Today’s Supplement Berberine.
This all started when I came across a post by Dr. Mercola, referencing the supplement Berberine, under recent health trends and thought if I have never heard of this, you may also need some help. So, here is what I found.
Ancient Medicine or Modern Snake Oil?
The Simplest description is from Healthline. “Berberine isn’t a specific herb, but rather a bitter-tasting compound taken from the roots and stems of certain plants, including goldenseal and phellodendron….A review of 27 studies in people with type 2 diabetes observed that taking berberine in combination with diet and lifestyle changes reduced fasting blood sugar by 15.5 mg/dl and A1C by 0.71% compared to diet and lifestyle changes alone or a placebo.”
Berberine is sold as a supplement, but it’s description is a mouth full of elements starting with “quaternary ammonium salt from the protoberberine group of benzylisoquinoline alkaloids found in such plants as Berberis. Berberine is usually found in the roots, rhizomes, stems, and bark. Due to berberine’s strong yellow color, Berberis species were used to dye wool, leather, and wood.” per Wikipedia.
Based on that read, I guess it is being marketed as a supplement because of its Chinese “folk medicine” history. It’s more modern linkage to health appears to be connected to studies to determine how it may be helpful in controlling diabetes or blood lipids in general.
It stands to reason that anything that may help diabetes may prevent heart disease. And therefore I was not surprised to find a press release suggesting just that the supplement berberine could be useful in heart disease. The following are some key takeaways i found.
“More and more people are suffering from heart disease in many areas around the globe. This is why health authorities warn against this condition, and how it can be prevented….Medications are often used in the treatment of heart disease. However, health experts have long been stressing the importance of preventing its onset….There are many ways to ward off heart disease, and it includes having healthy diet and lifestyle. Health authorities say that these are measures considered by be extremely effective in preventing not just heart disease but also other conditions….There are also some natural remedies that have been found to show promise in warding off this condition. One is berberine, which has a long history of medicinal use.”
OK, Let’s check out the science on Berberine.
I found a study published back in 2008, on the “Efficacy of Berberine in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes”. The link can be found below in the Sources and Inspiration section. The key finding from the study abstract is this.
“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 diabetic patients. In study A, 36 adults with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes were randomly assigned to treatment with berberine or metformin (0.5 g t.i.d.) in a 3-month trial. The hypoglycemic effect of berberine was similar to that of metformin [Glucophage]. “
And, “Total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) were decreased significantly as well. During the trial, 20 (34.5%) patients suffered from transient gastrointestinal adverse effects. 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.”
As the study opens its introduction with, “Type 2 Diabetes is a worldwide health threat and ” I find is a fascinating journey as I learn of some many plant based supplements that are actually available, but not commonly known in the West that have or may prove to be as effective or even more effective than what is more commonly sold to us by the pharmaceutical industry, via the medical and health insurance industries.
The Supplement Berberine Deserves More Attention
Something with thousands of years in actual use in the east should be imported into western healthcare, just as we should be able to export the great technological healthcare products to the east. I am firmly against “socialized” western healthcare under a federalized regulatory system, but also struggle with profits over effective treatment. But thats’ a rant for another day.
For now, I just wanted to share what I learned about this until yesterday, unknown supplement’s use and benefits with my audience who I know is always seeking knowledge in a desire to stay affordably healthy.
Sources and Inspiration
“Berberine Suggested by Expertsto Potentially Prevent Heart Disease” -Melissa Scott, 2019.
“Efficacy of Berberine in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes”, NIH. 2008.
“Global Berberine Market Key Players 2019”, Indexmarketresearch, 2019.
“10 Supplements to Help Lower Blood Suger”, Marsha McCulloch, 2018.
“Over 5452 Posts found on Berberine at Pubmed”, PubMed.
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