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What is Berberine?

What is Berberine?

Extracted from several different plants, European Barberry, Tree turmeric, and Oregon Grape, to name a few, Berberine is a bioactive compound belonging to the naturally occurring organic class of compounds called alkaloids. Yellowish in colour, Berberine has been used historically in traditional Chinese medicine to treat heart conditions, high blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes. More recently, additional benefits of Berberine have been uncovered by modern science with regards to weight loss and bodybuilding. Keep reading to find out more…

 

Berberine Benefits

When it comes to the many positive health benefits of Berberine, there are a few key standouts that have given this game-changing ingredient the credit it deserves. Let’s dive straight in. 


Diabetes

Responsible for millions of deaths each and every year, this serious metabolic disorder is on the rise, continuing to impact human health globally. Caused by either lack of insulin or insulin resistance, diabetes is distinguished by elevated glucose levels, aka high blood sugar, which leads to organ and tissue damage, resulting in severe health problems, low quality of life, and a shortened life span. So, what does all of this have to do with Berberine?

Berberine has been used in many clinical studies to treat type II diabetes, resulting in a significant reduction in blood sugar levels. In fact, a study consisting of 116 patients showed that 1 gram of Berberine per day lowered fasting blood sugar levels by 20% and displayed improvements in blood lipids like cholesterol and triglycerides (Zhang, 2008). In a review of 14 different studies, Berberine proved to be as effective as other diabetes medications: Metformin, Glipizide, and Rosiglitazone (Dong, 2012). 

 

Weight Loss

Much like Diabetes, metabolic syndrome is another concerning health condition with serious risk factors like obesity, hypertension, and high cholesterol impacting 40-46% of worldwide. While a healthy balanced diet and exercise regime is essential for weight management, Berberine has also been shown to affect weight loss positively, contributing to desired weight loss results.

Researchers who have been involved in clinical studies regarding Berberine and its effects on weight loss believe weight loss is achieved by the enhanced function of body fat regulating hormones like leptin, insulin, and adiponectin. At a molecular level, studies also prove Berberine inhibits the growth of fat cells and reduces the production of leptin, an important hormone responsible for stimulating appetite (Zhou, 2003).

The evidence is undeniably impressive when it comes to results. A 12-week study of 37 men and women diagnosed with metabolic syndrome reduced their BMI from 31.5 to 27.4 (obese to overweight) in just three months while supplementing with Berberine (Hue, 2012).



Bodybuilding

The benefits of this in-demand plant-based ingredient offer results-driven rewards when it comes to exercise and performance. By altering the way the body metabolises fat, it's been shown that Berberine also improves the uptake of glucose into cells which means a boost to energy production. For bodybuilders and exercise enthusiasts, this is good news as Berberine can elevate energy storage and halt the breakdown of cells, both essential processes for building muscle mass (Dong, 2012).

When working towards a particular physique, bodybuilders put their bodies under significant stress with grueling, heavy workouts strategically designed to help them reach their body goals. This stress level can harm your progress when recovery isn't appropriately approached. This is where, you guessed it, Berberine comes into play. Offering healing effects, Berberine is known to combat the damage oxidative stress can induce following intense training sessions. If you're unfamiliar with oxidative stress, it's the muscular effect exercise has on the blood and various tissues, including skeletal muscle, heart, lungs, liver, brain, and kidneys, to name a few. As a preventative measure, Berberine is known to limit the effects of oxidative stress post-exercise, reducing damage to vital proteins, which ultimately slows down muscle healing and recovery and affects heart health. So if your recovery has been hindering your progress, it might be time to introduce Berberine to your supps routine.


Additional benefits

We’ve covered the three main benefits of Berberine; however, this plant-based ingredient is like the gift that keeps on giving! A review of 11 various studies concluded Berberine could also  reduce cholesterol associated with cardiovascular disease by removing “bad cholesterol” LDL and reducing triglyceride levels, limiting the risk of heart disease (Cameron, 2008).

Berberine has also been considered a safe botanical compound in treating infertility as a result of PCOS. Studies have demonstrated that insulin resistance in theca cells was improved with Berberine supplementation, improving the ovulation rate per cycle (Rondanelli, 2020).

How to take it?

Berberine is often available in a capsule, which is excellent for convenience as it’s best taken before or at mealtime due to its effects on your metabolism! Depending on your goals, dosage requirements and timing may vary. 

 

Reference List

Zhang, Y et al. 2008, ‘Treatment of type 2 diabetes and dyslipidemia with the natural plant alkaloid berberine’. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, National Library of Medicine, accessed 31 Mar 2022, <https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18397984/#affiliation-1>

(Zhang, Y et al. 2008)


Dong, H et al. 2012, ‘Berberine in the Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Systemic Review and Meta-Analysis’. National Library of Medicine, accessed 31 Mar 2022, <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3478874>

(Dong, H et al. 2012)


Zhou, LB et al. 2003, ‘Effect of berberine on the differentiation of adipocyte’. National Library of Medicine, accessed 31 Mar 2022, <https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12812656/>

(Zhou, LB et al. 2003)


Hue, Y et al. 2012, ‘Lipid-lowering effect of berberine in human subjects and rats’. Phytomedicine, Pages 861-867, Science Direct, accessed 31 Mar 2022, <https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0944711312001870>

(Hue, Y et al. 2012)


Dong, H et al. 2012, ‘Berberine in the Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Systemic Review and Meta-Analysis’. National Library of Medicine, accessed 31 Mar 2022, <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3478874>

(Dong, H et al. 2012)

Cameron, J et al. 2008, ‘Berberine decreases PCSK9 expression in HepG2 cells’. National Library of Medicine, accessed 31 Mar 2022, <https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18355829/>

(Cameron, J et al. 2008)


Rondanelli, M et al. 2020, ‘Polycystic ovary syndrome management: a review of the possible amazing role of berberine’. National Library of Medicine, accessed 31 Mar 2022, <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7028834/#:~:text=similar%20to%20metformin.-,One%20author%20demonstrated%20that%20berberine%20improved%20the%20lipid%20pattern.,fertility%20and%20live%20birth%20rates.>

(Rondanelli, M et al. 2020)

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