Health & Wellness

From Fighting Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria to Diabetes: Could Berberine Be the Most Powerful Supplement in Our Modern World?

If you suffer from diabetes, obesity, and/or heart disease, this is one article you don’t want to miss! Today, we’re talking about a compound called berberine.

Berberine is found in some plants, and it’s known to offer some amazing health benefits for those with the concerns I mentioned above.

From supporting healthy blood sugar levels to healthy weight management to healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels, this compound has some pretty incredible therapeutic properties!

It’s even been found to contain anti-viral properties! So, let’s dive in and learn how you can take advantage of this incredible compound.

 

What is Berberine?

Berberine is a yellow-colored plant-based compound found in the following plants: goldenseal, Oregon grape, barberry, and Chinese goldthread.

Due to its color, it’s often used as a dye—particularly for wool. But it offers some incredible benefits thanks to its unique properties.

While it’s been known to behave similarly to many pharmaceuticals in the body (by way of action) the main health-promoting action of berberine is that it activates a cellular enzyme called AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). [1]

Without going into too much detail here, because it’s a complex process, AMPK functions as a control switch that regulates how your energy is produced and used throughout your body.

Here’s what that matters: AMPK can impact which genes are turned “on” or “off”—meaning it can help to suppress genetic predispositions to certain illnesses! That’s a huge deal!

But AMPK is also found throughout your body and in many of your major organs, such as your brain, kidneys, heart, liver, and more. It even helps regulate your metabolism.

The main job of AMPK is to help your body maintain energy homeostasis, meaning it helps to keep your body in a steady, healthy state.

So, if berberine is known to active this enzyme, that makes it a very important compound to get into your body, right?

Fortunately, you can find it at most health food stores and supplement shops. Just make sure to discuss your ideal dosage with your doctor and review any potential interactions with certain conditions or medications.

Now that you know what berberine is and how it functions in the body, let’s take a look at some of the specific health benefits it offers.

Top 5 Health Benefits of Berberine

Here are five of the top health benefits of this amazing compound.

1. Contains anti-viral properties

Let’s begin by talking about one of the timeliest benefits—the fact that it contains anti-viral properties!

Now, I’m not saying berberine will stop or prevent COVID-19. But many studies have shown that taking berberine offers some pretty powerful anti-viral benefits.

Some studies have noted that due to its inhibitory effect on certain signaling pathways involved in coronaviruses, berberine may function as a viable anti-viral agent against coronavirus infections. [2]

Additionally, more recent studies have surmised that an extract containing this compound could help inhibit coronavirus RNA synthesis along with viral assembly and release! [3]

But that’s not the only virus that could be hindered by berberine.

According to a 2015 study, taking berberine suppressed the replication of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). [4] This is incredible significant because RSV is known to cause bronchitis and even pneumonia in infants as well as in older adults.

Finally, a 2018 study revealed that berberine strongly suppressed viral replication of the flu strain H1N1 in animals. It was even found to reduce their inflammatory markers as well! [5]

So, if you’re concerned about catching or passing a viral illnesses, it warrants discussing the option of adding berberine to your supplement regimen.

2. Supports healthy blood sugar levels

One of the most studied benefits of berberine is its positive impact on blood sugar levels.

In fact, according to one study, 36 adults with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes were assigned treatment with either a berberine supplement or metformin (a popular diabetes drug that typically has extreme side effects).

Amazingly, the researchers found that the actions of berberine and metformin on reducing blood sugar was very similar.

Those taking the supplement experienced a 21-percent decrease in their A1c hemoglobin and a 35-percent decrease in fasting blood glucose.

But the researchers didn’t stop there. They also conducted another study on 48 adults with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes in which the participants supplemented with berberine for three months.

They found that supplementing with this compound lowered both fasting blood glucose and postprandial (post-meal) blood glucose from one week into the study until the end of the three-month period.

Furthermore, the participants’ A1c hemoglobin decreased by almost 10 percent while their fasting plasma insulin decreased by 28.1 percent and their insulin resistance decreased by an incredible 44.7 percent! [6]

3. Contains anti-microbial properties

Another exciting benefit of berberine is its impact on bacteria—specifically MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), more commonly known as antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Studies have shown that berberine can actually make antibiotics more effective against the previously antibiotic-resistant bacteria known as MRSA. [7]

In fact, one study showed that berberine displayed anti-microbial activity against all tested strains of MRSA! Moreover, the researchers found that 90 percent of MRSA was inhibited by using just 64 microg/mL or less of berberine. [8]

Moreover, using anywhere from 1 to 50 microg/mL berberine notably decreased MRSA adhesion and intracellular invasion.

4. Supports healthy weight management

Believe it or not, berberine has also been shown to help support healthy weight management.

According to one study, adults classified as obese were given 500 mg of berberine three times each day for a period of 12 weeks. At the end of the study, researchers noticed that the participants lost an average of five pounds each. [9]

Additionally, a 2012 study followed patients with metabolic syndrome as they took berberine for three months. Amazingly, the participants saw an average decrease in their BMI from 31.5 to 27.4! [10]

So, how does berberine have these weight loss effects? Well, aside from helping to regulate your metabolism, it’s also been shown to activate brown adipose tissue, which is known to help burn extra calories and prevent extra fat storage! [11]

5. Can help lower high blood pressure and cholesterol

Finally, this incredible compound has also been shown to support heart health by lowering high blood pressure and cholesterol.

According to the study mentioned above where obese participants took 500 mg of berberine for 12 weeks and lost an average of five pounds each, there were a few additional benefits as well.

In fact, the researchers noted that taking the supplements three times daily significantly reduced triglyceride levels (by 23 percent) and cholesterol levels (by 12.2 percent). [12]

And according to a 2017 study, animals who took 100 mg of berberine daily not only lowered their blood glucose levels but also reduced their blood pressure and even improved their vasodilation. [13]

Additionally, a 2015 meta-analysis of 27 studies found that taking berberine and making other lifestyle changes tended to lower blood pressure levels more than making lifestyle changes alone. [14]

 

Berberine - Dr. Pingel

 

Key Takeaways

  • Berberine is a yellow-colored plant-based compound found in some plants. It’s known for activating a cellular enzyme called AMP-activated protein kinase.
  • Some of the main benefits of this compound include: fighting viral infections, supporting healthy blood sugar levels, fighting MRSA, supporting healthy weight management, and lowering high blood pressure and cholesterol.

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