Berberine for Better Health
From the heart of select medicinal plants, a hidden treasure called berberine emerges, offering natural support to help you take control of your health. Berberine is an alkaloid found in a variety of traditional herbs, including plants such as goldenseal, Oregon grape, and barberry. It has a rich history of therapeutic use, with approximately 2,800 scientific studies being published on this powerful alkaloid.
Berberine’s secret lies in its ability to act as a “metabolic master switch,” responding to changes in energy metabolism on a cellular and whole-body level. In this way, it provides support for healthy glucose (blood sugar) metabolism, blood lipid balance, and cardiovascular health, contributing to your journey toward a healthier you.
Blood Sugar Balancing Powers
You may find it hard to imagine a world where you can enjoy a healthy diet without the accompanying worry of spiking blood sugar levels. Berberine is one way you can lessen that worry, and it works in several ways to do this.
- Berberine inhibits certain enzymes that break down carbohydrates in the digestive system, effectively reducing the amount of glucose absorbed into your bloodstream.
- By activating an enzyme called AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), berberine helps your body use glucose more efficiently, stimulating its conversion into energy that fuels your day.
- Berberine supports insulin receptor activity, promoting glucose uptake out of the bloodstream and into cells where it belongs.
A recent study concluded that berberine is a notable factor in managing blood glucose, particularly within the first three months of use.1 In another 16-week trial, berberine’s effects were compared with lifestyle changes and a common antidiabetic medication. People who took two 500 mg doses of berberine daily experienced not only a drop in post-meal glucose levels but also improved insulin sensitivity, shedding excess weight, and trimming down waistlines. Even cholesterol and triglyceride levels danced to a healthier tune.2
Metabolic Syndrome Support
Metabolic syndrome is defined as a group of conditions that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and premature mortality. It occurs when the AMPK-regulated pathways are turned off, triggering a syndrome that includes increased blood sugar, inflammation, hypertension (high blood pressure), lipid abnormalities, and energy imbalances.
Numerous studies paint a promising picture of berberine’s impact on metabolic health, including one involving patients with metabolic syndrome given 300 mg of berberine three times daily. The outcome? A 26% drop in fasting insulin levels, a 17% reduction in blood glucose levels, and an overall reduction in waist circumference and body mass index.3
Embracing Heart Health
Your heart deserves the best, and berberine delivers just that. By boosting AMPK activity, berberine takes charge of supporting efficient lipid metabolism by the liver.4 This, in turn, supports healthy blood lipid levels, which has been seen in several clinical trials. One study showed that berberine was effective in lowering high LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels in people with diabetes. Taking two daily doses of 500 mg of berberine for three months significantly reduced total cholesterol by 18%, LDL by 21%, and triglycerides by 36%. Berberine also reduced postprandial (post-eating) blood glucose by 28%.5
How Do I Choose a Berberine Supplement?
By managing weight and blood sugar and improving cardiovascular health, it’s no wonder berberine has been touted as “nature’s metabolic switch.” But when choosing a berberine supplement, it’s important to be aware of a few things. First, goldenseal, which is also a good source of berberine, is an endangered species. So, look for berberine sourced from other plants, such as sustainable barberry (Berberis vulgaris). The form most used in clinical trials is berberine hydrochloride, another fine detail to be aware of. And finally, because adulteration and inaccurate label claims appear to be on the rise, third-party testing, such as that from the Canadian lab ISURA®, can guarantee you are getting what you pay for and provide the health benefits you expect.
Nature’s gift, berberine, offers a remarkable journey toward healthier blood glucose, insulin sensitivity, and lipid levels. Although it has an excellent safety profile, always speak to your health care practitioner to discuss adding berberine into your daily regimen, especially if you are taking medications for metabolic syndrome and its related conditions.