Berberine is Very Good for Your Heart

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Berberine is the active ingredient in a number of herbs, most famously, the powerful herb goldenseal. This new study shows that it is as good as the most powerful drugs for cholesterol and cardiovascular disease.

The new study is a meta-analysis that included 44 controlled studies and 4606 people. It compared berberine to statins or routine treatment. What it found is important, especially given the side effects of statins.

The study found that berberine is as effective as statins or routine treatment for total, LDL and HDL cholesterol as well as triglycerides. Berberine significantly improved National Institute of Health Stroke Scale scores and intima-media thickness significantly and better than routine treatment. Greater intima-media thickness means a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Berberine is also better than routine treatment for reducing a number of inflammatory markers.

When berberine is added to statins, total and LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, stroke scores and initma-media thickness improve more than on routine treatment or statins alone.

The researchers conclude that berberine is a promising alternative to statins for cardiovascular disease and that it has no serious side effects. That is an important advantage, since statins interfere with the manufacture of CoQ10, and important heart nutrient; cause muscle tissue break down and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.

The diabetes connection is also important because berberine is great for diabetes: it lowers blood glucose and improves HbA1c, which is the best measure of long term blood sugar and diabetes control (JCEM 2008;93:2559-65). In fact, it’s as good as metformin (Metabolism 2008;57:712-17). A meta-analysis found that it is as effective as drugs for diabetes. That same meta-analysis showed that berberine is as good as drugs for lowering the heart damaging LDL cholesterol and better for lowering triglycerides and raising the heart helpful HDL cholesterol (J Ethnopharmacol 2015;161:69-81). So berberine is a great natural treatment for cholesterol if you also struggle with diabetes.

Phytomed. April 2023;112:154716

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