According to some estimates, up to one-third of American adults have metabolic syndrome. That means that they have a combination of at least three of the following conditions: being overweight or obese, having an imbalance of cholesterol, high blood pressure levels, high blood sugar or type 2 diabetes, or high triglyceride levels.
While it seems as though a clustering of diseases like this would be unstoppable, it isn’t. In fact, each one of the five major conditions that can make up metabolic syndrome is preventable and treatable. One of the best options may come from a plant compound called berberine.
Berberine is an alkaloid found from many botanical sources, and is recognized as a helpful compound in Ayurvedic practice and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Laboratory research and human clinical studies appear to back up the long-trusted use of plants that have high levels of this component.
In one clinical study of patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, berberine not only cut levels of damaging liver enzymes in half, but also reduced triglyceride and blood sugar levels and even showed some weight loss effects. It appears that this one compound may be an effective fighter against the multiple facets of metabolic syndrome – a much better option for those who would like to try a natural option to get this combination of diseases under control for good.
Iloon Kashkooli R, Najafi SS, Sharif F, et al. The effect of berberis vulgaris extract on transaminase activities in non-alcoholic Fatty liver disease. Hepat Mon. 2015;15(2):e25067.
Background: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most prevalent liver disorder in western countries and an important cause of liver cirrhosis, as well as liver failure. Up to now, 20‒40% of the individuals suffer from this disorder and its prevalence is estimated around 5‒30% in Asia. The NAFLD is one of the most prevalent causes for increases in liver enzymes and has a close relationship with obesity, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and type II diabetes. However, no definite treatment has been identified for it yet.
Objectives: The present study aimed to investigate the effect of berberis vulgaris extract in inducing changes in liver enzymes levels.
Patients and Methods: The present clinical trial was conducted on 80 patients, including 32 males (40%) and 48 females (60%), who were randomly assigned into two groups of case and control. All the patients had ultrasound evidence of lipid accumulation in the liver and increases in liver enzymes. The case group received two capsules (750 mg) containing berberis vulgaris extract every day for 3 months, while the control group was treated with placebo. The weight, liver transaminases levels and lipid profiles of the two groups were assessed before, during, and after the study.
Results: In the case group, the mean serum levels of alanine transaminase (ALT) and aspartate transaminase (AST) decreased from 49 to 27.48 and 48.22 to 29.8 u/L, respectively, which was statistically significant compared to the control group (P < 0.001, P < 0.001). In the control group, the mean of ALT and AST decreased from 50.4 to 46.8 and 45.7 to 44.9 u/L, respectively. The difference was not statistically significant. In addition, a significant decrease was observed in weight, triglycerides, and cholesterol, while no significant change was found in fasting blood sugar, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL).
Conclusions: Considering the significant decrease in the liver enzymes, triglycerides and cholesterol after using berberis vulgaris extract, further studies with larger sample sizes will identify the accurate dose as well as duration of consumption for this extract, to recommend in the treatment of patients with NAFLD.