Berberine—an alkaloid found in herbs like barberry, goldenseal, and Oregon grape—is getting lots of buzz these days. Originally used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines, the benefits of berberine have recently become of the hot topic among researchers. Studies over the past 15 years show that berberine can benefit numerous health conditions. But one of the most impressive uses for berberine is its ability to address a syndrome that affects one in three Americans.
Metabolic syndrome happens when a combination of health issues merge. These conditions include high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, obesity, cholesterol imbalance, and high triglyceride levels. While research shows these issues are often preventable with proper food choices and adequate exercise, statistics prove the need for more answers. Berberine effectively addresses the multitude of issues caused by metabolic syndrome, including:
▪ High cholesterol and triglyceride levels
▪ High blood sugar and hypertension
▪ Oxidative stress and inflammation
▪ Tumors and DNA damage
▪ Liver damage and fatty liver disease
Beberine’s capacity to help lower weight, triglyceride levels, and blood sugar is noteworthy. When these markers are out of balance, it can signal an unhealthy liver. Research has shown how berberine reduces enzymes associated with fatty liver disease by helping to balance blood sugar, insulin resistance, and triglycerides. Achieving balance in these areas is critical to optimal liver and overall health.
Once an imbalance begins, it can trigger systemic inflammation and oxidative stress. Imagine a row of matches—the first one is lit and ignites all the rest. However, pull one match out, and the fire stops. That’s the difference berberine can make. In one study where participants had elevated cholesterol and triglyceride numbers, those taking berberine daily saw a 25 percent drop in LDL, a 35 percent drop in triglycerides, and a 29 percent drop in total cholesterol, with no side effects. Berberine is a wise choice for anyone dealing with the many facets of metabolic syndrome.
Digestive and Gut Issues
Berberine also provides digestive support. An out-of-balance environment in the intestines causes gas, bloating, acid indigestion, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Berberine tackles the bad bacteria in your gut without harming the good—even slowing down pathogens like H. pylori and E. coli. With antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, berberine is useful in helping to repair a compromised intestinal barrier. A 2017 preliminary study in the journal Molecular Medicine reports berberine improved the bacterial balance in the gut and restored the integrity of the gut barrier. Taking berberine restrained toxins from leaking into the bloodstream, which also helped with overall inflammation throughout the body. With pathogens kept at bay, berberine can boost resistance and calm digestive issues.
Berberine helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by relaxing arteries, increasing blood flow, lowering blood pressure, and helping to prevent arteriosclerosis. It does this by stimulating the release of nitric oxide. Research published in the World Journal of Cardiology reported that people who took berberine also had improved heart function and an increased ability to exercise. What’s more, preliminary research suggests that berberine may play a role in treating arrhythmias and heart failure.
Researchers are also exploring berberine for neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. One promising study showed that berberine enhances neuroprotective pathways and acts as a deterrent to neurodegeneration. Berberine also modulates a key serotonin-inhibiting enzyme. While more studies are needed, preliminary research suggests that berberine may help mood disorders by acting as a natural mood stabilizer.
What to Look For
Because of its sudden popularity, berberine supplements seem to be everywhere! But be aware that not all supplements are created equally. When seeking out a berberine supplement, choose one derived from Indian barberry (Berberis aristata) bark and root extract. This extract has been used for generations in Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese practices. While generally safe, do check with your doctor if you are taking a blood thinning drug like warfarin, an antidepressant, or other prescription drugs as berberine may interact with your medication.
An Easy Equation for Use of Berberine
Berberine will have a favorable impact on any condition that could be made better by losing weight and exercising.
▪ Hypertension (high blood pressure)
▪ Pre-diabetes and diabetes
▪ Metabolic syndrome
▪ Cardiovascular disease
▪ Insulin resistance