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Berberine Benefits: 8 Top Health Effects of the Lost Ayurvedic Plant

There is no denying it. People on the internet are searching for ‘berberine for diabetes’. The question is why. In this article, we’ll explore the top eight Berberine benefits, including the potential ability to lower blood sugar.

Traditional sources of Berberine included Barberry and Goldenseal. The Berberine herb was traditionally used to treat diarrhea for diabetics and as an antibiotic in ancient China. Today, researchers and consumers alike are increasingly becoming interested in this astonishing compound.

If you’re still wondering about ‘what is berberine?’ then we recommend reading through our interesting Berberine HCL product description or our 4 top facts about Berberine.

Raw Barberry Berberine for diabetes photo with leaves and fruits One of the traditional Berberine herb sources was the Barberry - seen in this picture

What is Berberine?

You might still be wondering about what Berberine actually is! This amazing compound was first used in ancient India and China, where the Berberine herb was a form of Aryuvedic medicine. The Berberine compound is found in a number of herbs and plants around the world. The Barberry (as seen above) was one of the traditional sources of Berberine.

In its traditional use, Berberine was used as an antibiotic, antimicrobial, and for the treatment of diarrhea.  Today, scientists are looking into Berberine for a number of benefits including research into its effects on chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, depression, inflammation, and even cancer. [33]

 

Why do people on the internet search for ‘Berberine for diabetes’?

As you’ll see in the studies below, Berberine has a host of potential benefits for anybody wanting to use a health supplement.

However, many of these potential effects are especially interesting to people who suffer from diabetes or metabolic syndrome. Berberine appears to have the potential to help lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity. This has sparked the interest of some of the world’s top diabetes researchers.

Furthermore, many of the best studies about Berberine’s effects have looked into Berberine for diabetes. Berberine is an AMPK activator (we’ll explain this soon) and helps to lower triglyceride levels. These are also important factors in diabetes and metabolic syndrome. So, if you’re wondering about the berberine diabetes connection, this is a great place to start!

portrait of a serious businesswoman reading about berberine Around the world, people are searching the internet to read up on the top Berberine benefits

What are the Top 8 Berberine Benefits?

Let’s look at the top Berberine benefits that researchers are studying today. We’ve outlined some of the top Berberine benefits in the table below:

Reduces fat in the liver Reduces triglycerides Lowers LDL Cholesterol
AMPK Supplement:

Triggers the AMPK enzyme which helps to reduce blood glucose and prevents inflammation

Improves blood sugar levels:

Berberine targets a number of receptors throughout your body to improve blood sugar levels and reduce HbAc1

Antioxidant:

Berberine supplements trigger your body to release free-radical scavengers

May improve insulin sensitivity  One of the top supplements  to lower ac1 May help suppress some cancer-promoting proteins

 

Believe it or not, Berberine actually has a whole range of other benefits too! These include potential benefits in: helping with canker sores [1], improving athletic capabilities [2], increasing insulin sensitivity, and lowering blood pressure [3].

Although these potential benefits are very interesting, we’ve chosen to only explain the top 8 Berberine benefits to prevent our article from being too long. The research below helps outline why people are searching for ‘berberine for diabetes’.

If you’re interested in other benefits, take a read on the Examine page for Berberine or click on the links above to journal articles.

top 8 berberine benefits explained

1.    Berberine for Diabetes? Improves blood sugar levels and reduces HbAc1

‘Blood glucose’ refers to the amount of glucose or ‘sugar’ that is present in your blood. People who suffer from diabetes tend to have high blood sugar levels. Blood glucose is usually measured on an empty stomach – known as your fasting blood glucose level. One of the top Berberine benefits is its ability to lower blood sugar.[4]

Berberine is one of the most exciting natural supplements to help lower blood sugar. A recent meta-analysis review looked at the results from fourteen randomized clinical trials. These clinical trials all measured the effects of Berberine on blood sugar levels in people with type-2 diabetes.

The results showed that Berberine with lifestyle changes - like diet and exercise - was highly effective at lowering blood glucose levels. In fact, Berberine and a Berberine complex faired just as well as the chemical substances that it was compared to in lowering blood glucose![5]

A number of studies have shown that Berberine is one of the best supplements to lower ac1 levels. Ac1, or HbAc1, is a marker of the levels of glucose in your blood stream. The accurate name for HbAc1 is glycated hemoglobin and it is often used to determine whether somebody has diabetes. Lower HbAc1 levels indicate a better blood glucose score.[6]

The results of these studies are the reason why so many people talk about the Berberine diabetes connection. Again, we need to stress that Berberine is a dietary supplement and is not intended to treat, cure, or diagnose any disease or disorder. You’ll experience the best benefits if you use Berberine supplements along with a healthy diet and regular exercise.

2.    Helps your body with inflammation - AMPK Supplement

Multiple studies have confirmed that Berberine has the ability to reduce inflammation through its effects on the AMPK enzyme. Basically, Berberine acts as an activator of the AMPK enzyme and a suppressor of the mTOR enzyme.[7] This is why it is known as an AMPK supplement.

The AMPK and mTOR enzymes are important in maintaining the proper functions of your body.[8]

The AMPK enzyme controls a number of activities in your body including the maintenance of fat, sugar, and energy levels. When your blood sugar levels are too high, the AMPK enzyme is suppressed and these functions stop working at their best level.[9]

By suppressing mTOR and activating AMPK, Berberine is able to improve many of the functions in your body – including enhanced fat burning, improved glucose usage, and reduced inflammation.[10]

Researchers have recently found even more Berberine uses. It appears to have an even more complicated effect on our bodies that we previously though, by interacting with a host of other biological pathways to reduce inflammation.[11]

Although the biological mechanisms have not yet been fully established, one thing is clear – Berberine supplements are great for reducing inflammation!

Berberine HCl, one of Liftmode's health supplements Liftmode's Berberine HCl 200 grams, 98+% purity

 

3.    Helps destroy LDL - ‘bad’ cholesterol

LDL-Cholesterol, or ‘low-density lipoprotein’ cholesterol is commonly referred to as the ‘bad’ form of cholesterol. The ‘good’ cholesterol is HDL, or ‘high-density lipoprotein’ cholesterol.

Scientists have found that native hunter-gatherer communities, healthy newborn human children, and wild animals, tend to have LDL cholesterol levels of around 50 – 70 mg/dL. Researchers now believe that there is no minimum level of LDL cholesterol for good health. The lower your LDL cholesterol, the better.[12]

Most doctors will tell you that an LDL cholesterol level of around 70 mg/dL is healthy. Researchers from the Centers for Disease control and prevention have found that nearly 32% of the American population suffers from high LDL cholesterol levels.[13]

The main cause of high LDL cholesterol is eating too much saturated fat or trans fat. Saturated fat is found mostly in meat products and dairy, while trans fats are created in industrial processes and are used in cooking oil, fried goods, and and fat spreads.[14]

A year long study on 144 participants showed that Berberine has the potential to reduce LDL cholesterol levels significantly. It also reduced other fats in the blood, and contributed to a lower BMI.[15] Other studies have also reached the same conclusion!

 

4.    Increases HDL-C levels and fights oxidative stress

Not only does Berberine help to reduce your total cholesterol levels, it has also been found to increase the levels of HDL cholesterol in your blood.

Lowering LDL cholesterol is known to be important for reducing many health risk factors. What is not as well-known is that increasing your HDL cholesterol levels is also very healthy. In fact, studies have shown that an increase of only 10 mg/L of HDL cholesterol can reduce risk factors by 2-3%.[16] In combination with a decrease in LDL cholesterol, these effects may be even more.

Researchers from China recently figured out that Berberine’s effects include a significant decrease in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels. They also found a “remarkable increase in high-density lipoprotein (HDL)”. This clearly shows the benefits of Berberine in maintaining healthy blood lipid levels.[17]

Another important aspect of why people search for 'Berberine for diabetes' is because of its ability to help prevent oxidative stress. This is also known as its antioxidant effects. Antioxidants help to destroy free-radicals which can cause harm to your body. Scientists have found that Berberine is a powerful antioxidant supplement that helps to reduce the number of free-radicals in your body. This is also thought to be linked to Berberine's ability to reduce inflammation and improve cholesterol levels. [32]

healthy woman in field Berberine is a powerful antioxidant - helping to maintain a healthy body

 

 

5.    Reduces fat in the liver

Fatty liver disease is diagnosed by having more than 5%-10% of your liver’s weight made up by fat. There are two types of fatty liver disease – alcoholic liver disease (ALD) and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Drinking too much alcohol is the main cause of alcoholic liver disease. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease appears to run in the family and may be genetic. Other risk factors for NAFLD include being pregnant, having hepatitis C, having too much iron, or being overweight. Either way, both these disorders result in a decreased liver function.[18]

Researchers have put a lot of time into examining the effects of Berberine on the fat content of the human liver. For example, a study was conducted on 186 patients who suffered from NAFLD. The scientists compared Berberine’s effects to a number of treatment methods, including lifestyle intervention and two prescription medications. The results showed that Berberine was highly effective at reducing the fat content in the participant’s livers.[19]

Another great discovery has pointed to Berberine’s ability to prevent fat cells from growing. This has been discovered by using fat cells from the liver, but it may well be found to apply to fat cells around the body. Berberine appears to be highly effective at promoting human fat cell proliferation and preventing fat cell enlargement. This is known to be great for reducing inflammation too.[20]

The reduction of fat from your liver is great for healthy people. Especially if you enjoy having a few nights out on the town, Berberine is a great way to help support a healthy liver. In fact, one of the best Berberine benefits is for supporting a healthy liver.

 

6.    May help to improve insulin sensitivity

One of the key reasons that people are so interested in Berberine for diabetes is because of its ability to improve insulin sensitivity. People with diabetes tend to have a lower insulin sensitivity than normal. This means that you become resistant to the effects of insulin, resulting in higher blood sugar levels than normal.[21]

A growing number of studies have shown that Berberine is effective at increasing your body’s sensitivity to insulin. This is similar to the effects of Myo-Inositol, a great supplement for women’s vitality.

An example is a study conducted on 24 patients with metabolic syndrome. The scientists found that Berberine supplements promoted a significant decrease in weight circumference, blood pressure, and triglycerides. Along with these effects was an increase in the markers for insulin sensitivity.

Furthermore, researchers have recently shown that Berberine itself helps with glucose uptake. The main function of insulin is to trigger glucose uptake in your body. This is a major problem for diabetics because their insulin system doesn’t function properly. The Berberine diabetes connection is relevant because of Berberine’s ability to help remove excess glucose through a distinct mechanism – different to the one used by insulin.[22]

high blood glucose reading and the word SUGAR High blood sugar, metabolic syndrome and diabetes are growing epidemics in the US and around the world

7.    Reduces triglycerides

Triglycerides are a type of compound that your body uses to store excess energy. When you eat food but don’t use all the energy, a lot of it is stored in triglycerides. These are then stored in your fat cells. When you use energy again, your body triggers hormones to release that break down the triglycerides, boosting your energy levels.[23]

However, if you eat too much sugar, fat, or carbohydrates and don’t use enough energy, you may experience high triglyceride levels. High triglyceride levels increase your risk for developing diabetes or metabolic syndrome (a combination of high blood pressure and high blood sugar). Other factors that increase triglyceride levels include: obesity, diabetes, an underactive thyroid, kidney disease, and excessive drinking.[24]

Researchers from the Shenyang Pharmaceutical University in China have recently observed that Berberine supplements may help to reduce triglyceride levels. The research was conducted on human DNA in cell cultures. The scientists found that Berberine and four of its metabolites have significant effects on triglyceride levels. Not only this, but Berberine and its metabolites also have powerful effects in preventing the action of genes that are associated with fat build-up.[25]

In 2012, another study was published showing these impressive results! In the study, obese participants were given 500 mg of Berberine three times daily for twelve weeks. The results indicated a slight weight loss. More importantly, triglyceride levels had been reduced by a remarkable 23% on average![26]

These impressive results clearly indicate why people on the internet are talking about Berberine for diabetes and high blood pressure. When searching for 'berberine for diabetes', it's important to remember that this dietary supplement is not intended to treat, diagnose, or cure any disease or ailment.

 

8.    Suppresses proteins that help cancer cells grow

Increasingly, scientists are looking at the Berberine complex for a potential future use in cancer prevention. It appears to have astonishing effects on preventing the action of genes inside certain types of cancer cells. These genes code for proteins that help to cancer cells grow. However, it appears that Berberine may have the ability to prevent some of these genes from working properly.

An example of the research that has gone into this is a study from 2015 by researchers in Taiwan. The team of scientists examined the effects of Berberine on prostate cancer cell growth. They found that Berberine significantly decreased the migration and invasion of prostate cancer cells into normal tissue. The authors determined that these effects were caused by Berberine’s suppression of genes in the cancer cells.

The authors concluded: “…that berberine should be developed as a pharmacological agent for use in combination with other anticancer drugs for treating metastatic prostate cancer”.[27]

A similar study was published in the Anti-Cancer Agents in Medicinal Chemistry Journal in 2014. Scientists from the Southern Medical University in China showed that Berberine had an impressive effect in preventing the growth and spread of human breast cancer cells. Again, the effects were determined to be the result of decreased gene activity inside the cancer cells.[28]

These studies help to show the growing interest in the scientific community about Berberine and cancer. A quick internet search will bring up hundreds more similar articles.

three top berberine benefits graphic Scientists and researchers have grouped Berberine's top benefits into three main groups for new research

How to Improve Berberine Absorption

The Berberine herb has a multitude of potential benefits. The one problem that some people have with Berberine is that they sometimes experience issues with Berberine absorption.

Enzymes in your gut and stomach lining break down Berberine rapidly. But the main problem that people have is that Berberine is not always ‘pumped’ into your bloodstream properly. Berberine is affected by a protein called ‘P-Glycoprotein’ (P-gp). This protein is found in the cell membrane of most cells. P-glycoprotein affects how many medications work, by inhibiting their entry into the cells.[29]

Researchers have found that natural P-gp inhibitors may help to increase Berberine’s absorption, thereby increasing its effects. One study used P-gp inhibitors extracted from the HIV virus. The protein inhibitors dramatically increased the absorption levels of Berberine into cells.[30]

Interestingly, scientists have recently found that the bacteria in your gut play an important role in helping your body to absorb Berberine. Scientists from China discovered that your gut microbes transform Berberine into a slightly different form to help it be absorbed better.[31] You might want to think of using Berberine with probiotics to help improve absorption!

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, people seem to search for ‘Berberine for diabetes’ because of the high levels of research that have been conducted by scientists to-date. Hundreds of researchers from all around the world are involved in studies looking into Berberine for diabetes.

The top Berberine benefits include the ability to help lower blood sugar, improve fat levels in your blood, reduce cholesterol levels, and boost the AMPK enzyme. Berberine is also a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound. In fact, it is one of the top supplements to lower ac1 levels.

Scientists from around the world are looking into Berberine’s potential effects on cancer cells in human cell cultures. Berberine supplements are a subject of growing interest in the scientific community. Berberine uses are varied and the best thing is that it seems to be effective in all its potential uses.

 

Disclaimer: Berberine supplements are dietary and health supplements. Berberine is not intended to treat, cure, or diagnose any disease or ailment. We sell Berberine as a supplement for a healthy diet and lifestyle.

woman traveler with red backpack hiking travel lifestyle concept summer vacations outdoor mountains and flowers valley Combining Berberine with a healthy diet and lifestyle changes is a great way to boost your health and vitality!

References:

 

[1] XW Jiang et al., “Effects of berberine gelatin on recurrent aphthous stomatitis: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial in a Chinese cohort”, Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol. 2013 Feb;115(2):212-7.

[2] XH Zeng et al., “Efficacy and safety of berberine for congestive heart failure secondary to ischemic or idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy”, Am J Cardiol. 2003 Jul 15;92(2):173-6.

[3] KG Pérez-Rubio, “Effect of berberine administration on metabolic syndrome, insulin sensitivity, and insulin secretion”, Metab Syndr Relat Disord. 2013 Oct;11(5):366-9.

[4] Y Zhang et al., “Treatment of type 2 diabetes and dyslipidemia with the natural plant alkaloid berberine”, J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Jul;93(7):2559-65

[5] H Dong et al., “Berberine in the Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Systemic Review and Meta-Analysis”, Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012; 2012: 591654.

[6] K P et al., “Glycosylated Haemoglobin (HbA1c) - A Marker of Circulating Lipids in Type 2 Diabetic Patients”, J Clin Diagn Res. 2014 Feb;8(2):20-3

[7] W Li et al., “Berberine regulates AMP-activated protein kinase signaling pathways and inhibits colon tumorigenesis in mice

[8]A Note on AMPK”, Examine.com, Nutrition, retrieved on February 9, 2017

[9] KA Coughlan et al., “AMPK activation: a therapeutic target for type 2 diabetes?”, Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes. 2014; 7: 241–253.

[10]Clinical Applications for Berberine”, J Shor, Natural Medicine Journal, December 2012 Vol. 4 Issue 12

[11] Li Z et al., “Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of berberine in the treatment of diabetes mellitus”, Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2014;2014:289264

[12] SS Martin et al., “LDL cholesterol: the lower the better”, Med Clin North Am. 2012 Jan;96(1):13-26

[13]High Cholesterol Facts”, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – CDC, available online, retrieved on February 10, 2017

[14]Cholesterol: Know Your Facts”, American Heart Association, available online, retrieved on February 10, 2017

[15]  G Derosa, “Effects of berberine on lipid profile in subjects with low cardiovascular risk”, Expert Opin Biol Ther. 2013 Apr;13(4):475-82

[16] K Mahdy Ali et al., “Cardiovascular disease risk reduction by raising HDL cholesterol--current therapies and future opportunities”, Br J Pharmacol. 2012 Nov;167(6):1177-94

[17] H Dong et al., “The effects of berberine on blood lipids: a systemic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials”, Planta Med. 2013 Apr;79(6):437-46

[18]Fatty Liver Disease”, WebMD.com, retrieved on February 10, 2017

[19]  HM Yan et al., “Efficacy of Berberine in Patients with Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease”, PLoS One. 2015 Aug 7;10(8):e0134172

[20] J Yang et al., “Berberine Improves Insulin Sensitivity by Inhibiting Fat Store and Adjusting Adipokines Profile in Human Preadipocytes and Metabolic Syndrome Patients”, Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012; 2012: 363845.

[21]Prediabetes & Insulin Resistance”, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, available online, retrieved on February 10, 2017

[22] L Zhou et al., “Berberine stimulates glucose transport through a mechanism distinct from insulin”, Metabolism. 2007 Mar;56(3):405-12

[23]Triglycerides: Why do they matter?”, Mayo Clinic Staff, mayoclinic.org, August 2015, retrieved on February 10, 2017

[24]High Triglycerides - Topic Overview”, WebMD.com, retrieved on February 13, 2017

[25] S Cao et al., “Berberine metabolites exhibit triglyceride-lowering effects via activation of AMP-activated protein kinase in Hep G2 cells”, J Ethnopharmacol. 2013 Sep 16;149(2):576-82.

[26] Y Hu et al., “Lipid-lowering effect of berberine in human subjects and rats”, Phytomedicine. 2012 Jul 15;19(10):861-7

[27] CH Liu et al., “Berberine inhibits the metastatic ability of prostate cancer cells by suppressing epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT)-associated genes with predictive and prognostic relevance”, Int J Med Sci. 2015 Jan 1;12(1):63-71.

[28] P Jin et al., “Berberine exhibits antitumor effects in human ovarian cancer cells”, Anticancer Agents Med Chem. 2015;15(4):511-6.

[29] W Chen et al., “Bioavailability Study of Berberine and the Enhancing Effects of TPGS on Intestinal Absorption in Rats”, AAPS PharmSciTech. 2011 Jun; 12(2): 705–711.

[30] W Zha et al., “Inhibition of P-Glycoprotein by HIV Protease Inhibitors Increases Intracellular Accumulation of Berberine in Murine and Human Macrophages”, PLOS ONE 8(1): e54349.

[31] R Feng et al., “Transforming berberine into its intestine-absorbable form by the gut microbiota”, Nature, Scientific Reports 5, Article number: 12155 (2015), 15 July 2015

[32] Li Zheng et al., “Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Activities of Berberine in the Treatment of Diabetes Mellitus”, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 289264

[33] B Pang et al., "Application of Berberine on Treating Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus" International Journal of Endocrinology, Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 905749, 12 pages