A powerful and well-research compound found in a few famous Chinese herbs, berberine has been shown to profoundly lower blood glucose, total cholesterol, and HbA1C levels. It is one of the most studied compounds found in a number of famous and most-used herbs relied upon in Chinese medicine.
A paper published in the Alternative Medicine Review from 2000 notes, "It [berberine] is present in Hydrastis canadensis (goldenseal), Coptis chinensis (Coptis or goldenthread), Berberis aquifolium (Oregon grape), Berberis vulgaris (barberry), and Berberis aristata (tree turmeric). The berberine alkaloid can be found in the roots, rhizomes, and stem bark of the plants. Berberine extracts and decoctions have demonstrated significant antimicrobial activity against a variety of organisms including bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoans, helminths, and chlamydia." It is a powerful anti-inflammatory compound.
Examine.com provides an organized summary of the research and cumulative, evidence-based knowledge we have of berberine, most of it in the areas of metabolic syndrome, regulation of blood sugar/HbA1C, and regulation of cholesterol:
"Berberine is an alkaloid extracted from various plants used in traditional Chinese medicine.
Berberine is supplemented for its anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic effects. It can also improve intestinal health and lower cholesterol. Berberine is able to reduce glucose production in the liver. Human and animal research demonstrates that 1500mg of berberine, taken in three doses of 500mg each, is equally effective as taking 1500mg of metformin or 4mg glibenclamide, two pharmaceuticals for treating type II diabetes. Effectiveness was measured by how well the drugs reduced biomarkers of type II diabetes.
Berberine may also synergize with anti-depressant medication and help with body fat loss. Both of these benefits need additional evidence behind them before berberine can be recommended specifically for these reasons.
Berberine’s main mechanism is partly responsible for its anti-diabetic and anti-inflammatory effects. Berberine is able to activate an enzyme called Adenosine Monophosphate-Activated Protein Kinase (AMPK) while inhibiting Protein-Tyrosine Phosphatase 1B (PTP1B)." (link)
If you are struggling to manage your cholesterol and blood sugar, both possible indicators of systemic inflammation in the cardiovascular and digestive systems, you may benefit from working with a licensed acupuncturist and licensed Chinese herbalist like myself or Jessica. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us.