Supplements are an excellent way to add to our diet vitamins and minerals that we might not be getting from our food and drink. They are generally found in higher concentrations than in foods and can be more readily available for absorption in the body. NMN Bio offers different food supplements that help with anti-ageing, fatigue, insulin sensitivity, muscle mass, and antioxidants, among other benefits. These products include NMN, Quercetin, TMG and the newest product, Berberine.
What is the Berberine complex?
Berberine is a potent bioactive molecule with many health benefits. Berberine has been used for a long time in traditional Chinese medicine, and after many clinical trials and scientific research, it has also become more prevalent in Western cultures. Berberine is an alkaloid with proven effects as a treatment for inflammatory disorders, wound healing, eye infections, digestive diseases and microbial pathologies. Berberine is found naturally in the roots, stems and bark of some plants such as barberry, tree turmeric, and poppies. It can be consumed by eating plants where it is found and extracted for clinical use in supplements. Research has shown the exciting benefits of consuming berberine supplements without any significant side effects compared to other drugs with the same function.
Where can Berberine be bought?
NMN Bio has just launched the new berberine supplement, and it can be bought as a capsule supplement containing 400 mg per capsule of Berberine and 100mg of Milk Thistle. As described below, many studies have shown the synergistic effects of taking the two together. Milk Thistle is a compound found in prickly-leaved shrubs, including the plant Silybum marium.
How doos Berberine work?
Berberine is of interest to research due to its powerful effects on many biological systems. It can be used to treat high blood sugar levels, high cholesterol, viral and bacterial infections and the effects of menopause.
Figure 1: Berberine Molecule Structure
Berberine lowers blood sugar levels.
Blood sugar level needs to be kept constant in the body, and otherwise, it will not function well. Eating something high in sugar causes a spike in insulin, reducing the sugar level afterwards. Diabetes occurs when there is a problem in insulin production.
Clinical studies on Berberine have shown that Berberine can be used to treat diabetes, hyperlipidemia and hypertension. Berberine has pancreatic islet protective effects, which are thought to involve two pathways. Diabetes mellitus is estimated to affect 382 million patients globally. Diabetes is a metabolic disorder of the endocrine system. Herbal remedies have demonstrated an antihyperglycemic effect (anti-diabetic). The use of herbal medicine and Western drugs can decrease the frequency of use and improve its efficacies. NMN also positively impacts diabetes.
Experiments on diabetic mice by Xia et al. proved that Berberine inhibited hepatic gluconeogenesis, improving the fasting blood sugar levels while not depending on insulin levels.
Diabetes can be caused either by a lack of insulin or insulin resistance. The way by which Berberine works on blood sugar levels is by different mechanisms. These include:
- Stopping glucose oxidation in the mitochondria while stimulating glycolysis, increasing glucose metabolism.
- Berberine inhibits glucogenesis in the mitochondria (the cell's powerhouse) in the liver.
- Berberine inhibits the enzymes responsible for increasing insulin levels in hyperglycemia. The presence of Berberine, therefore, improves glucose tolerance.
Berberine improves insulin resistance and glucose utilisation in tissues by decreasing lipid fatty acids, particularly triglycerides. A pilot study of 84 patients suffering from type 2 diabetes mellitus showed these results. Berberine also favourably influences the lipid profile, together with milk thistle, unlike traditional hypoglycemic drugs.
Berberine lowers cholesterol while reducing the risk of heart disease.
The formation of fatty deposits in the arteries (atherogenesis) and inflammatory changes in the vascular walls result in increased cholesterol. Cholesterol is a type of lipid made by all living things, needed for cell membranes. Cholesterol can be found in several forms; some of which are synthesised in the body, whilst others are consumed.
Furthermore, some cholesterol is more easily absorbed and retained, than others.
In the presence of Berberine, the formation of fatty deposits is interfered by increasing an enzyme called SIRT1. This affects the metabolism of the lipids while also affecting low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol receptors. Berberine can transform cholesterol into ester by targeting the enzyme cholesterol acyltransferases, which makes it harder to be absorbed by the body. This means Berberine can help maintain constant cholesterol levels in the body in different tissues. There are two types of cholesterol acyltransferases enzyme called ACAT1 and ACAT2. Berberine affects ACAT1, which is found in all body cells, while ACAT2 is only found in the liver cells. By acting on ACAT1, Berberine decreases cholesterol absorption in the intestine while reducing its plasmic level. Berberine also attaches to an enzyme called proprotein convertase subtilisin Kexin 9 (PCSK9), which attaches to LDL, decreasing the metabolism of LDL while increasing the blood level of LDL.
In a clinical trial in which 63 patients with dyslipidemia were divided into three groups, one group was treated with 1,000 mg/day of Berberine. One was given 20 mg/day of simvastatin and another a combination of the two. The group given Berberine alone showed that 23.8 % reduction in LDL-C levels, 31.8 % reduction in the group treated with both, and 14.3% in those treated with just simvastatin. Simvastatin is a drug used to decrease levels of lipid. Other studies have shown that another mechanism by which Berberine works is by reducing the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine, increasing its secretion.
The coadministration of Berberine and Milk Thistle improves the lipid and glucose profile, which suggests using this combination for further improvement of cardiometabolic health, rather than Berberine alone. The meta-analysis showed that a lower effective Berberine dose is needed if administered together. Silymarin, the active ingredient of Milk Thistle, inhibits the enzymes cholesterol acyltransferases and HMG-CoA activity while improving LDL-C absorption in the liver, reducing the cholesterol and lipoprotein absorption and synthesis.
Liver-loving Berberine and Milk Thistle
Milk thistle is known for its liver-protective benefits. The liver is a central organ in maintaining homeostasis in the body and various metabolic functions. Homeostasis means that it works to keep compounds in the body at a balance. The liver is also responsible for energy generation, bile production, carbohydrate, protein and lipid metabolism, and vitamin storage. When liver disease is present, high concentrations of alanine aminotransferase and aspartate aminotransferase are used as biomarkers.
Milk thistle contains a main active compound, the silymarin, which is flavonoids, including silibinin, dehydrosilibinin, silychristin and silydianin. These antioxidants have shown that they can alter the membrane structure of the liver cell, reducing the absorption of toxins. In animals, studies have shown that silymarin reduces liver injury that has been caused by acetaminophen, radiation, iron overload, alcohol, tetrachloride and phenylhydrazine. It can be used as a treatment for liver disease caused by alcohol and viral hepatitis by stimulating the growth of new liver cells. The presence of silymarin also increases glutathione, an antioxidant, reducing lipid peroxidation in the liver and intestines. Peroxidation causes cellular membrane damage, changing cell function. Together with Berberine, Milk thistle can help control blood sugar levels.
Ageing is a process that all living organisms undergo. The phenomenon results from cell impairment, where cells are no longer dividing and experience a decline in metabolism. Research by Professor David Sinclair at Harvard Univeristy, has given us insight into how we age, and how to slow down the process of ageing. Early biomedical studies on ageing, mainly focused on disease development and treatment. More recent studies have focused on ageing and disease on a molecular level, focusing on the mechanism of ageing, earlier interventions and prevention. These studies have given rise to the clinical applications that include dietary guidance, exercise and the use of molecules that target specific mechanisms in the body. Some of these include rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitors, adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) activators, and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) precursors, sirtuin1 (SIRT1) activators, modifiers of senescence and telomere dysfunction, hormonal and circulating factors including sex-steroids and growth hormones, and mitochondrial-targeted antioxidants. Berberine regulates these fundamental ageing mechanisms. It has an antiaging effect on the skin by preventing inflammation and degradation of the extracellular proteins.
Effects of Berberine on Osteoporosis and Menopause
Osteoporosis is a skeletal disorder common in menopausal people and is caused by a reduction in bone density mass. The reduction in bone density makes bones fragile and more likely to break. Menopause is when the hormonal changes in a woman's body mean that they can no longer bear children, and their menstrual cycle stops. Many women do not find the support or treatment they would like, and there is still a lack of understanding of what treatments can be used to help relieve and diminish symptoms. Menopause significantly increases the risk of osteoporosis.
Berberine supplements can also help with the symptoms of osteoporosis and menopause without the nasty side effects. The properties of Berberine: reduced oxidative stress, inflammation, depression and hyperlipidemia can help elevate the symptoms of ageing. Studies on women with a mean age of 54 showed that together with calcium, vitamin D3 and Berberine, their menopausal symptoms improved significantly.
Berberine as an antibacterial
Antibacterials are substances that have a direct effect on bacteria. Antibacterial help stop the spread of bacteria and kill bacteria. Due to the ongoing misuse of antibiotics and mutations, bacteria have become harder to control using traditional antibiotics. Recent research has emphasised finding natural, effective antibiotics that are safe for humans and animals. Berberine is a natural antibiotic.
Berberine has known antibacterial properties against different bacteria:
- Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae
- Shigella dysenteriae
- Streptococcus agalactiae and
- Helicobacter pylori
The use of Berberine as an antibacterial is of significant importance due to the reduced effect of some antibiotics caused by antibiotic resistance. Berberine can also work synergistically with some common antibiotics, making it a beneficial combined treatment for antibiotic-resistant infections.
In clinical trials with 612 patients with Helicobacter pylori infections, a 14-day therapy using Berberine was administered randomly. 90.1% of the patients eradicated the infection using Berberine. Another study of 336 patients, which were administered a mixture of antibiotics, clarithromycin, amoxicillin and Berberine, showed a higher eradication rate in the presence of Berberine than in groups where Berberine was not administered.
According to the WHO, globally, since the pandemic, there have been around 524,339,768 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 6,281,260 deaths.
Due to the ongoing global pandemic, many researchers have focused their studies on finding preventive substances and treatments for Covid-19 infection over the past two years. COVID-19 causes a primary inflammatory response in the body, targeted toward the respiratory system. This can lead to respiratory distress and lung injury. Many people infected with the virus also suffer from long-term effects of the virus, resulting in respiratory issues and fatigue. The high transmissibility and impact of the virus have led to a significant interest in naturally derived substances which are safe to consume and have wide availability. The use of compounds that are already known to be safe to consume reduces the cost and time needed to develop novel drugs, which was a significant advantage in the case of COVID-19. Berberine was found to affect other viruses, including the herpes virus, influenza virus and respiratory syncytial virus.
So, how can Berberine help as a treatment for COVID-19? The anti-inflammatory characteristic exerted by Berberine shows that this can be used to treat the inflammation caused by COVID-19 and other inflammatory-related diseases, particularly COVID-19 pneumonia and pulmonary fibrosis. This is because Berberine acts on the pathways called TNF-α, STAT3, IL-6, and CCL2 related to influenza and immune response in the body. Berberine also helps in leukocyte phagocytosis. Pulmonary fibrosis results in tissue destruction caused by fibroblast proliferation and accumulation of extracellular matrix and can affect respiratory function in humans.
Are berberine supplements safe?
The short answer is Yes!
Many clinical trials have been done to see the effects of Berberine on animals and humans. It is always recommended not to exceed the suggested dosage. The only mild side effects observed in human clinical trials included mild gastrointestinal reactions, which subsided in the first four weeks in most patients using the recommended dosage. Due to fewer studies done on children and babies, it is not recommended to be given to infants.
Berberine can be used for:
- Reducing blood sugar levels
- Helping you lose weight
- Lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart disease
- As an antidepressant
- As an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
- To fight bacterial, viral, and fungal infections
- To reduce fatty acid build up in the liver