Berberine is a bioactive compound found naturally in many plants, including a group of shrubs called barberry. Technically, it belongs to a class of compounds called… Alkaloids. It has a yellow color and is often used as a dye. Berberine has a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine(1)It was used to treat various diseases. Today, modern science has confirmed that it has amazing benefits for several different health conditions.
- Berberine has been shown to be highly effective in lowering blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes, as it works through several mechanisms such as reducing insulin resistance and regulating sugar production in the liver.
- It also has heart health benefits, including lowering levels of harmful LDL cholesterol and increasing HDL cholesterol.
- Berberine may aid weight loss by activating brown adipose tissue, which may increase metabolism and reduce visceral fat mass.
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One of berberine's main actions is to activate an intracellular enzyme called AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), according to some animal studies.(2). This enzyme plays a key role in regulating metabolism and energy levels and is found in cells throughout the body. Berberine also acts on other molecules within cells and can also affect the activation or inactivation of genes, which may help protect against many chronic diseases.
Several studies show that berberine can significantly reduce blood sugar levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes.(3). It seems to work through several different mechanisms and can help:
- Reducing insulin resistance, making insulin, the hormone that lowers blood sugar, more effective(4) ;
- Increases glycolysis, which helps the body break down sugars(5) ;
- Reducing sugar production in the liver(6) ;
- Slowing down the breakdown of carbohydrates in the intestine(7) ;
- Increase the number of beneficial bacteria in the intestine(8).
- It also lowers hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), a marker of long-term blood sugar control.(9)By 12% and improving the percentage of fats in the blood such as cholesterol and triglycerides(10).
The study found that berberine may be as effective as metformin(11) Against diabetes.
Berberine has also shown promising effects in managing heart health. Studies have shown that it can help reduce LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) and triglycerides, while increasing HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol).(12). It appears to work by inhibiting an enzyme called PCSK9, which leads to increased removal of LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream.(13).
Berberine and weight loss
Obesity is a common cause of increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Berberine may help fight obesity by activating brown adipose tissue, a type of adipose tissue that burns energy to produce heat(14). This can help increase metabolism and promote weight loss. In addition, according to the study review(15)Berberine will be particularly effective in reducing visceral fat mass.
Polycystic ovary syndrome
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal and metabolic disease that can lead to infertility and other health problems. PCOS is associated with many problems that berberine can help with. For example, a person with PCOS may also have high insulin levels, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and excess weight.
Review of the study(16) It was revealed that berberine has potential as a treatment for polycystic ovary syndrome with insulin resistance. However, the authors said that confirming these effects will require further studies.
Precautions and side effects
As with any supplement, it is important to know the potential side effects of berberine. Although berberine is generally well tolerated, some side effects can occur, including gastrointestinal disorders such as stomach upset, constipation, and nausea. It can also cause a rash or headache in some people(17).
In animal studies, scientists have observed the following effects, depending on the type of animal, the amount consumed, and the duration of consumption: diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, muscle tremors, stomach ulcers, enlargement of the liver and kidneys, and decreased white blood cells.(18).
It is important to consult a doctor before taking berberine or other nutritional supplements, as they may not be suitable or dangerous for some people. In addition, anyone who develops an allergic reaction to an herbal product should stop using it immediately.
Berberine may interact with other medications, such as metformin, and side effects may occur in case of overdose or allergic reactions.
It is important to keep in mind that research on berberine is still ongoing and more studies are needed to confirm its effectiveness and safety. However, preliminary results are promising and suggest that berberine may be a useful supplement for supporting metabolic and cardiovascular health, as well as helping manage health conditions such as type 2 diabetes and polycystic ovary syndrome.
Mechanisms of action
Berberine is a bioactive compound that has been extensively studied for its health effects. It acts on many metabolic and molecular pathways in the body, which may explain its various health benefits.
One of berberine's main mechanisms of action is its effect on an enzyme called AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). AMPK is often called the “master switch” of metabolism because it plays a crucial role in regulating energy metabolism. Berberine activates AMPK, which may help improve insulin sensitivity, reduce liver glucose production, and increase lipolysis.
Berberine also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects(19)which may help protect against oxidative stress and chronic inflammation, which are major factors in the development of many chronic diseases.
What to remember
Berberine is a bioactive compound found in a number of plants, including the shrub group known as barberry. It has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine and is now supported by scientists for many beneficial health effects.
Although the research on berberine is promising, it is important to clarify that most studies on berberine have been conducted in animals or in vitro, and human studies have often used small sample sizes.
However, preliminary results are promising and suggest that berberine may be a useful supplement to support metabolic and cardiovascular health.
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