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Dr. Whitaker Answers Your Questions About Berberine— A True Breakthrough in Blood Sugar Management

1. What is berberine and where does it come from?

The natural element berberine is a plant alkaloid that was used for centuries in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for its immune and digestive benefits, but otherwise berberine isn’t well known. It can be derived from the roots and bark of several herbs including barberry, goldenseal, goldthread, and Oregon grape.

2. How does berberine work?

This amazing herbal element targets an essential regulator of the metabolism: AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK for short). This enzyme is the key to the “fight or flight” response our bodies have in times of stress. When berberine activates AMPK, it clicks into action three different ways:

  1. AMPK helps to more effectively shuttle glucose into the cells, which in turn improves insulin sensitivity. Your body is able to make better use of both insulin and glucose, so the glucose level in your blood decreases as a result.
  2. AMPK also apparently boosts the burning of fatty acids in your mitochondria, thereby helping reduce lipid levels such as triglycerides and LDL cholesterol.
  3. AMPK also appears to kick glucose transporters into high gear, which helps to get glucose out of the bloodstream and into the cells. Again, the blood glucose level is decreased as a result. Berberine may also increase your body’s production of GLUT4, a glucose transporter found only in muscle and fat cells—the major tissues that respond to insulin. This could also cause improvements in insulin sensitivity.

3. Why did you develop your own berberine product?

It’s hard to find berberine as a single-ingredient supplement, and it’s harder still to find a berberine supplement that contains the dose I recommend—the 1,500 mg research level. When I began recommending Berberine to my patients and newsletter readers, the phones started ringing off the hook at the Whitaker Wellness Institute—everyone wanted to take it, but many were having trouble finding a 1,500 mg product. That’s when I decided to develop my own Berberine supplement so that my patients could get it in the right strength, safely and affordably.

4. Can you tell me what “Clinical Grade” on the Berberine label means?

When one of my supplements is designated Clinical Grade, it means it contains a single premium ingredient in the ideal dosage and form, with substantial human clinical data supporting its effectiveness. It’s always superior quality and highly recommended by me. This is the case with Berberine and for a growing number of my supplements.

5. My doctor says my blood sugar is just slightly outside the healthy range. Should I try Berberine?

If your fasting blood glucose level is not in the healthy range, this is a golden opportunity for you to get your blood sugar under control and “nip it in the bud” now. By all means, take Berberine and look forward to improved blood glucose levels, but please don’t overlook the importance of educating yourself about carbohydrate intake and other key issues. With luck and Berberine, you may never have to worry about your blood sugar.

6. How long does it take Berberine to work?

It depends upon the individual, but you may start to see positive effects after about 2 weeks, although it takes longer for many people. I recommend taking Berberine for at least 3 months in order to give it a chance to take full effect, and then you’ll want to stay on it so that you continue to enjoy its benefits.

7. Will my doctor be familiar with berberine?

Berberine is a very recent discovery in the world of blood sugar management, so your doctor may not be familiar with it—but he or she should be impressed by the studies on berberine’s effectiveness. (Please don’t let your doctor dismiss this effective, natural solution without due consideration.)

8. Does Berberine have any known side effects?

The usual 1,500 mg dose of Berberine is very well tolerated by most folks. A few people experience mild constipation at first, in which case they should take a lower dose temporarily, giving their body time to adjust. Typically this clears up over time and the full recommended amount of Berberine can be taken.

9. How should I take Berberine?

I recommend one capsule (500 mg) of Berberine three times daily, just before each major meal.

10. Beyond taking supplements, what can I do to support healthy blood sugar?

Lifestyle changes can make a big difference in your blood sugar, so I recommend that you learn the basics about carbohydrate intake and make a point of getting regular exercise, both of which are major players in blood sugar health. By learning to avoid foods that spike your blood sugar, and taking a healthy walk every day or two, you may be able to make a surprising difference in your blood glucose level. And be sure to add Berberine to your game plan.

11. If I’m watching my blood sugar, what else do I need to be careful about?

Typically my patients are struggling with more than one health concern, and among the most frequent combinations I see is the “dastardly duo” of cardiovascular and blood sugar concerns. That’s one reason I’m so enthusiastic about the potential of Berberine to help with both of these issues at once—safely, naturally, and inexpensively.