Ever heard of berberine? Yeah, didn’t think so.
Berberine might just be the best kept secret in the supplement world. It offers a broad range of health-boosting qualities—and it’s got science on its side.
Let’s start with the basics: Berberine is an alkaloid (a plant compound that causes physiological reactions in humans) extracted from several different plants, including the barberry, tree turmeric, goldenseal, and prickly poppy, among others. It’s usually found in the roots, stems, or bark of these plants. It’s known for its stunning yellow color and has been prized by ancient Ayurvedic and Chinese medical systems for thousands of years. And while berberine may not be a household name, it’s got serious star qualities.
Healthy Blood-Sugar Levels
Berberine is perhaps most popular for its potential in promoting stable blood-sugar levels. In a study done by Evidence Based Complementary Alternative Medicine, patients with metabolic syndrome (which is marked by high blood sugar, weight gain, and high blood pressure) were given berberine for three months, and saw more stable insulin responses, as well as lowered body mass indexes.
What’s more, a study published by Natural Medicine Journal found that a mix of berberine and lifestyle modifications (like exercise and healthy eating) caused significant hypoglycemic and antidyslipidemic (stabilizing lipids in the blood) benefits.
A study published by the journal Metabolism found that berberine also helped to promote lower cholesterol levels. After giving patients with high cholesterol berberine extract over a period of three months, the study’s subjects saw a 25-28 percent improvement in their cholesterol levels.
Related: Shop berberine products, from capsules to liquids.
Berberine has also been shown to reduce triglycerides (a fat that increases risk of heart attack) levels, as another study published in Metabolism found.
In fact, more than a few studies have found that berberine promotes overall cardiovascular health. Research published in the American Journal of Cardiology even showed that berberine promotes increased life expectancy for patients with congestive heart disease. Berberine, anyone?
Great news for those of you who want to shed a few pounds: Berberine promotes thermogenesis (the burning of fat), according to the Journal of Natural Communication. In fact, in a study published by Evidence Based Alternative Complementary Medicine, patients who used berberine extract saw their BMIs decrease by a lot—specifically, from 31.5 to 27.4. Together with a smart healthy eating and fitness plan, it’s possible that berberine can help you shrink that waist.
In addition, a study published in Phytomedicine looked at obese patients who took 500mg of berberine three times daily for 12 weeks. The results? An average loss of five pounds, on top of improved triglyceride and cholesterol levels. Win-win.
Tummy issues? According to a study in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, berberine can be used to promote relief from diarrhea. Take note, however: If you ingest a lot of berberine or too much at once, you may find yourself with a bit of a stomach cramp.
Berberine is typically taken in capsule or liquid form. It’s generally dosed at 500 mg-2,000 mg a day, but it’s best to break up the doses into many smaller doses in order to avoid stomach upset. Berberine extract is typically safe, but it should be taken with or after a meal.