Ramila's Health Tips

Volume 10, Issue 11

February 2019

Berberine for Your Heart

February is generally noted for Valentine's Day and matters of the heart - including heart health. This month, I'd like to focus on a supplement that has many heart/cardiovascular health benefits, as well as a substantial number of other beneficial effects - berberine. Read on below...

These newsletters will help you make better choices for better health. The choices that you make today can either have a positive or negative impact on your overall health. Begin by choosing better as it is a step towards longevity.

Ramila Padiachy

Doctor of Natural Medicine (DNM)®


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What is berberine? Berberine is a yellowish alkaloid found in several plants, including European barberry, goldenseal, Chinese goldthread, Oregon grape, phellodendron (cork tree) and tree turmeric.  

Berberine has long been a part of traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, but the western world is just beginning to be aware of it.

Type 2 diabetes

You may have heard of it as a remedy for type 2 diabetes; in fact Nature's Sunshine describes its berberine as follows: 

"Berberine IR naturally supports healthy blood glucose levels by up-regulating enzymes that trigger blood glucose metabolism. Utilizing a time-honoured ingredient found in both Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurvedic medicine, Berberine IR works to support blood sugar balance and glucose metabolism through a unique cellular action. Berberine, a constituent of certain plants, helps activate a key enzyme that supports blood glucose metabolism, turning your cells from “idle” to “on” and helping them to use glucose efficiently." 

One study compared taking 500 mg of berberine 2 to 3 times daily for 3 months with taking the common diabetes drug metformin. Berberine was able to control blood sugar and lipid metabolism as effectively as metformin, with the researchers describing it as a "potential oral hypoglycemic agent with beneficial effects on lipid metabolism."

Other health effects of berberine

There is an increasing amount of research showing that berberine can do much more than help to regulate blood glucose levels. These additional benefits include (but are not limited to):

Helps with healthy weight management

In addition to a healthy diet and regular exercise, berberine can help you maintain a healthy weight. It helps to activate adenosine monophosphate-activate kinase (AMPK), also known as the body's "metabolic master switch". AMPK is responsible for kick-starting your metabolism and encouraging your body to burn the calories it takes in, rather than storing them as fat.

Supports heart health

Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels and losing weight will help to improve your cardiovascular health, but berberine has even more heart health benefits. It promotes healthy blood pressure by encouraging the natural release of nitric oxide, enabling blood flow. (See our February 2013 newsletter for additional information about nitric oxide.)

Berberine has also been shown to reduce serum cholesterol levels, including LDL cholesterol, as well as triglyceride levels in patients with type 2 diabetes. It may also help to increase levels of HDL (high density lipoprotein), the 'good' cholesterol.

Treats SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth)

People who suffer from SIBO symptoms have excessive bacteria in their small intestines. Conventional treatment of SIBO is limited to antibiotics, with a variable response rate. Berberine, together with digestive enzymes, is helpful in reducing bacterial overgrowth. Berberine exerts selective antimicrobial action against a wide range of disease causing organisms linked to SIBO, yet exerts no action against health-promoting species.

Increases immune health

Berberine may help improve immune function by maintaining healthy gut flora, providing antioxidant properties and activating white blood cells, which are responsible for inhibiting infections. The majority of your immune system (about 70 percent) is in your gut, so it makes sense that berberine's ability to minimize the bad bacteria while promoting beneficial strains would help your immune system.

Helps control non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)

Research suggests that berberine may be a useful supplement for people with NAFLD, because it helps decrease fat buildup in the liver and regulate hepatic lipid metabolism.

Possible additional benefits of berberine - more study needed:

  • May help ease depression and anxiety.
  • May promote optimal joint health.
  • May assist in improving memory, spatial learning and overall cognitive functioning, as well as with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease.
  • May help to maintain healthy lung function

Some authors have compared berberine to curcumin for its effectiveness in so many different aspects of our health. I encourage you to keep it in mind!



  1. Price A. Berberine: the plant alkaloid that helps treat diabetes & digestive problems. August 2, 2018, Accessed January 14, 2019.
  2. Berberine and its many benefits. February 24, 2018. Accessed January 14, 2019.
  3. Mercola J. Berberine helps boost your mitochondrial and metabolic health. Accessed January 14, 2019.
  4. Nature's Sunshine website Accessed January 31, 2019.
  5. Yin J, Xing H, Ye J. Efficacy of berberine in patients with type 2 diabetes. Metabolism 2008;57(5):712-717.
  6. Zhang Y, Li X, Zou D et al. Treatment of type 2 diabetes and dyslipidemia with the natural plant alkaloid berberine. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2008;93:2559-2565.
  7. Murray M. What is SIBO? And what can help? July 24, 2018. Accessed January 14, 2019.
  8. Jiang WH, Li SH, Li XH. Therapeutic potential of berberine against neurodegenerative diseases. Sci China Life Sci 2015;58(6):564-569.

Disclaimer: The suggestions and recommendations in this newsletter are not intended to be prescriptive or diagnostic. The information is accurate and up to date to our knowledge, but we are not responsible for any errors in our sources of information.


There are some Nature's Sunshine supplements that would help you to maximize your health. You can find information about these products and purchase them in our online store:

  • Berberine
  • Grapine
  • Zambroza
Berberine IR

For additional information, please email or call Ramilas Healing Arts Clinic at 613.829.0427 for an appointment. Please continue letting friends and family know about this newsletter. Also, on our website, please see back issues of this newsletter, information about services, products and our clinic, and order products.

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