One of the problems with having both G6PD Deficiency and Diabetes, is the lack of safe medication. The most popular glucose reducing drug is Metformin, which is on the avoid list. The only option I have had is exercise, which helps, but not enough and it isn’t always possible to do.
A few weeks ago I got an email that piqued my interest because it was about supplements that work as well as drugs. Upon investigation the first supplement on the list was berberine. Never heard of it, so I began reading. What??? This cannot be true. “Berberine provides all sorts of health benefits, but is particularly effective at lowering blood sugar levels.”
I almost fell through the floor and I was extremely skeptical. After some serious investigation I decided to try it for myself. Although it is similar in structure to Metformin, it works in an entirely different way. But did it cause hemolysis? I could find no evidence that it did, so I ordered some and anxiously awaited its arrival.
Since I have a meter and can measure my glucose level (which runs about 180 to 200 about two hours after a meal). It is too high and should be closer to 150. I opened the bottle of berberine and anxiously took a capsule and washed it down with a glass of water. Then I ate breakfast consisting of three eggs, hash brown potatoes, toast and orange juice. Two hours later I took my glucose level. It was 157. Right on what it should be. Wow!
Fast forward to three weeks later. So far I have not taken a glucose reading over 159. The morning reading is from 97 to 110 and after meal reading runs from 130 to 159. Usually closer to 130. But that isn’t all of it.
For twenty five years I have been losing feeling in my feet and hands and doctors could not tell me why until a smart doctor decided to give me a glucose meter two years ago. Because of G6PDD, older blood cells die sooner than their normal 120 day lifespan, so the A1C test for diabetes would not work. The meter, however, did not depend on RBC lifespan to work and it proved that I was diabetic. Unfortunately, way too late to fix the Peripheral Neuropathy (losing feeling in feet and hands) problem. Or at least that is what I thought.
Over the past three weeks the pain in my feet and hands has been getting MUCH worse. Have you ever had a hand or foot go to sleep because of lack of blood circulation? Like from sitting on your feet or whatever? What happens when the feeling starts coming back? Yeah…it hurts. And that is what I believe is happening to my hands and feet. They are warm and have a much better color than I have seen in many years.
What about hemolysis? The big question. So far I have seen no signs of hemolysis at all. It can be hard to detect and I have an appointment with my hematologist in a few weeks for blood work and an assessment. Fortunately I had blood work done a few weeks prior to starting the berberine, so I have a baseline. My hematologist is an amazing doctor and we have discussions about G6PDD. She has even agreed to be in a video about G6PDD.
Bottom line – I can’t recommend that you take berberine if you have diabetes. That would be something you might discuss with your doctor. But, so far it is a huge blessing for me.