Berberine & its versatile effects

Berberin & seine vielseitige Wirkung

The barberry - a plant from Asia with special potential. The active ingredient berberine it contains is becoming increasingly important and is being substituted more and more frequently. It is said to have many positive effects on various areas of physical and mental health. It is often used in particular to treat diabetes. But that is not the only area in which the plant substance is said to be effective. Below you will find general information on the barberry plant and the active ingredient berberine it contains and its various areas of application.

Generally

Berberine (lat. Berberis vulgaris) is a substance contained in the barberry plant (also known as barberry). The plant grows mainly in Europe and Asia. In Germany it is primarily known as an ornamental plant for gardens or similar. In addition to long, thin thorns on the branches, it bears red, non-toxic berries that are very sour. They are nevertheless the basis for juices or jams, and can also be found dried as a cereal topping or in rice and fish dishes, especially in Middle Eastern dishes. The leaves, however, are poisonous.

The active ingredient berberine contained in the berries and the root is used for healing purposes. In Asian medicine, barberry has been a widespread and highly valued medicinal plant for several thousand years and is used to "cleanse the blood" and prevent heart disease. Its properties have a positive effect on the entire body and can support various metabolic processes. Its effect is antiseptic, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.

Areas of activity

Berberine is an extremely versatile active ingredient that is therefore used to treat many different symptoms of illness. Most of its healing effects have already been proven in various studies. Consequently, the areas of effectiveness and possible areas of application that have already been proven by studies are listed in detail and provided with the corresponding studies.

high blood pressure

High blood pressure is one of the main causes of coronary heart disease. By combining berberine with blood pressure lowering medication, studies have shown that the combination of medication and active ingredient can achieve a better blood pressure lowering effect than therapy with a conventional medication alone. 1

If you are interested in more information about high blood pressure and its natural treatment, please read the guide “High blood pressure” (hypertension) .

Blood vessel constriction

Constriction of blood vessels often leads to heart disease and strokes. High cholesterol levels also play a major role in this. Berberine can lower cholesterol levels and the associated LDL-C, or bad cholesterol. In addition, the triglyceride level in the blood can be reduced, thus reducing the risk of heart disease. These are results that have been achieved in various studies. 2.3

Blood sugar

In diabetes, the body's sugar metabolism is disturbed and there is constant excess sugar, also known as hyperglycemia. If left untreated, it can lead to long-term damage to various organs and is therefore treated with medication and lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise. In addition to conservative therapy, many diabetes patients also try to support their health with natural measures. The active ingredient berberine is very well known. The alkaloids it contains are said to have a positive effect on blood sugar levels. The scientific literature offers many different supporting studies that show:

  • A significant reduction in blood sugar levels and hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels by taking berberine – effect comparable to the drug metformin

According to scientific studies, berberine has a significant influence on the blood sugar levels of diabetics and could possibly even be used in addition to the common antidiabetic drug metformin for the general treatment of diabetes. 4,5

Infectious diseases and inflammations

In Asia, berberine has long been used to prevent and treat infectious diseases. The active ingredient is known for its anti-infective effect. Studies have shown that berberine can successfully combat various pathogens such as salmonella. It also has an anti-inflammatory effect against inflammation in the body caused by infections. 6 A well-functioning immune system is important to support the healing process. Berberine can also have a supportive effect here and strengthen the immune system.

Lose weight

Since obesity has become a major problem, particularly in industrialized countries, many people are gradually changing their lifestyle in terms of exercise and diet. In this context, the topic of losing weight is also a relevant factor. Since weight loss is often slow and not easy, many are looking for additional ways to support weight loss.

Berberine can help as a natural and purely herbal remedy. Studies have shown that the active ingredient has positive effects on fat metabolism and digestive function. However, exercise and a balanced diet are also important for healthy weight loss. 7

Liver health

Berberine can also support liver health. The natural liver function is supported by the substitution of the active ingredient, the breakdown of fats is promoted within the liver by allowing fatty acids to be burned more effectively and thus the production of glucose within the liver can also be reduced. 8

If you are interested in liver health, you will also find a separate guide on the topic of “natural liver detoxification”  .

depressions

Depression is now the most common mental illness in many countries around the world and the number of people affected is constantly increasing. In the next few years, it is predicted to become the main reason for early retirement and will also have an impact on physical health. Despite the topicality of the issue, many sufferers still express shame and uncertainty, which is why they do not seek treatment. However, depressive illnesses can be very effectively cured through therapy and medication. Mental health can also be strengthened through natural remedies. Berberine is ideal for this. Studies have shown that the active ingredient had positive potential for the current emotional state of those affected by depression and can alleviate mood swings. An increase in serotonin and dopamine levels was found. 9

Side effects?

If you are taking medication (including antibiotics), it is recommended that you speak to your doctor before starting to take it, especially if you are already taking blood sugar-lowering medication. Berberine is not recommended if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

In general, taking berberine is very safe and is associated with only a few minor side effects. In a few cases, gastrointestinal complaints such as cramps, flatulence, constipation or diarrhea have been reported. The reason for this is usually incorrect dosage.

Conclusion

The medicinal plant barberry is a traditional remedy in Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine. It has numerous positive properties that can have a positive effect on our health. However, the active ingredient has only been given attention in this country for a few years and the treatment options using berberine are still largely unknown. However, initial study results have confirmed the natural healing effects of berberine in various areas. It is said to be particularly effective for:

  • diabetes

  • high blood pressure

  • Digestive problems

  • Liver health

  • Coronary heart disease

  • Weight reduction

  • depressions

Important: This guide is intended as a source of information only. If you have acute problems, always consult your doctor. Under no circumstances should you stop taking your medication without consulting him or her and do not change your dosage on your own.

Sources

  1. Jiarong Lan, Yanyun Zhao, Feixia Dong, Ziyou Yan, Wenjie Zheng, Jinping Fan, Guoli Sun. Meta-analysis of the effect and safety of berberine in the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus, hyperlipemia and hypertension. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 161, 2015, Pages 69-81, ISSN 0378-8741, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2014.09.049 .

  2. Dong H, Zhao Y, Zhao L, Lu F, The effects of berberine on blood lipids: a systemic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials, Planta Med. 2013 Apr;79(6):437-46.

  3. Xianghong Zeng, Xiangji Zeng et al. J Heart Failure 1997; 4: 66.

  4. Yin, J., Xing, H., & Ye, J. (2008). Efficacy of berberine in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. metabolism; clinical and experimental .

  5. Han J, Lin H, & Huang W (2011). Modulating gut microbiota as an anti-diabetic mechanism of berberine. Medical Science Monitor 17.

  6. Kim WS, Lee YS, Cha SH, Jeong HW, Choe SS, Lee MR, Oh GT, Park HS, Lee KU, Lane MD, Kim JB, Berberine improves lipid dysregulation in obesity by controlling central and peripheral AMPK activity, Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2009 Apr;296(4):E812-9.

  7. Tabeshpour, J., Imenshahidi, M., & Hosseinzadeh, H. (2017). A review of the effects of Berberis vulgaris and its major component, berberine, in metabolic syndrome. Iranian journal of basic medical sciences , 20 (5), 557–568. https://doi.org/10.22038/IJBMS.2017.8682

  8. Kulkarni SK1, Dhir A, On the mechanism of antidepressant-like action of berberine chloride, Kulkarni SK1, Dhir A, Eur J Pharmacol. 2008 Jul 28;589(1-3):163-72.

  9. Peng WH, Lo KL, Lee YH, Hung TH, Lin YC, Berberine produces antidepressant-like effects in the forced swim test and in the tail suspension test in mice, Life Sci. 2007 Aug 23;81(11):933-8. Epub 2007 Aug 16.


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