Berberine benefits

Berberine health benefits as a supplement by Dietitian Elzette Struwig

Once we have decided to leave all fad diets and quick fixes behind, and follow a sustainable low-carbohydrate and healthy fat lifestyle, we often expect to see our bodies heal completely within months. Unfortunately, this is not how it works, I think that we are lucky that our bodies can heal quicker than the time it took for our bodies to become unhealthy. But also, fortunately, there are natural products available that may aid in such processes for example Berberine.

Berberine is a plant-derived traditional medicine used in China for more than 3000 years [1]. The search for natural products is continuously on the increase due to drugs that have some limitations because of adverse effects [2]. Berberine is considered one of the most promising natural products for the treatment of metabolic diseases [2]. Metabolic diseases include diabetes, obesity, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), hyperlipidemia, and gout [2].

Berberine in diabetes:

Studies have illustrated that Berberine may aid in the following which may help to improve diabetes [2]:

  • Promotes insulin secretion
  • Increases cellular insulin sensitivity
  • Inhibits the formation of glucose (gluconeogenesis)
  • Prevent glucose uptake
  • Inhibits inflammation

Berberine in weight-loss and insulin resistance:

As low-carbohydrate dietitians, we aim to lower circulating blood glucose levels, which in turn lowers circulating insulin hormone. Lowering insulin, a fat-storing hormone, may aid with weight loss. As described above Berberine aids in lower blood glucose and consequently also lowers insulin and thus may aid in weight loss. Yes, a lifestyle change is still required, but some individuals have such high insulin levels that it takes years to recover. A natural supplement like Berberine may aid to speed up the initial process to a stage where one only requires healthy food to become and stay healthy.

Berberine and inflammation:

Berberine has anti-inflammatory effects by downregulating inflammatory markers [2]. Studies illustrated reduced inflammation in the liver and visceral fat tissue [2].

Berberine and Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD):

Berberine improves fat accumulation in the liver as well as retention of fat within the liver [2]. Berberine is also associated with the inhibition of inflammation of the liver and aid in regulating gut bacteria which can be associated with improved gut health [2].

Berberine and cholesterol levels:

Berberine remarkably reduces serum Triglycerides (TG) which is known to be the very unhealthy cholesterol also associated with metabolic diseases. Berberine also lowers total cholesterol (TC), and low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C) concentrations and increases serum high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C; good cholesterol) concentrations [2].

Berberine and gout:

Multiple studies demonstrated that Berberine could substantially reduce fasting serum uric acid (UA) levels [2]. This reduction is beneficial for the treatment of hyperuricemia or gout. The uric acid lowering effect of Berberine may be ascribed to several mechanisms. Berberine could dilate blood vessels, regulate blood flow, and improve renal function, which leads to the increased excretion of UA [2].

An increasing number of studies illustrate that Berberine has a good therapeutic effect on five metabolic diseases, namely, T2DM, obesity, NAFLD, gout, and hyperlipidemia [2]. However, natural medicine should be used in combination with improved lifestyle changes to achieve optimal and sustainable results.

References

  1. Gaba S, Saini A, Singh G, Monga V. An insight into the medicinal attributes of berberine derivatives: A review. Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry. 2021: 38; 116143.
  2. Xu X, Yi H, Wu J, Kuang T, Zhang J, Li Q, Du H, Xu T, Jiang G, Fan G. Therapeutic effect of berberine on metabolic diseases: Both pharmacological data and clinical evidence. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy 133. 2021; 110984.

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