Berberine Review: The Good, The Bad, & The Bottom Line


Henry’s rating 3 out of 5

Berberine reviewBerberine is an herbal supplement derived from a few different plants, including European barberry, goldenseal, goldthread, Oregon grape, phellodendron, and tree tumeric. With that kind of pedigree, it sounds like it should have quite a few healing and medicinal purposes. And it does! Like many supplements that have found their way into modern Western Alterative Medicine, Berberine has been used in Traditional Chinese and Traditional Indian medicine for centuries. In TCM and Ayurvedic medicine, Berberine has been used to treat everything from infections to heart disease.

 But it is its effects on the heart and circulation that bear closer examination. Specifically the way it seems to effect glucose metabolism. Berberine first started catching the attention of the supplement crowd as a natural alterative to prescription drugs used to treat diabetes.

There has been legitimate clinical trials that have indicated that Berberine could be effective, and in some cases more effective, in managing blood sugar as the commonly prescribed anti-diabetic drug Metformin.

Since diabetes is related to “metabolic syndrome” and obesity, by extension then, the theory is that Berberine, in addition to being helpful to diabetics, could also be used for weightloss in the general population. But is that a valid conclusion to make? Let’s take a look.

 The Research on Berberine

There are published and peer reviewed clinical trails that do indicate Berberine is as effective as prescription drugs used to moderate blood glucose levels in people with diabetes.

Two specific studies used typical “double blind” methodology to directly compare Berberine in the same dosages to Metformin in patients with Type 2 diabetes.

The researchers were “surprised that the glucose-lowering effects of Berberine were found to be very similar to that of Metformin. In fact, it was superior in several ways.”  Of further interest and significance, in another study that gave supplemental Berberine to diabetes patients who where on daily insulin, Berberine improved the uptake of injected insulin, and may increase natural secretion of insulin.

That last part is significant, because it would seem to indicate that Berberine could overcome “insulin resistance” which is a common cause of obesity. It is this effect that has lead to the promotion of Berberine as a “fat burner” and weight loss supplement.

A recent study conducted in South Dakota, published in the journal Phytomedicine, looked specifically at Berberine and weight loss.

In the study, subjects took 500 mg of Berberine three times a day. After 12 weeks, subjects lost an average of five pounds. Five pounds in 12 weeks is hardly miraculous, but  what was significant is that Berberine reduced the levels of fatty acids in the blood by  23 percent, and cholesterol by 12.2 percent. There have been several other studies that have shown Berberine to be effective in reducing both cholesterol and triglycerides.

There have also been several animal studies in India that indicate Berberine could have a memory enhancing effect.

 How to Use Berberine

How to take Berberine depends on what you are using it for. In most trials that have evaluated Berberine it was taken in a 500 Mg dose 3 times per day.

Who Should Use Berberine?

Studies seem to indicate that people with Type 2 diabetes could certainly benefit from Berberine, however they should not consider replacing, or adding to any of their prescription medications without consulting with their physicians.

According to those who sell supplemental Berberine for weight loss — anybody who is struggling with weight should consider adding it to his or her diet and supplement regimen. As far as The Hound is concerned, the jury is still out on the claims about weight loss, but there is a lot of good evidence for general health, and cholesterol control. I say it is better just taken as a good supplement for those who know they are struggling with cholesterol and triglycerides, and potential heart disease.

 The Good

There is a lot of good clinical research backing up the claims made about Berberine and Diabetes. It is all-natural, it comes from plants that have been used for centuries for all sorts of medicinal purposes in India and Asia, and as such is generally regarded as safe.

 The Bad

According to WebMD the only side effects or dangers regarding the use of Berberine are in children, pregnant women, and nursing mothers, and it should NOT be used by any of the above.

 The Bottom Line

Berberine has been shown to have a significant beneficial effect on type 2 diabetes, and may be as effective, or more so, than prescription medications in controlling glucose levels and insulin metabolism. For this and its possible effectiveness as a weightloss supplement, and a memory booster – I give it three out of five stars and will continue to watch for further research.



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