You may have heard about berberine, but wondered exactly what it is. Berberine is not a plant, but a botanical compound available from many sources, just as vitamin C is not a plant, but many plants contain vitamin C. This particular compound – and the plants in which it is found – have been a part of Ayurvedic and Chinese medical practice for thousands of years. Research is just starting to catch up, showing that berberine fights tumors, fatty liver disease, arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, Alzheimer’s, and more. But one of the reasons I like berberine is that it can address the combined disorders that contribute to metabolic syndrome.
Stop Metabolic Syndrome with Berberine
Metabolic syndrome is a clustering of disease factors: high blood pressure, imbalanced cholesterol levels, elevated triglycerides, high blood sugar, and excessive weight. All of these conditions are related to inflammation and oxidation.
The extra weight so prevalent in metabolic syndrome is influenced, in part, by our blood sugar levels and stress hormones – and of course, these conditions also cause inflammation and are influenced by inflammation. Berberine addresses each of these disease problems.
At Risk for Metabolic Syndrome?
Check the list below – if three or more of the factors apply, you may be at risk for metabolic syndrome.
1— Extra Weight Around the Middle
In addition to a sensible diet and exercise, berberine can help you get back on track. A good diet is not just a matter of “calories in and calories out.” It’s what’s in those calories that count. I recommend a moderate-protein and high-fat diet like a ketogenic diet that doesn’t cause inflammation and spikes in blood sugar. Make sure it is rich in wholesome (not processed) animal proteins and fats, seafoods, fruits, berries and vegetables, and seeds and nuts.
It’s important for your waist measurement to be 50% of your height measurement in inches.
For example, for a man or woman who is 5 foot 8 inches tall (or 68 inches), you would divide that by 2, so you should have a waist measurement of 34 inches.
In clinical research, berberine helped lower weight, blood sugar, and triglyceride levels. It also cut the levels of enzymes associated with fatty liver disease almost in half!
Berberine can help people with muscle and bone disorders, including both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, because it moderates immune responses that would otherwise damage joints. If conditions like that keep you from being active, I strongly encourage you to try berberine along with anti-inflammatories like clinically studied curcumin and boswellia.
2 — Type 2 Diabetes/Insulin Resistance/ High Blood Sugar
If you have elevated fasting glucose – a high amount of sugar in your bloodstream even when you haven’t been eating – you could be on the track to getting type 2 diabetes and by extension, metabolic syndrome.
A high blood sugar reading is a fasting blood glucose level consistently in the 100-125 mg/ dL range. That’s pre-diabetes. Higher than that, and you have diabetes. But berberine can help.
In a clinical trial, berberine lowered fasting and postprandial glucose right from the very beginning of the study through its entire three months. It also lowered A1C levels from 8.1 percent to 7.3 percent, reduced fasting plasma insulin by 28 percent, and insulin resistance by 44 percent. The results were similar to the group treated with metformin, a commonly-used drug for type 2 diabetes that can cause unwanted side effects.
Berberine works in multiple ways to normalize blood sugar levels. First, it stimulates glycolysis, the process of releasing the energy from sugars so they are used up by the mitochondria as fuel rather than overloading the bloodstream or being converted into triglycerides which are stored as fat. Berberine also inhibits alpha-glucosidase, an enzyme that breaks down carbohydrates in the intestines. That slows sugar absorption, and reduces spikes in the bloodstream.
3 — High Blood Pressure
Healthy blood pressure for a resting adult is 120/80. Higher than 140/90 is considered high blood pressure, and the range of 121-139/80-90 is what is known as pre-hypertension – not elevated enough to classify as high blood pressure, but it can still damage arteries and shouldn’t be ignored.
For those with high blood pressure, berberine combined with changes to diet and exercise lowered blood pressure more effectively than lifestyle interventions alone or placebo.
Researchers believe that berberine is a better choice for patients because it is effective and does not have the problematic side effects of blood pressure drugs.
Scientific research shows that berberine acts as a vasodilator, opening up blood vessels due to its effects on calcium channel pathways. In people with type 2 diabetes, berberine lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels more effectively than lifestyle changes alone. If your numbers are in the “high-normal” range, you’ll want to add berberine to your daily regimen.
4 — Poor Cholesterol Balance
Our bodies and minds need cholesterol in order to function at their best. I don’t think cholesterol is a problem, but I do believe boosting HDL levels can provide powerful benefits for cardiovascular health.
In clinical studies, berberine was found to help raise levels of HDL cholesterol and can easily be used in conjunction with conventional treatment.
5 — High Triglyceride Levels
Although triglyceride levels tend to get lumped in with cholesterol levels, they really are different. Triglycerides are stored fats from carbohydrates, not from animal fat. And they are one of the primary causes of heart disease.
In one clinical study, berberine reduced triglyceride numbers in just three months by 35 percent, and in another, berberine dropped the triglyceride levels by an average of 50 mg/ dL in the same amount of time.
When it comes to heart health you want a ratio of low triglyceride levels and high HDL levels. Here’s what that means:
Triglycerides: 300 HDL: 30 = a ratio of 10 – heart disease is in progress.
A better, healthier ratio like this:
Triglycerides: 150, HDL: 50 = a ratio of 3 – a reduced risk of heart disease.
Better Berberine Absorption:
Berberine can be difficult for the body to fully absorb. In fact, as little as five percent of every dose may actually get into the bloodstream. That’s why practitioners have recommended 500 mg, three times a day so that an effective amount of berberine is absorbed.
However, there is a new plant-based system called gammacyclodextrin that has been clinically studied to boost the absorption of herbs and other nutriceuticals by 8 times or more.
This system is both fat and water soluble and forms a natural cup, which surrounds the compound to ease its transit across the intestines. Using this system can mean that lower doses of berberine (250 mg) can be used while still providing powerful results.
Berberine Can Help!
Berberine is well known to natural practitioners and certainly to those who have appreciated the way it keeps them feeling healthy over the years. But it may be new to you. Berberine is a powerful, natural medicine that can be one of your best choices for dealing with metabolic syndrome or any of its associated diseases.
To support Metabolic Syndrome, I recommend using Berberine from Indian Barberry (Berberis aristata), Bark and Root Extract.
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