Berberine, touted as one of the most potent weight loss supplements currently on the market, is one of the few compounds known to activate AMPK (resveratrol is another one). One of the other ways to activate AMPK is with the hormones leptin and adiponective – hormones that are positively stimulated and increased during moderate to intense exercise, and one of the reasons behind exercise-related weight loss. In other words, stimulating AMPK can produce some of the same weight regulating benefits as exercise and dieting. Adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is an enzyme known as the “metabolic master switch” due to its important role in regulating metabolism (1) AMPK increases insulin sensitivity by stimulating glucose uptake by muscles – inhibiting excess insulin secretion.
The importance of berberine’s influence on blood sugar levels has a direct influence on weight management. Indeed, several studies confirm that berberine intake does result in weight loss – one in particular found that treatment with berberine resulted in the loss of 5 pounds on average, compared to placebo groups. There are a number of reasons for this – number one being that controlling blood sugar levels can prevent weight gain. When blood sugar levels drop – it can result in fatigue and cravings for sugar and carbs; too high and the surge of insulin is a sign that plenty of energy is readily available and that the body should stop burning fat and start storing it. Steady blood sugar levels result in the continuous burning of fat for an energy source as well as reduced cravings.
Berberine’s anti-inflammatory benefits also prove beneficial to cardiovascular health – encouraging healthy lining of the blood vessels and decreasing cholesterol, LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) and triglyceride levels.
Berberine also has potential as an agent in the next wave of defense against the threat of increasing antibiotic resistance. It has a long history of use in treating infections – including some cases of MRSA. It destroys bacteria by accumulating in its cells and damaging its DNA – halting growth and ultimately causing its death.
(1) 1, 3, 20, 21, 22 Natural Medicine Journal December 2012 Vol. 4 Issue 12