7 Incredible Health Benefits of Berberine

As a holistic nutritionist who has researched and personally trialed countless supplements, it’s rare that one leaves me over-the-moon impressed. That’s why I have been super excited about berberine. If you’ve been searching for a supplement that can help you take control of your metabolic health and manage several chronic diseases, look no further than berberine. Ever since my naturopathic doctor put me on this supplement, I have seen my health take a turn for the better in several ways. I’ve been recommending it to my clients as well as family and friends, and I want you to benefit from it as well.

So, what exactly is berberine? It’s a natural, yellow-pigmented plant compound called an alkaloid that is found in the roots, stems, and bark of a wide variety of herbs, including goldenseal, European barberry, goldthread, greater celandine, Oregon grape, and tree turmeric. If this is the first you’ve heard of this compound, you may be surprised to learn that it has actually been around for centuries. Traditionally used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, berberine was historically used to treat gastrointestinal ailments and infections. Today, it is predominately used as a natural remedy for the following chronic conditions. 

1. Lowers Blood Sugar 

With nearly 1 in 10 individuals with diabetes and 1 in 3 with prediabetes in the United States alone, the prevalence of blood sugar abnormalities is higher than it has ever been before. Fortunately, one of berberine’s most impressive and well-studied benefits is its ability to lower blood sugar levels naturally. Some researchers have even found it to be just as effective as the leading diabetes medication, metformin. For example, berberine has been shown to improve the body’s response to insulin, which facilitates the uptake of glucose from your blood into your cells—where it is supposed to be. Personally, I can attest to this incredible benefit. Before consuming high-carbohydrate meals, I take Thorne’s berberine, which helps my body metabolize sugar more effectively. I can literally feel a difference in my physical and mental state if I forget to take it. 

2. Improves Cholesterol 

Beyond its blood sugar-lowering abilities, berberine may also help bring your cholesterol levels down. More specifically, clinical evidence has revealed that berberine can significantly reduce total cholesterol, artery-clogging LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. It may even assist in increasing beneficial HDL cholesterol, which removes excess LDL cholesterol from your bloodstream. Therefore, berberine alone has a similar effect to statins in improving cholesterol levels without the harmful side effects associated with statin use. 

3. Reduce Blood Pressure  

Berberine may also protect your heart by lowering high blood pressure. According to recent research, berberine supplementation has a more profound effect on reducing systolic blood pressure (the top reading) than diastolic blood pressure (the bottom reading). This benefit may be due to berberine’s ability to encourage the release of nitric oxide, a chemical messenger that relaxes blood vessels and improves blood flow. Although more research is needed, these promising results highlight berberine’s potential to aid in blood pressure control and improve cardiovascular health. 

4. Supports Gut Health 

I always tell my clients that the health of their gut is the gateway to the health of their entire body. In fact, a growing body of evidence has shown that imbalances in the gut are closely tied to the risk of developing chronic diseases. As mentioned above, berberine is a potent natural ingredient that can be used to manage diseases like type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol. New research suggests that one of the primary mechanisms that berberine uses to alleviate these conditions involves the regulation of the gut microbiota. Remarkably, berberine can increase the number of beneficial bacteria, reduce the number of harmful bacteria, lower intestinal inflammation, and protect the gut lining. 

5. Aids in Weight Loss 

Often touted as “nature’s Ozempic,” berberine may also promote weight loss. But, instead of suppressing your appetite and slowing digestion like Ozempic, berberine targets the underlying mechanism involved in weight gain—metabolic function. This exceptional compound activates an enzyme called adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which acts as the master switch of metabolism in the human body. When stimulated, AMPK enhances your body’s ability to burn off excess fat, subsequently leading to weight loss.

6. Manages PCOS Symptoms 

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that occurs when the ovaries produce abnormally high levels of hormones called androgens. Symptoms typically include ovarian cysts, irregular periods, infertility, excessive hair growth, acne, and weight gain. Although the exact cause of PCOS is unknown, one of the contributing factors is insulin resistance, which can lead to high blood sugar. Therefore, berberine may help to alleviate PCOS symptoms by lowering blood sugar levels and improving hormonal balance.

7. Combats Cancer 

If you thought this list couldn’t get any more impressive, berberine also has anti-cancer properties! This powerful bioactive compound has been shown to halt the growth and spread of cancer cells by initiating cancer cell death. To boost these cancer-protective properties, several researchers have looked at the use of nanotechnology-based strategies to enhance the delivery and absorption of berberine in the body. As a result, nanoparticles with berberine have been shown to inhibit the growth of several forms of cancer, including tongue and breast cancer.

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As with any new supplement, it’s important to talk to your doctor about the potential side effects and drug interactions before taking berberine—especially if you are already taking blood sugar or blood pressure-lowering medications. If you are interested in more ways to optimize your health and support your body’s metabolic function, consider booking a one-on-one session with me here.

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