What is Berberine?
Berberine is a chemical compound that can be found in or derived from a variety of plants. It is a natural alkaloid, which means it occurs naturally in various sources and it contains basic nitrogen atoms.
This compound is yellow in color. It is also known by other different names such as berberine sulfate, berberine complex, berberine alkaloid, or berberina.
What Plant(s) is It Extracted From?
Berberine can be extracted from different plants and herbs. Examples of such herbs and plants include tree turmeric, phellodendron, Oregon grape, goldthread, goldenseal, and European barberry.
Berberine’s Mechanism of AMPK Activation
Berberine is fast becoming a popular option for diabetic treatment today. In fact, some people believe it is one of the most powerful nutrient supplements in the market.
To understand how it works, you should first try to understand characteristics of AMPK or adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase.
AMPK is one of the enzymes that can be found within the boy’s cells. Some people dub it as the metabolic master switch. This is due to the fact that this enzyme does a lot to regulate the body’s metabolism.
AMPK regulates biological activities that help to normalize imbalances in energy, glucose, and lipids. That means the job of this enzyme is to coordinate the body’s response to shifting energy, maintenance, repair, and other stressors.
Activating AMPK gives you the same benefits as dieting, exercise, and losing weight. The two hormones in the body that activates AMPK are adiponectin and leptin.
You can think of AMPK activation as exercising and dieting without actually dieting or exercising. Berberine is one of the compounds that can activate AMPK.
Effects of Taking Berberine
Studies have shown that taking berberine is just as effective as taking metformin, a drug designed for diabetes patients. The study was published on May 2008 (click here to view the said study).
The said 2008 study is one of the most celebrated studies on this alkaloid compound. It compared the effects of taking 500 mg of berberine to taking prescribed doses of metformin.
The subjects of the study took berberin compound in the said dosage from two up to three times each day for the duration of the said study. Researchers concluded after the trials that berberin was able to control both lipid metabolism and blood sugar levels as effectively as metformin.
Researchers even dubbed berberin as an oral hypoglycemic agent that is truly potent.
In another study, noted by Dr. Julian Whitaker, it was found that this alkaloid compound had a therapeutic effect on diabetes mellitus (type 2 diabetes). It also helped patients who suffered from hypertension and hyperlipidemia. Another good note is the fact that there were no serious side effects found.
Some of the notable benefits gathered from this compound include the following:
- Reduces the liver’s glucose production
- Sensitivity to insulin is improved
- It stimulates the cells’ glucose uptake
The said study was published in the Journal of Endocrinology.
Weight Loss Benefits
There are other reasons to celebrate the beneficial effects of berberin. In a 2012 study, it was also found that this alkaloid compound may be able to help people suffering from obesity (click here to view study).
In the said study, obese adults took berberine three times a day daily for a total of 12 days. Each dose of this compound was 500 mg. study results showed a lot of promise.
The study participants lost an average of 5 pounds each after 12 days. It was also observed that their cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood were also reduced in the process.
Experts explained that these benefits were due to the ability of berberine to inhibit the storage of body fat. Another reason why such positive results were achieved is due to the fact that it improves the function of the body’s hormones such as adiponectin, leptin, and insulin.
A separate study also confirms that BBR is able to enhance the activity of brown fat. However, do take note that this is an animal study with no human trials to date. The said study was conducted in 2014 (click here to see the review).
Note that brown fat is a type of fat that helps in the body’s heat generation. In effect, this type of fat burns energy instead of storing it, thus it is beneficial to those seeking weight loss.
This type of body fat is brown in color due to the high levels of mitochondria. Mitochondria helps to convert the fat in the body into energy in order to produce more heat.
Researchers concluded that BBR or berberine can help balance the energy levels within the body. They also see the potential for this compound to be used in therapies that treat obesity.
Heart Health Benefits of Berberine
So far it has been shown that BBR is definitely beneficial for the treatment of diabetes and it has potential when it comes to weight loss. Studies also show that there is also another possible benefit that can be garnered from this alkaloid – heart health.
It has already been established that berberine can keep one’s blood sugar in check and it can help with obesity – both of these conditions, if left unchecked, raises one’s risk for heart disease.
This compound also has several heart health benefits, which includes the following:
- Boosts fat burning via the mitochondria
- Slows down the release of fatty acids
- Increases nitric oxide release
It has also been found that this alkaloid compound can dilate blood cells. According to a study by the University of Maryland Medical Center, people who took berberine may experience improved heart function.
Study subjects took berberine for a total of eight weeks. They showed an increase in their ability to perform exercises. Click here to see the report regarding the said study.
Berberine Dosage Requirements
Dosages for Berberine will vary depending on the condition and needs of the patient. Note that in some of the studies highlighted above, some subjects were given three doses per day. Some were administered with 500 mg while others had more or less. In one study, participants had a total of 900-2000 mg each day. Best practice dictates that you should consult your doctor for the optimal dose.