Wish you could perk up your body’s calorie-burning power without a special diet or exercise? Then your wish just came true! Growing research shows that berberine — a compound found in plants like turmeric and goldenseal — works metabolism-boosting magic, firing up our ability to incinerate both blood sugar and stored fat.
Scientists say the effect is so pronounced, folks in one study reversed their clinical obesity in a mere 12 weeks. There’s also proof berberine dramatically improves cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, and more. “I’m convinced that berberine is one of the most beneficial of all natural therapies,” says integrative medicine pioneer Julian Whitaker, MD. Women who spoke to Woman’s World rave, saying the stuff is transforming their health while making it easy to lose a pound a day.
What is berberine?
Already struggling to control her weight and type 2 diabetes when menopause hit, Elena Correia started gaining and gaining. The Florida yo-yo dieter, 52, recalls, “My instincts told me to look for a natural solution.” She stuck to wholesome foods and exercised, yet progress was slow — until a friend suggested berberine. With her doctor’s blessing, Elena added 500 milligrams of it before meals. Her blood sugar and metabolism responded. “Suddenly, I could go out to dinner and enjoy myself without even thinking about it!” The next thing she knew, she’d lost 60 pounds, her energy sky-high. “I lost my menopause belly and got my health back!”
Berberine has been used as medicine for so long, ancient healers actually wrote about it on clay tablets. But it didn’t get much attention in modern times until recently, “when small clinical trials demonstrated its remarkable ability to lower blood sugar and cholesterol,” notes Dr. Whitaker, who shares wellness advice on HealthyDirections.com. In fact, a 1,500-milligram daily dose of berberine has been found to slash blood sugar by up to twice as much as the common diabetes drug metformin.
On top of that, it can lower triglycerides by 35 percent and total cholesterol by 29 percent. “Berberine is really a ‘what can’t it do?’ kind of herb,” says Columbia University–trained nutrition expert and A-List Diet author Fred Pescatore, MD. Dr. Pescatore adds that while more berberine research is needed, we already know lots of exciting things.
How does it help weight loss?
By now, we’ve all heard we should go easy on processed food. But what’s the biggest reason? Turns out, too much processed junk damages delicate mechanisms inside us, making it harder and harder for the hormone insulin to get blood sugar — a type of fuel made from carbs — into cells to burn for energy. The result is a domino effect of fatigue, weight gain, and poor health.
Berberine to the rescue! The superherb “binds to cells and asks them to open up for blood sugar,” explains Dr. Pescatore. It gives insulin a much-needed hand, so sugar once destined to end up plumping our fat cells can instead be used to power our engines. Plus, berberine’s blood sugar–lowering ability can prevent and even reverse prediabetes and type 2 diabetes!
Another way berberine boosts burn: It activates an enzyme called AMPK, “which is sort of a metabolic master switch,” says Dr. Pescatore. Once turned on, AMPK tells cells to gobble up all the fuel they can. Energy and metabolism soar, and studies show fat loss increases by up to 600 percent.
As if all these berberine benefits weren’t enough, the compound also “minimizes the absorption of carbs and fat from the food we eat,” according to berberine fan Stephanie Redmond, PharmD., co-founder of DiabetesDoctor.com. In other words, some calories consumed while berberine is in our system simply don’t count. Bonus: As fat absorption decreases, cholesterol levels drop too. It’s a win-win and then some!
How can we get enough berberine to reap all its rewards? There’s simply not enough available in common foods, so Dr. Pescatore recommends a 500-milligram supplement three times daily (Buy on Amazon, $13.20).
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.