Berberine is a crystalline plant alkaloid used in medicine in a number of cultures for its natural antibiotic activity. The alkaloid is yellow in colour and has a bitter taste. The substance does not dissolve well in water, but can be dissolved effectively in alcohol as well as in ether. The dried alkaloid can be consumed internally, but can also sometimes be used in a poultice. Different schools of alternative healing make use of this substance in different forms, sometimes as a tincture or in conjunction with other herbal products.
It is useful in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, atherosclerosis, diabetes, cirrhosis of the liver, hepatitis, kidney stones, ulcerative colitis, bacterial diarrhoea, leishmaniasis (parasitic disease), rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, obesity and depression and has cholesterol lowering properties. It has also been found to inhibit colon, oral and thyroid cancer cells growth.
Berberine has also shown antimicrobial activity against bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoans, helminths (worms), candida, cholera,
Chlamydia (STD), Clostridium diplococcus pneumonia, diphtheria, giardia lamblia, malaria, pseudomonas, Salmonella, Shigella staphylococci, Streptococcus, Trichomonas vaginalis and many others
percent solution of berberine has been found effective against trachoma in third world countries, a major infectious cause of visual impairment and blindness, as well as many other types of conjunctivitis. It can also treat of various types of fungal infections.
It can deal with different types of yeast, as well as parasites that bore into the skin. There is also some evidence that berberine is helpful in the resolution of viral and bacterial infections. The substance has long been considered an effective tool in battling cholera.
Berberine has been also been found to be more effective than aspirin in relieving fever and is able to stimulate some parts of the immune system. It
is also a stimulant for bile secretion.
Berberine is a major active component of the herb Huang-lian (coptis chinensis), which has been used in China to treat type 2 diabetes for thousands of years. Berberine improves the action of insulin by activating an enzyme which helps regulate the cellular uptake of glucose, the oxidation (burning) of fatty acids and the synthesis of glucose, the insulin-regulated glucose carrier found in fat and skeletal and cardiac muscle that is responsible for moving glucose from the bloodstream into cells. This is found only in muscle and fat cells, the major tissues in the body that respond to insulin.
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