Berberine has undoubtedly become a hot topic lately, with social media dubbing it “nature’s Ozempic.” But behind the buzz, is there scientific evidence supporting the claims? Let’s delve into the world of berberine to understand its properties, applications, and the latest advancements that make it even more promising.
What is Berberine?
Berberine is a powerful alkaloid naturally found in plants such as Goldenseal, Oregon Grape, and the Barberry family. For over 3,000 years, various cultures, especially in Asia, have used these plant parts rich in berberine for their medicinal properties. In recent years, berberine has gained popularity as a tool to support weight management and more.
The Science Behind Berberine:
The historical uses of berberine have been validated by modern science. Several clinical studies have shown that taking berberine in supplement form can lead to improvements in overall metabolism and body composition, as well as promoting healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels and supporting the immune system.
Blood Sugar and Cholesterol Benefits
The benefits of berberine for blood sugar and cholesterol are linked to its ability to stimulate AMPK, an enzyme produced in the body that serves as an energy sensor, synching metabolic changes for optimal energy production and storage. By stimulating AMPK, berberine promotes the body’s use of glucose for short- and long-term energy and the metabolism of cholesterol. It helps remove cholesterol from the bloodstream and inhibits the formation of lipids by the liver. Studies show berberine can increase levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol while lowering triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol.
Berberine has also been shown to improve insulin sensitivity. Insulin is the hormone responsible for moving glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream to the cells where it is used for energy. Improving insulin sensitivity has a positive effect on managing blood sugar levels, energy, and enhancing satiety (feeling of fullness). In studies of the phytosome form, which is discussed later in this blog, subjects experienced a positive impact on body composition, including changes in adipose tissue distribution.
Berberine Gut Health and Body Fat
Berberine shows promise in modulating the human gut microbiome. It is well known that the gut microbiota plays a role in regulating metabolism and can impact body weight. In particular, levels of the native bacteria, Akkermansia Muciniphila, (A. muciniphila) have been shown to correlate with glucose and lipid metabolism as well as body fat percentage. Low levels of this bacteria have been linked to metabolic and weight issues, as well as chronic inflammation.
As a prebiotic, berberine has been shown to reduce levels of harmful bacteria, while increasing levels of A. muciniphila. It is thought this may be one of the mechanisms by which it helps to support metabolism and weight loss.
Additionally, studies suggest that berberine may improve small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and improve the quality of life for those living with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), based on self-reported assessments.
The Rise of Berberine Phytosome
One of the challenges with berberine lies in its limited absorption by the body. To achieve a therapeutic effect, a significant amount of berberine may be necessary, which can sometimes be hard on the digestive system, causing discomfort for some individuals.
Modern science has found an innovative solution to enhance berberine’s bioavailability and tolerability. Researchers have developed a superior supplement form, a “Berberine Phytosome,” where berberine is combined with a phospholipid (fat) compound. This unique combination significantly improves the absorption of berberine in the body, making it nearly ten times more bioavailable than traditional forms.
How to Take Berberine Phytosome:
Clinical studies typically use daily dosages of raw berberine ranging from 500 mg to 1,500 mg in adults. Phytosome dosages are smaller (188 mg, standardized to contain between 28% and 34% of berberine).
Berberine is not intended for those with impaired glucose metabolism and shouldn’t be taken during pregnancy or while breastfeeding without checking with a physician. Berberine may interact with prescription medications, such as metformin, as it shares a similar mechanism of action. Berberine can prolong bleeding time and should be used cautiously by those taking blood thinners or going for surgery. As with any supplement, it is essential to consult with a physician before use, especially if you are pregnant or nursing, taking other medications, or have a pre-existing medical condition.
Berberine is indeed a remarkable plant-based substance with a rich historical background and a promising future in modern medicine. Its potential benefits for weight management, blood sugar regulation, heart health, and immune support have piqued the interest of health enthusiasts and researchers alike.
To fully harness the advantages of berberine, the latest advancements in the form of Berberine Phytosome offer a game-changing solution. With improved absorption and better tolerability, this advanced form ensures that individuals can enjoy the full benefits of berberine.
Ye Y, Liu X, Wu N, et al. Efficacy and Safety of Berberine Alone for Several Metabolic Disorders: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. Front Pharmacol. 2021 Apr 26;12:653887. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2021.653887.
Xie W, Su F, Wang G, Peng Z, Xu Y, Zhang Y, Xu N, Hou K, Hu Z, Chen Y and Chen R (2022) Glucose-lowering effect of berberine on type 2 diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Front. Pharmacol.13:1015045. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2022.1015045.
Kong W, Wei J, Abidi P, et al. Berberine is a novel cholesterol-lowering drug working through a unique mechanism distinct from statins. Nat Med. 2004 Dec;10(12):1344-51. Doi: 10.1038/nm1135. Epub 2004 Nov 7. PMID: 15531889.
Zhou, Q., Zhang, Y., Wang, X. et al. Gut bacteria Akkermansia is associated with reduced risk of obesity: evidence from the American Gut Project. Nutr Metab (Lond) 17, 90 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12986-020-00516-1