine should be taken periodically throughout the day rather than in one large dose once per day in order to maintain its effects, particularly for blood sugar levels. For instance, 300 mg to 500 mg taken three times a day before meals would be ideal. It's highly recommended that anyone wishing to take berberine should speak with a physician first before introducing it to a diet regimen.

Side Effects of Berberine

Studies suggest that berberine is safe, though it may come with certain minor side effects18, including: Stomach cramps Constipation Diarrhea Gas Anyone taking other medications — particularly drugs to lower blood sugar levels - should speak with a doctor first, as berberine may reduce the effects of the pharmaceuticals.

Citations and Sources

1. Yao J, Kong W, Jiang J. Learning from berberine: Treating chronic diseases through multiple targets. Sci China Life Sci. 2015;58(9):854-859. [PubMed] 2. Chang W, Chen L, Hatch G. Berberine as a therapy for type 2 diabetes and its complications: From mechanism of action to clinical studies. Biochem Cell Biol. 2015;93(5):479-486. [PubMed] 3. Lan J, Zhao Y, Dong F, et al. Meta-analysis of the effect and safety of berberine in the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus, hyperlipemia and hypertension. J Ethnopharmacol. 2015;161:69-81. [PubMed] 4. Pang B, Zhao L, Zhou Q, et al. Application of berberine on treating type 2 diabetes mellitus. Int J Endocrinol. 2015;2015:905749. [PubMed] 5. Hu Y, Ehli E, Kittelsrud J, et al. Lipid-lowering effect of berberine in human subjects and rats. Phytomedicine. 2012;19(10):861-867. [PubMed] 6. Zhou L, Chen M, Wang X, et al. [Effect of berberine on the differentiation of adipocyte]. Zhonghua Yi Xue Za Zhi. 2003;83(4):338-340. [PubMed] 7. Dong H, Zhao Y, Zhao L, Lu F. The effects of berberine on blood lipids: a systemic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Planta Med. 2013;79(6):437-446. [PubMed] 8. Shidfar F, Ebrahimi S, Hosseini S, Heydari I, Shidfar S, Hajhassani G. The Effects of Berberis vulgaris Fruit Extract on Serum Lipoproteins, apoB, apoA-I, Homocysteine, Glycemic Control and Total Antioxidant Capacity in Type 2 Diabetic Patients. Iran J Pharm Res. 2012;11(2):643-652. [PMC] 9. Cameron J, Ranheim T, Kulseth M, Leren T, Berge K. Berberine decreases PCSK9 expression in HepG2 cells. Atherosclerosis. 2008;201(2):266-273. [PubMed] 10. Ma Y, Liang L, Zhang Y, et al. Berberine reduced blood pressure and improved vasodilation in diabetic rats. J Mol Endocrinol. 2017;59(3):191-204. [PubMed] 11. Xu D, Wan C, Wang T, et al. Berberine attenuates cigarette smoke-induced airway inflammation and mucus hypersecretion in mice. Int J Clin Exp Med. 2015;8(6):8641-8647. [PubMed] 12. Li X, Li C, Xiao J, et al. Berberine Attenuates Vascular Remodeling and Inflammation in a Rat Model of Metabolic Syndrome. Biol Pharm Bull. 2015;38(6):862-868. [PubMed] 13. Guo T, Woo S, Guo X, et al. Berberine Ameliorates Hepatic Steatosis and Suppresses Liver and Adipose Tissue Inflammation in Mice with Diet-induced Obesity. Sci Rep. 2016;6:22612. [PubMed] 14. Jiang X, Zhang Y, Zhu Y, et al. Effects of berberine gelatin on recurrent aphthous stomatitis: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial in a Chinese cohort. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol. 2013;115(2):212-217. [PubMed] 15. Gu L, Li N, Gong J, Li Q, Zhu W, Li J. Berberine ameliorates intestinal epithelial tight-junction damage and down-regulates myosin light chain kinase pathways in a mouse model of endotoxinemia. J Infect Dis. 2011;203(11):1602-1612. [PubMed] 16. Cao M, Wang P, Sun C, He W, Wang F. Amelioration of IFN-γ and TNF-α-induced intestinal epithelial barrier dysfunction by berberine via suppression of MLCK-MLC phosphorylation signaling pathway. PLoS One. 2013;8(5):e61944. [PubMed] 17. Yin J, Xing H, Ye J. Efficacy of Berberine in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes. Metabolism. 2008;57(5):712-717. [PMC] 18. Koppen L, Whitaker A, Rosene A, Beckett R. Efficacy of Berberine Alone and in Combination for the Treatment of Hyperlipidemia: A Systematic Review. J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2017;22(4):956-968. [PMC]

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