Updated: May 20
With nutritional therapy and skin health, we’re always looking for natural options to recommend to clients to improve conditions such as acne. So here we take a closer look at Berberine - what is Berberine, and how does Berberine help with acne?
What is Berberine?
Berberine is an alkaloid extracted from several plants, including European Barbery, goldenseal, and Oregon grape.
With a long history in traditional Chinese medicine, berberine is one of the most effective natural supplements available, with a host of well-researched benefits.
Berberine is associated with lowering blood sugar levels, helping with weight loss, and supporting cholesterol balance and heart health.
Many studies show berberine effectively lowers blood sugar levels in those with Type 2 Diabetes .
Studies also show that berberine may help with weight loss by improving glycemic control and inhibiting fat storage .
Several studies have found berberine to lower LDL ‘bad’ lipoproteins and triglycerides effectively. It appears to inhibit an enzyme called PCSK9, which results in more LDL cholesterol being removed from the blood .
Alongside its benefits on cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity, which are risk factors for heart disease, berberine seems likely to benefit long-term heart health.
Berberine also offers benefits to women with PCOS. For example, women with PCOS may have higher insulin levels than women of the same weight without the condition. As a potent insulin sensitizer, berberine effectively lowers blood glucose and improves metabolic markers associated with this condition.
Research has found Berberine to be as effective as Metformin in improving women’s blood glucose levels with PCOS, but without any gastrointestinal side-effects often experienced with this medication .
How does Berberine help with acne?
When it comes to skin health, berberine is fast becoming a popular supplement for acne-prone skin. Therefore, I often recommend berberine to clients with acne as part of their supplement protocol. So how does berberine help with acne?
In 2012, Iranian researchers carried out a study on berberine and acne. During the four-week study, the researchers gave 50 teenagers (aged 12 to 17) either 600mg of barberry or a placebo supplement. Berberine is one of the active components of barberry. Both males and females took part in the study in equal numbers. The study showed that berberine successfully reduced acne by 45% in just four weeks .
Berberine also benefits skin health as it helps with intestinal permeability, also known as ‘leaky gut.’ A leaky gut can play a role in acne by triggering inflammation and making symptoms worse. If you want to find out more about the link between skin and gut health, you can read my full article here.
Berberine’s effect on insulin sensitivity further benefits skin health and acne. Having excess insulin in your blood can cause your oil glands to produce more oil, increasing breakouts.
Berberine directly inhibits mTOR.
High-energy foods like sugar and dairy cause increased insulin, IGF-1 hormone, and the mTOR enzyme. mTOR, in turn, stimulates keratin, inflammation, and sebum production—all of which contribute to acne. By inhibiting mTOR, berberine has a beneficial effect on skin health and some common acne triggers.
To purchase Berberine, see my recommended product here: SuperBotanic Berberine Advanced.
You can also find out more about my Nutrition for Skin Health Programme here.
Source: Fouladi, R. F. Aqueous extract of dried fruit of Berberis vulgaris L. in acne vulgaris, a clinical trial. J Diet Suppl 9,253–61 (2012). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23038982