Berberine could be longevity’s “best-kept secret”

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Berberine could be longevity’s “best-kept secret”

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From tackling senescence to lowering blood sugar, berberine is the supplement with a host of tricks up its sleeves.

Berberine is a bioactive compound found in various plants (Goldenseal, tree turmeric, Oregon grape and Chinese Goldthread) as well as Barberry or Berberis shrubs, which is how it got its name. As well as being used as a yellow dye, berberine has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Longevity.Technology: A quick glance at PubMed shows that the number of papers published on berberine rises year-on-year; in fact, over 630 papers were published last year alone. Berberine’s traditional success, and its potential for therapeutic benefits mean that people are waking up to the supplement that might even give prescription drugs a run for their money when it comes to lowering blood sugar.

As well as a promising anti-cancer drug lead, berberine extract can help lower blood sugar, help with high levels of cholesterol and hyperlipidemia, mitigate high blood pressure and promote weight loss. It exhibits antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties, and berberine has been reported to expand life span in Drosophila melanogaster and reduce premature cellular senescence [1].

One company that has woken up to the potential benefits of berberine is Nutriop, which sells berberine hydrochloride (HCL), the salt form of berberine, which, Nutriop says “improves overall potency”. The supplement has increased bioavailability due to the addition of piperine and grape seed extract.

Co-founders Massimo Cerquetti
Nutriop Co-founder, Massimo Cerquetti

Nutriop Co-founder Max Cerquetti told us: “Berberine is a powerful supplement, but not a particularly well-known one. At Nutriop, we hope to change that with our Berberine HCL, which takes the natural benefits of berberine and supercharges things with the latest scientific developments.

“Berberine may be the health supplement industry’s best-kept secret, but considering that up to 80% of people aged over 35 are either diabetic or pre-diabetic, we’re keen to get the story out there!”

Berberine is recommended to both diabetic and pre-diabetic patients, sometimes in conjunction with metformin, sometimes instead of it. A recent study review concluded that berberine is as effective as several diabetic drugs, including metformin,  rosiglitazone and glipizide [2]. Another recent study demonstrated that a 1-gram dosage of berberine could lower blood sugar by 20%, going from 7.0 to 5.6 mmol/L. In other words, blood sugar was lowered from diabetic levels to non-diabetic levels without using a prescribed medication [3].

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Berberine has been shown to enhance AMPK activation (one of the few chemicals that does), enhance autophagy and mitigate apoptosis (cell death) induced by high glucose levels [4].

Discussing the clinical applications of berberine, Jacob Schor, ND, FABNO, wrote in Natural Medicine Journal:
“AMPK regulates an array of biological activities that normalize lipid, glucose, and energy imbalances. Metabolic syndrome (MetS) occurs when these AMPK-regulated pathways are turned off, triggering a syndrome that includes hyperglycemia, diabetes, lipid abnormalities, and energy imbalances.

“AMPK has been proposed as a target for drug monotherapy treatment of metabolic syndrome. Current MetS treatment typically employs 3 to 5 different medications to manage the different comorbidities such as hyperglycemia, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and inflammation. In theory, a single medication that activates AMPK could replace all of the medications used to treat these various aspects of MetS. Rather than treating symptoms, controlling the AMPK switch may control the entire gamut of metabolic syndrome symptoms.

AMPK helps coordinate the response to these stressors, shifting energy toward cellular repair, maintenance, or a return to homeostasis and improved likelihood of survival … In other words, activating AMPK can produce the same benefits as exercise, dieting, and weight loss – the lifestyle modifications considered beneficial for a range of maladies … One way to appreciate berberine’s potential is to think of it as having the same effect on a patient as increasing exercise while at the same time restricting calorie intake [5].”

The antiaging checklist for berberine warrants a lot of ticks… AMPK activation, ameliorating cellular senescence, life extension in murine models, glucose reduction, weight loss, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant… It’s a most impressive list for a supplement most of us haven’t even heard of, but is readily available.

We’ll let Nutriop, whose core mandate is to increase the availability and accessibility of cutting-edge health boosters and anti-aging supplements without increasing the price tag, have the last word.

“Berberine extract helps lower blood sugar, slow down aging, and so much more. Put this all-natural healing power to work for you with Berberine HCL.”


The information included in this article is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this webpage is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

 


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[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4498586/
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3478874/
[3] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18397984/
[4] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27887947/
[5] https://www.naturalmedicinejournal.com/journal/2012-12/clinical-applications-berberine
[6] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/acel.13060

Image credit: Yoksel 🌿 Zok /Unsplash

Eleanor Garth
Deputy Editor Now a science and medicine journalist, Eleanor worked as a consultant for university spin-out companies and provided research support at Imperial College London and various London hospitals in a former life.

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