The Health Benefits of Berberine        

       If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol/ triglycerides and other metabolic problems, you may want to add berberine to your supplemental program.  Berberine is an alkaloid compound present in a number of medicinal herbs such as Goldenseal, Barberry and Oregon grape. 

       Multiple hundreds of studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of berberine for a variety of health concerns. There are over 2,800 studies listed in the biomedical journal PubMed.  These studies reveal that berberine is effective for a wide range of health conditions.  One of the primary things berberine does is activate an enzyme called adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK).  This enzyme plays a major role in regulating metabolism.  Metabolism is the complete range of biochemical processes that occur in living organisms.

       AMPK stimulates a flow of events within cells that are all involved in maintaining homeostasis which is the ability of the body to adjust to changing circumstances to maintain survival.  AMPK works as the control switch regulating how energy is produced and used in the body.

Berberine and diabetes:

       Numerous studies have shown berberine to significantly lower blood sugar in individuals with confirmed type 2 diabetes.  According to fourteen different studies, the effectiveness of berberine in lowering blood sugar levels has been shown to be comparable to the often prescribed diabetic drug Metformin (Glucophase) and other such blood sugar lowering drugs. 

       Berberine appears to lower blood sugar by making the blood sugar lowering hormone insulin function more effectively and by enhancing the breakdown of sugars in the cells. In a study involving 116 diabetics, 1000 milligrams (mg) per day of berberine lowered fasting blood sugar by 20%.  This same study showed a 12% lowering of A1c which is a marker for measuring blood sugar levels over a period of weeks.  This study also showed a lowering of cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

       In a recent meta-analysis, combined data from 14 randomized trials involving 1,068 participants showed that treatment with berberine accompanied by lifestyle changes showed significant reduction in blood sugar and lipid (fat) levels in the blood.  The results were comparable to what was experienced using Metformin and other drugs.

Berberine effects on cholesterol and triglycerides:

       In a three month study conducted in 2004, berberine was given to 32 patients with high cholesterol. This treatment reduced serum cholesterol by 29%, triglycerides by 35%, and LDL-cholesterol by 25%.  In a 2011 randomized controlled trial of 60 humans with fatty liver disease, the participants took 500 mg of berberine twice daily for three months after which ultrasounds were taken of their liver’s.  These ultrasounds revealed a 70% overall improvement. Total cholesterol and triglycerides decreased significantly during this trial.

Berberine and congestive heart disease:

       In a double blind placebo controlled study, between 1200 and 2000 mg of berberine was given on a daily basis to patients with congestive heart failure.  These patients where compared to patients who received only conventional therapy.  It was found that supplementing with berberine, in combination with conventional therapy, significantly increased left ventricular ejection fraction (the amount of blood pumped out of the heart with each heartbeat).  Ability to exercise and a lessening of labored breathing and fatigue was also noted.  In a two-year follow-up, there was a significant decrease in death in the berberine-treated patients compared to those only receiving conventional therapy (8.8% deaths compared with 16.4% deaths for the conventional only group).

       In addition to its effectiveness in treating diabetes, lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels and treating heart disease, studies have shown berberine to be of benefit in treating high blood pressure, various inflammatory problems, cognitive decline, digestive disorders and cancer. Some research has shown berberine to be helpful in facilitating weight loss.      

Dosage recommendations:

       Most studies involving berberine used a dosage range between 500 and 1500 mg per day.  The common dosage is to take 1500 mg per day in divided dosages of 500 mg three times per day before meals.  Because berberine maintains its effectiveness in the body for only several hours, it is advisable to take it three times per day to achieve maximum benefits for blood sugar control and other metabolic functions.

       At Milk ‘N Honey, we carry Berberine MetX from the company EuroPharma (AKA Terry Naturally). This product contains 60 capsules with each capsule containing 500mg of berberine obtained from the bark and roots of the herb Indian Barberry.  We also carry Berberine MetX Ultra Absorption from EuroPharma. This product combines berberine with ingredients that enhance the absorption of berberine.  We also carry a berberine product from the company Solaray.