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Berberine. It sounds like some kind of berry or Burberry knock-off brand, right?

It’s actually a type of ammonium salt found in certain trees and shrubs—such as in the California Poppy or Amur Cork tree—and it has been linked to all kinds of health benefits, including heart health, mental health, and more.1

However, berberine is probably most famous for its bright yellow color essence. It’s been used for centuries for dyeing leather and wool and still used today in certain parts of India.

Beyond its fashion contribution, the extract has been used medicinally for centuries—with more health applications being discovered.2

Hopefully, your ears have perked up.

Who knew those trees and shrubs decorating your lawn had a powerful health-boosting compound as well?

After learning about its benefits, those shrubs will mean more than just curb appeal!

Berberine shrub | Gundry

Where Does Berberine Come From?

Berberine is an extract found within a variety of plants, including evergreen shrubs called Berberis.3 There are a handful of variations on the plant, but the extract can be found in almost all of them.

Some of these plants include: Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), Coptis or Goldenthread (Coptis chinensis), Oregon grape (Berberis aquifolium), Barberry (Berberis vulgaris), and Tree turmeric (Berberis aristata).4

The plant extract has been used in both ancient Chinese and Indian medicines for a wide range of symptoms.5,6 It’s known for its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties.7,8 It’s has also been used in herbal medicine for centuries.9

How Does It Work?

It is transported into the bloodstream after ingestion. It then travels into the body’s cells, binding to different targets and changing their functions, similar to how most man-made pharmaceuticals operate. One of its main benefits is can rev up the metabolism by activating a protein enzyme that’s found throughout the body, from the brain to the kidneys.10

Modern medicine is hopping on the berberine train, too.

The alkaloid (meaning a naturally occurring organic chemical compound that mostly contains nitrogen) has been used in studies focusing on inflammation, infections, cardiovascular disorders, metabolic conditions, allergies  – and that’s just to name a few!11 

Berberine Benefits

Improved Metabolism and Lowering Blood Sugar

Perhaps the most popular suggested benefit linked to berberine is in conjuction with lowering blood sugar.12,13

Berberine could help lower glucose levels and regulate lipid metabolism.14,15 (Lipids are just substances found to be insoluble in water.) The alkaloid has been suggested to be a potent oral hypoglycemic agent because of these beliefs.16

Berberine may also help to lower total cholesterol levels and promote glycemic control.17,18

Gut Health

Because of its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, the plant extract has been suggested to help with gut health as well.19

It may help to increase the presence of beneficial bacterias within the gut, while slowing the breakdown of carbohydrates.20 It is also believed to improve blood lipids like cholesterol and triglycerides.21

In addition, berberine may help fight off parasitic intestinal infections, while also being anti-diarrheal.22

Heart Health

Berberine has been linked to cardiovascular studies, too.23,24

It is believed to reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering those blood lipids we just mentioned – cholesterol and triglycerides.25 It may also help to lower apolipoproteins, basically lipids that form even bigger lipids like fat and cholesterol, which are big risk factors when it comes to a healthy heart.26

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is a common allergic skin disease. Symptoms include dryness, itchiness, and thickening and inflammation of the skin.27

Eosinophils (white blood cells containing granules) manage to wriggle into the dermal layer of skin, causing all kinds of uncomfortable reactions.28

It’s no surprise then, with its anti-inflammatory properties, that it was linked to a study on skin disease. In combination with other medicinal herbs, this yellow-colored supplement is linked to relieving allergic inflammation by stopping the activation of pesky eosinophils.29

Mental Health

Mental health conditions have also been studied in correlation with berberine.32,33

It has been suggested to affect neurotransmitter activity related to dementia.34 A berberine extract, taken from Goldenthread, was believed to help stop brain cell death as well.35 Berberine was a suggested way to help combat the onset of symptoms linked to dementia.36

The extract has also been linked to studies focusing on mental depression.37

berberine | Gundry

Latest Health Studies

Mental Health

While we’ve already suggested berberine’s possible effects with symptoms linked to dementia and depression, there has been renewed interest in the scientific community over berberine’s suggested effects with neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric disorders.38

Cerebral ischemia, depression, schizophrenia, and anxiety are all conditions in which more trials are needed to study berberine’s possible effects.39

Additional Berberine Benefits

A review covered the patents on the therapeutic activities of berberine from 2009 to 2012. Patent information was collected for berberine’s therapeutic areas such as polycystic ovary syndrome, allergic diseases, and more.40

Berberine and Bioavailabilty

Research is being conducted to improve berberine’s bioavailability.41

Bioavailability relates to the proportion of a substance that enters the circulation when introduced into the body and its ability to have an active effect.

Berberine, with a higher bioavailability, could possibly be developed in the near future to further its suggested benefits.42

Conclusion

This powerful plant compound is certainly a hot topic in health and science communities. Although it’s been used for ages, there’s a whole new slew of reasons to consider adding it to your diet. Research suggests the potent alkaloid, found in many different evergreen shrubs, may be beneficial for many other health issues.

Intrigued? You should be.

At the very least, the next time you pass by that unassuming looking shrub in the driveway, you’ll pay more attention. It could be exactly what you need to super-charge your health!

Sources
1 Kris Gunnars B. Berberine – A Powerful Supplement With Many Benefits. Authority Nutrition. 2016. Accessed December 15, 2016.
2 Kris Gunnars B. Berberine – A Powerful Supplement With Many Benefits. Authority Nutrition. 2016. Accessed December 15, 2016.
3 Kris Gunnars B. Berberine – A Powerful Supplement With Many Benefits. Authority Nutrition. 2016. Accessed December 15, 2016.
4 authors n. Berberine. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbinlmnihgov. 2000. Accessed December 15, 2016.
5 authors n. Berberine. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbinlmnihgov. 2000. Accessed December 15, 2016.
6 A K. Berberine: a plant alkaloid with therapeutic potential for central nervous system disorders. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbinlmnihgov. 2010. Accessed December 15, 2016.
7 A S, DM M, SS A, HS e, GA S. Evaluation of the effect of a plant alkaloid (berberine derived from Berberis aristata) on Trichomonas vaginalis in vitro. Europepmcorg. 2001. Accessed December 15, 2016.
8 A K. Berberine: a plant alkaloid with therapeutic potential for central nervous system disorders. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbinlmnihgov. 2010. Accessed December 15, 2016.
9 Hu Y, Liu Y, Xiao X. Investigation of the Interaction between Berberine and Human Serum Albumin. 2009.
10 Kris Gunnars B. Berberine – A Powerful Supplement With Many Benefits. Authority Nutrition. 2016. Accessed December 15, 2016.
11 authors n. Berberine. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbinlmnihgov. 2000. Accessed December 15, 2016.
12 Meta-analysis of the effect and safety of berberine in the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus, hyperlipemia and hypertension. Sciencedirectcom. 2015. Accessed December 15, 2016.
13 Yifei Z. Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes and Dyslipidemia with the Natural Plant Alkaloid Berberine. 2008.
14 Yin J, Xing H, Ye J. Efficacy of berberine in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. 2008.
15 Yin J, Xing H, Ye J. Efficacy of berberine in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. 2008.
16 Yin J, Xing H, Ye J. Efficacy of berberine in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. 2008.
17 Yin J, Xing H, Ye J. Efficacy of berberine in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. 2008.
18 Derosa G e. Berberine on metabolic and cardiovascular risk factors: an analysis from preclinical evidences to clinical trials. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbinlmnihgov. 2012. Accessed December 15, 2016.
19 Kris Gunnars B. Berberine – A Powerful Supplement With Many Benefits. Authority Nutrition. 2016. Accessed December 15, 2016.
20 Kris Gunnars B. Berberine – A Powerful Supplement With Many Benefits. Authority Nutrition. 2016. Accessed December 15, 2016.
21 Kris Gunnars B. Berberine – A Powerful Supplement With Many Benefits. Authority Nutrition. 2016. Accessed December 15, 2016.
22 authors n. Berberine. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbinlmnihgov. 2000. Accessed December 15, 2016.
23 Kris Gunnars B. Berberine – A Powerful Supplement With Many Benefits. Authority Nutrition. 2016. Accessed December 15, 2016.
24 S S. Berberine and its derivatives: a patent review (2009 – 2012). – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbinlmnihgov. 2013. Accessed December 15, 2016.
25 Kris Gunnars B. Berberine – A Powerful Supplement With Many Benefits. Authority Nutrition. 2016. Accessed December 15, 2016.
26 Kris Gunnars B. Berberine – A Powerful Supplement With Many Benefits. Authority Nutrition. 2016. Accessed December 15, 2016.
27 sang MS e. Anti-Inflammatory Activities of Pentaherbs Formula, Berberine, Gallic Acid and Chlorogenic Acid in Atopic Dermatitis-Like Skin Inflammation. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbinlmnihgov. 2016. Accessed December 15, 2016.
28 sang MS e. Anti-Inflammatory Activities of Pentaherbs Formula, Berberine, Gallic Acid and Chlorogenic Acid in Atopic Dermatitis-Like Skin Inflammation. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbinlmnihgov. 2016. Accessed December 15, 2016.
29 sang MS e. Anti-Inflammatory Activities of Pentaherbs Formula, Berberine, Gallic Acid and Chlorogenic Acid in Atopic Dermatitis-Like Skin Inflammation. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbinlmnihgov. 2016. Accessed December 15, 2016.
32 authors n. Berberine. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbinlmnihgov. 2000. Accessed December 15, 2016.
33 Huang M e. The Role of Berberine in the Multi-Target Treatment of Senile Dementia. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbinlmnihgov. 2016Accessed December 15, 2016.
34 Huang M e. The Role of Berberine in the Multi-Target Treatment of Senile Dementia. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbinlmnihgov. 2016. Accessed December 15, 2016.
35 Huang M e. The Role of Berberine in the Multi-Target Treatment of Senile Dementia. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbinlmnihgov. 2016. Accessed December 15, 2016.
36 Huang M e. The Role of Berberine in the Multi-Target Treatment of Senile Dementia. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbinlmnihgov. 2016. Accessed December 15, 2016.
37 S S. Berberine and its derivatives: a patent review (2009 – 2012). – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbinlmnihgov. 2013. Accessed December 15, 2016.
38 authors n. Berberine. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbinlmnihgov. 2000. Accessed December 15, 2016
39 authors n. Berberine. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbinlmnihgov. 2000. Accessed December 15, 2016
40 S S. Berberine and its derivatives: a patent review (2009 – 2012). – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbinlmnihgov. 2013. Accessed December 15, 2016.
41 Derosa G e. Berberine on metabolic and cardiovascular risk factors: an analysis from preclinical evidences to clinical trials. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbinlmnihgov. 2012. Accessed December 15, 2016.
42 Derosa G e. Berberine on metabolic and cardiovascular risk factors: an analysis from preclinical evidences to clinical trials. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbinlmnihgov. 2012. Accessed December 15, 2016.

 

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