This is truly the golden era of anti-aging science where every year striking new discoveries are advancing the scientists’ understanding of aging by leaps and bounds. The discovery of Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) and its remarkable anti-aging properties have given a new life to the field of anti-aging. Aging depends upon a range of bodily processes where, essentially, the body is unable to replace its dying cells and organs with the same efficiency as it did before. The lack of repairing ability leads to a range of disorders over time which, eventually, result in the person’s death. It becomes more difficult for the body to rebuild the lost muscle and bone while the body also stops suppressing oxidation as effectively. However, scientists have pinpointed a large number of substances that contribute to keeping our bodies as young as possible for as long as possible. The deficiency of those substances is essentially what leads to aging.
It has been ascertained that if the body is allowed to repair itself, it might be possible to extend human life. There are many ways through which the repair processes of the body can be improved such as making some lifestyle changes taking NAD+ precursors, regularly exercising, and improving diet. However, anti-aging research has also shown significant benefits of substances called “geroprotectors” in repairing bodily repair functions. The drug called Metformin and a supplement known as Berberine, both fall under geroprotectors.
What Exactly is Berberine?
You might be wondering what exactly Berberine and Metformin are. Berberine is a natural compound that is found in barberry shrubs and a variety of other plants. Berberine has several benefits for various parts of the body but the biggest benefit provided by this organic substance is its help in insulin consumption and maintaining healthy levels of blood sugar. Other than that, the substance has proven to help in weight loss, especially for those suffering from PCOS. Berberine also benefits through its support of healthy heart function.
Now that we know the most basic things there are to know about Berberine, it is also important to know how exactly it works. While the exact actions of Berberine are too complex and difficult to explain here, the main action of Berberine happens in the form of activation of an enzyme known as AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). AMPK is also called the master switch of the metabolic system. The enzyme is present in various organs such as liver, heart, kidney, muscles, and brain. The AMPK system is responsible for insulin signaling and providing the main benefits of exercise to the body. By activating this enzyme, Berberine helps the body in realizing these benefits.
What Exactly is Metformin?
Metformin is a well-established drug used for the treatment of diabetes 2. It is a plant-based synthetic compound with a range of benefits. It is used for the treatment of PCOS and controlling blood glucose levels. Many people also use Metformin for weight loss purposes. Metformin is similar to Berberine in the way it works because it increases the activity of the AMPK enzyme. Metformin has gained a lot of attention over the last few years because of the discovery of its anti-aging properties. David Sinclair, a top anti-aging scientist, has mentioned in his book titled Lifespan: Why We Age — and Why We Don’t Have To has mentioned that he takes Metformin in order to extend his lifespan.
A lot of people track the anti-aging drugs Dr. Sinclair takes because he is one of the leading authorities on anti-aging. His genetics lab at Harvard has been credited with groundbreaking research in the field of anti-aging.
There have also been a large number of studies noting the anti-aging benefits of metformin. One study noted that the drug not only inhibits the process of aging in various model organisms but also decreases the occurrence of age-related diseases like cancer and neurodegenerative disorders in human beings. The study also stated that even though the drug is used widely all across the world, it still remains unknown just how the drug produces a favorable impact on aging.
Comparing Metformin and Berberine
As mentioned above, both Metformin and Berberine are similar drugs exhibiting similar properties like controlling blood sugar levels, anti-aging effects, etc. It is important to explore the similarities and differences that exist between the two.
AMPK Enzyme Activation
Both drugs work by increasing the activity of the AMPK enzyme. When someone takes either of these substances, an energy deficit is created just like during workouts and fasting. In order to access energy to make up for the deficit, cells activate AMPK. Through the activation of this enzyme, fatty acid and glucose uptake are increased in the blood. Glycogen and fat breakdown also get increased while fat storage and glucose are both inhibited.
AMPK ends up having a two-way impact on the body by phosphorylating both enzymes themselves and the transcription factors of enzymes. The effect of these reactions is that the impact of AMPK is immediate and long-lasting.
One important factor to note here is that both substances have shown a significant impact on regulating glucose consumption because of their inhibiting interaction on the electron transport chain of complex 1. Both Berberine and Metformin render the ATP production process significantly less efficient, thus mimicking a restricted-calorie diet.
Other Comparable Benefits
Other comparable benefits of the two substances include their ability to impact cardiovascular health positively, their weight-loss benefits for overweight and obese individuals, and their similarity in action despite differences in chemical structure.
Factors to Consider When Choosing
While there are a lot of parallels to be drawn between the two, there are definitely pros and cons of each substance. You have to figure out what it is exactly you are looking for and which drug would be more suitable for you. Some factors to consider when making this decision are given as follows:
Metformin is a prescription drug. You would be hard-pressed to find metformin without a prescription. For those who do take the drug for their diabetes, PCOS, or other weight-related issues, metformin can be easier to find. However, Berberine is a supplement that does not require a prescription. If you are concerned about getting a prescription, Berberine might be your best bet.
An important factor that sets the two drugs apart is the enhanced ability of Berberine to lower and control cholesterol. A study has shown that even though Metformin and Berberine have the same impact on glucose metabolism, postprandial insulin, and fasting insulin, Berberine showed significantly better results when it comes to cholesterol control. Participants who were on Berberine had much better cholesterol control as compared to those who were on Metformin. This shows that while the two substances have similar interactions, Berberine still has an edge over Metformin in one specific measure. If you are looking to lower your cholesterol, you may want to consider Berberine as the more preferred choice.
Side Effects of Metformin and Berberine
Another important thing to consider here is that Metformin comes with a specific set of side effects experienced by a lot of people taking the drug. The major side-effects of taking metformin include:
- A metallic taste
- Lack of appetite
- Bloating and gas
- Abdominal pain
Now, just because Metformin has side effects, doesn’t mean Berberine is without any. Side effects of Berberine are given as follows:
- Stomach pain
Now, since the side effects of both substances also seem somewhat similar, the question arises if it is worth it to dwell over their differences at all? The fact is that the biggest advantage for Berberine is that it is easily available in liposomal form while you would be hard-pressed to find any liposomal form of Metformin available commercially.
Liposomal technology is a newer way of delivering ingredients to the cells. Liposomes have a structural similarity to the bio-membranes of human cells, allowing an easy transfer of ingredients to the cells that would be otherwise difficult to deliver. Studies have shown that there are significant advantages of liposomal delivery. Some of those benefits are given as follows:
- High absorption and bioavailability against traditional oral delivery methods.
- Since the product is encapsulated by liposomes at the micro-level, the internal ingredient (in this case Berberine) survives the harsh environment of the gastrointestinal tract in a larger amount.
- Higher intracellular activity.
- Higher bioavailability means that you can get a higher number of benefits from smaller doses.
That means that you can take a smaller dose of Liposomal Berberine and get more effective benefits than Metformin because liposomal products are more bioavailable. Having to take a lesser amount of Berberine would help lower the digestive stress caused by the side effects of the supplement, significantly. Higher bioavailability also means that this can be a more cost-effective option. Liposomes can also be perfect for those who struggle with taking tablets.
Another important thing to consider here is that metformin has years of established research behind it with thousands of papers to back it up. Berberines has only recently become a focus of the researchers so it has a relatively lesser research base behind it. That does not mean that Berberine is not catching up. Every year, thousands of articles are published on the substance. The fact that Berberine’s side effects are predictable and limited to the gastrointestinal tract, ensures that human studies for the substances can continue more easily.
Which One Should You Choose?
The decision of which one of these two you should be taking depends upon a range of factors. You should evaluate what your specific needs are and what you can achieve from each specific drug. You should also consider that Metformin might not be as easily available to you as Berberine, considering that it is a prescription drug. Going purely by the aim of avoiding the gastrointestinal side effects associated with both, it is better to go with Berberine because you may have to take smaller doses for equal efficacy, considering it is more easily available in liposomal form. Considering that Berberine seems to have better cholesterol control, the potential of milder side effects, and is more easily available, Berberine seems like the more natural choice between the two.
Berberine Supplements in the Market
After establishing the substantial benefits available for Berberine, it is important to look at the various brands of Berberine supplements and which one suits you the best. While buying Berberine supplements, you have to remember that, while the product is fairly new, you must always look for established brands you can trust. Here is a small list of three brands carrying Berberine supplements.
LIPO Berberine – Alive By Science
The first product on the list is LIPO Berberine by a leading company in the anti-aging field: Alive By Science. This product comes in the form of 90 vegetable capsules, each capsule containing 150 mg of concentrated pure liposomal Berberine. The cost of each bottle is $49.95. The product has been thoroughly tested by third-party laboratories for impurities, correct ingredient amounts, strength, and purity. Since LIPO Berberine comes in liposomal form, it is likely to be more bioavailable and break down more easily. The recommended dosage for the supplement is one capsule per day. That means the bottle comes with a 90 day supply.
Berberine – Synergetic
The second product on the list is the Berberine supplement by Synergetic. This product comes in a bottle of 60 capsules, each capsule containing 1200 mg of Berberine. The cost of each capsule is $21.95. This supplement contains a lot more Berberine per capsule because it does not use a liposomal delivery method. Liposomes require a lot smaller doses to be effective. That also explains the price difference between the two brands. However, such a high dose of Berberine may result in unpleasant side effects like Metformin. Still, the supplement provides a budget option for Berberine without a prescription.
Berberine – Integrative Therapeutics
The last product on the list is Berberine by Integrative Therapeutics. The supplement comes in a bottle of 60 vegetable capsules. Each capsule contains 500 mg of Berberine and the bottle of 60 capsules costs $31.50. This product also does not come in liposomal form but it does provide a chance to access the benefits of Metformin without having to get a prescription.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the correct dosage for Berberine?
The right dosage depends upon why you’re taking Berberine, your diet, and other factors such as whether the product is liposomal or not. Nevertheless, if you want a dosage bigger than 500 mg, you should slightly increase your intake and monitor your side effects.
2. Can I take Berberine with Metformin?
Yes! According to one study, taking Berberine in conjunction with Metformin enhances the benefits of both. You should also make sure that you are comfortable with the decrease in blood sugar and can compensate for it in other ways.
3. How long should I take Berberine for weight loss?
Berberine has been proven to be safe for up to 8 months with 150 mg dose per day and 3 months for 1 gram per day dose.