In this episode of Discover with Dr. Dan | Proactive Health, Dr. Dan dives into the world of berberine, a natural compound found in many plants. Berberine is used in traditional Chinese medicine, dating back 1400 years of practice. Tune in to learn more about this wonderful compound.
The King of Bitters
Berberine is derived from Berberis plants like tree turmeric and Chinese goldthread. Because of its electric yellow color and fluorescent properties, berberine is often used to dye fabric and other organic materials. Dr. Dan explains that this compound is commonly referred to as, “The King of Bitters,” because of its extremely mouth-numbing bitterness. Dr. Dan learned for himself just how bitter it was when drinking an overpowering berberine concoction, leading to his own temporary tastebud demise. He’s since learned that berberine is really difficult to formulate, given its intensely bitter properties. He explains, “You can buy it in supplement form as capsules or tablets. You could buy it as a free powder to make your own capsules or tablets if you want.” As far as a liquid solution goes, the future looks bleak because something as bitter as berberine is really hard to disguise with other flavors.
Metabolic Syndrome - an Epidemic
Metabolic syndrome is quickly sweeping the world by storm and the more that professionals test berberine for its helpful properties, the more they find that it can aid in the fight against such conditions. “In the United Arab Emirates, this country has the highest rate of metabolic syndrome in the world at 50%.” One in three Americans has metabolic syndrome and all over the globe, rates are rising regardless of country. To combat these alarming rates, a lot of research has been done on berberine and how it affects the five defining characteristics of metabolic syndrome. This includes elevated waist circumference, high fasting blood glucose levels, high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol and high blood pressure. If someone has, “at least three of these five criteria,” they’re likely to have metabolic syndrome.
Many studies have been conducted on the effects of berberine fighting against metabolic syndrome. Researchers found that this plant helps to reduce BMI and inflammation and to increase insulin production, all of which can fight against the criteria for metabolic syndrome.
Help for Now and the Future
Interestingly, berberine has other amazing properties for the betterment of human health. When compared to Metformin, a drug used to treat PCOS, berberine is superior for increasing live birth rates and overall birth rates for women undergoing IVF. PCOS is the leading cause of infertility in women, so a natural remedy like berberine can be so helpful to those trying to conceive.
Berberine can also be effective for its antimicrobial properties in treating those with acute diarrhea because it helps to regulate bowel movements, according to the Journal of Infectious Diseases.
With such an incredible and naturally occuring compound readily available, one can’t help but wonder why it isn’t used more often in Western medicine. Dr. Dan says that there simply isn’t enough research done to figure out what the right dosage of berberine is to be effective on the body. In all of these different studies, a multitude of dosages were used and never quite narrowed down to what amount works the best. He hopes that as science advances with new technology, we will be able to pinpoint the amount of berberine with the greatest benefits.
To learn more about berberine and is many properties, check out the Discover | Dr. Dan Proactive Health podcast episode below, and be sure to subscribe for new episodes each Tuesday.