Ohh, our good mother Nature. Its plants have always played a big role in humanity’s survival. Unwell? No big deal, take some “tambavy” or just some plant extracts and you’ll be better. Want a tea? Will it be lemon, cinnamon or ginger? There are even healthy restaurants – where the menus are mostly foods containing therapeutic substances – such as berberine, which fight against Diabetes and Obesity.
It’s like with these grandmother recipes and these natural remedies to cure seasonal influenza or even prevent certain cancers. Most of these preparations are made from plant extracts that contain alkaloids such as berberine, a natural substance found in many plants.
Berberine and its miraculous virtues
Berberine is a bioactive compound that can be extracted from several different plants such as goldenseal or barberry. Yes, these plants are all foreign, but in Madagascar, we can find it in the Rosy Periwinkles (Catharanthus roseus).
Alkaloids, just like caffeine or theine, berberine most often comes in the form of a yellow powder with a bitter taste called berberine hydrochloride (berberine HCL). It is known for its very positive effect on the circulatory system and intestinal flora. It is used by Ayurvedic medicine (India) and in the Chinese pharmacopoeia for more than 2,500 years.
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Generally, berberine is taken as a dietary supplement because it is best known for promoting weight loss. However, this is not its only interesting property. By reducing the level of sugar in the blood, it has been discovered that Berberine also has the ability to fight Type 2 Diabetes.
From there, scientists have also found that it works against obesity and cardiovascular diseases while having immunostimulant (strengthens the immune system), antifungal and antibacterial characteristics.
Among other benefits, it’s also excellent for the liver, intestinal transit, against digestive disorders and cholesterol while having neuroprotective properties.
Finally, it’s also thought to be excellent for preventing certain cancers such as the cervix, liver, breast or brain cancer. It is indeed toxic for cancer cells, which also blocks their proliferation.
How does Berberine act?
To act effectively against obesity or extra pounds, berberine stimulates the production of Adenosine Monophosphate-activated Protein Kinase (AMPK). This enzyme, which is involved in energy metabolism, will break down lipids and glucose into energy and will result in reducing fat – triglycerides more precisely – in the abdomen and more importantly, in the arteries.
Let’s continue. It is thus a hypoglycemic substance – i.e., it has the ability to lower the level of glucose in the blood by improving the efficiency of the enzymes responsible for the carbohydrates metabolism in the body (process called glycolysis). This property of berberine is interesting for those suffering from Type 2 Diabetes and those suffering from cancer: the cancer cells indeed need 10 times more sugar than healthy cells.
In a Chinese double-blind study on the effects of berberine, doctors prescribed 1g of this plant extract per day for 2 months to 97 Type 2 Diabetics suffering from hyperlipidemic complications (too much fat in the blood). There was then a significant decrease in fasting blood sugar levels, hemoglobin (used to diagnose diabetes), triglycerides (fat) and even insulin.
By reducing hyperlipidemia and hyperglycemia, it also helps prevent cardiovascular risks: having less fat and less sugar in the blood reduces the risk of atheromatous plaque formation; these blocks of fat that eventually clog up the arteries.
The effects of Berberine summed up
Berberine is a good alternative for all those who want to lose weight. The way we can use it makes it a very interesting dietary supplement; since not only does it reduces fat, cholesterol as triglycerides, but it also improves glycolysis which substantially decreases blood sugar. This is surely great news for type 2 diabetics who do not have much confidence in modern medicine.
Naturally, by reducing the fat and sugar levels, it also prevents the risk of cardiovascular complications. In addition, there are immunostimulant, antifungal, antibacterial and antispasmodic properties, as well as protective properties of the liver, colon and intestine.
Furthermore, another positive of Berberine is that, even if it won’t really spoil anything, it induces little or no side effects: short and very rare constipation, bloating and possible small temporary gastrointestinal problems without great gravity. And that’s all. For the rest, we must still be careful and avoid giving this plant extract to pregnant women and young children.
Berberine in Madagascar
Berberine is generally extracted from the Berberis vulgaris, commonly called barberry. But we can also find it elsewhere, in particular in Catharanthus roseus, rosy periwinkles of Madagascar.
Personally, I know that this plant is used in the south, in Androy, both as an antibiotic and as a slimming product, or as a natural fat burner food. However, its use must be absolutely done under experienced supervision, because the Rosy Periwinkle is a toxic plant that contains a lot of anti-cancer alkaloids.
So, I do not advise you to take the Madagascar’s periwinkles to do anything and especially not to eat :). The best is to go directly to the pharmacy and ask questions about berberine (which should be available in capsules of 300 to 900 mg). Obviously, ask the advice of your doctor before! :).
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