Berberine is a chemical found in several plants including European barberry, goldenseal, goldthread, Oregon grape, phellodendron, and tree turmeric. Berberine is most commonly taken by mouth for diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Some people apply berberine directly to the skin to treat burns and canker sores. This post discusses more of the benefits of berberine below.
Berberine is a bioactive compound, which is an extract from several different plants, including a group of shrubs called Berberis. Technically, it belongs to a class of compounds called alkaloids. It has a yellow color, and it is commonly used for making dye. Berberine has a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine, where it was used to treat various ailments.
Now, modern science has confirmed that it has impressive benefits for several different health problems. Berberine is one of the most effective natural supplements available. It has very impressive health benefits, and affects your body at the molecular level. Berberine has been shown to lower blood sugar, cause weight-loss and improve heart health, to name a few. It is one of the few supplements shown to be as effective as a pharmaceutical drug.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF BERBERINE
Berberine might cause stronger heartbeats.
This helps people with certain heart conditions.
Berberine might also help regulate how the body uses sugar in the blood.
This helps people with diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a serious disease that has become incredibly common in recent decades, causing millions of deaths every year. It is characterized by elevated blood sugar (glucose) levels, caused by either insulin resistance or lack of insulin.
Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage the body's tissues and organs, leading to various health problems and a shortened lifespan. Many studies show that berberine can significantly reduce blood sugar levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes. In fact, its effectiveness is comparable to the popular diabetes drug metformin (Glucophage).
It also might be able to kill bacteria and reduce swelling.
Berberine may help you lose weight.
Berberine also affects various other molecules inside cells, and may even affect which genes are turned on or off. It may also be effective as a weight-loss supplement. Two studies have examined the effects on body weight. In a 12-week study in obese individuals, 500 mg taken three times per day caused about 5 pounds of weight-loss, on average. The participants also lost 3.6% of their body fat.
Another impressive study was conducted on 37 men and women with metabolic syndrome. This study went on for 3 months, and the participants took 300 mg, 3 times per day. The participants dropped their body mass index (BMI) levels from 31.5 to 27.4, or from obese to overweight in only 3 months. They also lost belly fat and improved many health markers. The researchers believe that the weight loss is caused by the improved function of fat-regulating hormones, such as insulin, adiponectin, and leptin. Berberine also appears to inhibit the growth of fat cells at the molecular level.
It lowers cholesterol and may reduce your risk of heart disease.
Heart disease is currently the world's most common cause of premature death. Many factors that can be measured in the blood are associated with an increased risk of heart disease. As it turns out, berberine has been shown to improve many of these factors. According to a review of 11 studies, it can:
Rat studies show that it may help fight depression.
Test tube and animal studies have shown that it can reduce the growth and spread of various different types of cancer.
Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
It has been shown to have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects in some studies.
It has been shown to fight harmful microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites.
It can reduce fat build-up in the liver, which should help protect against non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
One study showed that it drastically improved symptoms and reduce the risk of death in heart failure patients.
Possibly Effective For:
Research shows that applying a gel containing berberine can reduce pain, redness, oozing, and the size of ulcers in people with canker sores.
Berberine seems to slightly reduce blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Also, some early research suggests that taking 500 mg of berberine 2-3 times daily for up to 3 months might control blood sugar as effectively as metformin or rosiglitazone.
Berberine might help lower cholesterol levels in people with high cholesterol. Taking 500 mg twice daily for up to 1 year seems to reduce total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol, and triglyceride levels in people with high cholesterol.
High Blood Pressure
Taking 0.9 grams of berberine per day along with the blood pressure lowering drug amlodipine reduces systolic blood pressure (the top number) and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) better than taking amlodipine alone in people with high blood pressure.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Research shows that berberine can lower blood sugar, improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels, reduce testosterone levels, and lower waist-to-hip ratio in women with PCOS. Berberine may even lower blood sugar levels similar to metformin and may improve cholesterol levels better than metformin. It is unclear if berberine increases pregnancy rates or live birth rates in women with PCOS.
Insufficient Evidence For:
Early research suggests that applying an ointment that contains berberine and beta-sitosterol can treat second-degree burns as effectively as conventional treatment with silver sulfadiazine.
Congestive heart failure (CHF)
Early research suggests that berberine can reduce some of the symptoms and lower the death rate in some people with congestive heart failure.
Research shows that taking a specific product containing berberine and other ingredients for 3 months lowers cholesterol levels in people with heart disease who had a procedure called a percutaneous intervention (PCI). This product seems to lower cholesterol levels more than the standard medication ezetimibe, which is used to lower cholesterol. Also taking this product in combination with low doses of medicines called "statins" seems to work better than taking low-dose statins alone. It's unclear if the effects of this product are due to berberine, other ingredients, or the combination. It is also unknown whether this product reduces the risk of major adverse heart-related events in people with heart disease.
Some early research suggests that taking 400 mg of berberine sulfate can decrease diarrhea in people with certain bacterial infections. E. coli infection or cholera. Also, taking 150 mg of berberine hydrochloride three times per day seems to speed up recovery time for people with diarrhea when added to some standard treatments.
Berberine seems to help treat diarrhea in infants and children similar to some antibiotics or probiotics. However, berberine does not seem to enhance the effects of the antibiotic tetracycline in treating diarrhea related to cholera infection.
Early research suggests that using eye drops containing berberine and tetrahydrozoline does not reduce eye pressure in people with glaucoma better than eye drops containing tetrahydrozoline alone.
Stomach ulcers caused by Helicobacter pylori (H pylori) infection: Early research suggests that taking berberine is more effective than the drug ranitidine at treating H. pylori infection. But berberine seems less effective at healing ulcers in people with stomach ulcers due to H. pylori. Other research shows that berberine might treat H. pylori infection as well as the medication bismuth when taken in combination with a standard three-drug regimen for H. pylori infection.
Early research suggests that berberine decreases blood sugar, blood fats called triglycerides, and markers of liver damage in people with diabetes and hepatitis B or C.
Condition of the large intestine (irritable bowel syndrome or IBS)
Early research shows taking that berberine twice daily for 8 weeks might reduce diarrhea and stomach pain and might improve the quality of life in people with IBS with diarrhea.
Early research suggests that taking a combination of berberine and soy isoflavones can reduce menopausal symptoms. However, it is not clear if berberine reduces menopausal symptoms if used alone.
Early research suggests that berberine reduces body mass index (BMI), systolic blood pressure (the top number), blood fats called triglycerides, and blood sugar levels in people with metabolic syndrome. It also seems to improve insulin sensitivity. Other early research suggests that taking a combination product containing berberine, policosanol, red yeast rice, folic acid, coenzyme Q10, and astaxanthin improves blood pressure and blood flow in people with metabolic syndrome.
Liver disease not caused by alcohol
Early research suggests that berberine reduces fat in the blood and markers of liver injury in people with diabetes and liver disease not caused by alcohol. Other early research shows that berberine might reduce fat on the liver, markers of liver injury, and weight in people with this condition. Berberine seems to work about as well as the medication pioglitazone.
Early research suggests that taking berberine can reduce weight in obese people by about 5 pounds.
Early research suggests that taking berberine together with vitamin D3, vitamin K, and a chemical found in hops can decrease bone loss in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis. It is not known if berberine is beneficial if taken by itself.
Injuries caused by radiation:
Some early research suggests that taking berberine during radiation therapy can reduce the occurrence and severity of some injuries caused by radiation in patients being treated for cancer.
Low blood platelet counts (thrombocytopenia):
Blood platelets are important for blood clotting. Early research suggests that taking berberine either alone or with prednisolone, can increase the number of blood platelets in people with low blood platelet counts.
There is some evidence that eye drops containing berberine might be useful for treating trachoma, a common cause of blindness in developing countries.
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Modern research shows that berberine HCl, an isolated phytochemical from these plants, has its own potent therapeutic benefits. In a broad sense, berberine benefits four areas of human physiology: glucose metabolism, lipid metabolism, gastrointestinal health, and cellular health.
A meta-analysis of 14 clinical studies and 1068 participants reported berberine to support healthy glucose metabolism at dosages ranging from 500mg to 1500mg per day. The most robust finding of this analysis was that berberine might be combined with oral hypoglycemic medications. Berberine appears to influence glucose metabolism by mechanisms that differ from pharmaceutical medications: it increases the expression of insulin receptors, promotes insulin sensitivity, and supports the production of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1).