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What is berberine, you ask?
How are berberine and PCOS related?
Well, let me tell you!
[I am not a doctor or medical professional. Always talk to your doctor before making any changes to your treatment plan or if you have any questions.]
Berberine is found in plants such as goldenseal and phellodendron.
It is commonly used to treat heart and skin problems.
However, berberine is also used for other conditions.
Most notably for those of us with PCOS:
Berberine and Diabetes
We all know that PCOS carries the very real and heavy burden of an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
With diabetes already in my genetics, I try to live a PCOS-friendly life by watching what I eat and moving my body regularly among other things, but I am always thrilled to discover new ways to prevent that outcome.
Research suggests that berberine may control blood sugar as well as metformin and rosiglitazone.
When berberine is taken on a careful daily regimen over a prolonged period of time it has been shown to help prevent or reverse the effects of type 2 diabetes.
Berberine has also been shown to increase insulin sensitivity.
High Cholesterol and Berberine
This is another PCOS side effect that I already had a genetic predisposition towards. Thankfully despite having “high” cholesterol, mine tends to be high in a good way (as in the ratio of HDL to LDL is apparently enviable if my doctor is to be believed).
However, I do have to watch my triglyceride levels.
A 3 month study has shown that when berberine is taken on a careful schedule, overall cholesterol as well as low density lipoprotein (LDL aka “bad cholesterol”) and triglycerides are reduced in people with high cholesterol.
Berberine and Obesity
What the what? Something that makes losing weight and preventing weight gain a little bit easier?!
There is evidence that berberine activates AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) which inhibits fat storage while increasing fat usage within the body.
This means that metabolism increases and body fat is reduced without changing food intake.
Heart Health and Berberine
There are heart problems on both sides of my family, and that’s before bringing PCOS into my health story. Sigh.
I typically have lower blood pressure but poor overall heart health.
Once I did the “Wellness Works” program at the local YMCA and my heart scored in the range of a 92 year old man, y’all. I’m not even lying! I was FIFTEEN YEARS OLD!!!
In addition to the heart benefits of reduced blood sugar, increased insulin sensitivity, reduced cholesterol, and reduced obesity, berberine offers other cardiovascular benefits.
Most notably, berberine increases the amount of nitric oxide in the blood which allows blood to flow more easily through the more relaxed blood vessels.
Safety Concerns Using Berberine
Avoid using berberine if you are pregnant or breastfeeding and never give it to an infant or child. Berberine can cause a severe form of brain damage, kernicterus, in children. This is because berberine may cause jaundice in babies and young children.
Diabetics should use caution with berberine due to its effective ability to lower blood sugar.
People with low blood pressure should use caution with berberine due to its potential to lower blood pressure.
Due to these safety concerns, I have not personally tried berberine for myself. I am still nursing my daughters and I’m not willing to risk it.
However, I do have a close personal friend with PCOS who saw encouraging results when she added berberine to her regimen. That’s actually the reason I became aware of it and wanted to research it a bit myself!
I hope that learning more about berberine and PCOS has been beneficial for you!
I want to know: have you used berberine for PCOS before?
Tell me your experiences in the comments!
If you are looking for more ways to kick PCOS butt, consider joining the PCOS Take Action Challenge!
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