Is Weight Loss One of Your New Year’s Resolutions? Here’s How Berberine May Help

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Is Weight Loss One of Your New Year’s Resolutions? Here’s How Berberine May Help

Everyone loves a fresh start. Whether it’s a Monday, a new month, or a new year, starting over with new intentions can encourage or motivate people to pursue their goals. One of the most common resolutions come January 1st is being healthier—which often includes losing weight.  

While weight loss encompasses multiple aspects—with nutrition and movement often being the most critical—some dietary supplements can also help you reach a healthy weight for your body. One such supplement is berberine, a compound isolated from the barberry, Chinese goldthread, and goldenseal plants. Although berberine has been used for millennia in ancient healing practices, research in recent years has also shown its ability to support a healthy body weight. 

The Biological Actions of Berberine

The Biological Actions of Berberine 

Berberine is a compound known as an alkaloid—a nitrogen-containing, plant-derived compound that provides potent antioxidant and antimicrobial activity. It also activates an enzyme called AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). 

The effects of berberine on AMPK are one of the main reasons why this compound is linked to weight loss. AMPK acts as a sensor for low levels of energy (ATP) inside cells. When low ATP levels are noticed, AMPK works quickly to restore intracellular energy levels. It does this by redirecting carbohydrate and fat metabolism to take glucose from the blood and pull it into cells. 

AMPK also triggers mitochondrial biogenesis—the growth and division of pre-existing mitochondria—which activates genes similar to those typically turned on by exercise. Essentially, AMPK acts as a “metabolic master switch” in the body, and berberine supports this process. 

Berberine may also help with weight loss by supporting a healthier inflammatory response in the body. Research has found that inflammation is strongly linked to overweight or obese body weights, including higher levels of pro-inflammatory compounds called cytokines. Studies show that berberine reduces the activity of several of these cytokines, including tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), interleukin-1β (IL-1β), interleukin-6 (IL-6), prostaglandinE2 (PGE2), and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2). 

Can Berberine Help With Weight Loss? 

With all of these reported mechanisms related to metabolism and inflammation, many people wonder about using berberine for weight loss. In addition to supporting healthy metabolism by activating AMPK and reducing the activity of pro-inflammatory molecules, berberine has been found to reduce adipocyte (fat cell) maturation by regulating the activity of specific genes involved in that process.

One study with mildly overweight adults found that those who supplemented with berberine for one month had reductions in body weight and increases in brown adipose tissue activity. Also known as brown fat, brown adipose tissue is more metabolically active and increases energy expenditure—and having more of it supports a healthier metabolism and body weight.

In a systematic review of 12 studies, supplementation with berberine significantly decreased body weight, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and C-reactive protein concentrations—a marker of inflammation. 

Lastly, a study with animals found that berberine may also help support weight loss by suppressing appetite. In this research, mice on a high-fat diet that received berberine significantly reduced their food intake by 47.5%, suggesting that berberine may be an effective appetite suppressant. 

How to Use Berberine to Reach Your Goals

How to Use Berberine to Reach Your Goals 

These benefits can be gained with products like Berberine Pro, a supplement that combines 1200mg of berberine with 50mg of alpha-lipoic acid—a mitochondrial compound involved in energy metabolism—and Bioperine® black pepper fruit extract to aid in absorption.

The beneficial effects of berberine may become even more pronounced when combined with NMN (nicotinamide mononucleotide)—a precursor to the vital coenzyme NAD+. Another compound that can augment berberine’s benefits is resveratrol, an antioxidant in red wine and grapes. 

This is because both NMN and resveratrol activate the expression of sirtuins—anti-aging genes that are dependent on NAD+—and both berberine and resveratrol activate the AMPK pathway. When taken together, this powerful trio works synergistically to facilitate pathways that support healthy metabolism, weight, and longevity—all of which can help you succeed in keeping your New Year’s resolutions.

Show references
 

Asbaghi O, Ghanbari N, Shekari M, et al. The effect of berberine supplementation on obesity parameters, inflammation and liver function enzymes: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Clin Nutr ESPEN. 2020;38:43-49. doi:10.1016/j.clnesp.2020.04.010

Ellulu MS, Patimah I, Khaza'ai H, Rahmat A, Abed Y. Obesity and inflammation: the linking mechanism and the complications. Arch Med Sci. 2017;13(4):851-863. doi:10.5114/aoms.2016.58928

Li CL, Tan LH, Wang YF, et al. Comparison of anti-inflammatory effects of berberine, and its natural oxidative and reduced derivatives from Rhizoma Coptidis in vitro and in vivo. Phytomedicine. 2019;52:272-283. doi:10.1016/j.phymed.2018.09.228

Park HJ, Jung E, Shim I. Berberine for Appetite Suppressant and Prevention of Obesity. Biomed Res Int. 2020;2020:3891806. Published 2020 Dec 12. doi:10.1155/2020/3891806

Wu L, Xia M, Duan Y, et al. Berberine promotes the recruitment and activation of brown adipose tissue in mice and humans. Cell Death Dis. 2019;10(6):468. Published 2019 Jun 13. doi:10.1038/s41419-019-1706-y

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