Berberine, Super Herb

September 01, 2011

Berberine, Super Herb for Metabolic Syndrome, Congestive Failure, MRSA…. 

 Competency:  Natural Plants and Herbs ReferenceWorld Journal of Cardiology 2010 April 26, 2(4) 71-77 

 Ever heard of berberine?   Just because it has been used for over 2500 years in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine doesn’t mean we know about it.  It is actually a pretty good intestinal antibiotic and seems to have a wide range of activities against diarrheal causing parasites, bacteria, and viruses.  That would make it quite useful in tropical countries where diarrheal illnesses are high on the leading causes of mortality.  A natural plant alkaloid derived form the Coptis Chinensis plant, it is readily digested and has few serious side effects. 

 Why am I interested and why should you be interested?  This is one cool supplement plant.  Turns out it is just about the best herb yet for metabolic syndrome.  It does some particularly crafty things.   Metabolic syndrome is that combination of problems we all have in America:  slightly big waistline, slightly high blood sugar, slightly high blood fats, slightly high blood clotting, a bit of kidney damage.   It’s the beginning of vascular disease.  If you have a waist over 40 inches as a man, or 35 as a women, odds are you have it.  And odds are you are going to have a heart attack, a stroke, diabetes and eventually Alzheimer’s.  

Pleasant thought, isn’t it!   Hence, my interest.  This may be just what we all need (in addition to weight loss and exercise). What does berberine do that makes it so helpful? Here’s the short list.  It goes right into the nucleus of the cell and turns on the production of insulin receptors and LDL receptors.  As a consequence, you become more insulin sensitive (it is better at lowering blood sugar than metformin).  It lowers your cholesterol through a mechanism different than statins.  In fact, berberine is probably synergistic with statins.  

And that’s not all.  Congestive heart failure patients on berberine can walk 30-40 percent further in timed tests, probably through the increased production of nitric oxide that helps dilate blood vessels and decreasing the work of the heart.   The mechanism is probably something to do with increasing the progenitor cells that make nitric oxide.  And if you really want to be savvy, you can say it upregulates AMPK (adenosine mono-phosphate kinase) and that in turn leads to many of its beneficial effects.  So, if you have congestive heart failure, diabetes, hypertension and high lipids, this herb is for you!  

Better yet, if you are way earlier than frank disease, and just have a big tummy and want to reduce your risk naturally, this may be your plant.  There is a big burst of interest in it in the pharma community.  Only problem, it’s already very effective and can’t be patented.   Tsk tsk. There is one caveat.  It really works!   You may want to collaborate with your doctor and let them know you are taking it!  And get your blood sugar checked. 

 WWW. What will work for me.  My blood sugar is not perfect.  My blood fats are a tad high.  My waist is still just a notch under 40, but not 36 like it should be.  I’m going to give this one a try.   500 mg twice a day is the full metabolic dose. 

 Written by John E Whitcomb, MD Brookfield Longevity and Healthy Living Clinic 262-784-5593