Goldenseal Hydrastis canadensis medicinal plant. Hand drawn botanical vector illustration

by Paul Fassa
Health Impact News

The benefits of berberine are not as well known as most supplements on the market. It wasn’t even widely available until recently. Yet it has been tried and tested for type 2 diabetes and fat accumulation reduction, including that of fatty liver.

Our diabetic institutions are misleading people with pre-diabetics or metabolic syndrome testing and leading them into full-blown diabetes 2 with their recommendations, while mainstream medicine’s prescription diabetic drugs are questionably efficacious with dangerous side effects, such as bladder cancer and unpredictable interactions with other drugs. 

Dr. Jonathan Wright of the holistic Tahoma Clinic in Washington state notes that several studies have shown that berberine, an alkaloid found in the herb goldenseal and other natural sources, can lower blood glucose as effectively as the drug metformin at similar doses (500 mg 3x/day). (Source)

Studies Demonstrate Berberine’s Comprehensive Applications for All Symptoms Involved with Pre-Diabetes and Diabetes 2

Berberine is a yellow-colored alkaloid compound found in several different plants with antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and immune-enhancing properties. It’s effective against a wide range of bacteria, protozoa, and fungi. It has been used most commonly for treating gastrointestinal issues, including issues from food poisoning.

However, newer research has uncovered the benefits of berberine, an isoquinoline alkaloid, which are beyond its antimicrobial properties. According to the December 2012 edition of Natural Medicine Journal:

There are 3 general conditions for which we should consider berberine: metabolic syndrome, inflammation, and cancer. (…) Over a third of the approximately 2,800 studies on berberine listed on PubMed were published in the last 5 years. These studies reveal that berberine may have clinical applications in a range of conditions. 

In addition to effectively regulating hyperglycemia, there are 3 other aspects of metabolic syndrome that are handled effectively by the natural substance: inflammation, fatty liver, and dyslipidemia (excessive “bad cholesterol” and triglycerides) due to poorly metabolized fats. 

It is noteworthy to mention that a perusal of the journal article mentioned above reveals many of the studies it referenced were based in China, Korea, and Japan. Perhaps this reflects the lack of interest in Western medical circles. (Journal source)

The protocol of orally consuming berberine extracts three times daily is to counter its short “half-life” in one’s blood, which had originally caused many to assume taking it orally doesn’t work because the berberine blood level was too low shortly after consumption.

A review of 14 studies, Berberine in the Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Systemic Review and Meta-Analysis, concluded: 

Based on the existing evidence reviewed, berberine has beneficial effects on blood glucose control in the treatment of type 2 diabetic patients and exhibits efficacy comparable with that of conventional oral hypoglycaemics [but without side effects]. (Review source)

Regarding obesity connecting to pre-diabetes or metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance, here’s another study, Berberine Improves Insulin Sensitivity by Inhibiting Fat Store and Adjusting Adipokines Profile in Human Preadipocytes and Metabolic Syndrome Patients. 

The study referenced the known factor of fat tissue composed of higher amounts of small fat cells is less prone to inflammation and more sensitive to insulin compared with fat tissue of the same overall amount composed of a small number of large fat cells. 

Our results showed that berberine can promote human fat cell proliferation and inhibit fat cell enlargement, indicating that it may be able to reduce inflammation responses, improve insulin sensitivity of visceral adipose tissue, and reduce or eliminate the visceral adipose tissue.

Moreover, our in vivo [human] study also showed that, after taking berberine for three months, patients with metabolic syndrome were found to reduce their waist circumferences and BMI to varying degrees. This positive result, therefore, seems in good agreement with the in vitro study [lab culture]. (Study source)

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is a sort of an invisible “silent killer” that doesn’t get much press the way high blood pressure does. But it is on the rise, not from consuming healthy saturated fats, but from excess processed carbs, refined sugars, and high fruit corn syrup (HFCS).  


Saturated Fat Helps Avoid Diabetes

NAFLD hampers the liver’s vital functions, leading to all sorts of health complications. This study, Update on Berberine in Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, (NAFLD) a review that analyzed other studies related to berberine and NAFLD with detailed explanations of the biochemical processes that make natural berberine effective, summarized: 

NAFLD is the liver manifestation of obesity and the metabolic syndrome and is marked by lipid deposition and/or inflammation. In this review, we introduced the beneficial potential of a natural compound, BBR [berberine], in NAFLD and the possible mechanisms under the therapeutic actions.

Though most evidence based on experimental studies, and clinical trials need to be further confirmed, we still hold the belief that BBR [berberine] is a promising candidate in preventing and treating NAFLD in the future. (Study source)

The studies sourced above are full-text reports for those who are equipped and motivated and desiring to scrutinize. 

But essentially, AMPK (adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase) activation is the central mechanism of action behind Berberine’s benefits.

AMPK is a systemic enzyme that influences cellular energy and metabolism, leading to a cascading effect on a wide variety of metabolic processes and cellular health. 

This benefits several organs and their functions. Some are looking into berberine for heart health.

Here’s an overview of berberine’s health benefits for us laypersons:

  • Decreases insulin resistance, making the blood sugar-lowering hormone insulin more effective.
  • Increases glycolysis, helping the body break down sugars inside cells.
  • Decreases sugar production in the liver.
  • Slows the breakdown of carbohydrates in the gut.
  • Increases the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut. 
  • Berberine has proven to significantly lower weight through fat loss.
  • All without side effects.  (Source)

Berberine supplements are available online and from discount supplement suppliers as well as most health food stores. Prices are comparable with most other supplements.

For people already diagnosed with diabetes 2 or almost there with pre-diabetes, holistic doctor Jonathan Wright, MD, recommends dosing three times daily at 500 mg (milligrams).