Berberine – the miracle herbal extract…if taken properly

A variety of herbs yield the nearly miraculous extract berberine.

It is an alkaloid that has generated well over 3,000 peer reviewed studies in the world wide literature. Just about every organ in the body is affected positively.

To give one example here is an abbreviated abstract from a recent article;

Berberine has been shown to regulate glucose and lipid metabolism. This pilot study was to determine the efficacy and safety of berberine in the treatment of type 2 diabetic patients. In study A, 36 adults with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes were randomly assigned to treatment with berberine or metformin (0.5 g t.i.d.) in a 3-month trial. The hypoglycemic effect of berberine was similar to that of metformin. Significant decreases in hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c; from 9.5% ± 0.5% to 7.5% ± 0.4%, P<0.01), fasting blood glucose (FBG; from 10.6 ± 0.9 mmol/L to 6.9 ± 0.5 mmol/L, P<0.01), postprandial blood glucose (PBG; from 19.8 ± 1.7 to 11.1 ± 0.9 mmol/L, P<0.01) and plasma triglycerides (from 1.13 ± 0.13 mmol/L to 0.89 ± 0.03 mmol/L, P<0.05) were observed in the berberine group. In study B, 48 adults with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes were treated supplemented with berberine in a 3-month trial. Berberine acted by lowering FBG and PBG from one week to the end of the trial. HbA1c decreased from 8.1% ± 0.2% to 7.3% ± 0.3% (P<0.001). Fasting plasma insulin and HOMA-IR were reduced by 28.1% and 44.7% (P<0.001), respectively. Total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) were decreased significantly as well. During the trial, 20 (34.5%) patients suffered from transient gastrointestinal adverse effects. Functional liver or kidney damages were not observed for all patients. In conclusion, this pilot study indicates that berberine is a potent oral hypoglycemic agent with beneficial effects on lipid metabolism.

(Metabolism.2008 May; 57 (5):712-717)

Of course the devil, so to speak, is in the details. At the very least it is important to note that the patients were given 500 mg of the pure extract three times daily. One needs to find consequently a supplement that safely delivers this amount- 500 mg- per serving.

We haven’t quite explained yet why berberine is to be considered a “miracle extract” but we will get there in next postings and also why berberine in some circumstances might be better than metformin…

Ross Rentea MD

2 Thoughts on “Berberine – the miracle herbal extract…if taken properly

  1. Barbara on June 21, 2011 at 5:52 am said:

    It is June 2011. Have you written the follow-up to this article?

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