Berberine is a natural yellow-colored alkaloid found in several different plants like barberry, goldenseal, goldthread, philodendron, and turmeric. It has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and immune-boosting properties that can treat many conditions naturally, including metabolic syndrome discussed in my last blog. It’s also a very effective way to treat bacteria, protozoa and fungi infections. It can be taken orally or topically, and can be used to treat problems as common as gastrointestinal issues, (including food poisoning) and larger health issues like type-2 diabetes.
Berberine is a unique compound that activates the adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase or AMPK- an enzyme inside cells that regulates metabolism. AMPK activation also boosts fat burning in the mitochondria and regulates a number of biological functions that normalize lipid, glucose, and energy levels. Metabolic syndrome happens when AMPK regulated pathways are turned off, triggering hyperglycemia, diabetes and lipid abnormalities.
Activating AMPK through the hormones leptin and adiponectin is the response necessary to correct the imbalances and move energy toward cellular repair. Berberine and resveratrol are some of the few compounds known to activate AMPK, and Berberine has been shown to work as well as Metformin for Diabetes. Berberine can stimulate the uptake of glucose into the cells to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce glucose production in the liver. It also stimulates glycolysis in peripheral tissue cells that control gut microbiota that reduce intestinal absorption of glucose.
Gut issues like small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) that are often prescribed antibiotics can be better served by treatment with Berberine, which has been shown to work as well as antibiotic treatment and is equally as safe. Studies have also shown that Berberine may have benefits in fighting depression.
Berberine can be used to treat diabetic nephropathy, neuropathy, and cardiomyopathy due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. It is highly effective in lowering triglycerides and cholesterol levels in the blood. It’s beneficial for heart health due to its role in controlling blood sugar levels and other issues that can raise your risk of heart disease. Berberine also stimulates the release of nitric oxide that relaxes the arteries, increases blood flow and lowers blood pressure, and protects against atherosclerosis.
As always, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor before taking Berberine. It is especially important if you are currently taking blood sugar-lowering medications or if you have low blood pressure. Pregnant and nursing women should not take Berberine.
Berberine can be found in supplement form, most commonly as Berberine HCL, and because it moves through your system rapidly, you generally need to take this supplement three times a day to keep stable levels in your blood.