The Benefits and History of Buzzworthy Berberine

by Melissa Chichester

Have you heard the buzz on berberine? This robust substance has been used for thousands of years in Oriental health practices, and today this compound is making a comeback through modern-day research discoveries.

Historical uses of berberine

Berberine is a plant alkaloid is known for its yellow color, and has even been used as a textile dye on fabrics like wool and silk in addition to its use in folk medicine. With a long history of use in ancient China, berberine’s first use was recorded in Shén Nóng Běncǎo Jīng, or The Divine Farmer’s Classic, a book about medicinal plants that was compiled through oral tradition. In Chinese tradition, berberine was used by deity Shennong in 3000 BC, who is said to have taught the ancient Chinese people about agriculture and the use of herbal health practices. Berberine has also been used in traditional Ayurvedic health practices.

Berberine use today

Berberine is trending in today’s medical research due to its potential to health benefits. Currently, here’s what we know about berberine:

Berberine supports heart health.*
Berberine provides cholesterol support to help maintain levels already in a normal range.*
Berberine helps maintain triglyceride levels already within a normal range.*
Berberine helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels already within a normal range.*

Berberine is available in supplement form, but there are other ways to get the benefits of this alkaloid. Berberine can be found in several plants, including coptis chinensis, coptis deltoide, coptis teetoides, barberry, and one you’re probably already familiar with: goldenseal. Goldenseal is a perennial herb traditionally used by Native Americans (especially the Cherokee and Iroquois) for immune health.* Berberine is a substance present in goldenseal, which is part of the buttercup family Ranunculaceae. Goldenseal tea (often combined with Echinacea), made from the dried roots of the goldenseal plant, contains traces of berberine.