Longevity Articles

What You Should Know About the Health Benefits of Berberine

Berberine is an alkaloid extracted from various plants, providing health benefits with its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Berberine has been utilized for thousands of years in both traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese herbalism and in textile dyes for its yellow hue, with the oldest written records of its use dating back to 650 B.C.

In ancient times, berberine was used most often for ailments ranging from snake bites to stomach aches. Today, the majority of research focuses on its role in supporting metabolic, cardiovascular, brain, and liver health.*

Berberine’s health-supporting qualities come primarily from its chemical structure as an alkaloid — a nitrogen-based, plant-derived compound. Alkaloids in plants are produced as a defense response to environmental stressors, providing a similar function in the human body.* 

As a botanical alkaloid, berberine helps support the free radical scavenging process. Free radicals are damaging compounds that create an environment that accelerates aging. Berberine may also help support the increase of antioxidant levels in the body, including glutathione and superoxide dismutase.* 

Berberine impacts various systems in the body through its activation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), an enzyme that acts as a sensor for low levels of energy, or ATP, inside cells. When this occurs, AMPK works quickly to restore intracellular energy levels, which it does by redirecting metabolism and taking glucose from the blood and pulling it into cells.*

Essentially, AMPK acts as a master metabolic regulator in the body, and berberine supports this process.*

Through its activation of the AMPK pathway, which pulls glucose (sugar) from the blood into cells for energy, berberine has been shown to support healthy blood sugar levels in those who are already in the normal range. In addition, berberine has been found to increase the activity of glucokinase, an enzyme that supports healthy glucose metabolism.*

Berberine helps increase the production of nitric oxide — a vasodilator that relaxes blood vessels and supports healthy blood pressure already within the healthy range — and may support healthy arterial function by supporting the body’s antioxidant and inflammatory mechanisms. Berberine may also encourage the expression of the sirtuin called SIRT1, which plays a role in supporting longevity and heart health.* 

In a randomized controlled trial, healthy individuals with borderline high lipid levels showed improvements in laboratory markers after taking 1000 mg berberine (500 mg twice daily) for three months. These findings suggest that berberine may optimize lipid metabolism and support already normal total cholesterol levels.*

There are several potential mechanisms behind berberine’s ability to support brain health, beginning with its potential to support a healthy neuroinflammatory response and antioxidative pathways. Berberine may also be able to cross the blood-brain barrier and help induce autophagy — our body’s way of removing damaged cells and cell parts.*

In a systematic review of 15 animal studies, berberine was associated with supporting a healthy memory and inflammatory response. However, we don’t know for sure if these results would translate to humans.* 

In summary,

- The plant alkaloid berberine is most well-known for its ability to support healthy blood sugar and lipid levels, which then helps support cardiovascular and metabolic health.* 

- Combining berberine with trans-resveratrol and nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) may further support health, as this trio helps support several anti-aging and longevity pathways.*



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Derosa G et al. Expert Opin Biol Ther. 2013;13(4):475-482.

Fan D et al. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2019;17(6):563-579.

Ma X et al. Front Pharmacol. 2018;9:782.

Neag MA et al. Front Pharmacol. 2018;9:557.

Yuan N et al. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2019;19(1):109.

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