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PCOS
Conception Dec 9, 2020
3 Minutes

Berberine: an effective treatment for PCOS?

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome also known as PCOS has been said to impact as many as one in five women. 50% of those suffering with it may not even know they have it. Common symptoms: irregular periods, acne, weight gain, insulin resistance and lack of ovulation. The impact on the menstrual cycle/ovulation can obviously make getting pregnant more challenging. For more click here. The good news is there are many ways to tackle this. From lifestyle (gut health, exercise and diet) to supplements like Inositol and prescription drugs like Letrozole/Clomid and Metformin. However, research is increasingly supporting Berberine. A natural supplement derived from plants as an effective potential solution. We take a look at the need to know: 

What is Berberine and how can it deal with PCOS? 

At it’s core, PCOS is an endocrine (hormone) disorder. One of the most common hormonal imbalances associated with it is Insulin Resistance. This is said to impact as many as 70% of people with PCOS. Essentially it means your cells don’t react properly to insulin. This is the hormone that allows sugar from food into cells to be used as energy. Insulin resistance is where your cells no longer react as well to it. It has been linked to many of the core symptoms of PCOS. Including issues with ovulation and fertility. There is mounting and compelling evidence that Berberine acts against Insulin Resistance. Interestingly it has long been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine but more recently conventional Western medical research has studied and recognised the benefits. 

How does Berberine impact insulin resistance which often exacerbates PCOS symptoms? 

Research has shown that it activates an enzyme within cells (known as AMPK) which is common to fatty acid oxidation, glucose generation and insulin resistance. Even better, with very few significant side effects:

‘In all studies, berberine showed an improvement of the parameters with a reduction in insulin resistance in a statistically significant way’ 

Reduces some of the more ‘dangerous’ fat we can carry: 

Many women with PCOS have higher levels of what is known as visceral fat mass (fatty tissue around organs) which is associated with things like heart disease. Researchers have found that taking Berberine caused a redistribution of this fat tissue (even if no weight was actually lost) away from this type of fat. It has also been shown to improve Cholesterol levels. 

Improved Ovulation: often a challenge with PCOS:  

One of the main barriers when it comes to fertility for women with PCOS is that ovulation is disrupted. Regulating this is key. Drugs like Letrozole and Clomid are often prescribed. However, there can be side effects and neither are a long term option. The good news is that research has demonstrated Berberine (with limited side effects) to improve ovulation rates, fertility and number of live births. 

How much to take?

As with all supplements it is imperative to talk to your doctor first. Particularly if you have any other health issues or medications. Click here for why and the pitfalls of supplements. 

More research needs to be done on dosing (studies done to date have used varying dosage). However, the most common dose used in research was 500mg three times a day. The reason it is several times a day is because it has a short half life (amount of time in the blood). Taking it three times a day keeps the level in the blood relatively consistent. 

The research is compelling so absolutely worth a discussion with your doctor. 

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This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. The information on this website has been developed following years of personal research and from referenced and sourced medical research. Before making any changes we strongly recommend you consult a healthcare professional before you begin.

 

 

 

 

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