Berberine has been shown to have positive hypoglycaemic (glucose) and hypolipidaemic (cholesterol) effects. Studies show it has potential anti-cancer properties, which can reduce cognitive decline and lower inflammation.
It has also been shown to exhibit possible longevity benefits by inhibiting mTOR and apoptosis (cell death) by inducing autophagy. Additionally, Berberine has therapeutic potential for improving fatty liver disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.
Berberine is a botanical extract of an isoquinoline alkaloid isolated from the Rhizoma Coptis. Berberine is yellow in color and found in plants such as turmeric, barberry, goldenseal, goldthread, Oregon grape, and Chinese Phellodendron.
Most studies show the effects of taking 500 mg of berberine 2-3 times a day for at least 90 days.
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Berberine is primarily used for blood sugar control in type 2 diabetes, but it also has potential in other areas.
I’ve listed some pretty amazing benefits of Berberine and if you are anything like me, you want proof right? I will be the first to tell you I am very skeptical when it comes to supplements, especially herbal supplements. Most of them don’t live up to the hype.
Does Berberine live up to the hype?
I consider myself a researcher and spend a lot of time dissecting scientific studies mostly on PubMed. When I started researching Berberine I was very surprised by the number of studies that have been conducted with positive outcomes.
There are over 2700 studies of Berberine listed on Pubmed! For your benefit, I have summarized the top five studies and if you want to actually read the studies I have linked to them below:
“Berberine activates AMPK in a manner similar to how exercise stimulates increased strength and weight loss”Natural Medicine Journal
AMPK (AMP-activated protein kinase) stimulates energy-generating processes such as glucose uptake and fatty acid utilization. It’s the body’s regulator of metabolism and helps keep cells alive and functioning properly even when they’re low on fuel.
How does Berberine work?
It works as a fasting-mimicking supplement and is an ampk metabolic activator. It might be the most powerful, but it might not be the only one. Here is a list of the other (herbal) AMPK activators:
- Genistein (Natto)
- Epigallocatechin gallate (green tea)
Can Berberine help with type 2 diabetes?
When I answered the question: Can the keto diet reverse type 2 diabetes? I covered herbal supplements like Berberine. I cautioned against their use and I stand by that comment.
The problem with herbal supplements and blood sugar is that people take them and then continue to eat poorly and think that the supplements will get the sugar out of their system. It doesn’t work like that.
Even though I posted a study that shows Berberine has similar potency as Metformin, it’s not as clinically proven and not as regulated. When you take herbal supplements you’re never certain of the potency.
Even Metformin isn’t enough to improve blood sugar in a type 2 diabetic if they don’t improve their diet and reduce sugar and carbohydrate consumption. It might give you a little boost in conjunction with a low carbohydrate diet, but we can’t rely on it alone.
Can it help with weight loss?
Just like my comments above, don’t rely on Berberine alone to do the work for you. The best long term diet for weight loss is a ketogenic diet with a little intermittent fasting thrown in. There are some speed keto hacks, and Ketogenicinfo has a methodology for getting back into ketosis in 24 hours, but…
No matter what keto hacks you attempt, if you don’t lower your insulin levels you will never lose weight. Supplements like Berberine can help you on your keto journey, but nothing can replace eating quality foods from this keto-approved food list.
So what is Berberine used for?
The best way to use it is in conjunction with therapeutic long-term fasting and before, during, and after exercising. One of the primary benefits of fasting and exercising is the initiation of autophagy. Since Berberine helps jump-start autophagy, it could have a beneficial effect on you reaching autophagy sooner.
How long it takes to reach autophagy is extremely variable, but as an example, if you typically reach autophagy after a 36 hour fast, by taking Berberine you could possibly reach it in 24 hours. If that hypothesis is correct, that could have a massive impact on improving healthspan and lifespan.
The keto diet is very popular right now not only because it works, but because there are supplements like Berberine, apple cider vinegar, and exogenous ketones (for example) that can really potentiate the benefits of the ketogenic diet and accelerate weight loss.