Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Incredible Health Effects of Berberine

Berberine has been found to work as an antibiotic, and anti-fungal/anti-candida agent, reduce LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, support the cardiovascular system, works as an anti-inflammatory, reduces fatty liver disease, reduces leaky gut syndrome, acts as an antidepressant, and has anti-cancer effects.  It also lowers blood sugar and reduces insulin resistance, in one study as effectively as metformin.

Because people with diabetes are at risk for candida, high cholesterol and triglycerides, heart disease, inflammation, fatty liver, intestinal problems, mood disorders and cancer, they may want to consider taking berberine to not only assist in lowering blood sugar, but in protecting their body from all the risks associated with diabetes.

(SpringTree Glucose Balance has 500 mg of berberine with each serving.)

Berberine is a strongly yellow colored compound found in plants such as Oregon grape, Barberry, Goldenseal and others.  It has been used for centuries for both its medicinal properties and as a natural dye.
Berberine is a nucleic acid-binding isoquinolone alkaloid with wide potential therapeutic properties.  Berberine prevents and suppresses proinflammatory cytokines, E-selectin, and genes, and increases adiponectin expression.

Antibiotic properties
Berberine has long been used as an antibiotic, such as in Goldenseal.  Studies have shown that it has effectiveness against Staphylococcus Aureus, and possibly against MRSA. 

Antifungal and antiyeast properties
Berberine has shown some activity against fungal infections, Candida albicans, yeast, parasites, and bacterial/viral infections. Berberine seems to exert synergistic effects with fluconazole (an anti-fungal medication) even in drug-resistant C. albicans infections. 

Support of the cardiovascular system
During the last few decades, many studies have shown berberine has various beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system.  Berberine lowers elevated blood total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and atherogenic apolipoproteins (Apo B).  It seems to improve arterial endothelial function.  Clinical and experimental studies show that berberine may be useful in congestive heart failure.

Anti-inflammatory properties
 Berberine has significant anti-inflammatory activities.  It restores cellular redox by inhibiting gp91phos expression and enhancing SOD, the body's super anti-oxidant.  It suppresses pro-inflammatory cytokines and reduces pro-inflammatory gene expression.

Profoundly positive effects in diabetes
Exciting new research is showing that berberine has been shown to lower elevated blood glucose as effectively as metformin.  Using 500 mg. three times per day, there were significant decreases in hemoglobin A1C, fasting blood glucose, after meal (postprandial) blood glucose, and triglyceride levels.  The mechanisms of action include inhibition of aldose reductase, inducing glycolysis, preventing insulin resistance through increasing insulin receptor expression and acting like incretins.  A new study suggested berberine may overcome insulin resistance via modulating key molecules in insulin signaling pathway, leading to increased glucose uptake in insulin-resistant cells.

Fatty liver disease
Berberine reduces hepatic fat content in the rats of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Berberine also prevents proliferation of hepatic stellate cells (HSCs), which are central for the development of fibrosis during liver injury.

Berberine has drawn extensive attention towards its antineoplastic effects. It seems to suppress the growth of a wide variety of tumor cells, including breast cancer, leukemia, melanoma, epidermoid carcinoma, hepatoma, pancreatic cancer, oral carcinoma, tongue carcinoma, glioblastoma, prostate carcinoma and gastric carcinoma. Animal studies have shown that berberine can suppress chemical-induced carcinogenesis, clastogenesis, tumor promotion, tumor invasion, prostate cancer, neuroblastoma, and leukemia.

Brain and Mental Health
Berberine seems to act as an herbal antidepressant and a neuroprotector against neurodegenerative disorders.  As berberine is a natural compound that has been safely administered to humans, preliminary results have been found in clinical trials in patients with depression, bipolar affective disorder, schizophrenia, or related diseases in which cognitive capabilities are affected, with either the extract or pure berberine.   It increases noradrenaline and serotonin levels in the brain (rats) while inhibiting dopaminergic activity.  It may increase the number of serotonin transporters available in the brain, enhacing the reuptake of serotonin.  The half-life of berberine in vivo seems to be three to four hours, thus suggesting administration three times a day if steady levels are to be achieved.

New experimental results suggest berberine may have a potential for inhibition and prevention of Alzheimers Disease(AD), mainly through both cholinesterase (ChEs) inhibitory and β-amyloids pathways, and additionally through antioxidant capacities.

Intestinal Disorders
As an antibiotic and antifungal berberine reduces intestinal dysbiosis (abnormal gut bacteria and yeast).  Berberine can ameliorate proinflammatory cytokines-induced intestinal epithelial tight junction damage (which causes "leaky gut syndrome") in vitro, and berberine may be one of the targeted therapeutic agents that can restore barrier function in intestinal disease states.

Consider Berberine as one of your regular supplements, especially if you have pre-diabetes or diabetes.

Until we meet again,
Dr. Judi


LPK said...

Hi Dr. Judi -

I've just started taking Berberine for Leaky Gut Syndrome. I also take an extensive battery of supplements (because the LGS has given me chronic malabsorption problems), including vitamins and minerals, kelp, enzymes and probiotics. My blood pressure is normal and my fasting glucose is normal (higher side, though).

I was wondering if there are any "drug" (supplement) interactions with any of those that you know about, or that I should be aware of?

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I specifically would like to know if there are interactions with benfotiamine. Both these supplements are supposed to have similar effects. What happens if someone I'd taking both?

Dr. Judi said...

The one major interaction that is warned against is with the medication cyclosporine. It lowers how quickly cyclosporine is broken down in the body and the drug can build up and cause side effects.

Though studies have shown berberine to be very safe, there are possible interactions that are theory and have not been well studied. They can be found at

I know of no possible interaction with benfotiamine. We have both berberine and benfotiamine in SpringTree Health's Glucose Balance.

Anonymous said...

Is berberine safe to take long term?

Dr. Judi said...

Berberine has a good safety record. However, not a lot of studies have been done on its long term use. As it has been used for a long time in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, there is probably little toxicity if you get the product from a reputable manufacturer.

There are some interactions with medications, so if you are taking a medication look up berberine with that medication and see if there is an interaction.

If taken in high doses all at once it can cause some abdominal cramping and discomfort, so it is best to take several times through the day.

Anonymous said...

What would be a good dose of berberine to heal a leaky gut?

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