Two studies have shown that taking a berberine supplement over the course of three months results in significant weight loss. This may be due to the way berberine helps control insulin and other hormones that regulate fat cells. Research indicates that, for several circumstances, such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity, berberine could be a successful therapy. In recent years, the herbal compound berberine has been explored as a possible therapy in diabetes.
Herbs containing berberine, such as gold seal (Hydrastis canadensis) and Oregon grape (Berberis aquifolium) are available in the U.S. market and are most commonly marketed for improved immune system, antibacterial and antiparasitic effects, and gastrointestinal health (largely due to antimicrobial) effects). The Chinese herb Coptis chinensis is also an important source of berberine, although it is less well known in the United States. Most studies on berberine for diabetes have been conducted in China and, consequently, have used Coptis extracts.
Few U.S. manufacturers sell any of the herbs that contain berberine to control blood sugar. Berberine has been shown to lower blood sugar, cause weight loss and improve heart health, to name a few. Unless approved by a healthcare provider, a pregnant or nursing woman should not use berberine.
While additional clinical trials on berberine are needed in the United States, available clinical trials support berberine for lowering blood sugar and cholesterol, and combining it with other medications can cause dangerous blood sugar lowering. The potential for drug interactions is of greater concern because berberine shares the same metabolic enzymes in the liver with numerous drugs. Effects of a nutraceutical combination (berberine, red rice yeast and policosanols) on lipid levels and endothelial function, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Berberine is an alkaloid (a type of organic compound) that is extracted from certain herbs such as Hydrastis cacadensis (gold seal) and Berberis aquifolium (Oregon grape).
Research has suggested that, among other circumstances, people can use berberine to lower blood sugar, obesity, and inflammation. Berberine reduced triglycerides (the main form of fat in the body) and liver function enzymes and improved overall liver function. This effect is also seen when using several supplements together and also applies to berberine (we'll go over other supplements to help improve berberine results below). A number of other clinical trials have been conducted that support the role of berberine as a lipid-lowering agent.
To get the most benefit, it's best to combine berberine with at least 2 of the supplements listed above. Berberine also improves NAFLD by preventing fat accumulation in the liver and promoting fatty acid oxidation or fatty acid breakdown.