When the body is not able to use insulin properly, this is a metabolic disorder known as type 2 diabetes. Insulin is a hormone that regulates the metabolism of carb foods that the body uses to make energy.
Type 2 diabetes is actually the most common form of diabetes; it accounts for 90 -95 % of all cases. Currently, type 2 diabetes is in epidemic proportions in America, as a result of sedentary lifestyle and obesity.
Treating diabetes efficiently depends on the regular monitoring of the blood glucose to keep these levels in their target range. In case you cannot achieve that with regular exercise and a healthy diet you will need medications prescribed by your doctor.
Berberine is actually a compound in plants like tree turmeric, barberry, Chinese goldthread, Oregon grape, yellowroot, and goldenseal. In fact, it is said that the ancient Chinese discovered berberine and its medicinal values 5000 years ago.
Berberine is an antibiotic that can potentially be used against MRSA infections.
Research and Berberine
According to a 2008 study berberine can lower blood lipid levels and blood sugar. One interesting finding is that taking 500 mg of berberine 2 to 3 times on a daily basis for a few months is as efficient as metformin in controlling the blood glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
Furthermore, another study notes that berberine is as efficient as rosiglitazone. In fact, about the effect of berberine, there are around 4 300 studies done.
As a matter of fact, from all these, around 250 studies were done about the link between diabetes and berberine.
Benefits of Berberine
Also, it was discovered that berberine could aid reduce cholesterol levels in individuals with high blood pressure. Furthermore, it is efficient in:
- Trachoma (eye disease)
- Metabolic syndrome
- Low blood platelet counts
- Reducing symptoms of CHF, i.e., congestive heart failure and lowering the rate of death in people that have CHF
- Radiation injury
- Stomach ulcers
- Menopausal symptoms
- Liver disease
How It Works
The berberine stimulates the fat cells, liver cells, and muscle cells to take up sugar through a process that doesn’t rely on insulin. This seems to be alike to metformin. When insulin is present, then there is a dramatic increase in the activity of berberine.
Also, berberine regulates how the mitochondrial functions and increases insulin sensitivity. In addition, this compound decreases blood lipids, prevents fatty liver, and reduces blood sugar.
The compound also acts on α-glucosidase. This is an intestinal enzyme that breaks down carbs into simple sugars. This causes the intestines to absorb lesser amounts of carbs from your diet, and that induces low blood glucose levels after every meal.
Furthermore, berberine helps in fat reduction. It can lower the accumulation of abdominal fat and notably alter the hip/waist ratio.
It seems to do this by lowering the activity of some genes which function to store and form more fats.
Another thing that berberine does is that it increases the activities of the main antioxidants in the body and with that, it helps to lower oxidative stress and the related long-term health conditions.
Natural Sources of Berberine
As you already know berberine is a compound, present in some plants. Those plants are:
- Eschscholzia californica (Californian poppy)
- Berberis vulgaris (Barberry)
- Argemone mexicana (prickly poppy)
- Berberis aristata (tree turmeric)
- Tinospora cordifolia
- Mahonia aquifolium (Oregon grape)
- Phellodendron amurense (Amur cork tree)
- Xanthorhiza simplicissima (yellowroot)
- Hydrastis canandensis (goldenseal)
- Coptis chinensis (Chinese goldthread)
You cannot take this compound from your diet. What you need to take is a supplement in powder form, tablet, or liquid drops.
Is It Safe?
For most adults berberine is safe to apply to the skin or take orally. Newborns should not take it since it can lead to bilirubin accumulation which can induce kernicterus and jaundice.
Furthermore, this compound can cross the placenta and transfer through breast milk. Therefore, it can induce harm to the fetus and breastfeeding, and pregnant women should not consume it because of these reasons.
People with diabetes who are on drugs for lowering blood glucose should use it with caution. Be careful, because the combination of both things can lead to serious hypoglycemia.
People who have low blood pressure should consult their doctor before taking this since it can additionally lower blood pressure.
Side Effects of Berberine
Generally speaking, berberine is safe to take orally. However, it can show minor side effects such as nausea and diarrhea.
To date, no big side effects apart from those above mentioned, both short-term and long-term have been reported.
Berberine has positive effects on inflammation, absorption, and digestion of carbs, metabolic syndrome, blood sugar levels, liver, lipid levels, cardioprotection, fat metabolism, and accumulation.
As a supplement, berberine can aid people with diabetes to control their blood glucose levels and aid to protect the metabolic processes and vital organs. This lowers the stress of future health complications and side effects.