Berberine is the main active compound of different Chinese herbs found in barks and roots of numerous plants. Its benefits are the result of its direct interaction with nucleic acids and plasma proteins, and therefore has always been widely used in traditional medicine to treat symptoms of diseases of the digestive system. However, with the continuous development of literature and clinical practice, other multiple biological functions have been discovered that berberine can contribute to the organism. Check out the list of its main health benefits:
- Anticancer effect: berberine and/or its derivatives may be promising anticancer agents because they have the potential to inhibit tumor progression, metastasis and increase the effects of chemoradioradiotherapy.
- Cardiovascular improvement: presents hemodynamic improvements in patients with refractory heart failure and arrhythmias, in addition to contributing to the treatment of atherosclerosis by reducing levels of total cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol; increasing HDL cholesterol ; and improving the leptin/adiponectin ratio.
- Intestinal action: Several studies have shown the potential of berberine in controlling diarrhea and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome by restoring the microbiota and intestinal barrier.
- Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory: Berberine exerts antiproliferative and vasoprotective actions by inhibiting intracellular accumulation of reactive oxygen species, cellular apoptosis, and inflammation. Studies have shown that its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antifungal activities contribute to the treatment of diabetes mellitus, inflammatory bowel disease and neurological diseases.
- Metabolic action: Berberine regulates the expression of metabolic genes, leading to the suppression of lipogenesis and induction of energy expenditure in adipose and muscle tissue, contributing to the treatment of obesity, hepatic satatosis and atherosclerosis. In addition, its ability to lower blood lipid levels, induce vasodilation, reduce fasting glucose levels, hemoglobin A1c, and insulin is critical for type 2 diabetic patients.
It is noteworthy that oral administration of berberine should be well conducted, because it has a low aqueous solubility, malabsorption, extensive metabolism and a wide distribution in tissues, resulting in a low plasma concentration. Approximately half of berberine is absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract and the other half is distributed to the liver after intragastric administration, leading to a very low plasma concentration.
Berberine is a safe and effective natural product that is used in various diseases and pathological conditions; thus, it is a potential choice for long-term treatment and management. Its benefits are associated in the oncological treatment, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases, besides favoring weight loss and contributing to intestinal health by its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antifungal action. However, its plasma bioavailability is low when administered orally, and a close dose-response evaluation is required.
The Effects of Berberine on Weight Loss – Science Play
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Filli MS, Ibrahim AA, Kesse S, et al.. Synthetic berberine derivatives as potential new drugs. Braz J Pharm Sci. 2022;58(Braz. J. Pharm. Sci., 2022 58).