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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 color and bitter taste, research has shown that berberine supports blood sugar balance, helps sustain already normal cholesterol levels, and maintains healthy insulin sensitivity and weight management.
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 provides various nutritional benefits and addresses many health concerns prevalent today. 

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 pilot study found that healthy adults who supplemented with two 500 mg softgels daily of this berberine preparation experienced a 12% reduction in blood glucose levels within a few days. 

Is berberine safe to use?

At the recommended dose of 500 mg once or 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. Consult a physician before use, especially if you are pregnant or nursing, are taking medication, have a medical condition, or intend to use beyond three months. Keep out of the reach of children. With clear knowledge and understanding of berberine, many people can gain the numerous health benefits of this plant compound.