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Berberis aquifolium (Oregon grape)

The Health Benefits of Berberine

We discuss the health benefits of berberine, and why its natural compound that's been making waves in the wellness world.

What is berberine?

Berberine is a naturally occurring compound present in numerous plants, and there is some research indicating that it may have beneficial effects on weight loss, blood sugar regulation, and protection against various chronic illnesses.

Berberine is a dietary supplement that has been associated with several potential health advantages. In particular, it has been demonstrated to reduce blood sugar levels, facilitate weight loss, and enhance heart health. Additionally, it may be associated with other benefits and could help in the management of conditions such as depression or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

This article provides a detailed examination of berberine, including its mechanisms of action and its potential impact on overall health.

What does berberine do in the body?

Berberine works with several natural processes in our body, which is why supplemental use can enhance our health and help to reduce symptoms.

Numerous studies have been conducted on Berberine, and according to some animal studies, one of its primary functions is to activate AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), an enzyme found in cells throughout the body that regulates metabolism and energy levels[i]. Berberine also impacts various other molecules within cells and has the potential to alter gene expression, potentially providing protection against chronic ailments[ii][iii].

Blood sugar levels

Studies show that berberine can significantly reduce blood sugar levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes [iv]. There appears to be several different types of mechanism in the body that it could work on to have this effect including decreasing insulin resistance and increasing the body’s response to the blood sugar lowering hormone, insulin. It may also increase the process used to break down sugar in cells, known as glycolysis. In the gut it may slow the breakdown of carbohydrates, leading to a slower ‘sugar spike’ in the blood and may also increase the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut, which has general benefits for metabolic health and helps people to maintain a healthy weight[v][vi].

Cholesterol reduced risk of heart disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death globally according to the World Health Organisation. There are many factors that can be measured in the blood which point towards the development of heart disease. Berberine has been shown to improve many of these factors. According to studies it can work on several of the main blood markers which are investigated for cardiovascular health including apolipoprotein B, lower total cholesterol, lower LDL (bad type) cholesterol, whilst increasing the ‘good’ form of cholesterol called HDL[vii][viii].

Other benefits include

Reduced infections due to antimicrobial properties[ix]

Anti-inflammatory properties to reduce swelling and pain[x] [xi]


It is advisable to consult a physician prior to consuming berberine if you have a medical condition or are on any medications, particularly blood sugar-lowering drugs. Despite having a generally excellent safety record, caution is warranted in such circumstances.

Image by Kamran Aydinov

Recommended For

Cardiovascular Health / Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) , Cholesterol , Weight Balance , Blood Sugar Balance , Diabetes , Metabolism , Metabolic syndrome

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