Editorial Series Sponsored by Dee Cee Laboratories
If you’ve been searching for a versatile supplement with a variety of benefits for your patients, look no further than berberine.
Berberine is a plant alkaloid present in many plants, including goldenseal, Oregon grape, barberry, and tree turmeric. It has a long history of use in both Chinese and Aryuvedic medicine because of its significant antimicrobial properties.1
It was also used by many Native American tribes for treating ailments such as stomach ulcers and eye irritation.2
Because of its yellow hue, it was sometimes used as a dye. Original clinical uses for berberine included treatment of bacterial diarrhea, intestinal parasites, and ocular trachoma infections.
But modern research has shown significant benefits of berberine in the treatment of high blood sugar and abnormal lipid profiles, as well as positive benefits for healthy cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
With such a wide variety of uses, berberine may be a natural fit for your practice, and offer tremendous benefits to your patients.
Jack of all trades
Because you are often at the crossroads of evidence-based care and natural medicine, you may find berberine useful in a wide array of treatment plans. Berberine supplements can be helpful in the treatment of many ailments and a blessing for individuals who can benefit from such care.
Blood sugar: Currently, the number of Americans diagnosed with diabetes is reaching nearly 30 million, which is about 10 percent of the population.
Add to that the 86 million Americans who currently have prediabetes and we have a serious problem on our hands.3
Given these staggering statistics, it is advisable to encourage your patients to lower their blood sugar both with diet and exercise as well as the addition of a supplement such as berberine.
A 2008 study showed that berberine helped those with type 2 diabetes.
After just one week and throughout the rest of the study, many of the 84 subjects decreased A1c levels and fasting blood glucose levels after adding berberine to their supplementation.
Cholesterol levels also decreased over the course of the study as well.4
A 2010 study found similar results as well as improved liver function among test participants. They concluded that this increase was due to increased insulin receptor expression in the body’s cells.5
An additional study showed that berberine helps address diabetes because it activates an enzyme called AMP- activated protein kinase or AMPK. This enzyme helps regulate metabolism. By activating AMPK in diabetic patients with berberine, researchers saw reduced bodyweight and improvements in glucose tolerance with altering food intake.8
Lowering cholesterol: Studies have shown that berberine can help reduce cholesterol levels as well as promote weight loss in some individuals.
In 2012, a study was done with obese individuals who were given 500 mg of berberine three times a day for 12 weeks. The results showed mild weight loss and a significant reduction in blood lipid levels. These results were then replicated in rat subjects with similar lipid-lowering results.6
Statins are frequently the medicine of choice for treating high cholesterol.
However, as you’ve undoubtedly seen, many patients cannot tolerate the side effects or risks of statins. Berberine, therefore, may be a safe and natural alternative for them.
Mental health: Berberine affects metabolic function and the stabilization of blood sugar levels. Because of this, it may help in the stabilization of mood swings brought on by changes in blood sugar.
New research is also being done to find out what effect berberine has on depression and anxiety. While positive results were achieved in animal studies, more research needs to be done on the supplement’s effect on human subjects suffering from depression.7
A word of caution
While berberine is a great option for many people, there are some who should avoid taking this supplement. In pure form, it is generally safe for adults but pregnant or lactating women should avoid berberine. Patients should also inform you of any medications they are taking because berberine should not be mixed with the diabetes drug metformin, as it can make the medication less effective.2
There is still a lot to be learned about berberine and its impact on a variety of conditions. But for your patients who are seeking relief from diabetes or high cholesterol, berberine can be a viable option for you to consider.
Casey Nighbor is the associate editor of Chiropractic Economics. She can be reached at email@example.com or through ChiroEco.com.
1 “Berberine.” PubMed. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ pubmed/10767672. Published April 5, 2000.
Accessed February 20, 2017.
2 Goldman R and Watson K. “Berberine: Can It Lower my Choloestrol?” Healthline. www.healthline.com/health/berberine-can-it- lower-cholesterol#Overview1. Published March 1, 2016. Accessed February 20, 2017.
3 “Statistics about Diabetes.” American Diabetes Association. www.diabetes.org/diabetes- basics/statistics/. Published December 12, 2016. Accessed February 20, 2017.
4 Jun Y, Huili X, Jianping Y. Efficacy of Berberine in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes. Metabolism. 2008 May;57(5):712-717.
5 Hao Z, Jing W. Berberine lowers blood glucose in type 2 diabetes mellitus patients through increasing insulin receptor expression.
Metabolism. 2010 Feb;59(2):285-292.
6 Hu Y, Ehli EA. Lipid-lowering effect of berberine in human subjects and rats. Phytomedicine. 2021 Jul 15;19(10):861-7.
7 Bombi L. Effect of Berberine on Depression- and Anxiety-like behaviors and activation of noradrenergic system induced by development of morphine dependence in rats. Korean J Physiol Pharmacol. 2012 Dec;16(6):379-386.
8 Yun S. Berberine, a natural plant product, activates AMP-Activated Protein Kinase with Beneficial Metabolic Effects in Diabetic and Insulin-Resistant States. Diabetes. 2006 Aug;55(8):2256-2264.