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TikTok wellness trends can sway our health decisions, and berberine is no stranger to this phenomenon.

TikTok wellness trends can sway our health decisions, and berberine is no stranger to this phenomenon. In 2023, considerable attention was paid to berberine as claims spread that this plant-based compound was “nature’s Ozempic.” What does current research on berberine show? Let’s learn about berberine’s importance for our health.
What is berberine?

Berberine is an alkaloid found in medicinal plants such as barberry and goldenseal. Known for its bright yellow colour and bitter taste, research has shown that berberine can lower blood glucose and cholesterol levels, improve insulin sensitivity, reduce inflammation, and fight infections. Additional investigations have examined berberine’s impact on anthropometric measures such as body weight and body mass index (BMI). In a review of 12 studies, berberine led to significant reductions in body weight, BMI, waist circumference, and inflammation markers. In another review, berberine significantly reduced weight, BMI, and other measures such as triglycerides, total cholesterol, and fasting blood glucose. Berberine offers a wide range of health benefits and can help support conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and polycystic ovarian syndrome.

How does berberine work?

Many of berberine’s actions result from its ability to activate adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK). Known as the “metabolic master switch,” AMPK is an enzyme found throughout the body, especially in the brain, muscles, and liver. AMPK activation helps decrease sugar and fat production, increase fat breakdown, decrease fat storage, and decrease insulin secretion. Berberine also increases the production of GLP-1, a gut hormone that reduces appetite and food intake, while increasing insulin secretion and sensitivity, among other actions. By interacting with the gut microbiota, berberine can positively influence our health.

Can berberine’s absorption be improved?

Berberine has low bioavailability, which has prompted researchers to examine strategies to enhance berberine’s absorption in the body. LipoMicel® is one example of a delivery system in which natural compounds are encapsulated in a liquid micelle matrix made of natural food-grade ingredients to help improve bioavailability. One study found that healthy adults who supplemented with two 500 mg doses of this berberine preparation daily experienced a 12% reduction in blood glucose levels within two days.

Is berberine safe to use?

At the recommended dose of 500 mg twice daily, berberine is generally considered safe and well-tolerated. Some individuals may experience constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort; under such circumstances, berberine may be discontinued or used at a lower dosage. Berberine should be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and in cases of kidney disease, blood pressure concerns, diabetes, and leukopenia, consult a health care practitioner before use. With clear knowledge and understanding of berberine, many people can gain the numerous health benefits of this plant compound.