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Is Berberine A Safe Alternative to Metformin

barberries on a branch - berberine

Berberine is a compound found in several plants, including goldenseal, Oregon grape, and barberry. It has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including diabetes. Berberine is gaining popularity as a natural alternative to metformin, a commonly prescribed drug for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. But is Berberine really a safe alternative to metformin? 

The answer to this question is, of course, ‘no herbal remedy could ever be a safe alternative to an approved pharmaceutical’. Nonetheless, we are often asked this question. For those out there who believe in the power of nature and want to know more, we have tried to answer succinctly here. Metformin was originally derived from the plant Galega officinalis, so it shares an herbal ancestry with Berberine as well.

Insulin Regulates Metabolism

About Metformin & Its Side Effects

Metformin is a drug that works by reducing the amount of glucose produced by the liver and improving insulin sensitivity. It may increase levels of the gut incretin hormone GLP-1. It activates the energy sensing molecule AMPK (AMP-activated protein kinase). AMPK turns on catabolic systems to make more ATP. 

It is an effective drug for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, but it is associated with several side effects, including gastrointestinal discomfort, lactic acidosis, and vitamin B12 deficiency. Berberine, on the other hand, has been shown to have similar effects on blood glucose levels and insulin sensitivity as metformin, but with fewer side effects.

How Berberine Works

Several studies have shown that berberine can lower blood glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes. One study found that berberine was as effective as metformin in reducing fasting blood glucose levels and HbA1c levels in patients with type 2 diabetes. 

Another study found that berberine had a positive effect on insulin sensitivity and lipid metabolism in patients with metabolic syndrome. It has been shown to be clinically safe and well-tolerated. There are few adverse reactions reported.

Berberine Can Help with Other Health Conditions

Berberine has also been shown to have a positive effect on other health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer. It has been found to reduce cholesterol levels, improve heart function, and reduce inflammation. It may also have neuroprotective effects and may help prevent the formation of beta-amyloid plaques, which are associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Berberine has also been shown to have anti-cancer properties, including the ability to inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

Berberine Precautions

While berberine appears to be a safe alternative to metformin, it is important to note that, like Metformin,  it can interact with other medications. Berberine may increase the effects of drugs that lower blood glucose levels, such as insulin and sulfonylureas. It may also interact with drugs that are metabolized by the liver, such as statins and cyclosporine. It is important to speak with a healthcare provider before taking berberine, especially if you are taking other medications.

A Safe Alternative

To be clear, we are not recommending that anyone use Berberine instead of prescription Metformin.  But, this is a common question we have seen regarding the similarities of the two molecules.  We always recommend that one discuss all herbal supplements with the treating physician. 

Berberine appears to be a safe alternative to metformin for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and other health conditions. It has been shown to have similar effects on blood glucose levels and insulin sensitivity as metformin, but with fewer side effects. For more information on Berberine, we have a complete guide on everything you need to know about berberine.

This supplement has been shown to lower glucose levels in people with diabetes. The body responds better to insulin and prevents the liver from creating more glucose.

This supplement has been shown to help control insulin and other hormones that regulate fat cells that can result in significant weight loss.

Dr. Meredith Warner Baton Rouge Orthopedic Surgeon
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Meredith Warner is the creator of Well Theory and The Healing Sole. She is a board-certified Orthopedic Surgeon and Air Force Veteran.

She is on a mission to disrupt traditional medicine practices and promote betterment physically, spiritually and mentally to many more people. She advocates for wellness and functional health over big pharma so more people can age vibrantly with more function and less pain.

At Well Theory, Our surgeon-designed products are FDA Registered and formulated to help people:

  • Manage the symptoms of musculoskeletal pain
  • Recover vibrantly from orthopedic related surgeries
  • Fill the gaps in our daily diets
  • Manage pain associated with inflammation
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