The PCOS Nutrition Center Berberine Plus is an enhanced bioavailability form of berberine that can help with weight loss, fertility, and improving metabolic aspects associated with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Berbrine is a Chinese herb that has been used for thousands of years as a treatment for diabetes and infertility. Berberine is an alkaloid extracted from Chinese herbs such as hydrastis cacadensis (goldenseal), berberis aquifolium (oregon grape), berberis vulgaris (barberry), berberis aristata (tree turmeric) and coptidis rhizome (huanglian). As a potent insulin sensitizer, berberine’s insulin and glucose lowering effects have been compared with that of metformin.
Berberine has also been found to reduce androgens, such as testosterone, inflammation, cholesterol, fatty liver disease, blood pressure, and intestinal infections. Some studies have shown that berberine also has anti-cancer effects.
In studies, berberine has demonstrated its ability to assist in weight loss and body fat loss, especially in the midsection of the body.
Due to its many positive health benefits, berberine has been suggested as a way to possibly prevent metabolic disorders such as high cholesterol, insulin resistance, and high blood pressure.
Berberine May Help To:*
Improve insulin resistance
Lower cholesterol levels
Improve pregnancy and fertility
Provide Immune support
Lower high blood pressure
Berberine vs. Metformin In PCOS
Berberine improves insulin resistance in a similar way to metformin. Berberine improves insulin signal transduction by stimulating glucose intake via the activation of the AMP-activated protein kinase pathway.
The effects of berberine have been compared to metformin in women with PCOS. In their study, Wei and colleagues randomly selected 89 women with PCOS to receive either berberine (500 mg, 3x daily), metformin (500mg, 3x daily), or a placebo for 3 months.
All women were instructed by a nutritionist to reduce carbohydrate and fat intake. No calorie range was provided. Women were also instructed to exercise 30 minutes each day of moderate to intense exercise.
After 3 months of treatment, women who took berberine saw greater reductions in body fat loss than metformin or placebo.
Berberine lowered insulin and glucose levels similarly to metformin.
Women with PCOS who took berberine saw significant reductions in total cholesterol, LDL (bad cholesterol levels), and triglycerides and a significant improvement in HDL (good cholesterol levels), more than metformin.
Berberine lowered total testosterone levels similar to that of metformin.
Berberine and Weight Loss
High insulin levels can promote fat storage (weight gain) in women with PCOS. Berberine has been shown to assist in weight loss and central body fat loss in women with PCOS. According to a study published in Evidence-based Complementry and Alternative Medicine, berberine targets fat cells to impair the appetite hormone leptin and the lipoprotein lipase enzyme, to reverse fat storage.
Berberine has been shown to slow the release of free fatty acids while boosting fat burning in the mitochondria, which lowers cholesterol levels and prevents fat storage.
Berberine and Fertility In PCOS
Berberine has been shown to reduce androgens and improve ovulation in women with PCOS. It has also been shown to improve pregnancy rates with IVF treatment. Women with PCOS were randomly selected to take berberine, metformin, or placebo during IVF treatment. Those who took berberine showed greater pregnancy rates than metformin or placebo.
Berberine and Fatty Liver
Berberine has been shown to reduce fatty liver. A review of 6 randomized control trials involving 500 individuals found that berberine significantly reduced fatty liver in those with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Berberine Side Effects and Dosing
Overall, berberine is well tolerated but can cause gastrointestinal adverse effects including nausea and constipation, particularly when used in high doses. The therapeutic dosage of berberine to improve insulin and other proven health benefits based on published studies is 500 mg, 3 times each day (similar to that of metformin dosing). To avoid GI upset, we recommend slowly tapering up to 1,500mg daily by taking 500mg for the first week, adding another 500mg the second week, until you reach 1,500mg by the third week.
No data are available regarding the safety of berberine in long-term use in young women or in early pregnancy. Berberine is not recommended during pregnancy.
Berberine may alter liver clearance of certain medications. Caution is recommended if you take other prescribed medications such as antidepressants, MAO inhibiters, blood thinners, and beta-blockers. Regular monitoring of liver function tests is recommended for those taking berberine. Since berberine is an insulin-sensitizer it may cause low blood sugar, especially when combined with other insulin-lowering medications or supplements.
Berberine is not recommend for long-term use.
Wei W, Zhao H, Wang A, Sui M, Liang K, Deng H, Ma Y, Zhang Y, Zhang H, Guan Y. A clinical study on the short-term effect of berberine in comparison to metformin on the metabolic characteristics of women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Eur J Endocrinol. 2012 Jan;166(1):99-105.
Yang J et al. Berberine improves insulin sensitivity by inhibiting fat store and adjusting adipokines profile in human preadipocytes and metabolic syndrome patients. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:363845.
Yang J. Berberine improves insulin sensitivity by inhibiting fat store and adjusting adipokines profile in human preadipocytes and metabolic syndrome patients. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:363845.
An Y, Sun Z, Zhang Y, Liu B, Guan Y, Lu M. The use of berberine for women with polycystic ovary syndrome undergoing IVF treatment. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2014 Mar;80(3):425-31. doi: 10.1111/cen.12294.
Zhao L et al. Berberine improves glucogenesis and lipid metabolism in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. BMC Endocr Disord. 2017 Feb 28;17(1):13.
Chang X, Wang Z, Zhang J, Yan H, Bian H, Xia M, Lin H, Jiang J, Gao X. Lipid profiling of the therapeutic effects of berberine in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.J Transl Med. 2016 Sep 15;14:266.
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