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7 Benefits of Berberine and side effects

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Discover the 7 benefits of berberine and its side effects.

The benefits of Berberine come to us from China and India, where it was first used in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine.

It is a natural alkaloid found in a wide variety of traditional herbs, including goldenseal, barberry, golden thread, Oregon grape, tree turmeric, and Phellodendron.

Within these plants, the berberine alkaloid can be found in the stem, bark, roots, and rhizomes (root-like underground stems) of the plants.

Berberine extracts and supplements, such as berberine HCL, are generally inexpensive, safe, and known for their broad antibacterial activities, and can help naturally treat conditions without always resorting to antibiotics.

For example, berberine has been shown to have many pharmacological effects, including antimicrobial, antitumor, anti-inflammatory, and blood glucose-lowering effects.

Benefits of Berberine

7 Benefits of Berberine


1.- Potential treatment of diabetes

As the rate of diabetes is steadily increasing around the world, studies show that the benefits of berberine deserve a place among other natural remedies for diabetes.


During a study, berberine was found to lower blood glucose, which helps prevent and treat type II diabetes and its complications, including diabetic cardiovascular disease and diabetic neuropathy.

One of the studies that compared the progressive consumption of certain milligrams of sugar for three months, allowed researchers to determine the ability of berberine to control blood sugar levels and lipid metabolism with the same efficacy as metformin.

Additional studies have also indicated that berberine improves glucose uptake and lipid metabolism disorders. For example, one study found that berberine can improve insulin sensitivity by adjusting adipokine secretion.

Sodium caprate, another chemical, aids in the absorption of berberine, and together, they have been shown to “suppress hepatic gluconeogenesis in the rat model of diabetes, at least in part by stimulating AMPK activity, and this BER action increases with sodium caprate.

Thanks to its effects on insulin sensitivity, this diabetes-fighting effect may also help prevent kidney damage. For example, the research examined the effects of this alkaloid on rats fed a high-fat diet to induce kidney damage. This is what the researchers found:

Western blot was used to detect the proteins adiponectin, adipoR1, adipoR2, and p-AMPK expression level. These encouraging findings suggest that berberine has excellent pharmacological potential to prevent kidney damage.

2.- Shows a decrease in high cholesterol

There is evidence that the benefits of berberine can help, among other things, reduce high cholesterol levels.

One study showed that berberine lowered serum cholesterol along with triglyceride levels in patients with type 2 diabetes.


While dangerous statin therapy (the conventional pharmaceutical treatment of high cholesterol) increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, among other dangers, berberine likely has the opposite effect.

An independent study found that the combined administration of red yeast rice, known for its ability to lower cholesterol naturally, and berberine may provide a broader range of protection against cholesterol with a lower risk of serious adverse effects compared to statin therapy.

Berberine has also been shown to reduce abnormally high concentrations of fats and lipids in the blood of hamsters by promoting cholesterol excretion from the liver and inhibiting intestinal absorption of cholesterol.

Furthermore, investigations found that “administration of BBR to hyperlipidemic mice and hamsters decreased circulating concentrations of PCSK9 and hepatic levels of PCSK9 mRNA without affecting HNF1α gene expression.”

What does this mean? It means that the benefits of berberine inhibit PCSK9, which, according to research from Harvard Medical School, helps lower cholesterol.

3.- Fight obesity

Due to the serious adverse effects and limited efficacy of currently available pharmaceutical therapies for obesity, many research efforts are focused on creating natural treatments for obesity, including natural product anti-obesity medications.

In that sense, berberine is one of the few compounds known to activate adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase or AMPK.

AMPK is an enzyme found within the cells of the human body, often referred to as a “metabolic master switch” as it plays a crucial role in regulating metabolism.


AMPK activation increases fat burning in the mitochondria. Studies have shown that berberine can accumulate fat in the human body.

In one study, obese human subjects (Caucasian) were given 500 milligrams of berberine by mouth three times a day for a total of 12 weeks.

Efficacy and safety of treatment were determined by measurements of body weight, complete metabolic panel, blood lipid and hormone levels, expression levels of inflammatory factors, complete blood count, and electrocardiograph.


Overall, this study demonstrated that berberine is a potent lipid-lowering compound with a modest weight-loss effect.

4.- Potential protection against Alzheimer’s disease

Studies have evaluated the therapeutic potential of berberine against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and trauma-induced neurodegeneration.

One study found that there are multiple positive effects of berberine, some of which enhance neuroprotective factors/pathways and others that counteract neurodegeneration.

The promising results seen so far provide a compelling and substantial basis to support scientific exploration and development of the therapeutic potential of this alkaloid against neurodegenerative diseases.

5.- Treat SIBO

Patients suffering from Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) have excessive bacteria in the small intestine.


Current conventional treatment of SIBO is limited to oral antibiotics with inconsistent success.

Increasingly, SIBO sufferers are interested in using complementary and alternative therapies for their gastrointestinal health.

One study aimed to determine the remission rate of SIBO using an antibiotic versus an herbal remedy.

He found that the herbal treatment, which included berberine, worked just as well as the antibiotic treatment and was just as safe.

6.- Supports heart health

Part of the positive effect of berberine’s benefits on heart health probably comes from the compound’s ability to help keep blood sugar levels in check and obesity, which can increase the risk of coronary heart disease.

It also prompts the body to release nitric oxide, a signaling molecule that relaxes arteries, develops blood flow, lowers blood pressure, and protects against atherosclerosis.

In one study, people who took berberine for more than 7 weeks had a better heart conditions and were better able to exercise than those who took a placebo.

The recommended dose in this study was 300 to 500 milligrams four times a day. The cardiovascular effects of berberine also suggest its possible clinical utility in the treatment of arrhythmias and heart failure.


7.- Improves lung health

Berberine’s powerful anti-inflammatory properties are also great for lung health. This alkaloid has been shown to reduce the effect of acute lung inflammation induced by cigarette smoke.

In one study, mice were exposed to cigarette smoke to cause acute lung injury and then given 50 mg/kg of berberine intragastrically.

By examining lung tissues, cigarette smoke was shown to cause inflammation of the pulmonary alveoli along with cellular edema or abnormal fluid retention.

However, pretreatment with berberine benefits significantly decreased lung inflammation and ameliorated cigarette smoke-induced acute lung injury through its anti-inflammatory activity.

Possible Side Effects of Berberine

If you have a medical condition or take any medications, including antibiotics, it is recommended that you speak with your doctor before taking berberine.

This is especially important if you are currently taking medication to lower your blood sugar.

Since it can lower blood sugar, diabetics who control their blood sugar with insulin or other medications should exercise caution when using this supplement to avoid dangerously low blood sugar levels.

People with low blood pressure should also be careful when using it, as it can naturally lower blood pressure. Pregnant and lactating women should not take berberine.


In general, this alkaloid has an excellent safety profile. The main side effects are related to digestion and are minor, as there are some reports of colic, diarrhea, flatulence, constipation, and stomach pain.

Again, by sticking to the smaller recommended doses, spread out throughout the day and after meals, these potential negative berberine side effects can be avoided altogether.

Final Thoughts on Berberine Benefits

• Popular in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine treatments, berberine is a natural alkaloid found in a wide variety of herbs.

• It has been shown to possess antibacterial, antimicrobial, antitumor, anti-inflammatory, and blood glucose-lowering effects.

• Berberine benefits include the potential treatment of diabetes, lowering high cholesterol, fighting obesity, protecting against neurological diseases, treating SIBO, supporting heart health, and increasing lung health.

• It also shows the possibility of inhibition of cancer, digestive problems, osteoporosis, burns, bacterial infections, and even depression, although more research is needed.


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