I’m a big fan of herbal medicines to help with a number of health conditions that respond extremely well to natural therapies. The research on herbal medicines continues to grow as we learn more and more about their unique properties that accelerate healing.
Loads of recent research about the compound berberine has shown it to be extremely useful for managing blood sugar and insulin resistance as well as a number of common health conditions. I have been using berberine for years to treat infections in the gastrointestinal tract such as bacteria, viruses, parasites and yeasts like candida albicans. However, we have learned in recent years that berberine’s benefits go far beyond treating infections.
Berberine is a compound found in the following herbs:
- Oregon grape root
- Chinese goldthread
Berberine can potentially be useful for the following conditions:
- Type 2 diabetes and it’s complications such as neuropathy and retinopathy
- Elevated cholesterol and triglycerides
- Metabolic syndrome (high blood sugar, high cholesterol, diabetes, fatty liver)
- Insulin Resistance
- Stimulation of bile flow for a stagnant liver/gallbladder complex
- Infections including fungi, parasites, bacteria, viruses
- Improves nitric oxide levels (better blood flow)
- PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)
- Reduces weight gain triggered by antipsychotic medications
- High blood pressure
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
How does it work for so many things?
Berberine stimulates AMPK which is an enzyme involved in regulating metabolism so taking berberine is like getting the benefits of exercise without really exercising. You can clearly see that most of the conditions listed above are a result of a lack of exercise and a poor diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates. Since berberine enhances insulin receptors and the utilization of blood glucose it only makes sense that it works for so many health conditions.
Berberine can actually increase the movement of blood sugar into your muscles without insulin being present! This is how it works so well for insulin resistance. If you are a patient of mine you know we talk a lot about increasing lean muscle mass to create a powerful healing response and berberine is a great herbal medicine to rapidly improve your body composition.
Berberine has also been shown to work synergistically with medications such as statins which are used to lower cholesterol levels. Statins work even better when combined with berberine. Berberine was compared to the drug metformin in type 2 diabetics and it was just as good for blood sugar control but it had additional benefits that the metformin did not have such as lowering cholesterol and triglycerides.
If you have had blood testing with me you know we talk about the importance of healthy hemoglobin A1c levels which is a good marker of insulin resistance and berberine has been shown to lower A1c levels effectively. It will also help you lower fasting glucose levels, inflammation (C-reactive protein), cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and insulin levels.
If you have hit a sticking point in your weight loss goals then berberine could be something to try that really gets you over the hump without changing what you are doing with your diet and exercise.
How much should you take?
The dose used in the berberine versus Metformin study was 500 mg three times a day with meals which is an effective dose for most people. Some people will experience digestive system upset at this dose so lowering the dose to tolerance is recommended in these cases.
Berberine should not be taken unless you are under doctor supervision if you are also taking medications of any type as berberine may interfere with their action.
We live in exciting times as we learn more and more about what Mother Nature has provided us for the best in health and healing. Berberine has climbed to the top of my herbal medicine formulary for not only infections, but blood sugar related conditions and so much more.