Herbal supplement sales have steadily increased over the past few years, but one botanical you won’t find among the bestsellers is berberine. That’s about to change.
This plant alkaloid, revered in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine but largely ignored elsewhere, is poised to become one of our most powerful natural therapies for preventing and treating diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Plus, it helps to facilitate weight loss, combats cancer and can maybe even stave off dementia and the ravages of aging.
The big news, however, is that research shows berberine works just as well as the top-selling drug for type 2 diabetes, metformin (Glucophage).
In a clinical trial published in Metabolism, people with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes were randomly divided into groups and assigned to take metformin or berberine. Improvements were noted the very first week. At the study’s conclusion, the average blood sugar and hemoglobin A1c levels were significantly decreased in both groups. Remarkably, berberine was every bit as effective as metformin. The two had “identical effect[s] in the regulation of glucose metabolism.”
Berberine Aids Heart Health
But berberine also does something diabetes drugs cannot do. In another randomized, placebo-controlled trial, berberine lowered triglycerides by 35.9 percent, LDL cholesterol by 21 percent, and total cholesterol by 18 percent, compared to minimal declines in cholesterol and an increase in triglycerides in the control group. Furthermore, the group taking berberine had lower blood pressure (average drop of 7/5 mm Hg systolic/diastolic) and modest weight and abdominal fat loss.
Berberine Research Uncovers Many Benefits
Other studies have shown berberine improves:
- Bone density and preserves cartilage,
- Protects against acute brain damage and neurodegenerative disorders,
- And may play a role in warding off dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
- And because it mimics the effects of calorie restriction, I predict that berberine will be the next big thing in anti-aging.
What’s the bottom line for you? Berberine is definitely at the top of my list of recommendations if you have diabetes, cardiovascular concerns, cancer and immune challenges, intestinal infections or just want an overall health supplement.
The usual dose is 500 mg 2–3 times a day. Although it is generally well tolerated, berberine can cause constipation, which usually clears up over time or with a reduction in dosage.
Now it’s your turn: Which supplements have you taken for blood sugar support?