When it comes to berberine and heart health, the supplement is showing safe reduction of cholesterol and other heart-healthy measures
As a doctor of chiropractic, chances are good that you will have more than one patient who has some type of heart disease, given its high prevalence in the United States. New research is showing the supplement berberine and heart health are becoming synonymous for lowering cholesterol and more.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., regardless of gender. That works out to 655,000 deaths that are the result of heart disease every year, or approximately one in every four deaths.
In other words, one death every 36 seconds can be attributed to some form of heart disease. The financial burden of heart disease is equally high, at a cost of almost $220 billion from 2014-15, including medication, health care services, and lost productivity.1,2
Given these grim statistics, it should be more than obvious that treating not only your patients with heart disease, but also those in high risk categories, will go a long way toward improving their overall health. Among the various nutritional supplements that can improve cardiac health, berberine has gained recent interest for its anti-inflammatory properties, specifically in reducing the risk for heart disease.
The link between berberine and heart health
Berberine is the active ingredient in a number of herbal medicines, most notably Oregon grape.3 It is considered an anti-inflammatory and has shown some benefits for treating type 2 diabetes, particularly in terms of glucose levels. In particular, berberine is thought to reduce production of glucose in the liver. This mechanism is similar to that of metformin, a common drug to treat diabetes. Berberine may also have a positive effect on high cholesterol levels.3
A study from earlier this year, published in the journal Nutrients, examined the effects of berberine on cardiovascular risk factors on a group of 84 Chinese men with high cholesterol levels.4 The research study also examined if berberine’s effects may involve testosterone levels in men. The cardiovascular risk factors included lipids, thromboxane A2, blood pressure, body mass index, and waist-hip ratio. For the 12-week study, the study subjects were randomized to receive either 500 mg of berberine, twice daily, or a placebo. Measurements of cardiovascular risk factors and testosterone levels were taken at baseline, and eight and 12 weeks.4
Safe cholesterol reduction
At the end of 12 weeks, the study subjects given berberine showed larger reductions in both total and HDL cholesterol levels, as well as a slight increase in testosterone levels, as compared to those given the placebo treatment. However, there were no changes in triglycerides, thromboxane A2, blood pressure, body mass index and waist-hip ratio between the two study groups.4 Nevertheless, the researchers felt that these results showed promise for using berberine as an effective treatment for cardiovascular disease in men, particularly as berberine and heart health have an excellent safety profile together.4
Your patients who are at risk for heart disease should be exercising regularly, reducing stress, and following a healthy, balanced low-fat diet, including heart-healthy nutritional supplements.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heart Disease Facts. Updated Sept. 8, 2020. Accessed Sept. 12, 2021.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Million hearts: Strategies to reduce the prevalence of leading cardiovascular disease risk factors — United States, 2011. MMWR Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report. 2011;60(36):1248-1251.
- Berberine: Uses, side effects, interactions and warnings. Accessed Sept. 16, 2020.
- Zhao JV, Yeung WF, Chan YH, et al. Effect of berberine on cardiovascular disease risk factors: A mechanistic randomized controlled trial. Nutrients. 2021;13(8):2550.