The Miraculous Benefits of Berberine – Part 2

Written by Anil Bajnath, MD
Posted September 23, 2021

Dear Longevity Insider,

In a pilot study to determine the efficacy and safety of berberine in the treatment of type 2 diabetic patients, berberine was shown to regulate glucose and lipid metabolism in vitro and in vivo.1 

In a study on diabetic mice, berberine was able to demonstrate a reduction of blood glucose levels and improve insulin sensitivity.2 It is thought that berberine helps control glucose levels by blocking certain enzymes in the body that are responsible for breaking down complex sugars into simple sugars, which are absorbed into the blood stream.3

Berberine has been found to be an alkaloid that binds and activates to the human pregnane X receptor. The human pregnane X receptor is a transcription factor that plays an important role in the regulation of gene expression.4 Berberine's ability to bind and activate the human pregnane X receptor is important because, while research is still early, it will hopefully result in berberine potentially being utilized as a therapeutic agent for people suffering from type 2 diabetes or complications of obesity. 

Berberine is thought to help control blood sugar levels because it can activate AMPK, which increases insulin sensitivity and decreases glucose.5  AMPK, also known as 5' AMP-activated protein kinase or 5' adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase, is an enzyme that has the ability to affect the hormones in glucose regulation. Recent studies have shown how berberine is able to improve glycemic control in type 2 diabetic patients.6 Recent studies indicate how berberine can be used along with other medications (such as Metformin) or by itself to help regulate blood sugar levels.7

Berberine and Anti-Aging Benefits?

A few months back, we discussed the Hallmarks of Aging, including "Cellular Senescence." Aging is defined as the time-dependent functional decline that affects most living organisms and is associated with increased risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Berberine helps to address this Hallmark by inhibiting cellular senescence.8 Cellular senescence is a state of irreversible growth arrest, which is associated with the shortening of telomeres. Telomeres are the protective caps at the end of each strand of DNA. Berberine has been shown to increase cellular senescence in certain cancer cells, and it's thought that berberine does this by inhibiting mTOR.9

Berberine has also been shown to inhibit the enzymes telomerase and topoisomerase, which account for its antiproliferative activity.10  Berberine has also shown to increase autophagy, which is an intracellular degradation system that is necessary for the removal of damaged or excess cellular components.11 Autophagy occurs when our cells degrade and recycle cellular materials – like lipids, proteins, and organelles – which normally build up as a result of nutrient deprivation. It is important to support autophagy, as it reduces the chance of cellular damage due to oxidation, which has been show to effect telomere length. Telemore length is important to aging as it acts as a cellular clock. When it shortens, it triggers senescence, which is the process where cells stop dividing and essentially "retire" from the cell cycle. Berberine has, therefore, been suggested to possibly stimulate autophagy and block cellular senescence. 

Conclusion

Berberine is a supplement with preliminary promising results. I am incredibly hopeful that more research and clinical investigation on the use, efficacy, and safety of the use of berberine will be conducted in the near future. 

To your longevity,

Anil Bajnath MD
CEO/Founder, Institute for Human Optimization
Chief Medical Officer, Longevity Insider HQ


(1)  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2410097/

(2) https://www.hindawi.com/journals/omcl/2020/6210526/

(3) https://cdnsciencepub.com/doi/10.1139/bcb-2014-0107#.XS8c8JNKhao

(4) https://www.researchgate.net/publication/337228524_Investigating_novel_actions_of_the_Pregnane_X_Receptor_PXR_using_Berberine_Chloride_as_a_non-canonical_ligand

(5) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27887947/#:~:text=Berberine%20significantly%20increased%20the%20AMPK,in%20the%20AMPK%2Dsilencing%20podocytes.

(6) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5839379/

(7) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2410097/

(8) https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/acel.13060

(9)  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3796215/

(10) https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/19/1/13/htm

(11) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7229801/#:~:text=Mechanistic%20studies%20exhibit%20that%20berberine,alleviated%20pathological%20condition%20in%20vivo.