I first became acutely aware of the incredible ways berberine benefits our health about nine years ago when I noticed my dear friend, a Japanese acupuncturist, was taking a bright yellow supplement after each and every meal. After inquiring about this colorful capsule, she explained to me what berberine is, what it does for the body, and how many people in her culture have been implementing this very same practice for centuries.
In short, she described it as using it just as we use hand sanitizer—but berberine benefits the body from the inside! Immediately, I was extremely intrigued and knew I had to learn more about this powerful compound. Since then, I’ve come to think of it as the “superhero” supplement for supporting healthy blood sugar levels, but it does so much more, too!
To learn more about this powerful polyphenol and all it can do for your health, keep reading as I take you along on my fascinating journey on unlocking the powers of berberine!
What Is Berberine?
So, by this point you’re likely wondering two things: What is berberine, exactly, and what is berberine used for?
Berberine is a bright yellow alkaloid found in plants (such as Oregon grape, goldenseal, barberry, and goldthread) that was historically used to help treat a variety of issues, from high blood sugar and inflammation to wounds and high cholesterol.
Now, keep in mind that naturally-occurring phytonutrients are found in plant-based foods and work as antioxidants—and they have the ability to help cool inflammation and support anti-aging goals. But there’s more: Berberine benefits your metabolic health as well by activating the metabolic master switch AMPK (AMP-activated protein kinase), which ignites thermogenesis—a process responsible for burning more fat than what is being produced.
Due to its inflammation-fighting powers, berberine actually has a rich history of therapeutic use in both Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda. In fact, it was commonly used to help support proper digestion, promote cardiovascular wellness, and mitigate inflammation. Even today, research shows that berberine benefits gut flora health and, as a result, can help ease digestive difficulties and even reduce uncomfortable bloating.
6 Berberine Benefits For Your Health
People often ask if taking berberine is good for you. As a rich source of phytonutrients, I’ve found that berberine benefits most people, though you should always speak with your physician before starting any new dietary or supplement protocol.
Here are a few of the top berberine benefits for your health.
1. Supports healthy blood sugar levels
If you’ve heard about the berberine benefits for blood sugar balance, you aren’t alone; it’s one of the most common questions I get about berberine—likely because it’s the most well-known benefit.
Research has shown that supplementing with berberine can help increase insulin sensitivity and support healthy blood sugar levels, allowing the body to efficiently process sugar. In fact, according to one study, taking 1,000 mg of berberine daily for three months resulted in a 20-percent reduction in fasting glucose and a 26-percent drop on a 2-hour glucose tolerance test.
Moreover, berberine is known to support healthy HbA1c levels, which accurately determines your risk of advanced blood sugar issues.
2. Supports cardiovascular health
In addition to supporting healthy blood sugar levels, berberine benefits also extend to supporting heart health. It’s been shown to help balance harmful LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and even c-reactive protein (CRP, a major marker of inflammation).In fact, taking 1,000 mg daily for three months also led to a remarkable 25-percent drop in dangerous LDL cholesterol and a 35-percent drop in triglycerides—with no side effects noted in the study.
Now, because berberine may help lower blood pressure and thin blood, use it with caution if you are on blood pressure or anticoagulant medications.
3. Promotes autophagy and cellular health
One of the most interesting berberine benefits is its impact on cellular health, with studies showing that berberine is one of the few compounds that can activate autophagy (your cells’ ability to maintain optimal health and balance by performing their own removal of cellular waste.)
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, berberine has long been used to help eliminate toxins by supporting the liver and kidneys in the body’s natural cleansing process. When these critical detox organs are not functioning optimally, metabolic byproducts and other waste can accumulate and wreak havoc on your health.
Additionally, berberine’s antioxidant properties also have been shown to help combat oxidative stress in these purifying organs.
4. Boosts metabolism
You may be surprised to learn that another one of the great berberine benefits is that it is known to boost metabolism.
In fact, berberine has been famously called “exercise in a bottle” because it’s been shown to help activate the metabolic master switch 5’AMPK, which helps to burn dangerous white fat, meaning it may help keep your waist line within a normal range.
Additionally, berberine is known to aid in optimizing fat metabolism/burning by supporting the regulation of the hormones that affect how the body processes and stores fat.
5. Supports skin health
As I mentioned above, berberine benefits the body from the inside much like hand sanitizer benefits from the outside—due in part to its natural inflammation-fighting properties, which we’ll discuss more below. But this effect naturally lends to supporting healthy skin.
The natural anti-inflammatory characteristics of berberine have been shown in studies to function as an anti-acne formula by cooling inflammation as well as performing antilipemic practices on the sebaceous gland—proving a natural option for mitigating bacterial breakouts.
6. May help cool inflammation
Finally, berberine benefits your body by also helping to cool the chronic inflammation known to be a significant contributor to your overall health.
First, due to its inflammation-cooling properties, berberine supports your good gut bacteria. And because berberine is poorly absorbed in the gut, it can more easily travel to the far end of your gastrointestinal tract, where your probiotics gather.
Second, studies have shown that berberine may have other anti-inflammatory properties, inhibiting several chemicals that trigger harmful inflammation such as TNF-a or IL-6.
Berberine’s ability to fight inflammation has also proven successful in controlling acne.
Berberine Supplements and How to Use
Based on multiple studies, research indicates that 1,000 to 1,500 mg of purified berberine per day is the most effective and therapeutic dose. That means berberine is generally considered safe to take daily.
Personally, I’ve found that berberine is most effective when taken in 500 mg doses three times daily with meals. And I recommend taking a high-quality, potent berberine supplement such as NAOMI Berberine because berberine isn’t readily available through food.
Remember, berberine is derived from a class of bitter shrubs, so it’s hard to find it at a concentration level that offers significant health benefits outside of supplement form.
I also recommend supplementing with berberine for three months, and then have your lab results evaluated—especially your blood sugar, cholesterol and triglyceride levels—to check your progress. And along with improvement in these key health indicators, by the time of this three-month “check-in,” you may also be experiencing a reduction in pounds and inches as well.
Now, in terms of berberine benefits and side effects, this compound can increase blood levels of cyclosporine by slowing its metabolism and is contraindicated in those taking cyclosporine. Additionally, gastrointestinal distress and diarrhea are the most common berberine side effects, which is why I recommend taking it with meals. And make sure to speak with your physician if you notice these effects so you can best determine how to take advantage of berberine benefits in a way that provides minimal side effects.
- Berberine is a bright yellow alkaloid found in plants (such as Oregon grape, goldenseal, barberry, and goldthread) that was historically used to help treat a variety of issues, from high blood sugar and inflammation to wounds and high cholesterol.
- Berberine benefits your health in a variety of ways, from supporting healthy blood sugar levels and cardiovascular health to promoting autophagy and boosting metabolism!
- Personally, I’ve found that berberine is most effective when taken in 500 mg doses three times daily with meals. And I recommend taking a high-quality, potent berberine supplement such as NAOMI Berberine because berberine isn’t readily available through food.