Recently, my dietitian colleagues who work in the diabetes field shared that many of their patients are inquiring them about berberine, a dietary supplement promoted to lower blood sugar. A couple of weeks after popping these pills, the blood sugar levels dropped quite a bit.
What & How
Berberine is a plant alkaloid used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic medicine. According to a review by the editor at Examine.com, the anti-diabetic effect of berberine may be as potent as some pharmacological drugs on the market. Berberine cuts back on the making of glucose by the liver, thus aiding the management of glycemia. While this dietary supplement is supposed to bring down glycemia only when it is elevated, some people may witness a significant drop in their blood sugar, putting them at risk for hypoglycemia. Therefore, it is recommended to take berberine with a meal or right after a meal to avoid hypoglycemia, all the while preventing a spike in blood sugar. Side-effects of berberine usually occur at high doses and include diarrhea and abdominal discomfort. For this reason, users should span out the doses. In addition to lowering blood sugar, researchers found that berberine exerts anti-inflammatory properties, lowers cholesterol, and contributes to a healthy digestive system.
According to Natural Medicines, berberine is “possibly effective” in managing type 2 diabetes. Studies have shown that this plant-based dietary supplement can lower blood sugar, A1C levels, fasting plasma glucose, and after-meal glycemia in people with type 2 diabetes. Examine.com also gives berberine a high rating, indicating that it is one of the best supplements out there to help tone down hyperglycemia.
Like drugs, berberine can interact with certain medications. For instance, the combination of berberine with other anti-diabetic drugs may put a person at risk for hypoglycemia. Before taking any dietary supplements, consumers are advised to consult their pharmacist and to be vigilant to any changes that occur to their health following the intake.