Berberine Bark Extract: How It Works and the Many Benefits

Berberine bark extract possesses numerous properties beneficial to your health, such as fighting infection, preventing heart disease and cancer, and helping treat diabetes, among others. Read on to learn more.

7 minute read

Last Updated July 9, 2020

Berberine Bark Extract: How It Works and the Many Benefits

Berberine is a bioactive compound extracted from a group of plants called Berberis. As part of the organic compounds group of alkaloids, berberine bark extract possesses beneficial properties for human health. 

It is one of the most effective supplements available today. The most commonly known benefits of berberine extract are lowering blood sugar and improving heart health.

How Berberine Bark Extract Works

Berberine, like so many other natural compounds, has been used in ancient Chinese medicine for centuries. It has been used to treat a variety of ailments successfully, and modern science now welcomes it too. Studies with berberine bark extract have identified several impressive benefits for human health, as it works through several of the body systems.

Berberine is ingested and then transported through the blood to cells throughout the body. Within each cell, berberine molecules bind to certain targets to change their function. This method is similar to that of pharmaceutical medications. 

Berberine activates an enzyme called AMPK (AMP-activated protein kinase), which can be found in key organs such as the brain, muscle, liver, heart, and kidneys. 

Berberine Bark Extract and Your Heart

Heart disease is the number one cause of premature death across the world, and it is caused by a number of factors. Factors such as cholesterol levels, blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and obesity all contribute to the risk of heart disease. Each of these factors can be controlled through a balanced diet, regular exercise, good health practices, and supplemental support. 

Berberine bark extract is one such supplement that has been proven to reduce the risk of heart disease by impacting each of these factors. 

Cholesterol: High LDL (bad) cholesterol in your blood increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and heart disease. Too much cholesterol builds up in the arteries, forming plaques that obstruct healthy blood flow. Berberine bark extract has been found to reduce LDL cholesterol levels, which increases HDL (good) cholesterol. When combined with healthy lifestyle choices, berberine has been proven to more effectively reduce high cholesterol levels. 

Blood pressure: High blood pressure (hypertension) is the number one cause of heart disease. Arterial blockage as a result of plaque accumulation can contribute to high blood pressure. Blocked and damaged arteries become stiff, and the heart has to work harder to pump blood through the body. Studies found that berberine can delay the onset of hypertension, and if it still develops, berberine reduces its severity. Berberine is more effective when combined with a healthy lifestyle and medications. 

♦ Inflammation: Chronic inflammation plays a key role in the development of diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Berberine bark extract has anti-inflammatory properties, allowing it to reduce inflammation in the body. 

♦ Weight: Obesity and being overweight increases the risk of heart disease. Excess fat storage triggers inflammation and leads to blocked arteries and increased blood pressure. Obesity is common in individuals with metabolic syndrome, and berberine bark extract can help with all factors. Berberine helps to reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, and body mass when taken three times a day. Berberine can also activate brown adipose tissue, which helps turn food into body heat, which can lead to weight loss. 

Berberine Bark Extract and Diabetes


Obesity and high blood sugar levels are both factors that increase the risk of heart disease. The role berberine bark extract has with regards to treating diabetes ultimately works to protect your heart too. 

Heart attack and stroke are the number one cause of death among individuals with diabetes. It is necessary for those with diabetes to monitor and control blood sugar levels to reduce this risk. 

Berberine is already working to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as well as help you lose weight. This plant compound also reduces blood sugar levels associated with diabetes. Elevated blood sugar levels damage tissues and organs in the body, which causes chronic illness and leads to a shorter lifespan. 

Berberine works via several different mechanisms to lower blood sugar levels as effectively as leading diabetes medications.

♦ Increases glycolysis to help the body break down sugars inside cells
♦ Slows down carbohydrate breakdown in the gut
♦ Decreases insulin resistance so that insulin is more effective
♦ Increases the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut
♦ Reduces the production of sugar in the liver

By preventing elevated blood sugar levels, berberine can support the management of diabetes and reduce the risk of heart disease. 

Additional Benefits of Berberine Bark Extract

Berberine bark extract possesses numerous properties beneficial to human health. Beyond preventing heart disease and helping to treat diabetes, berberine helps promote overall health in several ways. 

Fights Infections

Berberine extract is a powerful antimicrobial agent that has been proven to inhibit the growth of bacteria. Specifically, berberine inhibits the growth and spread of S. aureus, which is responsible for sepsis, pneumonia, and meningitis. It has also been found to damage the DNA and proteins of certain bacteria, rendering them ineffective. 

As part of your daily routine, berberine bark extract can support your immune system by fighting bacterial infections. 

Fights Cancer

Berberine has the ability to alter the functions of enzymes within cells. Making changes within cells gives berberine extract the ability to fight cancer. 

Studies have found that berberine has inhibitory effects on cancers, including lung, ovarian, liver, prostate, and cervical cancers. Berberine fights cancer by way of helping in the killing of cancer cells and interfering with cancer cell progression. 

Taking Berberine Bark Extract

The recommended dosage of berberine is between 900 and 1500 milligrams per day. Ideally, you want to take three doses of 500 milligrams each, before meals. The reason being that berberine has a short half-life of several hours. Taking it multiple times throughout the day ensures that you achieve and maintain stable blood levels of the compound. 

There are a few possible side effects of taking berberine, such as cramping, diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal pain. If you have any medical conditions or are currently taking other supplements or medications, consult with your doctor before taking berberine bark extract. 

The Bottom Line

There are many natural supplements out there, but few are as effective as medications. Berberine has been proven to work as effectively as prescribed medications and doesn’t have the same risks or serious side effects. 

Berberine bark extract supplements are specifically beneficial for those with diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and risk for heart disease. It can also be used to successfully protect against chronic diseases and as a natural anti-aging supplement.

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