Is Berberine an effective alternative to metformin? In this post, we’ll talk about how Berberine works to treat insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and polycystic ovarian syndrome.
What is berberine?
Berberine is a bioactive compound that can be extracted from several different plants, including a group of shrubs called berberis. A yellow colored alkaloid, berberine is used to treat diabetes, high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood (hyperlipidemia), high blood pressure, inflammation, obesity, and PCOS.
Like metformin, berberine affects adenosine monophosphate kinase (AMPK), the enzyme that controls cell energy production.
While AMPK is activated by energy depletion, it is inhibited by energy excess.High glucose, glycogen levels, and high fat intake inhibit AMPK. Being sedentary and eating a high calorie diet suppresses AMPK, while exercise and caloric restriction activate AMPK.
Berberine has the same effect on insulin resistance and fat loss as increasing exercise while restricting calorie intake.
Berberine has been shown to decrease insulin resistance, making insulin more effective, increasing glycolysis, which helps the body break down glucose inside cells, decrease glucose production in the liver, slow the breakdown of carbohydrates in the gut, and increase the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Studies in diabetics have shown that one gram of berberine per day lowers fasting blood sugar by 20% and HGBA1C by 12%. HGBA1C is a marker of long-term blood sugar levels. Berberine also improves blood lipids like cholesterol and triglycerides, which is great for those with metabolic syndrome.
A review of multiple studies have concluded that berberine is as effective as oral diabetes drugs, including metformin. Berberine has additive effects when administered with other blood sugar lowering drugs.
Most importantly, berberine can make lifestyle modifications like diet and exercise much more effective. In head to head studies, berberine was superior to metformin in reducing waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio.
For women with PCOS, the glucose uptake and excessive testosterone production of their insulin resistant theca cells have been shown to be effectively blocked by berberine.
Additionally, berberine helps reduce acne and lower testosterone levels that contribute to hirsutism. Berberine has also been shown to improve fertility in women with PCOS.
Berberine can also help with weight loss by improving the ratio of fat/hunger hormones, leptin and adiponectin.
What to expect when taking berberine
The proper dose of berberine is 500mg with each meal. However, when you first start taking it, be sure to go slowly to avoid gastric upset.
The most common side effects are GI upset, rash, and headache.
According to several studies, and after taking side effects into account, we have determined that berberine is a safer, more effective alternative to metformin. Combining lifestyle modification with berberine in patients with metabolic syndrome can effectively alleviate insulin resistance, regulate blood glucose and blood lipids, and reduce the level of inflammatory response in the body.
It is worth noting that berberine is not intended for long-term use. This exact reason is why I focus on supporting your hypothalamus. Your hypothalamus controls glucose metabolism, blood pressure, inflammation, and hormones and fertility. I use berberine to assist in weight loss and improve insulin sensitivity, as well as balance gut bacteria but only for a short period of time. Three months of use is usually sufficient to correct these imbalances with berberine if you are also supporting your hypothalamus to keep your body in balance.
If you have questions regarding the use of berberine, I answer all your questions live in our Hormone Support Group, which you can access through our free Hormone Reboot Training. I hope you’ll join us.