Berberine is an alkaloid extracted from shrubs of the Berberis spp. including barberry, Oregon grape, goldenseal, and goldthread. Berberine is a traditional Chinese (TCM) and Ayurvedic medicine which recent scientific research confirms has powerful medicinal properties for the treatment of diabetes, dyslipidemia, gastrointestinal ailments, and more. The yellow pigments in berberine were also traditionally used as dyes and gives it strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties when used as a botanical medicine.
Clinical trials show that berberine is comparable to the anti-diabetes medication metformin and is as effective as metformin, glipizide, and rosiglitazone at reducing blood glucose levels, improving fasting blood glucose, and lowering hbA1c. Like metformin, berberine activates the enzyme adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which controls lipid and glucose metabolism, resulting in positive effects on carbohydrate digestion and absorption, insulin secretion and sensitivity, glucose production and cellular usage, and blood lipid levels. Berberine decreases triglycerides, LDL-c, and apolipoprotein B while slightly increasing HDL-c levels. Unlike metformin, which decreases beneficial microbial flora in the intestines causing gut dysbiosis, berberine appears to improve microbial balance, increasing beneficial microbial flora and improving dysbiosis. Clinical trials on people with heart disease found that berberine also stimulates release of nitric oxide, which relaxes arteries, improves blood flow, reduces blood pressure, and may protect against atherosclerosis.
Side-effects of berberine may include gastrointestinal discomfort, headache, or rash. Contraindications include anticoagulants and antiplatelet drugs, antidepressants, antihypertensive drugs, clarithromycin, dextromethorphan, immunosuppressants, lovastatin, midazolam, NSAIDs, opiates, sedatives, sildenafil, tacrolimus, and more; people on anti-diabetes medications should monitor blood glucose levels carefully after taking berberine as it has an additive effect and may result in hypoglycemia.
Standard dosage for insulin resistance and diabetes is 500mg twice or three times daily with meals. For SIBO and gut dysbiosis, 800mg once or twice a day is suggested. For heart disease, 300-500mg four times a day has been used in clinical trials. Higher dosages may increase gastrointestinal side-effects.
Disclaimer: The content herein is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is not meant to diagnosis, cure, or treat any medical condition. Always consult a physician or other qualified healthcare provider with questions regarding a medical condition and before starting new diets and dietary supplements. Not all diets or supplements are appropriate for all people or all health conditions.