Count berberine among the few compounds with antibacterial properties that offer an effective alternative to antibiotic medicines that are losing ground in the ongoing battle against superbugs. It gets even better, though. Berberine's other pharmacological effects includes blood glucose-lowering capabilities that make it useful in helping to treat diabetics. Berberine is a natural alkaloid, which puts it in a class of organic compounds that have their origins in plants. It contains primarily nitrogen atoms that have been shown to have significant physiological actions on humans, per draxe.com. It's not like this is a recent discovery, though. Using berberine for medicinal purposes is a practice that dates back thousands of years to China and India, where it has been part of traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicines. Numerous studies have shown that the use of berberine has been able to improve disorders that involve glucose and lipid metabolism. One of the more noteworthy of those studies was one in which volunteers were 500 milligrams of berberine two or three times a day for three months while a control group took the well-known diabetes drug metformin. The natural alkaloid could control blood sugar and lipid metabolism as well as metformin did.
How Berberine WorksAfter berberine is ingested, usually in the form of nutritional supplements, it is digested and then transported via the bloodstream to cells scattered throughout the body. Once it takes up residence in cells, berberine binds to various molecular targets, per authoritynutrition.com, and alters their respective functionalities. This includes activating a cell-enclosed enzyme known as AMPK (AMP-activated protein kinase), which also goes by the nickname metabolic master switch. Likewise, once integrated into our body's cells, berberine goes to work reducing blood-sugar levels, particularly in people suffering from type 2 diabetes. This is good because elevated blood-sugar levels, left untreated, can over time be destructive to our tissues and organs, setting in motion various health problems and, ultimately, possibly an early grave. As noted at articles.mercola.com, a meta-analysis of berberine showed that berberine's therapeutic effects for type 2 diabetes patients were not only as effectual as metformin, but weren't accompanied by side effects. In terms of its AMPK activation benefitting people with diabetes, berberine:
- Promotes the absorption of glucose into cells
- Enhances insulin sensitivity
- Reduces the liver's manufacture of glucose.