Did you know that berberine is an anti-agingsubstance that can be as effective as controlling blood sugar levels as metformin? Find out what makes this antioxidant super and why it can help slow aging and boost our longevity.
What is berberine?
If you are interested in natural anti-aging supplementation and antioxidants, chances are you’ve heard about berberine. Berberine is a compound typically found in various plants such as barberry, Oregan grape, tree turmeric, Phellodendron, and Goldenseal. It’s a bright yellow color and is often used as a dye.
It has been used both in Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and the Indian Traditional Ayurvedic System of Medicine to treat oriental sores, gastrointestinal conditions, and microbial infections. It’s an antioxidant (meaning it prevents damage to our cells caused by free radicals) and is also anti-inflammatory.
How is berberine anti-aging?
Recently, berberine has come under the spotlight in the Western world because of its ability to regulate blood sugar levels, to activate the longevity pathway AMPK (adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase) which is the metabolism’s “master switch,” help with weight loss and even fight cancers. All of these benefits make berberine a highly-effective supplement to slow aging and boost longevity.
The beneficial effects of berberine in diabetes and obesity treatment are in part expressed through stimulation of the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) signaling pathway. AMPK, an enzyme found in cells, is a metabolic master switch that helps regulate cell energy. It’s one of the longevity pathways that we aim to activate through our products at Youth & Earth.
When ATP (the cell powerhouse) levels are low, berberine activates AMPK which in turn regulates the signaling pathways to replenish ATP supplies in cells and ramp up fatty acid oxidation. In other words, it boosts your energy and helps burn fat. Berberine AMPK activation and the resulting benefits are a good enough reason you should supplement today!
To find out more about the longevity pathway AMPK and others, read The Longevity Pathways - How to Live a Happy, Healthy and Long Life. Apart from boosting energy and losing weight, what’s made berberine even more popular is that it's as effective at regulating blood sugar as metformin—a well-known prescription drug that’s used to manage type 2 diabetes and high blood sugar levels. But, without the side effects associated with diabetic medications.
What is metformin?
Metformin, originally made from the French lilac, is used to manage and treat high blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes sufferers. It’s one of the main medications used to help those with the condition and has been prescribed to over 120 million peoplearound the world.
Interestingly, like berberine, it’s also thought to activate AMPK and shows the potential to reduce the risk of cancer. Although it’s a very popular treatment, the underlying mechanismof how it actually works is still a partial mystery.
Although berberine and metformin are different structurally, they have many benefits in common as we’ll discuss below.
Berberine vs Metformin - both regulate blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes
Although berberine and metformin are different structurally, they have many benefits in common.
The lack of insulin in your body or the development of insulin resistance can elevate blood sugar levels. Chronic high blood sugar levels can cause major damage in your body, including affecting your nerves, blood vessels, and organs. Of course, this will bring about deterioration, affect your quality of life, and can even progress to be life-threatening. Being able to regulate your blood sugar levels is essential to prevent diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
How does berberine regulate blood sugar levels?
Reduces insulin resistance which, in turn, makes the hormone insulin more effective.
By activating AMPK, berberine stimulates glucose uptake in the muscles, liver, and adipose thereby reducing blood sugar levels.
Increases glucose metabolism inside the cells (glycolysis).
Helps the gut break down carbohydrates slowly which prevents blood sugar highs and lows.
Helps regulate the gut microbiome which plays an important role in many of our systems.
Reduces sugar production in the liver.
In a study of 116 patients with type 2 diabetes and dyslipidemia (abnormal amount of fat in the blood) found that patients that were given 1 gram of berberine per day lowered their fasting blood sugar from diabetic to normal levels (7.0 to 5.6 mm/L). The researchers concluded that berberine is a safe and effective treatment for type 2 diabetes.
How does metformin regulate blood sugar levels?
Unlike other diabetic treatments, metformin does not increase insulin production, instead, it reduces blood sugar levels in a couple of ways. It’s not a quick fix but works in conjunction with diet and exercise to slowly bring down blood sugar levels.
Reduces the amount of sugar the body absorbs in the gut.
Lowers glucose production in the liver thereby helping alleviate non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin which helps decrease insulin resistance.
Also appears to stimulate AMPK which helps increase insulin sensitivity.
To find out more about NAFLD, read: Why Is Sugar Bad For You?
Can berberine and metformin help with weight-loss?
Both berberine and metformin show promise when it comes to losing weight, with berberine showing more consistent results in studies.
Poor weight management and obesity can result in several severe health consequences including cardiac disease, hypertension, diabetes, and depression. Exercise is one of the most recommended approaches to weight management. However, in today’s busy world, it’s not always that easy to bring in regular exercise in order to lose weight and those who have injuries or joint conditions may find it challenging. One of the options is to supplement with berberine!
Berberine increases cellular energy which burns calories. The energy is then stored in the form of healthy fat cells known as adipocytes. Later the body turns to the fat stores, and ramps up metabolism, burning more calories. The process is facilitated by hormones such as leptin, insulin, and adiponectin.
Although there have not been that many studies on berberine and weight loss in humans, two have shown some promising results. In one study, obese patients were given 500 mg of berberine orally three times a day for twelve weeks. On average, participants lost about 5 lbs each and also showed a significant decrease in blood lipid levels (23% decrease in triglycerides, a 12.2% decrease in cholesterol). This led the researchers to conclude that berberine is a highly-effective, lipid-lowering supplement with an effect of moderate weight loss.
The second study lasted for 3 months and 37 men and women with metabolic syndrome were given 300 mg of berberine, three times per day. On average, participants experienced a decrease in their BMI (Body Mass Index) levels. According to the WHO(World Health Organization), BMI levels of 30 and above are obese and 25 and up are overweight. The participants’ levels dropped from 31.5 to 27.4—effectively moving them from obese to overweight.
However, metformin does not show as much promise when it comes to weight loss. That being said, a number of studies have been done, but the results have not been consistent enough for a conclusion. A ten-year follow-up study found that participants that had type 2 diabetes and were given metformin, experienced modest weight loss compared to those who were given a placebo.
Another study, conducted on obese individuals without type 2 diabetes but with insulin resistance, found that participants that were given metformin for 6 months lost between 5.8-7 kg, while the untreated group gained 0.8-3.5kg respectively. The researchers concluded that: “Metformin is an effective drug to reduce weight in a naturalistic outpatient setting in insulin-sensitive and insulin-resistant overweight and obese patients.”
Do metformin and berberine lower cholesterol?
Both metformin and berberine have been shown to reduce levels of LDL (the bad cholesterol) from the bloodstream.
Heart disease is one of the biggest causes of death. In the United States alone, about 2,300 people die a day due to cardiovascular disease. Worldwide, it’s estimated that 17.9 million people die a year from CVDs. By actively working at reducing blood lipid levels and addressing other lifestyle factors, you can reduce your risk of developing heart disease.
Berberine has been shown to lower lipid levels in the blood. It also lowers intracellular cholesterol through the liver LDL cholesterol clearance path. This path is mediated by LDL receptors and berberine increases the response of the cells to these receptors which helps your body remove LDL (the bad cholesterol) from the bloodstream.
Metformin also shows promise in being able to lower LDL cholesterol levels and it’s thought to do so via activating AMPK which leads to reduced levels of lipid metabolites and LDL. The researchers of this particular study, concluded: “Our results indicate that metformin intake activates AMPK and consequently suppresses FADS, which leads to reduced levels of the three acyl-alkyl PCs and LDL-C. Our findings suggest potential beneficial effects of metformin in the prevention of cardiovascular disease.”
Berberine vs Metformin - which is better?
As you can see, berberine and metformin are both effective in helping regulate blood sugar levels, potentially manage weight, and lower cholesterol levels.
However, where they differ is their side effects. And this is one of the many reasons why berberine may well be a better option for some than metformin.
Another fact that’s in favor of berberine is that you do not need a prescription to take it. However, metformin needs to be prescribed by a physician.
David Sinclair, Ph.D. AO, a professor working on aging research at Harvard, endorses berberine because of its effects on lowering glucose levels in the blood.
What are metformin side effects?
Metformin has mild side effects compared to other diabetes medications. It puts little strain on internal organs and also doesn’t cause weight gain.
However, some users (especially first-time users) do experience the following side effects which could result in them stopping the medication:
Nausea and vomiting
Gas and bloating
Lack of appetite
A metallic taste in the mouth
Some of the side effects can be eased if users take metformin with meals and also try it in a different form, for example, a slow-release form. It’s also important to be aware that metformin can increase the risk of low blood sugar if a user is taking it with other medication or a calorie-restricted diet.
There can be some severe side effects to metformin but the occurrence is very rare.
The NHS recommends that a user should contact their health care provider straight away if they experience:
Discomfort, severe tiredness, shallow or fast breathing, feeling cold and a heartbeat that’s slow. This is a sign of lactic acidosis which can be very serious.
Any yellowing of the skin or the whites of the eyes - this can indicate liver issues.
A skin rash, itching or redness.
Long-term use of metformin can also cause vitamin B12 deficiency anemia which can present as extreme tiredness, pins and needles, a lack of energy, painful red tongue, ulcers of the mouth, muscle weakness and vision problems. It’s recommended that users supplement B12 through their diet to prevent this and that they get regular blood tests to check the levels.
Does berberine have side effects?
Being a plant extract, berberine is safe when taken orally. However, isolated cases of stomach upset, constipation, and diarrhea have been reported when berberine is taken in high doses, so we recommend that you follow the recommended dosage. The topical application of the supplement has no known side effects.
We’ve added silymarin (milk thistle) to RELEAF to help combat any potential side effects. With that said, expectant and breastfeeding mothers should avoid berberine because it can cross the placenta and affect the unborn or pass through breast milk to the baby during breastfeeding.
Also, if you have low blood pressure, taking berberine may lower blood pressure even further and therefore you should use it with caution and under the supervision of your medical practitioner.
Why supplement with berberine?
Our bodies are complex and have numerous systems that regulate growth, development, metabolism, and tissue function. However, as we age, certain biological and physiological changes, as well as environmental factors, diet, and lifestyle, affect these systems, interfering with the secretion, production, and catabolism of hormones and chemicals that we need to function optimally. By supplementing with substances like berberine, you can provide your body with the support it needs to keep those systems functioning as they should.
For example, high levels of lipids in the blood, as well as other factors such as obesity and diabetes, are indicators that a person is at risk of developing heart disease. As we have seen, berberine has benefits that positively affect all of these factors and, therefore supplementing with it, in conjunction with a healthy, active lifestyle, will go a long way in increasing your life expectancy.
For the best improvement in glucose and lipid profiles, you can take berberine and milk thistle (silymarin) together. Research findings show that silymarin helps in the absorption of berberine to promote both your cardiac and metabolic health.
RELEAF, an exclusive Youth & Earth product, is a rich source of berberine which activates the AMPK longevity gene. It’s combined with silymarin (milk thistle) to enhance cardiometabolic health. It also contains PQQ (pyrroloquinoline quinone) which helps improve short-term memory, focus, attention, and energy metabolism.
Berberine is a supplement with many benefits from sugar regulation, weight loss to lowering cholesterol levels and anything in between. It boosts your endocrine system and slows down aging through the activation of the AMPK pathway. It’s also as effective as metformin, but without the side effects and long-term implications.
Despite aging being a natural process, you can begin reversing or stopping some of the physiological effects by supplementing wisely with products like RELEAF that are designed to slow down aging at a cellular level. Start turning back the clock and invest in your health today.
RELEAF, an exclusive Youth & Earth product, is a rich source of berberine which activates the AMPK longevity gene.
It’s combined with Silymarin to enhance cardiometabolic health. It also contains PQQ which helps improve short-term memory, focus, attention, and energy metabolism.
The content of this article is for informational purposes only. It’s not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or health provider before starting a new health regime or program. Do not ignore medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you’ve read on this site or any Youth & Earth product.