All about Berberine
What is Berberine?
Alkaloids are natural compounds produced by plants for defense. Berberine (Berberine hydrochloride) is a natural alkaloid compound obtained from the roots, twigs, leaves, barks, and stems of medicinal plants such as berberis shrubs, oregon grape, goldenseal, tree turmeric, and phellodendron.
Facts about Berberine
- The medicinal uses of Berberine started around 3000 years ago
- From ancient times, Berberine has been used in the traditional Chinese medicines
- The bark stems and the leaves of the plant were used for diverse purposes
- Traditionally, the plant was used for treating inflammations and infections
- Berberine being a yellow compound is frequently used as a dye
- Berberine is available as berberol (a tablet containing Berberine) and berberrubine (a metabolite of Berberine)
Properties of Berberine
- It suppresses the generation of reactive oxygen species causing cell damage.
- It prevents and delays cell damage
- It stops and kills the growth of microorganisms also inhibits the toxins released by microbes .
- It stops and kills the bacterial growth.
- Cell wall and membrane breakdown is a component of the mechanism of action.
- It reduces swelling, pain and redness of the organs due to any endogenous or exogenous changes.
- Found to be very effective in treating leishmaniasis, malaria and other diseases caused by protozoans (single-celled parasitic organisms)
Functions of Berberine
- It stimulates the regulatory enzyme ( adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase) for cell energy homeostasis(maintaining stability within the body for survival)
- The enzyme is involved in regulating the body’s protein, lipid and glucose metabolism (the body process to convert food into energy)
- Berberine help turn on and off the genes (a region of deoxyribonucleic acid) inside the cells, which protects one against long-term diseases , , .
Benefits of Berberine
Decreases blood sugar
- Berberine decreases sugar in type 2 diabetes patients .
- It increases the effectiveness of the insulin hormone
- It reduces glucose production in the liver
- It reduces carbohydrate breakdown in the digestive tract
- It helps break down the glucose inside the cell .
- Berberine helps reduce abdominal fat
- It prevents the growth of fat cells in the body
- It decreases the body mass index (body fat based on weight and height)
- It lowers the level of bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) that accumulates and collects in blood vessels and decreases the overall cholesterol level in our body
- It increases the level of good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein) that helps remove other cholesterol from the blood.
- It reduces the triglycerides(fat) in the blood .
- It lowers the level of apolipoprotein B .
Improves the cardiac (heart) health
- Berberine decreases irregular heartbeat and the other symptoms of heart diseases .
- It decreases the fatality rate in heart failure patients and improved quality of life .
- Improves digestive health .
- Berberine supports the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestine and remove harmful bacteria from the intestine .
- It reduces fat deposition in the liver
- It improves the symptoms of depression like sadness, anxiety .
- It decreases the growth of the body’s harmful microbes like a virus, bacteria etc.
- It inhibits the growth of various cancers (tumor)
- It also prevents metastasis (spread of tumor to other parts of the body )
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Polycystic ovary syndrome is a disease in which the ovaries produce excess male sex hormone testosterone
- Berberine decreases the level of testosterone hormone .
- It reduces waist fat in PCOS individuals .
Side effects of Berberine
In Pregnant women
- A pregnant woman should refrain from taking Berberine
- It can cross the placenta and cause fetal harm (Like brain damage) .
In Nursing mothers
- Nursing mothers should not take Berberine
- Berberine might be transferred to the newborn through breast milk, potentially harming the baby.
Infants (0 to 1 year age) with high bilirubin
- Old RBCs (red blood cells) breakdown lead to bilirubin (yellow substance) production in the liver, which the liver naturally removes.
- Berberine slows the liver’s bilirubin removal process
- It can cause brain troubles .
Other side effects are
- Digestion Problem
- Difficulty in clearing bowels (constipation)
- Diarrhea( watery stool)
- Gassy stomach(bloating)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Enlarged liver
- Stomach ulcers
- Reduced white blood cell count in the blood
- Muscle trembling
With very slight and infrequent side effects that were common among those taking a placebo, berberine has shown to be well tolerated.
Dosage of Berberine
- The dose of Berberine is 500mg thrice daily before meals
- The person taking medication for other health conditions, such as diabetes, must consult a physician before consuming Berberine..
- It is safe for adults for oral consumption. A daily consumption of 1.5 gms for six months has yielded safe results.
For application to the skin
- Berberine is quite safe for skin usage among adults of all ages .
Interactions of Berberine
- It is an immunosuppressive (reduces immune response) drug to prevent transplant rejection.
- Berberine and cyclosporine took together slows the cyclosporine drug breakage and increases the side effect of the drug .
Anticoagulants (blood thinning medicine)
- Anticoagulants and Berberine both lowers the blood clotting process .
- Berberine and anticoagulants, when taken together increases bleeding risks .
- Antidiabetic and Berberine both the drugs reduce the blood sugar level .
- So, taking both Berberine and antidiabetic drugs together causes a severe decrease in the blood sugar level and can lead to lightheadedness and fainting .
- For instance, eating berberine two hours before taking Metformin can significantly lower blood sugar levels.
- Both antidepressant medicines and Berberine induce sleepiness and slow breathing.
- Consuming both together causes excessive sleeping and breathing problem .
- Antihypertensive medicine reduces the blood pressure and Berberine also known to decreases the blood pressure
- So, consuming Berberine with antihypertensive medicine can further lower blood pressure.
- The liver helps with tacrolimus removal from the body
- Berberine makes the tacrolimus removal process slower and it increases the side effects of tacrolimus .
- Berberine slows the midazolam removal process and increases the side effects of midazolam.
- The liver helps in the activation of losartan
- Berberine hampers the losartan activation in the liver and decreases the medicine’s effect .
- Pentobarbital is a medicine to treat sleeplessness Berberine also known to induces sleep
- Taking two together enhances sleepiness in individuals .
- Berberine slows the dextromethorphan removal from the body ,so the drug stays longer in the body and increases the chances of side effects of the drug.
- Berberine is an alkaloid compound with various health benefits, such as weight loss and reduced sugar and cholesterol levels.
- Berberine supplements are commercially available and can be procured online.
- It is always recommendable to consult a health care professional before consuming Berberine or its supplements.