By Nurse Mark
Wouldn’t it be great if there were one supplement that could serve a variety of health-improving functions?
What about a supplement that could:
- lower and stabilize LDL (bad) cholesterol
- help in weight loss
- lower and stabilize high blood sugar
- reverse metabolic syndrome and diabetes
- reduce inflammation
- exert powerful broad-spectrum antimicrobial and antifungal effects
- have antiarrhythmic effects on the heart
- be useful in treating congestive heart failure
- treat fatty liver disease
- treat a wide variety of cancers
- treat polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- protect the kidneys of diabetics
- helps prevent formation of cataracts in diabetics
- help to protect the brain during and after a stroke
- even mimic the beneficial effects of exercise in the body
What one substance could do all these things?
Long overshadowed by other, more commercially popular herbs Berberine has become the subject of a number of recent research studies that are proving it to be one of the more versatile and popular natural supplements.
What is berberine?
Berberine is an alkaloid that is found in such plants as Oregon grape, barberry, tree turmeric, goldenseal, Phellodendron amurense, Chinese goldthread, prickly poppy, Californian poppy and others. Berberine is usually found in the roots, rhizomes, stems, and bark of these plants.
Why the sudden interest in Berberine?
Dr. Myatt and some other naturopathic practitioners have successfully used this herb in their practices for a long time – perhaps Big Pharma is just now taking notice and wondering if they can muscle in with a synthetic version but needs to fund the research that will justify their efforts.
Let’s look at the details of Berberine’s “magic” and the research that is being done:
Berberine and cholesterol:
Big Pharma, smarting from the failures of it’s dangerous statin drugs, is suddenly very interested in Berberine and is investigating it as if it is a drug to be patented and marketed. Here is just one of a number of studies:
This study was published in Phytomedicine in July of 2012 and is titled “Lipid-lowering effect of berberine in human subjects and rats.”
Our previous studies demonstrated that berberine, an alkaloid originally isolated from traditional Chinese herbs, prevented fat accumulation in vitro and in vivo. [...] But more interestingly, the treatment …500 mg berberine orally three times a day for twelve weeks… significantly reduced blood lipid levels (23% decrease of triglyceride and 12.2% decrease of cholesterol levels) in human subjects. [...] Tests of hematological, cardiovascular, liver, and kidney function following berberine treatment showed no detrimental side effects to this natural compound. Collectively, this study demonstrates that berberine is a potent lipid-lowering compound with a moderate weight loss effect, and may have a possible potential role in osteoporosis treatment/prevention. (1)
Weight Loss and berberine:
It is worth noting that the study quoted above also showed that berberine exhibited “a moderate weight loss effect” – something else that Big Pharma would like to be able to put into a pill! (A pill that doesn’t cause heart attacks or diarrhea, that it…)
Berberine and Blood sugar and Diabetes:
Given the health disasters encountered with recent diabetes drug offerings, it is no surprise that Big Pharma would love to figure out how to synthesize something with berberine’s safety and effectiveness. Here is one study (slightly edited for clarity)
“Efficacy of berberine in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus” was published in Metabolism in May of 2008:
Berberine has been shown to regulate glucose and lipid metabolism in vitro and in vivo. This pilot study was to determine the efficacy and safety of berberine in the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus patients.
In study A, 36 adults with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes mellitus were randomly assigned to treatment with berberine or metformin (0.5 g 3 times a day) in a 3-month trial. The hypoglycemic effect of berberine was similar to that of metformin.
Significant decreases in hemoglobin A1c (from 9.5%+/-0.5% to 7.5%+/-0.4%, P<.01), fasting blood glucose (from 10.6 to 6.9), postprandial blood glucose (from 19.8 to 11.1), and plasma triglycerides (from 1.13 to 0.89) were observed in the berberine group.
In study B, 48 adults with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes mellitus were treated supplemented with berberine in a 3-month trial.
Berberine acted by lowering fasting blood glucose and postprandial blood glucose from 1 week to the end of the trial. Hemoglobin A1c decreased from 8.1 to 7.3. Fasting plasma insulin and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance index were reduced by 28.1% and 44.7%, respectively. Total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol were decreased significantly as well. Functional liver or kidney damages were not observed for all patients.
In conclusion, this pilot study indicates that berberine is a potent oral hypoglycemic agent with beneficial effects on lipid metabolism.
In summary, that berberine is a potent oral hypoglycemic agent with modest effect on lipid metabolism. It is safe and the cost of treatment by berberine is very low. It may serve as a new drug candidate in the treatment of type 2 diabetes.(2)
Berberine and Metabolic Syndrome:
Wouldn’t Big Pharma just love to come up with a drug that could stave off the damaging effects of this latest health epidemic! It seems however that Mother Nature has beaten them to it…
A study titled “Berberine reduces insulin resistance through protein kinase C-dependent up-regulation of insulin receptor expression” published in Metabolism. 2009 Jan states:
Natural product berberine (BBR) has been reported to have hypoglycemic and insulin-sensitizing activities; however, its mechanism remains unclear. This study was designed to investigate the molecular mechanism of BBR against insulin resistance. [...] Our results suggest that BBR is a unique natural medicine against insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome.(3)
Berberine to reduce inflammation?
“The anti-inflammatory potential of berberine in vitro and in vivo.” was published in The Cancer Letter in 2004 and states in part:
Berberine, an isoquinoline alkaloid, has a wide range of pharmacological effects, including anti-inflammation [...] (4)
And Berberine as a broad-spectrum antimicrobial? The drug companies wish they could offer something as safe and effective as this supplement…
A paper titled “Effect of berberine on Staphylococcus epidermidis biofilm formation” published in 2009 in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents says:
berberine at a concentration of 15-30mug/mL was shown to inhibit bacterial metabolism. Data from this study also indicated that modest concentrations of berberine (30-45mug/mL) were sufficient to exhibit an antibacterial effect and to inhibit biofilm formation significantly (5)
So, it’s effective against bacteria… but how about viruses? It turns out that maybe Big Pharma is barking up the wrong tree with their “flu vaccines”…
An article titled “Inhibition of H1N1 influenza A virus growth and induction of inflammatory mediators by the isoquinoline alkaloid berberine and extracts of goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)” [Note: goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) is another name for berberine] published in International Immunopharmacology, November 2011 states:
We found strong effectiveness at high concentrations, although upon dilution extracts were somewhat less effective than purified berberine. Taken together, our results suggest that berberine may indeed be useful for the treatment of infections with influenza A. (6)
What about the cardiovascular actions of berberine? Well, here is a paper that is oddly enough titled “Cardiovascular actions of berberine” that was published in the fall 2001 issue of Cardiovascular Drug Review that says, in part:
The cardiovascular effects of berberine suggest its possible clinical usefulness in the treatment of arrhythmias and/or heart failure. (7)
Can berberine really treat fatty liver disease? The Chinese are very interested, and published the following article in 2011: “Research on therapeutic effect and hemorrheology change of berberine in new diagnosed patients with type 2 diabetes combining nonalcoholic fatty liver disease” in which the authors conclude:
Berberine can obviously improve the conditions of new diagnostic T2DM [type II diabetes] patients with non alcoholic liver lesions, effectively reduce hemorrheology indicators, and has good application prospect. (8)
Am I going to make claims that berberine can treat a wide variety of cancers? No, I’ll let the researchers do that…
The article “The natural alkaloid berberine targets multiple pathways to induce cell death in cultured human colon cancer cells” in the European Journal of Pharmacology, August 2012 says:
The results of the current study demonstrated that berberine has the ability to cause cell cycle arrest, induce apoptosis and inhibit inflammation in colon cancer cells. The magnitude of the effects observed suggests that berberine may be worth considering for further studies of its potential applications for improving health, either as a preventative or a potential treatment. (9)
The journal Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology in July 2006 published an article titled “Inhibitory effect of berberine on the invasion of human lung cancer cells via decreased productions of urokinase-plasminogen activator and matrix metalloproteinase-2″ that reported:
These findings suggest that berberine possesses an anti-metastatic effect in non-small lung cancer cell and may, therefore, be helpful in clinical treatment. (10)
“Berberine-induced growth inhibition of epithelial ovarian carcinoma cell lines” was the article in Journal of Obstetrical and Gynaecology Res. in March of 2012 that said:
Berberine treatment can inhibit proliferation through a cell cycle arrest in OVCAR-3 and SKOV-3 cells. Thus, berberine may be a novel anticancer drug for the treatment of ovarian cancer. (11)
And another: “Berberine suppresses the TPA-induced MMP-1 and MMP-9 expressions through the inhibition of PKC-α in breast cancer cells” was published in the Journal of Surgical Res. July 2012 edition and states:
The TPA-induced PKC-α phosphorylation is suppressed and then the MMP-1 and MMP-9 expressions are also inhibited by berberine. Therefore, we suggest that berberine may be used as a candidate drug for the inhibition of metastasis of human breast cancer. (12)
Sounds like there is some good evidence of anti-cancer effects in those studies…
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) responds well to berberine too – as is shown in this January 2012 article in the European Journal of Endocrinology titled “A clinical study on the short-term effect of berberine in comparison to metformin on the metabolic characteristics of women with polycystic ovary syndrome”
Berberine (BBR) is an isoquinoline derivative alkaloid extracted from Chinese medicinal herbs that has been used as an insulin sensitizer. BBR may have a potential therapeutic value for PCOS. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of BBR in comparison to metformin (MET) on the metabolic features of women with PCOS. [...] Intake of BBR improved some of the metabolic and hormonal derangements in a group of treated Chinese women with PCOS. Main effects could be related to the changes in body composition in obesity and dyslipidemia. (13)
Can berberine really protect the kidneys of diabetics from diabetes-induced damage? An awful lot of lab rats seem to think so – there are a number of studies that have been done that show a powerful protective, even healing effect on the kidneys of lab rats that have been damaged by diabetes. One such study was published in the June 2012 issue of Phytomedicine titled “Ameliorative effect of berberine on renal damage in rats with diabetes induced by high-fat diet and streptozotocin” and says:
The results revealed that berberine significantly decreased fasting blood glucose, insulin levels, total cholesterol, triglyceride levels, urinary protein excretion, serum creatinine (Scr) and blood urea nitrogen (BUN) in diabetic rats. The histological examinations revealed amelioration of diabetes-induced glomerular pathological changes following treatment with berberine. In addition, the protein expressions of nephrin and podocin were significantly increased. It seems likely that in rats berberine exerts an ameliorative effect on renal damage in diabetes induced by high-fat diet and streptozotocin. The possible mechanisms for the renoprotective effects of berberine may be related to inhibition of glycosylation and improvement of antioxidation that in turn upregulate the expressions of renal nephrin and podocin. (14)
Berberine really protects against the brain damage of a stroke? These researchers think so, and they presented their findings in the December 2008 issue of the Neuroscience Letter in the article titled: “Neuroprotective effects of berberine on stroke models in vitro and in vivo”:
We found that berberine improved neurological outcome and reduced ischemia/reperfusion (I/R)-induced cerebral infarction 48h after MCAO. The protective effect of berberine was confirmed in in vitro study. Berberine protected PC12 cells against oxygen-glucose deprivation (OGD)-induced injury. The results showed that berberine inhibited reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, and subsequent release of pro-apoptotic factor cytochrome c and apoptosis-inducing factors (AIFs) evoked by OGD. Findings of this study suggest that berberine protects against ischemic brain injury by decreasing the intracellular ROS level and subsequently inhibiting mitochondrial apoptotic pathway. (15)
There is evidence that berberine can help to prevent the formation of cataracts in diabetics. A 2002 report in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry revealed that berberine is an aldose reductase inhibitor.
…berberines and palmatines may be useful as lead compounds and new agents for aldose reductase inhibition. (16)
Aldose reductase plays a role in diabetic cataract formation, and inhibition helps prevent cataract formation.
Inhibition of aldose reductase could significantly prevent progression of existing cataracts. (17)
And finally, surely nothing but grunting, sweating exercise can produce the beneficial effects of exercise in the body, right? Well, that may not be entirely true – it looks like berberine might just be able to have some of those same beneficial effects. In a December 2012 article titled “Clinical Applications for Berberine” Dr. Jacon Schor states:
Berberine activates AMPK in a manner similar to how exercise stimulates increased strength and weight loss. Thus, any condition that would be favorably impacted by a patient losing weight and/or exercising more may be impacted favorably by oral berberine supplementation. It makes sense to consider using berberine in patients with insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, hypertension, heart disease, dyslipidemia, cancer, depression, and other neuropsychiatric diseases. (18)
So, is berberine “the defining miracle of the 21st century”? Maybe not. But is sure is looking like an effective and safe “Swiss Army Knife” for treating a wide variety of medical conditions. What has been presented here is only a tiny sampling of the research available on this amazing substance!
Dr. Myatt recognized the value of berberine a very long time ago, and she makes a high potency, pharmaceutical grade berberine available to her patients – and to you. Find Berberine + Ultra here.
1) Hu Y, Ehli EA, Kittelsrud J, Ronan PJ, Munger K, Downey T, Bohlen K, Callahan L, Munson V, Jahnke M, Marshall LL, Nelson K, Huizenga P, Hansen R, Soundy TJ, Davies GE. Lipid-lowering effect of berberine in human subjects and rats. Phytomedicine. 2012 Jul 15;19(10):861-7. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2012.05.009. Epub 2012 Jun 26. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22739410
2) Jun Yin, Huili Xing, and Jianping Yeb. Efficacy of Berberine in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes. Metabolism. 2008 May; 57(5): 712–717. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2410097/
3) Kong WJ, Zhang H, Song DQ, Xue R, Zhao W, Wei J, Wang YM, Shan N, Zhou ZX, Yang P, You XF, Li ZR, Si SY, Zhao LX, Pan HN, Jiang JD. Berberine reduces insulin resistance through protein kinase C-dependent up-regulation of insulin receptor expression. Metabolism. 2009 Jan;58(1):109-19. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19059538
4) Kuo CL, Chi CW, Liu TY. The anti-inflammatory potential of berberine in vitro and in vivo. Cancer Lett. 2004 Jan 20;203(2):127-37. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14732220
5) Wang X, Yao X, Zhu Z, Tang T, Dai K, Sadovskaya I, Flahaut S, Jabbouri S. Effect of berberine on Staphylococcus epidermidis biofilm formation. Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2009 Jul;34(1):60-6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19157797
6) Cecil CE, Davis JM, Cech NB, Laster SM. Inhibition of H1N1 influenza A virus growth and induction of inflammatory mediators by the isoquinoline alkaloid berberine and extracts of goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis). Int Immunopharmacol. 2011 Nov;11(11):1706-14. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21683808
7) Lau CW, Yao XQ, Chen ZY, Ko WH, Huang Y. Cardiovascular actions of berberine. Cardiovasc Drug Rev. 2001 Fall;19(3):234-44. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11607041
8.) Xie X, Meng X, Zhou X, Shu X, Kong H. [Research on therapeutic effect and hemorrheology change of berberine in new diagnosed patients with type 2 diabetes combining nonalcoholic fatty liver disease]. [Article in Chinese] Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2011 Nov;36(21):3032-5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22308697
9) Chidambara Murthy KN, Jayaprakasha GK, Patil BS. The natural alkaloid berberine targets multiple pathways to induce cell death in cultured human colon cancer cells. Eur J Pharmacol. 2012 Aug 5;688(1-3):14-21. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22617025
10) Peng PL, Hsieh YS, Wang CJ, Hsu JL, Chou FP. Inhibitory effect of berberine on the invasion of human lung cancer cells via decreased productions of urokinase-plasminogen activator and matrix metalloproteinase-2. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2006 Jul 1;214(1):8-15. Epub 2006 Jan 4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16387334
11) Park KS, Kim JB, Lee SJ, Bae J. Berberine-induced growth inhibition of epithelial ovarian carcinoma cell lines. J Obstet Gynaecol Res. 2012 Mar;38(3):535-40. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22381105
12) Kim S, Han J, Lee SK, Choi MY, Kim J, Lee J, Jung SP, Kim JS, Kim JH, Choe JH, Lee JE, Nam SJ. Berberine suppresses the TPA-induced MMP-1 and MMP-9 expressions through the inhibition of PKC-α in breast cancer cells. J Surg Res. 2012 Jul;176(1):e21-9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22381172
13) Wei W, Zhao H, Wang A, Sui M, Liang K, Deng H, Ma Y, Zhang Y, Zhang H, Guan Y. A clinical study on the short-term effect of berberine in comparison to metformin on the metabolic characteristics of women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Eur J Endocrinol. 2012 Jan;166(1):99-105 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22019891
14) Wu D, Wen W, Qi CL, Zhao RX, Lü JH, Zhong CY, Chen YY. Ameliorative effect of berberine on renal damage in rats with diabetes induced by high-fat diet and streptozotocin. Phytomedicine. 2012 Jun 15;19(8-9):712-8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22483555
15) Zhou XQ, Zeng XN, Kong H, Sun XL. Neuroprotective effects of berberine on stroke models in vitro and in vivo. Neurosci Lett. 2008 Dec 5;447(1):31-6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18838103
16) Lee HS. Rat lens aldose reductase inhibitory activities of Coptis japonica root-derived isoquinoline alkaloids. J Agric Food Chem. 2002;50(24):7013-7016. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12428952
17) Kawakubo K, Mori A, Sakamoto K, Nakahara T, Ishii K. GP-1447, an inhibitor of aldose reductase, prevents the progression of diabetic cataract in rats. Biol Pharm Bull. 2012;35(6):866-872. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22687477
18) Schor Jacob, Clinical Applications for Berberine, 12/5/2012, Natural Medicine Journal (online) http://www.naturalmedicinejournal.com/article_content.asp?edition=1§ion=2&article=384
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