1. What Is It?
Berberine is a compound that can be extracted from a number of different plants. Most commonly, Berberine is sourced from a group of shrubs called Berberis that includes plants such as Indian Barberry, Berberis Candidula & Wintergreen Barberry. Berberine has been used for years in traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of a variety of ailments. The compound of Berberine is technically an Alkaloid as it is a naturally occurring organic compound sourced from plant origins.
2. What Does It Do?
Berberine has actually undergone A LOT of testing in its time and more importantly; it has been shown to have some powerful effects on a few biological systems. When ingested, berberine gets taken in by the body and transported directly into the bloodstream. From the bloodstream, it then makes its way to the cells in the body where it can then bind to various molecular sights to cause a reaction.
One of the main actions of Berberine is the activation of the enzyme AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) inside the bodies cells. AMPK is an incredibly powerful enzyme in the body and is often referred to as the Metabolic Master Switch. AMPK is responsible for regulating the bodies metabolism at a cellular level. Typically, AMPK is activated by a deficiency in nutrients, which then triggers the body to upregulate glucose uptake and also fat oxidation to produce the energy the body requires. While doing this, AMPK also switches off the process of glucose and lipid (fat) production to assist in restoring the energy balance.
AMPK is also activated by a number of processes such as metabolic stress, physical exercise and glucose deprivation. The activation of AMPK doesnt just regulate our metabolism, it also triggers the pathways in the body that produce ATP, while simultaneously, turning off the pathways that consume ATP to help increase cellular energy stores. Its pretty obvious that AMPK activation can play a huge factor in not only altering our bodies energy levels but also body composition and also physical performance.
Lowers Blood Sugar Levels
Type 2 Diabetes is a progressive condition where the body becomes resistant to the normal effects of insulin and / or gradually loses the ability to produce enough insulin. This insulin resistance or lack of production of insulin causes elevated blood glucose (sugar) levels. The body is constantly trying to regulate blood glucose levels, just like it tries to regulate everything in the body. This inability of controlling blood glucose levels can have huge health implications if it is not carefully managed through professional help and guidance.
Berberine has been shown in many studies to significantly reduce blood glucose levels in people with Type 2 Diabetes. Berberine has been shown to act as a hypoglycemic agent, just as anti-diabetic medications do in lowering blood glucose levels. 27 randomized controlled clinical trials using over 2,500 patients found that the use of Berberine in managing Type 2 Diabetes to have a comparable therapeutic effect to those of other first-line medicine.
Body Fat Reduction
Its no surprise Berberine can have a positive effect on reducing body fat and altering body composition. Its main benefit revolves around the activation of the AMPK enzyme which plays a vital role in our metabolism management. Berberines effects on fat loss are believed to tie into its improvement in insulin sensitivity as well as the activation of the AMPK enzyme. There are potential benefits of Berberine supplementation on inhibiting the bodies ability to grow fat cells, but more research needs to be conducted before anything can be certain.
There have been 2 key studies looking at the physical effects of Berberine supplementation in overweight individuals. A 12 weeks study had obese individuals consuming 500 mg of Berberine, 3 times per day. On average the participants lost over 2 kgs of weight and reduced their body fat percentage by around 3.6%. The second study had obese individuals consuming 300 mg of Berberine, 3 times daily with improvements in their BMI levels of 31.5 down to 27.4 and, most importantly, significant improvements in general health markers.
Improve General Health
Once again, no surprise about this benefit of Berberine. Just looking back on the benefits that have already been provided by Berberine supplementation, your general health will be improved. Furthermore, Berberine has been shown lower cholesterol levels and therefore reduce your risk of heart disease. This is believed to be caused by Berberines effect on inhibiting an enzyme called PCSK9, a specific enzyme that by being inhibited results in more LDL (the bad cholesterol) being removed from the bloodstream.
3. How Much Do I Need To Take?
When talking about dosing Berberine, there are two ways we want to look at it.
Dosing per serve:
Per individual serve of Berberine, the ideal dosing seems to be between 500 – 1,000 mg to elicit the desired effects. This will tie into the next element of dosing, Dosing per day, but a 500 mg singular dose does appear in a few studies. Then looking at some of the top GDA and digestion supplements on the market upper limits of 1,000 mg seem to be as high as some go. We will make special note that a lot of supplements will use dosages of 200 – 300 mg of Berberine, this will still elicit a positive effect but from our reseach and in an ideal world we would try to get a minimum of 500 mg per serve.
Dosing per day:
As we mentioned the two factors of dosing will overlap here. From a daily point of view, getting in anywhere from 1,000 – 1,500 mg of Berberine per day total appears to be the ideal level. Even going up to 2,000 mg seems to be perfectly fine but any more may be unnecessary in achieving the desired results. Whether it is 3x 500 mg dosages or 2x 1,000 mg dosages or even 1x 1,000 dose of Berberine per day is entirely up to the effects desired from this ingredient.
4. When Do I Take It?
Following on from how much Berberine to take; when supplementing with Berberine there are a couple of ways to structure when you should take it.
The simplest method and for general health benefits taking a serving of Berberine morning and night with a meal is ideal. Whether you have it as a stand-alone supplement or it is combined into a multi-vitamin or even a GDA supplement. Consistent dosing, taken just before or as you are consuming food will be best to ensure absorption.
If you are supplementing with Berberine for its Blood Glucose Management benefits, once again, whether the Berberine is a stand-alone supplement or in a Glucose Disposal Agent (GDA) formula. Supplementing with Berberine just before you sit down to have a carbohydrate-containing meal is ideal. Just as any GDA would instruct you to consume the product, ensuring the meal you are consuming contains carbohydrates to capitalise the benefits of the formula and the Berberine.
Another way to supplement with Berberine is before cardio or training. We are seeing more fat burners incorporating Berberine and similar ingredients to help regulate blood glucose levels in an attempt to enhance the fat loss effects of cardiovascular training. This will be very much dose dependant, especially if the exercise is completed in a fasted state, we would suggest a lower dose due to not being consumed with a meal.
5. How Long Does It Take To Work?
The rate at which results are seen from Berberine supplementation will be almost entirely dose dependant. A large singular dose will elicit effects almost immediately after consumption. Whether it’s regulating blood sugar levels of the activation of AMPK in the body. On the flip side, smaller dosages will require more frequent consumptions to elicit the desired effects.
Were not talking a matter of weeks, were talking a matter of days or even a matter of servings. Berberine appears to get to work straight away in the body as it works on a cellular level. Results such as improvements in general health, fat loss and even lowing of cholesterol will take some time and consistency in supplementation. But the main benefits in the body of AMPK activation and the lowering of blood glucose levels are nearly immediate effects.
6. What Are The Top Products?
The top products containing Berberine are: