Treating PCOS is challenging. There are options available but as with all medications, they can be hit-or-miss for everyone.
Since insulin resistance is common in many PCOS sufferers, treating that part of it will sometimes lead to a reduction in other symptoms we tend to have. There are several things (prescription medications, diet and supplements) that are said to help with this problem.
Metformin is one of the medications that is used to treat insulin resistance. It is well-known around the PCOS forums for helping symptoms as well as causing bad side effects. Many have had to stop taking it due to these effects.
There are some herbal supplements that have shown to possibly have the same kind of effect on insulin resistance. One of these supplements is called Berberine. I have seen quite a few posts about this alternative to Metformin.
In this blog post I will be talking about what Berberine is, the alleged benefits, what the research says about it and my experience taking it.
Background on Berberine
Berberine is a chemical found in several different plants. The use of Berberine dates back to 650 BC and is still used a lot in Chinese medicine.
The alleged benefits are as follows:
1. Lowers blood sugar levels
2. Helps with weight loss
3. Helps with GI functioning
4. Fights inflammation
5. Improves the immune system
There are quite a few brands that sell Berberine in capsule and powder form. The recommended serving size per day is 1200 mg for most of them. It is to be taken right before or after meals.
The research done on it
There were some interesting research articles on Berberine. They all pretty much concluded the same, mostly positive things about its use as a supplement. It is important to remember that further studies are still needed though.
Three of the articles caught my attention the most and I read them all the way through. I decided to summarize the conclusions of each one below:
Article #1- Back in the 80s, Berberine was studied and showed anti-diabetic actions. It seemed to be very much like Metformin despite working differently. This meant that there was a decrease in fasted glucose and body fat. There were also some anti-tumor effects.
Article #2- The study that was done in this article showed the positive effects that Berberine has on lipids, renal functioning and cardiac contractions. There was a section of the article that also talked about inflammation and how Berberine is active against the metabolic pathway that causes it.
Article #3- This article, like the others, showed the supplementation of Berberine’s anti-diabetic action. The study also concluded that the lipid metabolism action of it was better than Metformin’s. When it came to waist measurements, the participants had a decrease in numbers even despite no weight changes.
For all three of these articles, side effects of Berberine were noted. They included diarrhea, constipation, bad gas, stomach pain, nausea and headaches. These are like what people experience on Metformin but were said to be less severe in some cases.
Researchers are not sure about the long-term use of Berberine. This is due to the DNA damage that it could possibly produce. It also is said to kill some good bacteria that is in our guts.
My experience with Berberine supplementation
Back in 2016, I came across posts on a PCOS forum about using Berberine instead of Metformin. The possibility of weight loss (I wasn’t that happy with my body at that time) and just to treat my PCOS symptoms in general were what caused me to buy a bottle of it.
I don’t remember what brand the Berberine capsules were from, but I assume it got relatively good reviews (I wouldn’t buy it if it didn’t). It came quick and I was really excited to start taking it.
I began taking just one (500 mg) a day for a week. Then, I went to two (1000 mg) a day for four weeks. I didn’t have any side effects, nor did I notice any positive effects either.
After those weeks of two capsules a day went by, I upped the dosage to three (1500 mg) capsules a day. Around four days of taking that much, I ended up going to the ER due to a gall stone. It was the worst pain I have ever felt.
I was thinking that the gall stone was caused by the high dosage of Berberine, so I decided to stop taking it completely. I found out after reading my medical notes a few days after my ER stay that I lost eight pounds during my time taking the Berberine. Since I never weighed myself and clearly didn’t pay attention to how I looked, I was surprised.
People were telling me that I looked as though I had lost weight and I guess I had. I am thinking it was from the Berberine. Since I never changed up my diet during that time, I don’t have any other explanation for it.
Will I take Berberine again?
I honestly do think about taking it again. This time it would be for the alleged immune system benefit. I believe that if I do indeed have insulin resistance, it will be treated just fine by me watching my carb intake.
As far as weight loss goes, I do not need any help in that area. I also don’t have issues with gaining a lot of fat on my abdomen area.
Since I can’t take any supplement (besides vitamin b6, ginger, probiotics and colostrum) without feeling extremely nauseous these days, I will probably not be buying Berberine again.
That is it for this post. Have you taken Berberine or Metformin before? If so, what were your experiences?
Thanks for reading!
#pcos #pcosawareness #insulinresistance #lowcarb #health #womenshealth #supplements #research #science