Can Berberine Be Used As An Alternative Treatment For Cancer?
Obesity is epidemic in our society today, and a major public health threat. You don’t have to look far to see the effects of our high-sugar diets and sedentary lifestyles. Keeping blood sugar balanced is key to preventing metabolic syndrome, diabetes, obesity, and cancer. Prevention is always the best course. Fortunately, there are natural alternatives to prescription medications that don’t come with negative side effects. Can berberine be used as an alternative treatment for cancer?
Berberine is a compound found in many plants. Goldenseal, barberry, and Oregon grape are just a few herbs that contain this medicinal alkaloid. Berberine has long been heralded for its antimicrobial properties. More recent research is finding that this botanical extract has many other benefits beyond its ability to combat microbes. Berberine is one of the main healing constituents of goldenseal, an herbal antibiotic.
Long used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, berberine has demonstrated time and again, its safety and effectiveness in treating many conditions. Of course, any medication or supplement can cause side effects, and its up to the user to determine if it’s safe for them personally.
The Benefits Of Berberine
Not only is berberine antibacterial, it is also a powerful anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting agent. Berberine is used to treat GI-related symptoms, such as, food poisoning, intestinal parasites, and traveller’s diarrhea. It is an effective treatment, as well, for digestive disturbances including upset stomach, GERD, constipation, SIBO, and leaky gut. Research also shows berberine’s ability to reduce cholesterol levels, improve blood pressure, and protect the heart and mitral valves.
Recent studies are proving that berberine is a helpful treatment for dementia and memory loss due to its effects on neuro-plasticity. It also alleviates depression and anxiety by modulating important neurotransmitters in the brain. Due to its antioxidant properties, berberine decreases oxidative stress and inflammation associated with diabetes.
Berberine is an AMPK Booster
You can see why adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase is known by the acronym AMPK. It’s too darn hard to say. AMPK is an enzyme often referred to as a metabolic master switch because of its importance in regulating metabolism. It is also involved in maintaining energy homeostasis and normalizing energy imbalances. AMPK-regulated pathways are turned off in metabolic syndrome. It is referred to as a syndrome because it comprises a variety of conditions including:
- High blood pressure
- High blood sugar
- Insulin resistance
- Abdominal fat
- An unhealthy lipid profile
- Central obesity
Each of these risk factors on its own is detrimental to health, but when combined, lead to this common, but serious condition. Metabolic syndrome can be deadly, leading to heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
If you have any of the risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome start addressing it now, and a great place to begin is getting familiar with your blood sugar levels.
Berberine’s effectiveness in regulating blood sugar is due to its activation of AMPK. Activation of this enzyme mimics results similar to those achieved only through consistent exercise and calorie restriction. Only one other compound is known to activate AMPK, and that is resveratrol.
Is Berberine The New Metformin?
Evidence is now emerging about berberine’s effect on gut microbiota, a mediating factor in obesity and type 2 diabetes. Both metformin and berberine exert their effects by modulating the gut microbiota, and increasing small chain fatty acid producing bacteria. SCFA, produced in the large intestine, are beneficial in many ways.
Regarding diabetes, animal studies show these fatty acids improve enzymatic activity in the liver and muscles normalizing blood sugar. Berberine balances out the microbiome by attacking the harmful bacteria, and leaving the beneficial bacteria untouched. This makes berberine a useful therapy in the treatment of bacterial dysbiosis, SIBO, parasites, and candida. Due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, berberine is also beneficial for many other inflammatory conditions.
An Alternative Treatment For Cancer
Berberine is showing promise in the cancer arena as it may suppress tumor growth, and inhibit metastasis and angiogenesis, two deadly processes, that allow cancer to spread, and, eventually kill. It has also been shown to induce apoptosis. This self-protective mechanism prevents cancer by destroying tumor cells before they become troublesome.
Studies show the anti-tumor effect of berberine may be due to its ability to inhibit the COX-2 enzyme expressed in colon cancer cells, which prevent tumor formation.In regards to breast cancer, berberine is showing promise in reducing new cancer growth by its effects on MCF-7 breast cancer cells. It also inhibits SP cells that become circulating tumor cells associated with metastasis.
Berberine’s anti-cancer properties may be due to how it changes cancer tumor cells metabolically by altering the way they metabolize fuel. Additionally, through the activation of AMPK, energy homeostasis is stabilized. Interestingly, cancer malignancy has been directly linked to loss of AMPK. Berberine shines as a neuro-protective, and is showing promise in the treatment of brain cancer as well.
How To Take Berberine
Use caution when taking high doses of berberine all at one time as it has the potential to cause stomach upset, and, possibly, diarrhea. Take it three or four times daily to avoid side effects, and boost its effectiveness. The standard dosage is 500 to 2,000 mg daily taken, preferably before meals.
For microbial use, treatment should last for at least 60 days. If treating diabetes, take berberine for six months before accessing blood work. Fasting insulin and HbA1C should be evaluated to determine if treatment should continue. You can get them tested here.
The fact that a natural compound is proving to be more effective than prescription drugs, such as statins, blood-pressure medications, and Metformin is nothing short of astounding.
The healing properties inherent in the plant kingdom are truly amazing. There is no doubt this superstar supplement should be included in any natural health protocol, including as an alternative treatment for cancer.
Have you used berberine? How did it work for you? Let me know in the comments:)