The healing power of the plant-based antioxidant berberine has been known and used by just about every ancient healing system in the world. In recent history, this natural alkaloid, found in many common plants such as barberry, tree turmeric and goldenseal, has even proved to be as powerful as the diabetic drug metformin for regulating blood sugar.
Berberine contains anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties and is often billed as “the traveler’s friend” because of its ability to ward off digestive issues such as amebic dysentery. And, now, there is mounting evidence that berberine may also be a heavy-hitter when it comes to cancer as well.
The science on berberine is stunning for cancer patients
Chinese Medicine as well as the practitioners of Native American traditional medicine have known for thousands of year the healing power of berberine. In China, it is called huanglian and can be found in a plant called “golden thread,” a member of the buttercup family. In North America, berberine is found in the goldenseal plant. And in recent years, scientific research is confirming what ancient traditions knew all along.
“Over a third of the approximately 2,800 studies on berberine listed on PubMed were published in the last 5 years. These studies reveal that berberine may have clinical applications in a range of conditions,” researchers said in a paper published in Natural Medicine Journal. Of these studies, over 500 have been specifically on berberine’s effect on cancer.
How does berberine stop tumor growth?
Every living thing needs to convert food into energy through the process of metabolism. Cancer tumors are no exception, although cancer cells tend to get their energy in a way that is the exact opposite of healthy cells. Instead of utilizing the full process of aerobic cell respiration, tumor cells get fuel through glycolysis alone, the process of converting glucose to ATP through anaerobic means. If you want cancer tumors to grow, deprive them of oxygen, stick them in a high-acid environment and they will go to town.
On the other hand, if you wish to halt the spread of tumors, then change the way they metabolize fuel. This is exactly how berberine is so effective in stopping cancer. Berberine changes cancer tumor cells on the metabolic level. It is one of the few compounds that is known to help activate the metabolic regulator AMPK, or adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (Resveratrol is another).
When AMPK levels are adequate and the protein is functioning properly, energy homeostasis can be achieved within the body. Glucose levels and lipid productions stabilize, which is also one of the reasons why berberine is so effective for those with diabetes and metabolic syndrome as well.
The loss of AMPK has been directly linked to cancer malignancy. Currently, the most common way that modern medicine has to regulate AMPK for both cancer and other conditions is through the use of toxic pharmaceutical drugs. Research since 2011, however, has shown berberine as a powerful, natural and side-effect free AMPK regulator.
The latest study confirms berberine’s ability to halt breast cancer
To date, studies have shown berberine to have a positive effect on colorectal cancer, brain tumors and inflammation caused by cigarette smoking – which can lead to lung, prostate plus many other forms of cancer. The latest is a 2015 project sponsored by Lanzhou University in China that points specifically to berberine’s effect on breast cancer tumor growth.
“Our result showed that berberine regulated the reprogramming metabolism through three aspects simultaneously, including mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation, glycolysis and macromolecular synthesis,” the published report states. Basically, berberine’s antioxidant activation of AMPK “turns on” the process of aerobic cell growth (i.e. healthy cell growth) within the mitochondria of the cancer tumors, causing cancer cells to starve and eventually self-destruct.
The Lanzhou University study is significant too because it uses evidence-based medicine to bridge the gap between the centuries-old use of berberine in China with modern conventional medicine. The researchers used a consciously-integrative research approach that should be a model for future cancer research.
“A reasonable cross talk between Chinese medicine and energy homeostasis provided a solid foundation for berberine interference on cancer cells reprogramming metabolism,” the researchers concluded.
Indeed, the recent introduction of berberine as a “big league cancer fighter” over the last few years should give hope to those wishing to heal from cancer naturally and those who are on a healthy breast protocol as well as anyone who wishes to use this powerful substance for metabolic regulation and cancer prevention in general.