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What is Berberine? A Review of Benefits, Side Effects, and Dosage


Facts about Berberine that will blow your mind

Berberine is a kind of material that can be extracted from various plants like shrubs called Berberis,  European barberry, goldenseal, goldthread, Oregon grape, Phellodendron, and turmeric. It belongs to alkaloids, a class of compounds that has a yellow color and often used as a dye. Berberine use has been dated back to 3000 BC where it was used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat various ailments.

Berberine might be popular with traditional medicine in China, and the people knew how to deal with Berberine. But out there, to the people that never knew it existed or people that just knew it because it was recommended to them is another story. It’s a new drug, if you think about the international market is concerned. For the people that are curious and plans to take it but doesn’t have a good source online, today is your lucky day.  What is Berberine? A Review of Benefits, Side Effects, and Dosage. The whole thing that you need to know will be discussed here.

What Berberine is popularly known for: Fast Forward to the present day, science has confirmed that this medicine is not all placebo effect, but has indeed medicinal properties that can treat various health problems. In fact, it has a lot of benefits that you will be pretty amazed at. Below had been the popular uses for this herbal medicine that has already been backed by science:

  • It is used as a supplement for its anti-diabetic effects
  • It lessens the risk of heart failure
  • It’s applied to the skin to treat burns
  • It treats trachoma, a bacterial infection that causes blindness.
  • It has anti-inflammatory effects
  • It helps improve intestinal health
  • It helps lower cholesterol
  • Lowers glucose production in the liver

How does Berberine work in the body: When you take Berberine, it’s absorbed by the body and carried to the bloodstream before it reaches the cells. In the cells, it binds to the target parts and does its magic, just like any other drug. The main action of this compound is to activate an intracellular enzyme called AMPK (Adenosine Monophosphate-Activated Protein Kinase). AMPK is also called the “metabolic master switch”, this is because AMPK plays a primary role as far as metabolism is concerned. AMPK is found in the different cells of the different parts of the organ like brain, muscle, kidney, heart, and liver.

Berberine is not limited to the AMPK business because alone, it’s much more complex than that. It also affects other molecules inside the cells and can even possibly affect what genes are turned on or off. Aside from that, this can also cause increased heartbeats and this is just the tip of the iceberg considering this drug’s potential that hasn’t yet been proven.

What you should never confuse Berberine for: It’s kind of funny to think that Berberine can be mistaken with other drugs especially if you don’t read the labels and mistake Berberol (Brand name), Berberrubine (Metabolite) as Berberine, or not paying attention to your ears and mistake Piperine (Black Pepper extract) with Berberine. These are just a few of the drugs that if you don’t pay attention to your eyes and ears can be mistaken with Berberine easily. There are more, and getting Berberine versus drugs that are like it at second glances or sounded like it (sort of) is dangerous for your health.

Things to Note about Berberine side effects: Berberine is a drug that does not normalize blood sugar, but rather reduces blood sugar.  This is beneficial if you have hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) but if you have normal levels of blood sugar, taking Berberine can be dangerous since it can cause low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) which is very dangerous. Even if you have hyperglycemia, you should never take too much of Berberine as it can cause hypoglycemia as well.

In order to know if you have hyperglycemia, you need to take note of these danger signs. It’s categorized in two (early, later).  These are important as hyperglycemia is a very dangerous symptom that needs immediate attention.

Early signs and symptoms that people need to watch out for:

●       Urinary frequency

●       Increased thirst

●       Blurred vision

●       Fatigue

●       Headache

Later signs and symptoms that prompts people to seek immediate help:

●       Fruity-smelling breath

●       Nausea and vomiting

●       Shortness of breath

●       Dry mouth

●       Weakness

●       Confusion

●       Coma

●       Abdominal pain

Hypoglycemia is dangerous and it’s important to know the danger signs. The severity of the signs are classified in 3s (early, night and severe).  Just like hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia is equally as dangerous and will also need immediate treatment.

Early warning signs and symptoms that people need to know:

  • Shakiness
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Hunger
  • Irritability or moodiness
  • Anxiety or nervousness
  • Headache

Nighttime symptoms

Hypoglycemia can occur even when you sleep, here are the things that people need to check when they wake up.

  • Damp sheets or bedclothes due to perspiration
  • Nightmares
  • Tiredness, irritability or confusion upon waking

Severe symptoms

This prompt a person that they need to seek immediate medical attention:

  • Clumsiness or jerky movements
  • Muscle weakness
  • Difficulty speaking or slurred speech
  • Blurry or double vision
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Unconsciousness
  • Death

Diabetes is a very serious disease, the reason is that it affects all organs of the body and will need constant monitoring of insulin. One of the most important thing in diabetic management aside from insulin monitoring and regulation is also to watch out for the signs of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia. If you plan to include Berberine in this, you will need to consult an expert in order for you to know how to properly utilize Berberine to regulate blood sugar levels.

Berberine dosage is determined by these factors: It’s not a light drug to take especially in high doses. Because it takes awhile to be digested, it can cause cramping and diarrhea. Just like any other drugs and medicines, Berberine has  factors that can determine how much Berberine you need to take. There are many factors to determine the right dosage, some are given below:

  • Age
  • Weight
  • Health
  • Gender

The regular dose is usually 900-2,000mg/day, divided into three to four doses to be determined by a physician. It should be taken with food and after eating. This is to properly utilize the spike in sugar levels associated with eating (still proper diet). All of this needs to be under the strict supervision of a physician especially that this drug is mostly used to regulate blood sugar levels. You ought to know by now that diabetes requires proper management of not just food and lifestyle but also medication. Diet and lifestyle might not be an exact science, but drugs are and that is something that you need to seriously look out for.

Special precautions and warnings for Berberine: The medicine is teratogenic, meaning it’s not safe for Pregnant women. Studies show that Berberine can cross the placental barrier and can possibly cause harm to the developing fetus. Kernicterus is a brain damage that has developed in newborn infants that got exposed to Berberine. Same goes for breastfeeding women as this medicine can be transferred to an infant through the breast milk. Since Berberine can lower blood sugar levels, taking this with insulin takes special care and precaution especially if you’re diabetic as this might potentially cause hypoglycemia if used too excessively. Berberine can also cause low blood pressure (hypotension). If you have existing low blood pressure you need to use this with caution.

Berberine Interaction with other drugs: Just like any medicine, this medicine has drug interactions that you should avoid. These drugs should never be taken with Berberine ever as it will cause negative reactions and will put anyone at risk of getting the side effects of either or both the contradicting drugs/medicines. These are the usual information that get’s missed that is why if a question about certain drugs or past surgeries were never brought-up, you need to proactively tell the doctor about it.

Cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune) is an immunosuppressant, it’s primary function is to make sure that organs being transplanted to a new host will not be rejected by the body. It breaks down fast avoiding unwanted side effects. But if you mix this with Berberine, it will not be broken down fast and will cause unwanted side effects. This is just one of those drugs, other drugs include lovastatin (Mevacor), clarithromycin (Biaxin), indinavir (Crixivan), sildenafil (Viagra) and triazolam (Halcion) just to say a few. Because of this action, you need to inform your physician about this information before you take Berberine. Sometimes these things are looked into that is why it’s important that during the history taking that you tell your physician.

General drug precautions: This medicine should be treated as a drug. Because unlike any other medicines out there that don’t have any side effects or has lesser side effects. This medicine has a side effect, in fact, it can be pretty dangerous as far as people that are diabetic is concerned. So if you got interested in Berberine and what it can do, you need to know what you are up against. Because a misuse of this drug is dangerous.

  • There is no such this as an exact dose for anyone
  • Always consult experts about the specific dosage for you
  • There is always a drug interaction with other drugs
  • It pays to do your homework with the drug
  • Even if there is a lot of information are found online, it still pays to have an expert opinion on a drug
  • Some drugs sound alike even if it has different functions
  • When you buy a drug always check if the pharmacist got the correct drug
  • If you missed a dose never double dose and consult an expert
  • If you encounter drug allergies while taking the drug stop
  • If you encounter side effects, stop and call for help.
  • A drug will be cleared in the liver or kidney
  • Long-term use of any drugs can be toxic to your kidneys or liver
  • Never overdose a drug as it can lead to unwanted side effects
  • Drugs and medicines are not safe, it always has side effects

Other health benefits of Berberine: Berberine might have been very familiar and popular with people that want’s to manage their blood sugar levels and metabolism due to some deficiency or disease. But there is something more than you can get out of Berberine than just that. Something that other people never explored before. Berberine has a ton of health benefits and some of it are found below:

  • Studies show that Berberine can treat depression
  • Studies show that Berberine has the capacity to shrink and inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
  • Studies show that Berberine is a potent antioxidant.
  • Studies show that Berberine has antibiotic properties
  • Studies show that Berberine can help prevent fatty liver

It’s undeniable that Berberine is a good drug and research are telling us that Berberine can possibly do all of these things. It’s not widely proven yet and will still require more tests, but to the fact that Berberine showed that it can have a ton of good properties, it’s certainly worth looking into. Not all experts know about this medicine (that is a fact), that is why, if you plan to take it you need to find an expert that knows what he’s talking about as far as Berberine is concerned. The lack of experts and research materials makes this a challenging drug, but once you get in contact with an expert and impart his/her knowledge about Berberine, you can expect that this drug will do great wonders as long as it’s not taken to much and with care.

Berberine is an effective supplement that if utilized properly can be as effective as any other medications out there. It has properties that help regulate blood sugar levels in which type 2 diabetes patients can benefit from. It’s also a good supplement for people that have metabolic syndrome. Berberine still lacks studies to fully understand its other properties. But one thing is certain, if fully understood, there’s really no telling the great wonders that this drug can bring to the table. It’s certain though, that this is a drug that should not be taken lightly and taken in higher doses.

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