Episode 296: Berberine, Insulin Sensitivity, Glucose Control, Gut Health, Liver Health, Body Recomposition, AMPK Activation, Cholesterol Control, And More!

Intermittent Fasting


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Dec 18

Welcome to Episode 296 of The Intermittent Fasting Podcast, hosted by Melanie Avalon, author of What When Wine Diet: Lose Weight And Feel Great With Paleo-Style Meals, Intermittent Fasting, And Wine and Cynthia Thurlow, author of Intermittent Fasting Transformation: The 45-Day Program for Women to Lose Stubborn Weight, Improve Hormonal Health, and Slow Aging.

Today's episode of The Intermittent Fasting Podcast is brought to you by:

 JOOVV: Like intermittent fasting, red light therapy can benefit the body on so many levels! It literally works on the mitochondrial level to help your cells generate more energy! Red light can help you burn fat (including targeted fat burning and stubborn fat!), contour your body, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, produce collagen for epic skin, support muscle recovery, reduce joint pain and inflammation, combat fatigue, help you sleep better, improve mood, and so much more!! These devices are literally LIFE CHANGING!! For A Limited Time Go To Joovv.com/ifpodcast And Use The Code IFPODCAST For An Exclusive Discount!

AVALONX MAGNESIUM 8Get Melanie’s Broad Spectrum Complex Featuring 8 Forms Of Magnesium, To Support Stress, Muscle Recovery, Cardiovascular Health, GI Motility, Blood Sugar Control, Mood, Sleep, And More! Tested For Purity & Potency. No Toxic Fillers. Glass Bottle. Avalonx Supplements Are Free Of Toxic Fillers, Common Allergens, Heavy Metals,  Mold, And Triple Tested For Purity And Potency. Get On The Email List To Stay Up To Date With All The Special Offers And News About Melanie's New Supplements At avalonx.us/emaillist, And Use The Code Melanieavalon For 10% On Any Order At Avalonx.Us And MDlogichealth.Com!

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To submit your own questions, email questions@IFpodcast.com, or submit your questions here!! 


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BEAUTYCOUNTER: Keep Your Fast Clean Inside And Out With Safe Skincare! Shop With Us At melanieavalon.com/beautycounter or beautycounter.com/cynthiathurlow And Use The Code CLEANFORALL20 For 20% Off PLUS Something Magical Might Happen After Your First Order! Find Your Perfect Beautycounter Products With Melanie's Quiz: Melanieavalon.Com/Beautycounterquiz
Join Melanie's Facebook Group Clean Beauty And Safe Skincare With Melanie Avalon To Discuss And Learn About All The Things Clean Beauty, Beautycounter And Safe Skincare!

scotts backstory

GMP certified

Episode 265: All About Supplements With Scott Emmens, The Supplement Industry, Purity, Potency, Testing, Toxins, Authenticity, Organics, Common Additives, And More!

Continuous glucose monitos

Go To melanieavalon.com/nutrisensecgm And Use Coupon Code MelanieAvalon For $30 Off!


combining berberine with metformin

the types of anti-diabetic medications

the benefits of berberine

what is berberine?

AVALON MAGNESIUM 8: Use The Code Melanieavalon For 10% On Any Order At Avalonx.Us And MDlogichealth.Com!

the history of berberine

the effect on the GI tract


The Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast Episode #93 - Shawn Wells

The Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast Episode #166 - Megan Ramos

the contraindications

meal timing

body Composition

AMPK activation

positive effects on the liver


LMNT: For A Limited Time Go To drinklmnt.com/ifpodcast To Get A FREE Sample Pack With Any Purchase! Learn All About Electrolytes In Episode 237 - Our Interview With Robb Wolf!

the journey of creating the supplement

purity testing

Our content does not constitute an attempt to practice medicine, and does not establish a doctor-patient relationship. Please consult a qualified health care provider for medical advice and answers to personal health questions.


Melanie Avalon: Welcome to Episode 296 of The Intermittent Fasting Podcast. If you want to burn fat, gain energy, and enhance your health by changing when you eat, not what you eat with no calorie counting, then this show is for you. I'm Melanie Avalon, biohacker and author of What When Wine: Lose Weight and Feel Great with Paleo-Style Meals, Intermittent Fasting, and Wine. And I'm here with my cohost, Cynthia Thurlow, Nurse Practitioner and author of Intermittent Fasting Transformation: A 45-Day Program for Women to Lose Stubborn Weight, Improve Hormonal Health, and Slow Aging. For more on us, check out ifpodcast.com, melanieavalon.com, and cynthiathurlow.com. Please remember, the thoughts and opinions on this show do not constitute medical advice or treatment and no doctor-patient relationship is formed. So, pour yourself a mug of black coffee, a cup of tea, or even a glass of wine, if it's that time and get ready for The Intermittent Fasting Podcast.

Hi friends, you guys know how seriously I take my health routine. That is probably the understatement of the year. One of my literal non-negotiables that I talk about all the time that I use every single day of my life is getting my daily dose of red-light therapy. For years now, yes years, I've been using Joovv and I love it because it is so relaxing and so easy to use. You've probably heard me talk about Joovv before that's J-O-O-V-V. I use my devices daily to support healthy cellular function, which is the literal foundation of our health. If you've heard any of my episodes on mitochondrial health you know this is true. Having healthy cellular function helps give me peace of mind that my body is working efficiently and has the energy that it needs to get through the day. There are so many clinically proven benefits from red light therapy and I have personally so experienced many of them. I use the red light to naturally regulate my circadian rhythm. I wind down with it at night and wake up in the morning with it. Whenever I have any muscle pain or soreness. I shine my Joovv red light on it and the pain instantly goes away. It's actually shocking. I love it for skin health, it makes my skin glow. And you can also use it for things that I originally got into red light therapy for which was supporting my thyroid. Yes, I struggle with hypothyroidism and supporting hair growth. Aside from the benefits, I've been recommending Joovv for years because the quality of their devices is simply the best. Their modular design allows for a variety of setup options that gives you flexibility plus the treatments are easy and can be done in as little as 10 minutes. Although I tend to run mine all day as ambient light. All you have to do is relax and let your body take in the light. Joovv offers several different size options including a wireless handheld device called the Joovv Go. That is amazing for targeting specific areas around your body like hurting joints or sore muscles.

When I traveled recently and had torn something in my knee, I brought my Joovv Go with me, game changer, I don't know how I would have survived the trip without it. Health doesn't have to be complicated and Joovv makes it simple by helping what matters most, our cells. So, go check out the Joovv today and while you're there, Joovv is offering all our listeners an exclusive discount on their first order. Just go to joovv.com/ifpodcast and apply the coupon code, IFPODCAST to your qualifying order. Again, that's joovv.com/ifpodcast with the coupon code IFPODCAST. Pick up a Joovv today, some exclusions do apply and we will put all of this information in the show notes.

And one more thing before we jump in, are you fasting clean inside and out? When it comes to weight loss, we focus a lot on what and when we eat. It makes sense because these foods affect our hormones and how our bodies store and burn fat. But do you know what is possibly one of the most influential factors in weight gain? It's not your food and it's not fasting, it's actually our skincare and makeup. As it turns out, Europe has banned over a thousand compounds found in conventional skincare and makeup in the US due to their toxicity. These include endocrine disrupters, which mess with your hormones, carcinogens linked to cancer, and obesogens which literally can cause your body to store and gain weight. Basically, when we're using conventional skincare and makeup, we are giving these obesogenic compounds direct access to our bloodstream.

And then in our bodies, studies have shown they do things like reduce our satiety hormones, increase our hunger hormones, make fat cells more likely to store fat, and more resistant to burning fat, and so much more. If you have stubborn fat, friends, your skincare and makeup may be playing a role in that. Beyond weight gain and weight loss, these compounds have very detrimental effects on our health and they affect the health of future generations. That's because ladies when we have babies, a huge percentage of those toxic compounds go through the placenta into the newborn. It is so, so shocking and the effects last for years.

Conventional lipstick, for example, often tests high in lead and the half-life of lead is up to 30 years. That means when you put on some conventional lipstick, 30 years later maybe half of that lead has left your bones. On top of that, there is essentially no regulation of these products on the shelves. That's why it's up to us to choose brands that are changing this. The brand that is working the hardest to do this is Beautycounter. They were founded on a mission to change this. Every single ingredient is extensively tested to be safe for your skin, so you can truly feel good about what you put on. And friends, these products really, really work. They are incredible. They have counter time for anti-aging, counter match for normal skin, counter control for acne and oily prone, and counter start for sensitive. I use their Overnight Resurfacing Peel and vitamin C serum every single night of my life and their makeup is amazing. Check out my Instagram to see what it looks like. Tina Fey even wore all Beautycounter makeup when she hosted The Golden Globes. So, yes, it is high-definition camera ready. They have so many other products, deodorant, shampoo and conditioner that I love, products for babies, and so much more. You can shop with us at beautycounter.com/melanieavalon or beautycounter.com/cynthiathurlow and use the coupon code CLEANFORALL20 to get 20% off your first order. Also, make sure to get on my clean beauty email list. That's at melanieavalon.com/cleanbeauty. I give away a lot of free things on that list. So, definitely check it out. You can join me in my Facebook group, Clean Beauty and Safe Skincare with Melanie Avalon. People share their experiences, ask questions, give product reviews, and I do a giveaway every single week in that group as well. 

And lastly, if you're thinking of making clean beauty and safe skincare a part of your future like we have, we definitely recommend becoming a Band of Beauty member. It's sort of like the Amazon Prime for clean beauty. You get 10% back in product credit, free shipping on qualifying orders, and a welcome gift that is worth way more than the price of the yearlong membership. It is totally completely worth it. So, again to shop with us go to beautycounter.com/melanieavalon or beautycounter.com/cynthiathurlow and use the coupon code, CLEANFORALL20 to get 20% off your first order. And we'll put all this information in the show notes. All right, now, back to the show.

Hi everybody, and welcome. This is episode number 296 of The Intermittent Fasting Podcast. I'm Melanie Avalon and I am here with a very special guest today, quickly becoming a crowd favorite. I am here with Scott Emmens. He is the chief operating officer and cofounder of MD Logic Health, which is an incredible supplement company that you guys are quickly becoming very familiar with because they are actually my partner in bringing you AvalonX. So, serrapeptase and magnesium that we've had and Scott is back here today. Well, first of all, because he's basically one of my favorite people in the entire world and I mean that from the bottom of my heart. But secondly, I am thrilled that we are about to launch-- actually when this comes out, we will have just launched my third AvalonX supplement. And it is something that I already personally had been taking every day in my life. Not only that, but it's something I've talked about on this show so, so much. Since this show is The Intermittent Fasting Podcast, it is something that really relates to metabolic health, blood sugar levels, how well you can do your fast, and then on top of that so many other health benefits that I actually didn't even really realize until sitting down to make my own version of this supplement. And that is berberine. I've been looking forward to this episode for a long. Scott, thank you so much for being here.

Scott Emmens: Hi, Melanie, thank you for having me on the show. I'm thrilled to be on and even more excited that we're you're finally launching berberine.

Melanie Avalon: I know, I feel like this has been such a long time coming. Okay, a lot of our audience is probably familiar with you because you've actually been on the show twice before you came on. We did a whole episode on magnesium with Cynthia. And then more recently, you did an episode with Cynthia for her creatine supplement because Scott also partners with Cynthia for her supplement line. Basically, we just really love Scott. But for those who are not familiar, Scott, super briefly, could you tell your backstory?

Scott Emmens: Sure, for those folks who may not have heard the first podcast when we went through that. I was in the biotech and pharmaceutical space for 25 years in a variety of positions, in marketing, sales, and sales leadership. I eventually got out to manage market side as well as operations and operational side. I really basically worked at some of the biggest pharma companies that people have heard of Takeda Pharmaceuticals, AstraZeneca pharmaceuticals, which was at the time part of Merck, Shire, and then became a startup expert, and worked my way into the C-suite of multiple pharmaceutical companies. And I really kind of around 2018 decided I was going to start my own biotech company and did that, very successful and literally right around 2020, when the pandemic first started, I'd decided that I really wanted to get into the wellness space. And we had sold our biotech company and I had three partners. And we decided, my partner and I, at the time thought, "Let's do a wellness line, make a wellness company." We had a connection with one of the largest US manufacturers. He is a partner in MD Logic as well. And we really just both believed in making people and keeping people well and letting them optimize their life through supplemental nutrition.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, that's something that I really, really love working with you is you have seen the industry side of things. You know what you're doing. I have learned much and creating the supplement line, just what goes on in the supplement creation world, and how creating our own supplement line that is not a pharmaceutical, how it compares to that. And also, all of the crazy practices that go on in this industry it's a little bit shocking.

Scott Emmens: Yeah, it can be and I think that's where my pharmaceutical background really helps is making sure that we're going to do everything by the book. And by the book meaning people often see GMP on their label, it'll say GMP or GMP certified. And what that stands for is "Good Manufacturing Process." That's a compiled document from the FDA of very specific things you need to do, both in terms of the manufacturing of the product, the storage of the product, the cleanliness of the machines, the raw ingredients, the testing of the raw ingredients, as well as a number of other things including how you label even down to the font size of the label. And then including, of course, what you say about the product and how you make claims and that's where people tend to get in trouble.

We try to make the absolute best product we can. We have a great process for GMP. We have been audited by the FDA as most GMP companies are about every other year or so, and have a pristine track record and I am here to make sure that your supplements and MD Logic health supplements maintain that pristine record of both incredible quality, testing, and maintain the highest standards of GMP or above.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I am do grateful for this because honestly my goal in making supplements was, I knew I wanted to make the very best on the market. And it has been so refreshing to have a partner like you who is in line with that. And even every time I send my emails or I'm creating my content to promote the different supplements, I've come up with my list of basically the qualities about the AvalonX supplements. I say at the beginning that these are the only supplements on the market that are all of these things. And to my best of my knowledge, that's true. They're the only ones that are tested multiple times for purity and potency, free of all allergens. Scott and I have gone to great lengths to get rid of problematic fillers from the supplements, which has been a whole journey on its own, especially revisit, I'll put a link to it in the show notes the episode that we did on--. No, wait, "We haven't done the episode and serrapeptase yet, did we?" I think we talked about it though.

Scott Emmens: I think we did talk about it? But I've to go back into my memory log. But I believe we did talk about the serrapeptase, yeah.

Melanie Avalon: Did you come on this show for serrapeptase?

Scott Emmens: I think this might be my third appearance. I think I did do the serrapeptase first, then the magnesium, and then creatine. Yeah, I think serrapeptase was the very first one.

Melanie Avalon: My bad. So, this is your fourth time back?

Scott Emmens: Oh my goodness, how time flies. [laughs] 

Melanie Avalon: Oh, and you're having fun. [laughs] Okay, wait. In any case, listen to the serrapeptase episode if you want to hear the craziness with the fillers and the lubrication agents and also something that's incredible that really I think makes us stand apart is they are in glass bottles, which is very rare and unique in the supplement world. It's just been an amazing journey. "Shall we talk about our berberine journey?"

Scott Emmens: Let's talk a little bit about the berberine journey, I think the audience would love to hear what transpired? Why did it take us so long? And yeah, why don't you kick it off now?

Melanie Avalon: Okay, I started taking berberine when I started wearing something that our listeners are probably pretty familiar with which is the continuous glucose monitor. Just briefly a continuous glucose monitor is you put it on your arm, and it gives you a basically 24/7 look at your blood sugar levels. It is so eye-opening, so fascinating. Because when you're getting just doing a finger prick or yeah, a finger prick or blood draw for your blood glucose that's really just a snapshot in time. And it's not very telling of what is happening consistently. If listeners who like to get a continuous glucose monitor, you can go to nutrisense.io/ifpodcast and the promo code IFPODCAST will get you $30 off any subscription program to a NutriSense CGM, so definitely check that out. But in any case, doing a CGM really made me look more at my blood sugar levels and that's when I wanted to see what I could do to help lower it.

Berberine is considered to be the go-to "Natural Supplement" to address blood sugar levels. The go-to pharmaceutical to address blood sugar levels is metformin. There have been multiple studies comparing metformin to berberine and finding similar effects, which is incredible. So basically, berberine can be comparable to metformin in lowering blood sugar, lowering HbA1c, which is a longer term picture of your blood sugar levels and also lowering insulin without any of the potential side effects of metformin or the other negative side effects that can come with other metabolic health blood sugar controlling agents.

Scott Emmens: Certainly, I think that's absolutely correct. One thing we want to caution and make certain that we're not giving medical advice nor are we suggesting that anyone replace their metformin with berberine, not at all. What we are saying is that berberine has some remarkable properties and there's a lot of data, in fact, it's one of the most studied herbs or alkaloids out there. And we really feel passionate about all the benefits. In fact, I was stunned to see how many benefits there are with berberine as we really dug into the research, but again, we just want to caution, never add anything or take anything away, especially metformin for diabetic patients. So, just want to make sure that that's perfectly clear.

Melanie Avalon: Oh, yeah, I'm so glad you said that. And that's actually really appropriate because we got a lot of questions about that, Karina said, "How is it different than metformin?" Marie said, "Can you take it while taking metformin?" and Lea said, "Can it be taken if one is already on metformin, can it be taken instead of metformin?" So, just to dive deeper into all of that and to what Scott just said? Metformin as well as some other drugs that are used for similar purposes can have side effects. Metformin notoriously has gastrointestinal discomfort. Metformin cannot be used by diabetics or liver disease, renal impairment or cardiopulmonary insufficiency, and then some other related drugs like I don't even know how you say it. Is it pio?

Scott Emmens: Pioglitazone. I know that one because I sold it.

Melanie Avalon: I was like "Scott probably knows it."

Scott Emmens: Pioglitazone or pioglitazone.

Melanie Avalon: So, that one can increase the risks of distal bone fractures, bladder cancer, and edema. Here's another one Scott, sulfonylur--

Scott Emmens: Sulfonylureas?

Melanie Avalon: Yes, yeah, that was linked to hypoglycemia, weight gain, and cardiovascular damage. When we compare this to berberine, very little if any side effects, some people do have some GI issues potentially in the beginning, which we can talk about. But we can definitely dive into that. Because ironically, even with GI issues, berberine has a ton of potential benefits for GI Health. But besides that, you basically get all of the benefits of blood sugar control with a myriad of other benefits that we're going to talk about without the potential negative side effects of these pharmaceuticals. And there have been like Scott said, "We are not saying to stop your medications. We're not saying to even add this to your medications, that's something you would want to talk with your doctor about." Anything that you're doing, playing with your medications, definitely work with your doctor. That said, there's actually been quite a few studies looking at berberine in combination with metformin and finding beneficial effects, potentially that it might be a better approach, not saying to do this, work with your doctor. But potentially that combination therapy might be better than metformin alone because you can get more of the benefits with less of side effects.

Scott Emmens: Just going to add to that to just make sure that people make certain that if you add berberine to an antidiabetic, it can cause hypoglycemia. That's something you want to be cautious. Whatever the side effects of your prescription medication are, you want to let your physician know that you're going to take berberine and get their permission, make sure that the drugs you're on are not going to interfere with it because some drugs can have hypoglycemia on their own, when you add something like berberine, it can increase that potential. That's something people have to be very cautious of. Hypoglycemia can be a life-threatening condition as those folks who've had it know. It's interesting Melanie, the three drugs you mentioned, metformin which is sort of the gold standard, about 80% of diabetics are taking metformin or what used to be called Glucophage, the brand name, pioglitazone or TZD as they're known, which is an insulin resistance molecule, works on PPARalpha and PPARgamma. And then you mentioned was sulfonylurea which actually works on the pancreas to secrete more insulin. So, each one of those works differently. Metformin primarily works on the liver preventing gluconeogenesis and a little bit of insulin resistance. Then there's a TZD class pioglitazone, that works primarily on insulin resistance. And then there is some sulfonylurea class which increases your pancreas' output of insulin. They all work in different ways and they can all have different interactions with berberine, so again always talk to your physician. I think the real benefit Melanie is that berberine doesn't-- you don't have to have high blood sugar or you don't have to have diabetes to benefit, in fact, the real benefit we want to talk about today is what is the benefit for just people in general that want to optimize their health and optimize their cellular function and their energy. And that is where berberine shines.

Melanie Avalon: First of all, that was highly impressive, that you knew all of that. [chuckles] "I'm so impressed." Okay. Yeah, I'm so glad you said that because that is the exact same page that I'm on. And like I said, I came to it originally for blood sugar control and I think that's why most people think about it and it's a great reason to take it, but there are so many other benefits like whole body benefits. So, the questions we had, very simple, Kersey said, "Why do I need it?" Jennifer said, "What are all the benefits that come from taking it?" Amy said, "Will it help with insulin resistance?" And then what we will also get into Paul said, "Wondering what other health benefits it offers besides blood sugar regulation?" Andrea said, "Does it have any other benefits besides preventing lessening glucose spikes." So, we can dive deep into all of that. But to start off, I would like to give an overview of how it does work for blood sugar control because I think that really speaks to why it can be really beneficial to take when you understand that it's not like a pharmaceutical where-- With the pharmaceuticals they typically have a more singular approach to why they're working, compared to berberine that has all of these effects that can create this metabolic health.

For the blood glucose control, like Scott had mentioned it can be used for addressing insulin sensitivity and reducing blood sugar. It's so interesting because there are many studies. I had much fun preparing for this because there are many different hypotheses for how it's doing that. One of the main mechanisms and Scott mentioned this is that directly in the liver, it actually can reduce the liver's ability to actually create glucose or like create glucose and release it into the bloodstream. Because a mind-blowing fact-- I remember when I first learned this and it blew my mind because I think most people don't realize this, is that when people have high blood sugar levels most people think it is from what they're eating, which it is, but the actual, like 24/7 higher blood sugar levels, that's mostly being controlled by your liver. So, it's your liver creating glucose and releasing glucose.

Berberine actually inhibits that, it reduces enzymes directly in the liver that do that process, so then it can't happen. And interestingly, they have found that even though it helps insulin sensitivity, it doesn't seem to actually affect insulin production in the liver, so it's working independently of that which is really interesting. It can actually be directly in the gut reduce intestinal glucose absorption. So, just starting at the very beginning, it can stop the glucose from actually entering the body in the first place and that's by inhibiting a specific enzyme called a glucosidase activity. And that's an intestinal enzyme that actually digests carbs and converts them into more simpler sugars. Stopping that keeps you from actually absorbing some of those carbs in the first place. And then, beyond all of those enzymes and such it also can actually affect the transport of glucose throughout the body. And then on top of that, we can talk about the gut health potential of it. But a lot of researchers have hypothesized that its beneficial effects on the gut microbiome actually have a secondary effect of blood sugar control by the metabolic health state that is created from that so the anti-inflammatory state, the encouraging of short-chain fatty acid butyrate-producing bacteria when butyrate is created and gets into the bloodstream, it actually can help with glycemic control and the reduction of inflammation in the gut from endotoxin and LPS and the recruitment of macrophages and I realized I say all these words really fast and I know what they mean, but people might not know what they mean, so that's basically like the toxic byproducts that are created from "bad bacteria," because I realized saying good and bad bacteria can be a little bit simplistic. It reduces the inflammatory potential of the gut and inflammation is a key driver in metabolic issues. I can stop there a little bit. So, you want to jump in at all, Scott?

Scott Emmens: Well, first of all, great, I think it's a fantastic overview. And you can see how many different complex mechanisms berberine appears to have and why it has a broad base of positive impact across a number of organs and organ systems and then in particular blood sugar. I think we're going to learn a lot more as this molecule is again becoming, I shouldn't say molecule, this plant alkaloid is becoming hot on people's radar again. And I think at the end of the day, insulin is such a powerful hormone that when you can maintain blood glucose, which your audience is all about, the intermittent fasting audience really understands what blood glucose is about. But I don't know that we talk about the power of insulin and how powerful it is. I don't know if berberine lowers your fasting insulin and/or postprandial insulin meaning after a meal. My guess would be yes because it's lowering blood glucose with people that are already in normal ranges, well, then it's going to probably lower your insulin.

And we know in the presence of insulin, it's more difficult to burn fat, so it's all these different ways in which it slows the breakdown of glucose, it slows the liver's export or gluconeogenesis creating new sugar to push out into the bloodstream. All of the different mechanisms I think are fascinating and the more we learn about it, I think the more we're going to realize that this compound is going to have some very significant overall benefits for your wellbeing on a number of different organ systems.

Melanie Avalon: I'm glad you said that. Two things to comment on, the insulin piece. I did find studies showing a reduction in insulin. It was once where they were comparing it to metformin and they were looking at the long-term effects of that. And then there are so many studies talking about how it increases insulin sensitivity, that is definitely happening. But I'm so glad you said that because we probably should start with a really important question or we should get to a really important question. Jennifer said, "What is it? Is it a plant, a fruit, etc.?" April said, "I know serrapeptase comes from silkworms, but where does berberine come from? When did people start using it?" I realized we were saying like we haven't really defined what it is. So, it is a plant alkaloid and Scott, would you like to talk about the plant that it comes from? And why we chose the one that we chose?

Scott Emmens: There are different forms of berberine based on the plant source that it comes from. The one that's being used in our Vedic Medicine in India and is usually the form that is used in most of the studies you're going to see and I hope I pronounce this right, but it's Berberis Aristata I believe and that's spelled B-E-R-B-E-R-I-S A-R-I-S-T-A-T-A and that is the form that we've used and that comes from the Indian barberry tree or shrub and it is a shrub that belongs to the genus Berberis and it is found specifically in India. And there are many different species of this shrub. And it's typically found in the Himalaya area of India and Nepal as well as other places in Sri Lanka and that is the form that we’ve utilized.

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Do you know when they started using berberine?

Scott Emmens: I'm going to take an educated guess-- Because our Vedic Medicine goes back a while, I'm going to take an educated guess and say 1500 years ago.

Melanie Avalon: 3000 BC.

Scott Emmens: Wow.

Melanie Avalon: To treat diarrhea and dysentery. That's like when I very first started, isn't that crazy? That has a long safety record, I will say [chuckles] which we can circle back to.

Scott Emmens: So, I was only off by 4000 years, not bad. [chuckles]

Melanie Avalon: It probably got upregulated more little bit later when it first appeared. And like I said, that was to treat diarrhea and dysentery. And just to circle back a little bit to the GI Health aspect to really fill that out. There's been many studies on berberine and its effect on gut bacteria. And actually, we have a question about this, so I'll just tie that in right now. For example, Nikki said, "I've heard people say not to take it daily because it changes your gut bacteria, what are your thoughts on that?" Morris said, "This would be my question. I always cycle on and off of it, but I know Melanie does not?" And then Karen said, "Berberine is used as an herbal antibacterial/antimicrobial, which I was going to get to, so I'm glad she said that." She said, "In addition to the blood sugar lowering properties that you are focusing on, I'm concerned about negative effects on beneficial gut bacteria with regular use of this product, can you speak to that?" I'm super happy that people were asking me about that. There have been a lot of studies looking at its effect on gut bacteria populations, and across the board it tends to increase the "Positive good bacteria, specifically Bacteroides and decrease the more inflammatory bacteria specifically Firmicutes." Because those are the two that if you know about gut microbiome, you might have heard of them before, but there's been a lot of other studies, for example, it's directly antibacterial against E. coli and clostridium difficile. It can increase, I mentioned this earlier, the short-chain fatty acid-producing bacteria, specifically and I don't know if I'm going to say these right. Phascolarctobacterium, Anaerotruncus, and Acidobacteria, those are all short-chain fatty acid-producing bacteria that can help with intestinal integrity. And it also may inhibit a certain type of bacteria that has been connected to obesity, which is super cool. And we can actually get into the obesity, body fat bit in a little bit. Basically, it seems to have a very beneficial effect on gut bacteria. I would not be personally and again you can make your own decisions and choices, but I personally am not concerned about the effect because it seems to have a very beneficial effect. I actually wonder, Scott, I'd be curious about your thoughts on this, I hypothesize that people who might sometimes be experiencing negative side effects in the beginning, it might be because they are playing with the populations of their bacteria and are experiencing a die-off effect because whenever you go after the bad guys, you can get negative side effects from that. It's a good thing because you are moving the needle towards more beneficial population. There might be some side effects in the interim. And, for example, I found there was one study looking at berberine compared to metformin and it found that all of the side effects only happened in the very beginning of the trial, and there's a longer-term trial. if you are experiencing gut issues in the beginning, I would suggest maybe lowering your dose so we can talk about this later and maybe sticking it out a little bit. But Scott, what are your thoughts?

Scott Emmens: I think your hypothesis is a pretty good one. Meaning anytime you're detoxing the body even if detoxing is a "Good Thing, " you know that you're killing off a lot of bad bacteria, and maybe you're not using a binding agent or you've got a lot of bad bacteria in your gut that could cause inflammation, the destruction of those can release toxins. Yeah, that could very well be, I think, that's a little speculative, but it's a reasonable theory. But what is pretty consistent is that the metformin side effects and the berberine side effects both seem to happen upfront. And the solution to that in the Glucophage world, is what doctors will say and many patients have probably heard this wording "Start low and go slow." if you are sensitive, you've never taken berberine before or you take two pills on day one and you feel a little bit of GI upset then back down to one capsule 500 mg once a day, kind of stabilize yourself and then you can work your way up. And that's really, I think, always goes for any medication or supplement, you always want the lowest effective dose. Now, we came out with the 500 mg, had a lot of discussion about what to recommend in terms of dosing, one to three capsules a day is where it landed because the majority of the data suggests that on the low end, 500 mg is right. On the higher end, 15 mg is correct. Many of the studies have been done with 500 mg three times a day, I don't think you want to take 1500 in one shot, really, you want to break that up over three doses. But that's where we found the sweet spot was. So, if people are experiencing side effects, I would say start with 500 and just slowly work your way up.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I'm so glad you said that because we had had obviously a lot of questions about dosaging, like Jennifer said, "How much can or should I take?" Claudia said, "How much to take? What's the dosage?" Anna Maria, "When is the best time to take it to optimize results?" Amy, "Is it best to cycle it or take it every day? Should one take it at the same time every day or time it more specifically to be ingested before you eat a potentially glucose-spiking meal?" Cheryl wanted to know "Do you take it with food or on an empty stomach?" And Nydia wanted to know "Does it break the fast?" Teresa also wanted to know "Is it something that you can take daily? I know Shawn Wells listed as one of his most recommended supplements. But I've heard Cynthia Thurlow say that she has people cycle it. I will put a link in the show notes, by the way to an episode I had with Shawn Wells on the Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast. I adore Shawn and he is one of the go-to people in the supplement world, he's just a phenom when it comes to that, but yeah, to answer all of those questions, Scott just gave a really nice overview of the dosage and we thought long and hard about what dosage to do for it more. Again, going back to what we talked about in the beginning about the craziness with regulations. It's crazy how you have to like figure out what you can actually say on the label to get the dosage that you want. It's hard to describe. But basically, I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to say. And it had to go through Scott and like the legal team to get it on the label the way I wanted it.

Scott Emmens: That is correct. And I think, that's why we take those precautions because it's important for the public to make sure that what we're saying is in line with what is appropriate, but also to make sure that we're following all of the guidelines, guidance, and making sure that we are in compliance to that. That comes from 25 years of pharmaceutical lawyers pounding into me what I can't say. I want to make sure we do that, but on the other side, it's also what is it that we can say that will really make sure we're giving a clear specific guidance that is in the best alignment with what the data and the research suggest. And I think we got there and I think to your frustration, Melanie, I think a lot of people assume that the supplement world is a free cowboy world. But there are very stringent guidelines on labeling, claim that you make on that label, what you can say, what you can name it. And even down to like, the font size and how you list the ingredients and what size, certain ingredients have to be in the font size. I mean it gets very particular. So, again, going back to this, "What is GMP?" If you're following CFR 21, which is the regulations on how you label a supplement properly along with what this GMP mean, it's extensive and I think that's been one of the learning lessons that you have come across as well. How many things you have to do to make sure you've done it? But then again, how many other companies want to escape that edge that goes 75 and a 65 and make sure they don't get a ticket. And we'd rather go 65 and 65, then do the 75. And I think that is an interesting learning from a lot of people that we work with in this space, physicians [unintelligible [00:39:42] and so forth.

Melanie Avalon: Again, just another reason I've been grateful to work with you because you get all of this and I have learned so much, and it's just really been a really amazing incredible experience. So yeah, the dosage we landed on that we mentioned is based on the majority of the study. Probably the majority of the studies are 0.5 g or 500 mg, those are comfortable three times a day. But it ranges from, actually in the studies it's not normally on the lower end, but it can be, so I wanted it to have it, a minimum of like 500 mg up to 2 g, which seems to be the upper limit. That's the way we had it working on the bottle so that it could cover that range. I will say-- because we got a question because I had Megan Ramos on the Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast, she's amazing, definitely listen to that interview with her. She shared a negative experience she had with berberine experimenting with it during pregnancy, I think.

Scott Emmens: Yeah, that's a no, no.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, and she was taking 2 g which again is the upper limit of that. For example, Lucy said, "Megan Ramos mentioned a few times that she was very sick with a negative reaction to berberine when she was on the Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast. I would like to know the main contraindications for berberine and how to avoid similar situations." Again, in that situation, revisiting that episode, Megan was taking the upper limit and while she was pregnant, I would start not at the upper limit, not take it during pregnancy or work with your doctor. So, definitely, you just want to be aware of all factors involved.

Scott Emmens: So, here are the contraindications, there're a few but they're fairly rare except for pregnancies. The first one is, if you're on Cyclosporin-A, you do not want to take berberine because it can have an interaction with the CYP43A for enzyme in the liver. Then you also do not want to take berberine with warfarin or thiopental, I think I'm saying that right, thiopental or tolbutamide because it can displace them from increasing the blood and increase the blood toxicity of those particular drugs. Warfarin has what's called the very narrow therapeutic index. Some of these other drugs do as well. If you increase just their bioavailability a tad or decrease it a tad it either will become toxic or can become ineffective. Those are contraindications. And then macrolide antibiotics such as azithromycin and clarithromycin may also interact, they're not contraindicated, but they are certainly something that you do not want to take berberine with unless you absolutely had to, based on a physician recommendation. And lastly, we do not want to take berberine if you are pregnant, that's contraindicated as well.

Melanie Avalon: Yes, I'm glad we could speak to that as far as does it break a fast? No, it will support your fast if anything. I actually don't take it the way most people take it. Well, first of all, I'm not eating three times a day. I'm not taking it three times a day before meals, I actually take it in the morning in the fasted state. And then I actually don't take it later before my meal. Although I probably should experiment with doing that come to think of it that would probably be beneficial. The reason I was doing that was I was just seeing the biggest spike in my blood sugar in the early part of the day, but you can really experiment and find what works for you. But typically, people are taking it before meals. Yeah, do you have any thoughts about that, Scott?

Scott Emmens: If you have a CGM, you want to experiment with that or if you take your blood sugar through another means, I think you want to experiment with that. For me, personally, I'm going to take one probably on an empty stomach starting when I start my new regime in January. Typically, when I take berberine, it's going to be about an hour to an hour and a half before my meal because I want to get the berberine inside my intestines, I want it to be metabolized and we're talking a little bit about the metabolites and the active metabolites of berberine. I think about an hour to an hour and a half prior to my meal to ensure that the maximum blood plasma level is there and that the metabolites are beginning to get into my system. That to me seems reasonable. Now, if you have GI upset, it's probably going to be the best to take it closer to your meal. I think you want to experiment with that both from a what's most comfortable for you? And then if you have the ability to measure your blood glucose, what's working best for you? For example, there's someone who owns a CGM company, he has a podcast. I've just listened to his podcast in preparation for the show and he had some limited success with berberine pre-meals. 

Now keep in mind, this is someone who is on a very restricted diet, he understands insulin, he's probably already in a low-insulin, low-glycemic state to begin with. He didn't see a lot of change with berberine before meals, but when he took it for the fasting insulin in the evening, he noticed dramatic decrease in his fasting insulin in the mornings. And that speaks to the liver part of gluconeogenesis because your liver's job with gluconeogenesis is to keep you from going into hypoglycemia while you sleep. And when you are diabetic or you have blood sugar issues that are beginning, your liver might be getting the wrong signal thinking, "Hey, we don't have enough glucose." So, it's pushing glucose out even though your glucose is already very high. So, based on the various ways that seems berberine works, I think each person's body type and where they're at, it's going to have a different impact, my personal recommendation for me is going to be to try to start taking it on an empty stomach, hour and a half before meals is what I currently do. And then I might experiment with a pre-evening dose.

Melanie Avalon: I'm so glad that you mentioned body fat. I know you're talking about it in a little bit different context. But I do want to talk briefly about the super cool effect that berberine can potentially have on body composition especially because I know a lot of people-- one of their main goals, possibly why they're listening to this podcast is for body composition effects. And there's been a lot of studies looking at berberine's effect on body re-composition with or without weight loss. So, it seems that in particular berberine can actually reduce the levels of inflammatory fat specifically, so visceral fat is a type of fat that is found surrounding the organs. And it's actually the type of fat linked to metabolic health issues compared to like subcutaneous fat, which is found underneath the skin and which is considered to actually be more benign when it comes to health issues. So, berberine has been found in some studies, it leads to weight loss specifically reducing visceral fat and in some studies, there's actually not weight loss, but there is a shift in the type of body fat, which is super cool. Basically, it's making your body more healthy when it comes to fat. Mice treated with berberine have actually been found to have shrunken adipocytes. Basically, their fat cells are smaller which is super cool. Other studies basically propose that the anti-obesity activity of berberine can involve in part not only decreased size of lipid droplets but actually also the number of lipid droplets. There's a study suggesting that berberine actually increases thermogenesis in brown and white tissue.

Scott Emmens: Yeah, that was very interesting to me.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, basically increasing burning calories in your fat tissue, which is very cool, because you really want to stack especially with our modern diet environment, you want to do everything you can to stack the cards in your favor, to have a healthy metabolic profile when it comes to body fat. And it can be hard to do that, especially when there are cellular mechanisms involved. And anything that can really affect that, like berberine, can definitely be something to try. It can also discourage the creation of new fat cells "super cool." And that's actually by affecting transcripts and factors that are involved in creating fat cells in the first place. And then, for example, a review of five studies that encompassed 1078 women and you know I love when we got studies in women, found that it did indeed induce a redistribution of fat tissue, specifically reducing that inflammatory visceral fat that I spoke of. And speaking of the inflammatory potential, not only is it reducing the amount of inflammatory fat, it actually may make fat in general less inflammatory by reducing the recruitment of macrophages to fatty tissue. So, macrophages are basically-- for these things that go in-- and you can think of them like Pac-Man, they go and gobble up things. They're good, we want them in our bodies. They deal with getting rid of waste and fighting pathogens and things like that. But when you have an overabundance of them, it can be a very inflammatory state. And a lot of people's resistant fat, when people really just struggle to burn fat. It can be because the fat itself has become inflammatory, and it becomes resistant to fat burning.

Scott Emmens: Are you referring to brown fat versus white fat in adipose tissue?

Melanie Avalon: It found that it activated thermogenesis in both of them which is super cool. Did you find one showing that it increased brown?

Scott Emmens: Yes, I found a few studies that say that berberine promotes the recruitment and activation of brown adipose tissue in mice and in humans, which was pretty interesting. There was another study about berberine-activated thermogenesis in both white and brown adipose tissue, but one of the things I thought was so interesting was that it does seem it can help your body promote brown fat, thus thermogenesis and brown fat is packed with mitochondria. It keeps you from shivering, that's why babies have a lot of brown fat versus white fat, white fat that being the inflammatory version, brown fat being more of what they call an activated fat which has its own mitochondria in it and really actually is more of a positive energy-burning fat than white fat is. So, that I found really interesting. And even so to get to your point, if you don't lose weight, if you're just shifting that fat from the more inflammatory to the less inflammatory, more highly energetic fat, I think you're going to reap a lot of benefits.

Melanie Avalon: I'm so glad you said that, you really revealed that you haven't a grasp of what's going on because brown fat and white fat like Scott mentioned, brown fat is really high in mitochondria, it's activated by cold is something that activates it, it actually helps you lose weight which is ironic because it is fat, but it creates heat. And it basically wastes energy. But the thing that you said, Scott that I mean, I already knew this, but maybe made it aware that you actually really know what you're talking about. I think a lot of people think brown fat and because they associate it with cold, they think "Oh, that's like shivering," but it's not, it actually keeps you from shivering because the alternative to brown fat is to shiver, basically.

Scott Emmens: Exactly, and do you know how I know that, Melanie?

Melanie Avalon:  No.

Scott Emmens: Ice baths have taught me that. [laughs]

Melanie Avalon: I was going to say cryotherapy.

Scott Emmens: Yes, I am an ice bath guy. And I'm about to embark on a January 1 through February Polar Plunge for mental health benefits. I am currently back in training filling my tub up with giant hunks of ice and getting in there for 10 minutes or so to adapt. And I discovered the benefit of brown fat as I was really-- This goes back to 2016 when I first began doing ice bath, which by the way changed my life in so many ways. But that's when I discovered what brown fat was, why it was important and how I adapted to the cold over time by creating more of this brown fat. I mean, the first time I got in an ice bath, it was 60 seconds of pure shivering and agony. Three months later, I could sit in there for 8, 10 minutes at 40 degrees temperature of Fahrenheit and not shiver at all. In fact, one time I stayed in long because I hadn't shivered. I did get a little hypothermic, so that's how I learned about brown fat and white fat was through ice bath.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, that's super cool. I remember Scott and I met. When did we meet? Spring of 2021?

Scott Emmens: I think you're right. I think it was April of 2021.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, because we launched serrapeptase in 2021.

Scott Emmens: November. Yeah.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I think that was one of our first conversations way back in the day.

Scott Emmens: First conversation was ice bath and then followed by a lot of discussion on infrared, near-infrared and therapy and saunas, which I'm also a huge fan of, by the way.

Melanie Avalon: Yes, so many things. One last health benefit-related thing I think we should talk about, especially with this show one of the reasons people often do fasting, well, it's not the reason, but something we've talk about a lot with the benefits of fasting is how fasting stimulates something called an AMPK, which is basically a fuel sensing enzyme. It plays a key role in how our bodies use energy and it's activated by stressors like calorie restriction, fasting, and exercise. It is associated with so many health benefits like you want AMPK activation, it helps with longevity, metabolic health, inflammation, so many things. Berberine has found to be a very potent stimulator of AMPK, which is awesome. And then another fasting-related thing we talk all the time on here about autophagy which is activated by fasting as well. And it's where the body actually goes down and breaks down problematic proteins and recycles them. It's like a cleanse on the cellular level. It's very, very important for metabolic health and longevity. And berberine has also been found to be a stimulator of autophagy, so that is awesome.

Scott Emmens: People underestimate the importance of healthy autophagy getting rid of cells or what they might call zombie cells or mitochondria that need to go because they'll contaminate the other healthy mitochondria around it. I think autophagy is a tremendous benefit. And obviously, the AMPK there's a plethora of data on all the various things that impacts across your longevity and health span. One of the things that I don't think we touched on but, I know came up in literature quite a bit, is the positive benefits of berberine on the liver. And I'm a big guy on liver. I think if your liver is not functioning right, if it's not making bile, if it's not digesting your toxins properly, you're going to end up in trouble. And so, to me, I think that the liver benefits of berberine have probably underestimated at this point. There's not as much data and studies as I'd like to see. But there is definitely data to suggest that it works to support liver enzyme health, liver function in the presence of toxins, and I think that is really important. When you look at the overall effect of what berberine is doing to your point earlier, it's working on AMPK, it's working on glucose, it's working on your gut microbiome, it's working on your liver and your liver's function. And I think all of these things combined lead to, in my mind, one conclusion which is, there's something about this particular product that allows your body to function in an optimal level while keeping the blood glucose down, supporting mitochondria, supporting liver health and I think it all ties back to, if blood glucose and insulin are lower, then you're going to have a cascade of positive effects across your body. And I think that is why CGMs have become so popular as people realize that if they can keep their blood glucose at a reasonably modest normal level without having huge spikes throughout the day, that overall is going to lead to a longer and healthier lifespan. The data on that is pretty convincing. That's where I think berberine shines as this molecule plant alkaloid that just has so many benefits. So back to the liver, there is a couple of studies on liver enzymes and also on liver function. I would encourage people to take a look at that research. Again, of course, always speak to your doctor if you're taking anything for liver disease.

Melanie Avalon: I'm so glad you mentioned that as well because that actually goes really well with one other health benefit I want to touch on and it also involves the liver, so glad we're talking about it. And that is the role of berberine on cholesterol levels and lipid panels. Margaret said for example, "Is it okay to take it long term to help lower cholesterol" and we can speak to the long-term aspect in a bit but just as far as the cholesterol side of things. Not only does it directly reduces the absorption of lipids into circulation from your gut, because the whole caveat there is dietary cholesterol is not necessarily the primary driver of problematic cholesterol levels. It's more at least in my opinion, the creation of endogenous cholesterol and what's happening with that. And the effects in the liver on cholesterol and lipids is-- I mean, there's so many so.

It can promote the liver's LDL receptor mRNA expression to beneficially modulate LDL levels, it can directly inhibit the creation of cholesterol and triglycerides in liver cells. In rodent trials it's been found to inhibit NAFLD, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in mice fed a high-fat diet, which is huge and in human trials have actually found that berberine supplementation can reduce liver enzymes in patients with type 2 diabetes and so going back to what Scott was saying about liver health and it can also reduce fatty acid synthesis directly in the liver and a lot of transcripts and factors related to fatty liver. And for example, there was one study in humans and not only did they find decreased body weight and BMI in those on berberine, but what was super cool about the study is it had people do berberine and then have a washout period where they were not taking the berberine and then go back on the berberine. And they found that their triglycerides, their cholesterol, their LDL, and their HDL all improved based on when they were like taking the berberine. When they were on the berberine, it improved. When they went off, it went away. And then when they went on again, it approved again. Lots of potential benefits there with cholesterol and lipids.

Scott Emmens: Yeah, I totally agree. And the one part I'd like to focus on that is with triglycerides. Having been in the diabetes universe for 15 years or so, one of the things that I spoke with when I worked with endocrinologists, those are the specialists that treat diabetes, the thing that the cutting-edge endocrinologist would tell you is if you see someone that has a relatively high fasting glucose, but they are not diabetic, but their triglycerides are above normal. He's like that person is going to have diabetes if they don't change their lifestyle in a few years. Triglycerides are the leading indicator like "Hey, you're on your way to diabetes if you don't change this." Your body is basically taking this sugar and trying to figure out what it's going to do with it because it can't do something. This isn't the scientific way to say this, but basically, your triglycerides are this canary in the coal mine, that if they're high, but your blood glucose hasn't quite broken, technically the diabetic limit, you're probably on your way there. That's something you really want to look out for [the fact that it does have these studies that show that it can have a positive impact and support the body's ability to reduce triglycerides really says something to me about the way that it's working for blood glucose.

Melanie Avalon: And I think that actually ties in nicely to something that I want to talk about, which is this specific form that we chose because we got a lot of questions about dihydroberberine. for example, Teresa said, "She wants to know the difference between berberine versus dihydroberberine." Erin said, the same thing, "What's the difference between those two?" Suzie said, "What is the difference between them and what is the best?" Paul said that "He actually did better taking dihydroberberine that he didn't have the bloatation and the gassy issues?" And then Amanda said that --Oh, this is something that we can speak to the absorption levels. Amanda said, "Mike Mutzel talks about not using the highly absorbable kind," which presumably, I'm assuming is the dihydroberberine, as that's how berberine is effective in the gut by not being highly absorbable. Just speaking to what you were just talking about Scott with all of these over-encompassing effects and many things that are going on, shall we talk about? Because we debated for a long time about? Well, more so in the beginning, I think once we got to an understanding about it, we felt pretty good. But we were looking at? Should we do a berberine or should we do a dihydroberberine? Dihydroberberine is a newer form of berberine, at least from being like sold and marketed, which is said to be more absorbable and said to have a more potent effect on lowering blood sugar? We chose not to do that. Scott, would you like to explain a little bit why?

Scott Emmens: At first, it was two things. I think this goes back to my experience with prodrugs and metabolites prodrugs and then also looking at the data. Of the 30 years' worth of research that we have a good grasp on and there's a ton in the last 15 years, all of it is on berberine or the vast, vast majority I should say. There is very little data on dihydroberberine beyond just either its increase of "plasma level," but plasma level is not really what separates Berberine from the pack. I'll give you an analogy and tell me if it's apt Melanie. But with CBD, for example, "If you get a pure 100% isolated CBD, you may have no effect from it because it's not just the CBD, it's the CBD, CBG, it's the other cannabinoids inside that product that give it an entourage effect along with terpenes and other things that create that. Then if you add the other factor into metabolites from a prodrug is a drug that goes in as an inactive substance. And then your liver converts it into an active substance. Well, berberine happens to have no less than four active metabolites and as many, in some reports as 17 metabolites. And we don't know what those metabolites do, but it's pretty clear, and here's a direct quote from an article. Let me just make sure I get the title. "This is the metabolism of berberine and its contribution to the pharmacological effects." 

And then let me read this quote because this wasn't something we had focused on a ton in the beginning, but we discussed it, but the more we did the research, the more evident it became that there's something unique about it. "Even though berberine possesses a low oral bioavailability, it has exhibited marked biological activities in vivo which is in people and concentrations of its major metabolites such as berberrubine, thalifendine, I'm going to say these wrong, I'll butcher these names, demethyleneberberine, and jatrorrhizine, that is butcher of those names, but they are relatively high. And then it says, "These reports indicate that the metabolites of berberine may be active constituents which are representative of the biological activities of berberine in vivo and I mean that sums it up that there is something unique about berberine despite this, "Low bioavailability." Study after study shows that it works and then now we're getting more and more studies that are coming in. And our ability to measure these metabolites that are coming in active tablets, meaning your livers convert it into a new active form of berberine. They are actually also stored in your various organs, like your liver, in your kidneys, in your brain and other places that allow for these other properties of berberine or that we suspect based on the data allow for these other properties of berberine. By isolating one particular compound, yes, you may get less side effects, but you may not get all of the benefits of berberine. And I think between that and the fact that the data is very consistent on berberine, says berberine is the way to go. Now, we might decide to do a dihydroberberine in the future for some other specific reason, but if we're looking to get the maximum benefit across the spectrum of berberine, then we wanted to use the whole berberine plant.

Melanie Avalon: I think it's so interesting, Scott found, I don't know if it's the one that you were just speaking about, or if it was a different one. But you found this really great article, which basically speaks to this issue that people will say about berberine, which I find really ironic because people will say it's not very absorbable, like an issue basically, and that we need to fix it. But it's just really ironic, because all of the studies for so long and then it's been used for thousands of years, have been working with it in this form, so clearly, it's working in this form.

Scott Emmens: And then all of the data is in this form. When they saw the studies we read to you today, all of the data we've read to you today is from berberine. And so, you could take a chance that yes because it's more "Absorbable" and less impactful in your gut. Well, okay, maybe that works, maybe that doesn't just because it's higher in your plasma doesn't mean that it's high or concentrated in your organs, which may be the very benefit we're getting. I think you're right, it is ironic that we think we have to fix a product.

Melanie Avalon: It's pretentious.

Scott Emmens: Yeah, we have to fix a product or a natural alkaloid that has decades, in fact, let's go back to your earlier number of 4500 years of use. So yeah, I'm pretty confident berberine is the way to go. And for those folks that do have jabs and again, I would say, take it closer with your meal at first, start low and go slow. So, try one, just take one a day for a while, get your body used to it. You had mentioned maybe it's a detoxification process, go low and start slow. But yeah, I think you're exactly right. To say that this other form is better with no real data, I don't think is the right way to go. Is dihydroberberine, does it have some advantages? It very well could. But when we're talking about all of the data, and all of the studies, and these active metabolites, this is the product that I feel most comfortable taking.

Melanie Avalon: I think that's the key thing to focus on, which I'm not saying at all, that creating an isolated form of anything might have more of a benefit for maybe a certain goal in mind, like you might be able to finesse it to, have a specific intended effect. And maybe with dihydroberberine, maybe people, but again I would just need to see more literature and experience with people. But maybe it does work better for some people, which is great. But what's interesting is often rather than saying-- when people pause at dihydroberberine, for example, often rather than saying, this is another form of berberine that may be more beneficial for certain people for certain goals. It's positive, like berberine isn't very absorbable, they are like discard. They discard the entirety of the berberine literature, which makes no sense. And we do this with other things. We do this with turmeric and curcumin. People will say that we need to take our curcumin supplement because it's not very bioavailable in turmeric, when people have been using turmeric for the benefits for so long, people do it with resveratrol and wine. It's a very common thing that people do.

Scott Emmens: Or like a polyphenol versus an individual phenol. And that's why I love this one specific sentence, which is even though berberine possesses a relatively low oral bioavailability, it has exhibited marked biological activity in vivo. And the concentrations of its metabolites such as I butchered those, indicate the metabolites have an active constituent that represents significant biological activities of berberine. And in fact, berberine studies have revealed metabolites have shown similar bioactivity and it goes on and on. And there is something unique about it, the way that it is absorbed is not directly correlated to plasma. And in fact, it might be within this article or the other one that I had sent you, it says that, "Part of the reason that the plasma levels in berberine aren't high is because it's getting pushed into the organs where it needs to be and that was mind-blowing to me.

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Also related to our whole creation process. We had that question at the beginning about dihydroberberine versus berberine. And then when we decided on berberine, it was time to actually create it and Scott. Shall we tell listeners a little bit about our journey? [chuckles] 

Scott Emmens: Journey is a good way to put it, [chuckles] would you like me to start?

Melanie Avalon: Sure.

Scott Emmens: So, breaking the fourth wall a little bit, Melanie had some very specific criteria, as usual, all legitimate. And we began this pursuit for the perfect berberine. And one of the berberines that we looked at that had this really great story in this great, it's organic from the Himalayan Mountains. And then there was another one from the western part of the country, yada-yada, handpicked, etc. However, when we tested those berberines, they came back with both impurities and their potency level was remarkably low. And then I did a little more research and found that these companies also had some FDA warnings. There's a thing in the FDA when you have a GMP-certified facility, it's not just about the source of where you get the product. The most important thing is, have you done the four critical components of testing, which is strength, identity, purity, and compliance composition? And what we do at MD Logic Health and this is why I think we are so selective about who we partner with in terms of suppliers and also co-branding partners such as Melanie is, we want to be the best of the best, just like Melanie. What we discovered was that these other berberines not only failed to meet the specifications that were required but that also did not meet GMP, meaning the facilities themselves had multiple 43 notices or 402 requirements, which basically means that they were citation with significant issues in terms of their facilities GMP. Some folks, well where's it sourced from?

Well, that's important except the most important thing is have you done the correct analysis to protect yourself against heavy metals, purity, identity, strength, toxins, etc. And when we get a product, in this case, berberine, we quarantine everything that comes into our facility. It has been tested before it is allowed to come in for those four things back to what is the identity? What is the strength? Or the amount of active ingredients? What is purity? Meaning, are there toxic metals? Does it meet all of the standards that we're referring to? And is it meeting all of the compliant FDA requirements for purity, potency, etc. Those four things are done before that product even comes into our doors. Unfortunately, two of those products failed to meet our standards, which obviously disappointed us, but we were not going to allow faulty product or subpar product into the process. And when I went to look back at the companies that were utilizing these products, what I discovered is they had multiple 43s including but not limited to various toxins, lack of doing the standard studies, and in shocking fashion rat feces in a number of their herbs.

Melanie Avalon: Was it in the herbs or in the facility?

Scott Emmens: It was in the facility. I don't know whether it was in the herb or whether it was contaminated in the facility, or how but it was tested and found in the facility, meaning that multiple of their herbs had rat feces in them. And this is a pretty well-known brand, which we're not going to mention. But the fact of the matter is that they had obviously either not quarantined it and brought it in with the feces or the feces was in the facility and they hadn't done their due diligence on making sure that the facility was properly protected against those types of things. When a company says they're GMP certified that's one thing. But they need to be following all of those GMP tests. The reason that we quarantine the product before we bring it in, is if that product is contaminated you run the risk of contaminating your entire line. That's why it is quarantined and tested prior to its entry into our facility. 

Once it's tested and it passes all of those tests, we then bring it into the facility and then we do again, what's called batch testing. And we retest that same product after it's been manufactured to make sure it still meets all those specifications and has the amount of milligrams we'd say it has, it has the proper ingredients, and it still meets all of the same parameters to make sure that it didn't get infected or contaminated along the way. it's not just important to do it after you've created it, it's important to do it before it enters the facility. It's important to make sure you follow all of the criteria that GMP lays out in terms of where you store your product, how high you store it, what temperature you store it at, all of these things add up to what's called good manufacturing process. It's more than just testing for purity, strength, identity, and compliance. It's also, "Did you do the proper testing on how long it's going to last on the shelf, for example? What temperature did you expose it to? Did you have a CoA from the supplier of the ingredient and then did you also subsequently test it?" Some people will take the CoA from the supplier as the gold standard and then not do their own testing. That's not the way to go, because they may have gotten one sample to pass that test. But they can give you a different version or a different sample or a different supplier. And sometimes companies will change suppliers without then doing a retest of the ingredient. And then of course is not kosher either. You've got to make sure that you're doing GMP, the way GMP is written. And that is why there's a difference between us and folks that aren't following those same procedures.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, so I actually just pulled up the warning letter that you had found about that company because I wanted to see exactly what it had said. And this wasn't for their actual berberine, it was for the company in general but their manufacturing plant basically. And for example, this is direct from the FDA warning letter. It says, "Tree nut shells, peanut shell, corn, rodent feces, and seed foreign material were detected in their ashwagandha." "Tree nut shells, glass, hard plastic, and rodent feces were detected in their bilberry fruit." And there are a lot of other things as well. Scott, this is so shocking, so like ashwagandha that they're talking about, they had rodent feces in it as well as all of these allergens. If you go to their Amazon page, there ashwagandha has 506 ratings, 4.5 stars, it says that it's organic, it says it's free from gluten, dairy, and soy. The other pieces in this warning letter say that they found wheat in some of their other-- "Wait, wait, wait, sorry, I missed that." Wheat and rock were also found in their ashwagandha. So, "Ah", listeners, literally, so like you can go to Amazon and get this ashwagandha 506 ratings, 4.5 stars, it says "It's organic," it says "It's gluten, dairy and soy free." And when they tested this, when the FDA tested this, they found gluten, rat feces, and a myriad of other things. This is just so problematic. This is so problematic.

Scott Emmens: It is. I want to make the statement that I think this is the more rare companies, but it does happen, it does exist that you can have a GMP facility with great ratings and a decent brand name and still have-- I mean, I think those are pretty significant issues.

Melanie Avalon: And this isn't like some small-- like they have a lot of reviews on Amazon and a lot of products.

Scott Emmens: Correct? So, bigger doesn't mean better. What means better is, "Did you follow GMP and what is your track record with the FDA?" And we have an immaculate track record. And I think that speaks volumes. But the reason we have it is we just believe in following the procedure to make sure that like our families take our products, I take AvalonX products, I take MD Logic products, I give my family MD Logic products, I would never want to have skipped a process or a step. Because those processes are put in place for very good reasons. And most people aren't aware of those because they're not readily public-- it's not readily public information. But I think I remember I got a five shock emoji face from you when I sent you that link.

Melanie Avalon: Listeners, friends, do your due diligence when you choose the supplements that you choose to put in your body. We found a source that we felt really good about with the testing and we tested it for purity and potency. But then we wanted to go one step further because this was my first supplement that was an herb. My previous supplements have been serrapeptase and magnesium. We had the certification from the source that it was free of pesticides. But it was really, really important to me that we do third-party testing on that, just like we did the third-party testing for the purity and the potency because again it's an herb, it's being grown. That took a while because it took a while to find, what was the word like a company that would do the test?

Scott Emmens: It was a third-party laboratory that would do pesticide testing as well as other testing. But we chose at that point, we had all the other testing, we had done internal heavy metal testing twice, internal purity, internal identification and compliance, so at that point we really just wanted to make sure is this was pesticide-free by all the definitions that are set by the US Government and then some. And we set that out for a third-party pesticide test.

Melanie Avalon: Yes, and I'm so happy we found a company that we really like to do that and it came back all clean, all good. And I should tell them the nuance of it. Another reason it took so long to find a company is most of the companies would just give you a blanket, like a yes/no about whether or not it was below a certain level. But I wanted it to be quantified. [chuckles] I wanted to know if it was there, like how much was it there? It took a while to find a company that could work with us to do that, but we did. And we got the green light, it's all good, no pesticides.

Scott Emmens: It really is. And I'll tell you, I would not take any other berberine than this one based on the fact that we know the source is good. We've triple-tested it in-house for the four cores, which is purity, heavy metals, etc., identity, purity, strength, and potency. So, at this point, we feel like we've got a great berberine that's pesticide free, heavy metal free, toxin free, mold free at the right dosage, and in a glass bottle and on top of that with no stearates, palmitates, or other heavy chemical anticaking or filling agents. It's the purest best berberine I think that you're going to find in terms of literal testing and its final ingredients.

Melanie Avalon: I always have to ask you Scott, its filler and lubrication agent?

Scott Emmens: Yes. there are two things that people should be familiar with it. There's what they call lubrication or anticaking. Because when you put these products through these machines to put them in little tiny capsules, it requires some lubrication agent. And that's typically a magnesium stearate, silicon dioxide, or they'll call it silicon, which is silicon dioxide because that FDA allows you to say silicon versus silicon dioxide, little euphemism or a calcium palmitate. I'm okay, I take products with magnesium stearate. I don't think it's the end of the world. But if you're taking 15 capsules a day, you want to get it as pure as possible. And I think in this day and age, we're already exposed to so many things, we want to make sure that it's as clean as it can be. So yes, this product is free of magnesium stearates, that is an anti-caking agent which means it prevents it from blocking up the machines, which is also why we have to do small batches and why it's a little pricier because in order to shut down an entire line or have a dedicated line that has no lubricant or non-magnesium stearate/palmitate lubricant, you've got to have these smaller batches or a dedicated machine. And that's anti-caking. They're called lubricants and then there're fillers which are typically rice or cellulose or something else that you may or may not want. So typically, when we do a filler and we only do that when we have to whether that's an AvalonX product or MD Logic product, we use most benign possible filler there is which is methylcellulose, organic grown, human use, basically methylcellulose, which is like tree bark or fiber. And the only reason you do it is that the capsule doesn't shake loose. In other words, if the capsule size is-- you've got to get the capsule full, otherwise it's going to shake loose and the capsule doesn't feel right or fit right.

The anti-caking agents prevent the product from blocking up the machine, clogging up the machine, and keeping the product flowing into the capsules properly. But a lot of folks don't want magnesium stearate, hence why we go the extra mile to do two things which is A, use either no anti-caking or a natural anti-caking agent that is either beneficial for you or neutral or none. And then on the filler, we use either no filler or we use a filler that is methylcellulose or something super benign or beneficial rather than things like rice flour or other things that people can be allergic to.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, so the berberine containing a very small amount of monolaurin, which is exciting because people will actually take monolaurin for its health benefits. But I don't like to emphasize it because it's not like-- it's barely in there. But yeah, so it's nice to have something that could be potentially beneficial in there as well.

Scott Emmens: And the monolaurin, in this case, would be the anti-caking agent. But to your point, some people take monolaurin as an actual supplement for health, for digestive health. And I think it pairs really well with berberine as I take it for digestive health in terms of its benefits.

Melanie Avalon: Yes. But I really want to emphasize, it's not like monolaurin is in there as a supplement like you're barely getting it. It's more just to point out that it's benign, like it's nontoxic.

Scott Emmens: Exactly, you're talking about a minuscule amount of monolaurin, so it's [unintelligible [01:28:27] supplementation of it. It's really just because this is either beneficial or neutral versus some people who feel that the stearates can be negative.

Melanie Avalon: Exactly, so yeah, I'm so excited because it's almost here. No, no, no, no when this releases it will have just launched. So friends, if you want to get this berberine we are having an amazing launch special that is through the holidays, through December 31 right like through the--

Scott Emmens: Correct, it starts on December 16 and goes all the way through the holidays through December 31. Perfect time for your January 1st New Year's resolutions and there's a tremendous discount that Melanie will have on her website. So, Melanie, I'll let you take it from there.

Melanie Avalon: During this launch special, you can get 15% off of one bottle or 25% which is amazing, off of two or more bottles. And that is just during the special and/or while supplies last. Stock up now. That we'll be at avalonx.us. Again, avalonx.us, 15% off of one bottle, 25% off of two or more bottles through the end of 2022. Beyond that, some other resources, if you want to stock up or get my other supplements, serrapeptase and magnesium, you can use the coupon code MELANIEAVALON that will get you 10% off or if you would like 20% off code, you can text AVALONX, just the word AVALONX, you will not believe how many people text, not AVALONX. They text like, they're like, "Hi, give me the 20% off code?" Like no, no, no that's not how this works, the computer can only read AVALONX.

Scott Emmens: It's a computer. Yes.

Melanie Avalon: It's a computer. So, text AVALONX To 877-861-8318 that will sign you up for text updates and will give you a 20% off code. You can also get email updates at avalonx.us/emaillist. And then both that 20% off code and the 10% off code MELANIEAVALON are also good at MD Logic Health, Scott's main company, they have an array of-- how many products do you have, Scott?

Scott Emmens: Right now, we have about 40-something skews and products. And we are probably going to have somewhere closer to 65 mid 2023, we got a very aggressive pipeline of either cutting-edge and/or newly formed versions of products that we feel like it would be beneficial.

Melanie Avalon: Yes, so that's super, super exciting. So, definitely check them out. I know one of the supplements we've talked about a lot on this show is your melatonin. I know people are really liking that one.

Scott Emmens: Fanfare for sure.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, as well as Scott's collagen.

Scott Emmens: Thanks for mentioning both. The melatonin we reformulated by the way which is the exact same melatonin formulation, but we took out the rice and we took out-- I think it had a little mag stearate, so we removed that. So now that is an even more pure, more clean version of our Melatonin Max. And yes, our Marine Collagen is doing really well. People love it because you are getting 13 g of collagen plus you are getting what they call co-factors to create collagen or collagen synthesis in your body. People underestimate that part because you can take as much collagen as you want without vitamin C, manganese, zinc, vitamin A, and vitamin C. You cannot convert those amino acids into collagens. So, you can drink collagen all day, sort of making a cake with a ton of powder, but if you don’t use a little bit of sugar and butter, you are just going to have a giant flour cake.

Melanie Avalon: Yes, so I can guarantee you this collagen was Scott's baby, kind of like the way I am with my supplements. If you are looking for collagen supplement. This is the one that you want for sure. If you want to go through my site to get that, the link is melanieavalon.com/mdlogic and again the coupon code MELANIEAVALON will get you 10% off sitewide. As well as that 20% off coupon code that you by texting AVALONX To 877-861-8318. And again, stock up on berberine before the special ends.

Scott Emmens: Well Melanie, I've never been so excited for one of your launches as I am for berberine. I feel like your audience is going to love this. I feel like this is going to be a tremendous product for your fan base but most importantly, I think now having done three products with you and having had multiple discussions on your future products I feel like I need to assure your fans that you do not let a single thing go. Every single thing that goes into this product and does not go into this product. You have your eyes on, the research on, and I think together we are making a fantastic team and even more importantly great products that are really healthy and great for people and I couldn’t be more thrilled to launch berberine with you, so this is fantastic.

Melanie Avalon: I am just so thrilled and honored and excited and grateful as well. Listeners, working with Scott has been the dream partnership and I am just so grateful that I can finally do exactly what I wanted to do with the supplements and make them for myself and for everybody else, so I am so happy. Actually, this is a good way to end literally just right now Scott, you know how you were mentioning earlier the person at the CGM company who was sharing his experience on the podcast. He actually literally just emailed me because I had emailed him to tell him I was making a berberine. Would you like to hear what he said about berberine?

Scott Emmens: I would love to hear what he said. This is like serendipity.

Melanie Avalon: I know this is like in real life like real-time. [chuckles]

Scott Emmens: It's real-time and it's happening at the moment.

Melanie Avalon: Complete third party. All I did was I told him I was making a berberine supplement. So, he said, "Berberine is a great idea of all the supplements I've tested for glucose regulation, berberine has had the most significant impact and our internal staff experiments confirmed my anecdotal observations." One cool thing to test with berberine would be proper dosing. Most use berberine as a pre-prandial taking 500 to 1000 mg 20 minutes before meals. I tried that and it didn’t work for me." That's what he was saying, Scott. "A smaller camp including myself takes 500 mg twice daily morning and evening. While it did take a few weeks to see results, I saw an overall decrease in my own fasting glucose on that regimen." So that's a nice little testimonial and I think it really speaks to when you guys get your berberine you are going to need to find the way it works for you specifically.

Scott Emmens: That is a great way to end. I think that's serendipity.

Melanie Avalon: I think so. Well, this has been absolutely amazing and Scott you are going to have to come back for all of our future product launches. I hope you are down with that.

Scott Emmens: I can't wait. I look forward to any questions, comments from the fans. I'm starting to feel like a fan and a welcome member of the family of the IF Podcast. So, thank you so much for having me again, Melanie, I look forward to us speaking again.

Melanie Avalon: You too and this will have already happened, but have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Scott Emmens: That's right, you too.

Melanie Avalon: Bye.

Scott Emmens: Bye, bye.

Melanie Avalon: Thank you so much for listening to The Intermittent Fasting Podcast. Please remember, everything we discussed on this show does not constitute medical advice, and no patient-doctor relationship is formed. If you enjoyed the show, please consider writing your review on iTunes. We couldn't do this without our amazing team, administration by Sharon Merriman, editing by Podcast Doctors, show notes and artwork by Brianna Joyner, transcripts by SpeechDocs, and original theme composed by Leland Cox and re-composed by Steve Saunders. See you next week.

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