Berberine for Heart Protection, and Garlic for Joint Comfort
As the weather gets cooler, I like to spend a bit of time clearing flower beds and organizing the garage before winter arrives. And I will need to find a snow shovel. It is a sort of autophagy for my home. Autophagy is the remodeling or dismantling of cell parts. It is similar to washing the sheets on your bed or cleaning a room in your house. When a cell hoards its old gunky fluids and organelles, it can’t work properly.
Autophagy is influenced by enzymes:
- The enzyme mTOR can be stimulated when nutrients and energy are plentiful; it increases protein transcription and cell growth, and decreases autophagy.
- The enzyme AMPK can be stimulated by hypoxia and low energy (and berberine), and increases autophagy.
Both mTOR and AMPK enzymes are valuable, but when the balance is off and there isn’t enough autophagy, cells can experience inflammation and degeneration.
Berberine may be protective of heart function. Berberine promoted myocardial protection of postoperative patients through regulating myocardial autophagy. The researchers looked at 100 patients who went to the hospital with a heart attack and had a stent procedure. Participants either received the standard treatment after their surgery or they received an extra pill, 0.3 g of berberine three times a day. At 15 days after the procedure, the data was collected. There was no noted difference in cardiac function or 6-minute walk distance, but there were significant decreases in the inflammatory biomarkers CRP, IL-6, and TNFα. The group receiving the berberine supplement had decreased inflammatory biomarkers, possibly related to its action on AMPK and mTOR.
Garlic may help promote joint comfort. The effect of a garlic supplement on the pro-inflammatory adipocytokines, resistin and tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and on pain severity, in overweight or obese women with knee osteoarthritis. This study invited 80 overweight or obese women, aged 50-75, with mild to moderate knee osteoarthritis, to take a placebo or 1000 mg garlic supplement for 12 weeks. Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFα) production increases in obesity. TNFα stimulates inflammation and travels into the synovial fluid, synovial membrane, subchondral bone and cartilage, and contributes to the progression of osteoarthritis. Resistin is produced by fat cells and immune cells, and is associated with insulin resistance and inflammation. It was reasoned that inflammation in the joint contributes to tissue damage and pain. After 12 weeks, there was no significant change in TNFα but there was a reduction in resistin in the garlic treated group. The pain score was significantly reduced in the garlic supplement group. The authors concluded that garlic may help reduce pain in osteoarthritis and that the reduction in resistin may be part of the reason.
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