Berberine and Ageing

Several recent studies seem to suggest that berberine slows down the ageing process. Of course the quality of the formula the individual person is using is  crucial in achieving the same results as those indicated in the studies. We generally recommend formulas that have the berberine ashes together with the main ingredient.

Below are excerpts from one such study.

The authors describe in the abstract to their work that:

Berberine (BRB), a natural alkaloid, has a long history of medicinal use in both Ayurvedic and old Chinese medicine. Recently, available as a dietary supplement, Berberine is reported to have application in treatment of variety diseases. The authors tested whether Berberine can affect premature, stress-induced cellular ageing.  All the markers of senescence were distinctly diminished, in a concentration-dependent manner, by Berberine. In view of the evidence that BRB localizes in mitochondria, inhibits respiratory electron chain and activates AMPK, the observed attenuation of the replication stress-induced cellular senescence most likely is mediated by AMPK that leads to inhibition of mTOR signaling.  The present findings reveal that: (a) in cells induced to senescence BRB exhibits gero-suppressive properties by means of mTOR/S6 inhibition; (b) in parallel, BRB reduces the level of constitutive DNA damage response, previously shown to report oxidative DNA damage by endogenous ROS; (c) there appears to a causal linkage between the (a) and (b) activities; (d) the in vitro model of premature stress-induced senescence can be used to assess effectiveness of potential gero-suppressive agents targeting mTOR/S6 and ROS signaling; (e) since most of the reported beneficial effects of BRB are in age-relate diseases, it is likely that gero-suppression is the primary activity of this traditional medicine. Zhao et al, Berberine suppresses gero-conversion from cell cycle arrest to senescence, Aging, Volume 5, Issue 8, 2013, Pages 623-636

Berberine and Heart Failure

An interesting article showing the connection between berberine and congestive heart failure. Note the importance of a good quality supplement in order to achieve relevant blood levels. Here is a portion of the abstract from the study:

It has been reported that berberine is valuable for long-term treatment of ventricular premature beats (VPBs) and leads to a decrease in mortality for patients with congestive heart failure (CHF). In order to improve its therapeutic value and reduce its side effects, it is necessary to study the relationship between its activity and plasma concentration in patients with CHF. Patients with CHF were treated with conventional therapy for 2 weeks. Immediately after the data from a dynamic electrocardiogram (DCG) and left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) were obtained, 1.2 g/day of oral berberine was given. After 2 weeks of berberine therapy, the DCG data and LVEF were reassessed and the plasma berberine concentration was measured by HPLC. Plasma samples were pretreated by extraction with chloroform. The decrease in frequency and complexity of VPBs and the increase in LVEF in patients with plasma berberine concentrations higher than 0.11 mg/L (n = 31, group B) were more significant than at concentrations lower than 0.11 mg/L (p < 0.01 vs p < 0.05).

Xiangji et al, Relationship between the clinical effects of berberine on severe congestive heart failure and its concentration in plasma studied by HPLC, Biomed. Chromatogr. 13: 442–444 (1999)


Berberine and Diabetes

Berberine is the most studied natural substance showing positive effects on sugar control. Here is an abstract summary from a recent study showing a beneficial effect of berberine in diabetes both as far as the glucose and the blood fats are concerned:

Berberine, a natural  plant  alkaloid,  is usually used as an antibiotic drug. The potential glucose-lowering effect of berberine was noted when it was used for diarrhea in diabetic patients. In vitro and in vivo studies have then showed its effects on hyperglycemia  and dyslipidemia. Objective: The objective of the study was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of berberine  in the treatment of type 2 diabetic patients with  dyslipidemia. Design: One hundred  sixteen patients with  type 2 diabetes and dyslipidemia  were randomly  al- located to receive berberine (1.0 g daily) and the placebo for 3 months. The primary outcomes were changes in plasma glucose and serum lipid concentrations. Glucose disposal rate (GDR) was mea- sured using a hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamp to assess insulin sensitivity. Results: In the berberine group, fasting and postload plasma glucose decreased from 7.0 ± 0.8 to 5.6 ± 0.9 and from 12.0 ± 2.7 to 8.9 ± 2.8 mM/liter, HbA1c from 7.5 ± 1.0% to 6.6 ± 0.7%, triglyceride from 2.51 ± 2.04 to 1.61 ± 1.10 mM/liter, total cholesterol from 5.31 ± 0.98 to 4.35 ± 0.96 mM/liter, and low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol from 3.23 ± 0.81 to 2.55 ± 0.77 mM/liter, with  all param- eters differing from placebo significantly (P < 0.0001, P < 0.0001, P < 0.0001, P = 0.001, P < 0.0001, and P <0.0001, respectively). The glucose disposal rate was increased after berberine  treatment (P = 0.037), although no significant change was found between berberine and placebo groups (P = 0.063). Mild to moderate  constipation was observed in five participants in the berberine  group. Conclusions: Berberine is effective and safe in the treatment of type 2 diabetes and dyslipidemia.

(Yifei et al, Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes and Dyslipidemia with the Natural Plant Alkaloid Berberine,  J Clin Endocrinol Metab 93: 2559 –2565, 2008)