What is Berberine?
Berberine is a natural compound found in several plants, including the roots, stems, and bark of various species such as Berberis vulgaris (barberry), Coptis chinensis (goldthread), and Hydrastis canadensis (goldenseal). It has a long history of use in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine.
Berberine has gained attention for its potential health benefits. It has been studied for its antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. It may also help regulate blood sugar levels, support cardiovascular health, and aid in weight management.
I will follow up in this segment with actual research to back up the above claims. Furthermore, our understanding of the incredible plethora of benefits of Berberine only seems to be growing as over 700 articles per year are published on this seemingly “magical” molecule.
Berberine for Atherosclerosis
A research paper released fairly recently in the prestigious journal Nature, titled Bernene treats atherosclerosis via a vitamin-like effect down regulating Choline-TMA-TMAO production pathway in gut microbiota, shows a strong correlation between a reduction in plaque buildup in the carotid arteries and Berberine supplementation. This study came from a team of researchers who’ve been studying Berberine since 2004.
The study showed that Berberine supplementation reduced carotid artery plaque by 3.2% in 16 weeks.
For only four months of Berberine supplementation as the one variable, this would be pretty remarkable, however, what makes this even more noteworthy is that in the same period of the study, another control group using traditional pharmaceuticals to treat their atherosclerosis actually showed a 1.9% increase in plaque buildup.
I want to repeat this to really drive this point home.
In the 16 weeks of this study, subjects supplementing with Berberine twice daily saw a DECREASE in their plaque score by 3.2%, whereas those using a traditional pharmaceutical approach saw an INCREASE of 1.9%.
Furthermore, the authors of the paper state:
“The mode of action suggests a vitamin-like mechanism where Berberine acts on intestinal bacteria. Berberine caused TMAO reduction was seen in atherosclerotic patients in whom this therapeutic effect against plaque was observed. Thus, it is justified to develop Berberine as a medicine for the treatment of atherosclerosis.”
What you need to know about TMAO is that there is a correlation between high levels of TMAO produced in the gut and an increase in arterial plaque buildup. It appears that Berberine improves the gut ecology in a way that improves overall gut health, which has the effect of reducing TMAO.
Now, let’s reiterate a pretty profound statement made by the researchers and authors of this paper:
“…thus, it is justified to develop Berberine as a medicine for the treatment of atherosclerosis.”
In a time where it seems we must put a disclaimer on everything, and when it comes to any nutritional or dietary supplement, the disclaimer, “is not used to treat or cure…” must always be used, it’s pretty extraordinary for these researchers to make the statement that Berberine should be used as “a medicine for the treatment of atherosclerosis.”
Berberine for Preventing Metabolic Syndrome
There is ample amounts of research showing Berberine can be useful in preventing metabolic syndrome and Type II Diabetes by activating a protein complex called AMPK.
AMPK is also activated during exercise and periods of fasting (including intermittent fasting), meaning this molecule can work similarly in some ways on the body as exercise and fasting, and will compound the benefits yielded from said positive lifestyle habits. This is also why Berberine can be referred to as an “exercise mimicker” or “fasting mimicker”. (For this purpose, I would never recommend Berberine in lieu of exercise, but rather, in conjunction to compound its benefits).
Berberine has been found to activate the protein complex known as AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). AMPK is a key regulator of cellular energy metabolism.
Here’s a quick breakdown of how Berberine activates AMPK and its potential role in preventing metabolic syndrome:
1. Increased AMP. Berberine helps raise the levels of adenosine monophosphate (AMP) in cells. When cellular energy levels are low, the concentration of AMP increases.
2. AMPK activation. Higher levels of AMP stimulate the activation of the AMPK protein complex. Berberine enhances this activation process.
3. Metabolic effects. Once activated, AMPK initiates a variety of metabolic effects. It enhances glucose uptake in cells, leading to improved insulin sensitivity and better blood sugar control. It also promotes fatty acid oxidation, helping to burn stored fat. Additionally, AMPK activation can inhibit the production of glucose in the liver and reduce inflammation.
Through the activation of AMPK, Berberine influences multiple metabolic pathways, potentially contributing to the prevention or management of metabolic syndrome.
To read more on metabolic syndrome and its impact on longevity, CLICK HERE.
Berberine for Weight Loss
Berberine has been shown to induce a secretion of GLP-1. The popular weight loss molecule Semaglutide, also known as Ozempic, is also in the category of a GLP-1.
What is a GLP-1?
GLP-1 stands for Glucagon-Like Peptide 1. It is a hormone produced in the gut that plays a crucial role in regulating blood sugar levels. GLP-1 helps stimulate the release of insulin, which lowers blood sugar, and also reduces the production of glucagon, a hormone that raises blood sugar. Additionally, GLP-1 slows down the rate at which food moves through the stomach, leading to increased feelings of fullness and reduced appetite. Due to these effects, GLP-1-based medications are used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes and obesity.
Due to Berberine’s effects on gut ecology, its ability to stabilize and help metabolize blood sugar, and its ability to induce secretion of GLP-1, Berberine could be a valuable aid and supplement to any well rounded weight loss/management program.
This consideration could be further bolstered when you take into account the potentially significant benefits it could also provide to cardiovascular health, and its ability to also boost the anti-aging protein complex AMPK.
I use a form of Berberine called “Dihydroberberine” from Alpha Lion that is a more bioavailable form of Berberine. I take one capsule, twice daily.
Movement #4: Pulls
This week’s “Movement for Life” is an upper body “pulling” movement.
Everything I outline in this segment (with video tutorial links) are movements that require no more than a single kettlebell, and can be done anywhere, and don’t need to be part of an actual exercise regimen.
If not part of an exercise regimen, just work these movements into your life and day throughout the week, as when put together over time, will build functional strength, increase mobility, and boost your metabolism. All things that will benefit you tremendously as you age.
These movements are ideal for kids and young teens to work on specific mobility and reduce risk of injury in sports, all the way up to the eldest of adults.
There are several pulling movements that can be performed with a kettlebell. Here are a few examples:
An upper body pulling movement refers to exercises that target the muscles of the upper body, particularly the back and arms, by pulling a weight towards the body. These exercises are often used to strengthen the muscles of the back, improve posture, and develop upper body strength. Some examples of upper body pulling movements with a single kettlebell include:
1. Kettlebell Rows. Place one hand and knee on a bench or elevated surface while holding the kettlebell in the opposite hand. Pull the kettlebell towards your side, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Repeat on the other side. CLICK HERE to watch a quick tutorial.
2. Kettlebell High Pulls. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding the kettlebell between your legs with both hands. Explosively pull the kettlebell up towards your chest, keeping your elbows high and close to your body. Lower the kettlebell back down and repeat. CLICK HERE to watch a quick tutorial.
To check out previous week’s “Movements for Life” CLICK HERE.
Mistakes should be mandatory.
Growth in life comes from novelty.
When trying new things out, testing new ideas, and experiencing new situations, we make mistakes.
And amidst those mistakes…
And when we learn…
It seems there is a direct correlation with the amount of mistakes we’re making and the time spent outside of our comfort zone.
More time outside your comfort zone.
All of which tends to result in richer, deeper experiences, creative new ideas, and well, more purpose and fulfillment.
What mistakes are you eager to make?
Keep causing a ruckus out there.