Berberine Health Benefits

Berberine Health Benefits

Berberine health benefits have been captured for more than 2000 years. Berberine is a bitter, yellow-pigmented chemical compound that is found naturally in plants such as European barberry, goldenseal, American goldthread, Chinese goldthread, Oregon grape, and tree turmeric.

According to the U.S. National Institute of Health, berberine is a potent oral hypoglycemic agent with beneficial effects on lipid metabolism.[1] In simpler terms, berberine health benefits include its ability to lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes and reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and kidney disease. Therefore, berberine is used to improve and prevent metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease. However, the benefits of taking berberine certainly do not end here.

So, let’s take a closer look at berberine health benefits. This health benefits post will highlight berberine uses and side effects.

Berberine Health Benefits

1. Lowers Blood Sugar Levels

Regarding type 2 diabetes management, research shows that one of berberine health benefits include its ability to rival some pharmaceutical drugs that are used for treating diabetes. According to WebMD, taking 500 mg of berberine 2-3 times a day may control blood sugar levels as effectively as metformin or rosiglitazone. One group of doctors recommend taking berberine 3 times a day to better sustain your blood glucose controls. Several study results show that berberine leads to an upregulation of insulin receptor activity while some studies suggest that the effects on blood sugar may be related to the antimicrobial effects of berberine.[2] Either way, taking berberine and metformin or other blood sugar lowering medications together can potentially cause you to have a critically low blood sugar. So, you will have to determine the best way to capture the benefits of taking berberine while monitoring your blood sugar levels closely. With that said, keep in mind that your diet is the number one factor in preventing and reversing type 2 diabetes – everything else is a secondary controlling factor.

2. Lowers Blood Pressure

Berberine health benefits also include its ability to reduce blood pressure. It does so by blocking the release of an enzyme that results in the blood vessels themselves being dilated. This blood vessel dilation results in a reduction of blood pressure. According to one study, a dose of 5–10 mg/kg (5-10mg per 2.2lbs), berberine improved cardiac contraction, inhibited cardiac muscle hardening, and reduce cardiac muscle weakening while acting like a calcium channel blocker to reduce high blood pressure and blood vessel hardening.[3] So, a person that weighs 220 lbs would take 500 – 1000 mg of berberine. Another way in which blood pressure may be reduced is by the reduction of cholesterol floating inside the veins.

3. Reduce Cholesterol Levels

Cholesterol is comprised of bad fat and good fat. The bad fats are called low density lipoproteins or LDL. The bad fats are what lead to plaques forming inside the veins and arteries which can ultimately lead to more serious cardiovascular problems. Good fats are called high density lipoproteins or HDL. Some research shows that berberine health benefits include its ability to reduce bad cholesterol levels. [4] These study results were found in patients taking 500 mg berberine twice a day.

4. Reduces Fatty Liver

The fact that berberine has a positive effect on  blood glucose and blood cholesterol have been discussed. Now we will take a look at berberine health benefits on liver function, insulin resistance, and fatty liver conditions. A fatty liver occurs when too much fat builds up in the liver cells. It is linked with other diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and kidney disease.  Having a fatty liver (that has not been induced by alcohol) is the precursor to insulin resistance. As the body produce excessive amounts of insulin in response to the increased carb/sugar supply, the body works hard to convert and store the excess sugar as fat. This in turn leads to a fatty liver with cells eventually becoming less receptive to insulin which is called insulin resistance. With that said, as berberine reduces your bad fat, it reduces the fat in your liver and thereby improve blood sugar control.

5. Antimicrobial

Berberine has an anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral effect that damage the structure of bacterial cell walls. This damage inhibits the synthesis of protein and DNA, which are needed to reproduce the bacteria. Therefore, berberine has a noteworthy antimicrobial effect on several microbes because it inhibits and halts bacteria cell division which results in the bacteria dying off.[5] In addition, berberine keeps bacteria from sticking to the epithelial cells inside the gut, inhibit the intestinal secretion of certain toxins, and normalize the gut mucosa. All of which can boost your immune system.

Side Effects of Taking Berberine

Berberine and type 2 diabetes are a good combination. However, if you take too much berberine and metformin you may experience an abnormally low blood sugar. The remedy for a low blood sugar is eating something with sugar. Experiment carefully and keep some sugar around in case you need it. With a low carb diet to reverse type 2 diabetes, you may not need either one. However, as already mentioned, the best time to take berberine is 3 times a day with meals (as needed).

You will need to spread the dose out throughout the day to achieve controlled blood sugar levels because berberine dwindles away over time. Some people commonly take 500 mg of berberine before each meal for a total of 1500 mg per day.  Some additional potential side effects of taking berberine include abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, and bitter taste.


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