Berberine Unleashed: A Natural Approach to Blood Sugar and Fatty Liver Wellness

Berberine origin and introduction

Berberine is a natural compound that belongs to a group of chemicals called alkaloids. It has a yellow color and a bitter taste, and it can be extracted from various plants, such as barberry, goldenseal, goldthread, Oregon grape, phellodendron, and tree turmeric. Berberine has a long history of use in traditional medicine, especially in China and India, where it was used to treat various ailments, such as infections, inflammation, diabetes, and digestive disorders. Berberine has also been used as a dye for wool, leather, and wood¹.

Berberine extracts

Berberine extracts are concentrated forms of berberine that are obtained from different plant sources. They are usually available in capsules, tablets, powders, or liquids. Berberine extracts may have different strengths and purity levels depending on the extraction method and the quality of the raw material. Some common berberine extracts are:

– Berberine HCl: This is the most common form of berberine extract. It is derived from the hydrochloride salt of berberine and contains about 85% berberine by weight².
– Berberine sulfate: This is another form of berberine extract that is derived from the sulfate salt of berberine. It contains about 75% berberine by weight³.
– Berberis aristata extract: This is an extract from the bark of the tree turmeric plant (Berberis aristata), which is native to India and Nepal. It contains about 6% berberine by weight⁴.
– Coptis chinensis extract: This is an extract from the rhizome of the goldthread plant (Coptis chinensis), which is native to China and Japan. It contains about 8% berberine by weight⁵.

Berberine formulations- Powder/Tablets and Tea

Berberine powder is a fine yellow powder that can be mixed with water or other liquids to make a berberine drink. It can also be added to smoothies, shakes, or food for convenience. Berberine powder may have a bitter taste and may cause stomach upset in some people.

Berberine tablets are solid forms of berberine that can be swallowed with water or other liquids. They may have different shapes, sizes, colors, and coatings depending on the manufacturer. Berberine tablets may be easier to take than powder for some people, but they may also have fillers, binders, or additives that may affect their quality and effectiveness.

Berberine tea is a herbal infusion made from boiling water and dried or fresh berberine-containing plants, such as barberry, goldenseal, or Oregon grape. Berberine tea may have a pleasant aroma and flavor depending on the plant used. It may also have other beneficial compounds besides berberine that may enhance its health effects.

Uses of berberine

Berberine has been shown to have multiple pharmacological effects on various biological systems in the body. Some of the potential uses of berberine are:

Here are some of its notable uses:

  1. Blood Sugar Regulation: Berberine is well-known for its ability to help regulate blood sugar levels. Several studies have shown that it can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce glucose production in the liver, making it a potential aid for those with type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance.
  2. Cardiovascular Health: Berberine may contribute to cardiovascular health by reducing cholesterol levels. It can inhibit an enzyme involved in cholesterol synthesis and increase the expression of LDL receptors, potentially leading to lower LDL cholesterol levels.
  3. Weight Management: Berberine’s impact on metabolism can potentially aid in weight management. It has been found to influence fat storage and thermogenesis, making it a subject of interest in obesity research.
  4. Gut Health: Berberine exhibits antimicrobial properties and has been used to address various gut issues, including infections caused by bacteria, parasites, and fungi. It may also help restore a healthy balance of gut bacteria.
  5. Inflammation Reduction: Berberine has been studied for its anti-inflammatory effects, which might be beneficial for conditions linked to chronic inflammation, such as inflammatory bowel disease and arthritis.
  6. Antioxidant Properties: Berberine is believed to possess antioxidant properties that help combat oxidative stress and protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.
  7. Neurological Benefits: Some research suggests that berberine could have potential neuroprotective effects, which might be relevant to conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.
  8. Anticancer Potential: Preliminary studies have indicated that berberine might have anticancer properties, possibly due to its ability to inhibit cell growth and induce apoptosis (cell death) in certain cancer cells.
  9. Antibacterial and Antiviral Activity: Berberine has demonstrated antibacterial and antiviral effects, which could be useful in managing infections and preventing their spread.
  10. Liver Health: Berberine might benefit liver health by reducing inflammation and supporting liver function. It may help protect against non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and liver injury.
  11. Skin Health: Topical application of berberine-containing creams has been explored for conditions like psoriasis and eczema due to its potential anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects.

Blood sugar control

One of the most studied and promising effects of berberine is its ability to lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity. This is especially beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, or metabolic syndrome, who have impaired glucose metabolism and insulin resistance.

Berberine works by activating an enzyme called AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which regulates glucose uptake and utilization in the cells. By stimulating AMPK, berberine increases the expression of glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4), which facilitates the entry of glucose into the muscle and fat cells. Berberine also inhibits the activity of gluconeogenesis enzymes, which produce glucose from non-carbohydrate sources in the liver. Additionally, berberine modulates the gut microbiota, which may affect glucose homeostasis by influencing the production of short-chain fatty acids and inflammatory cytokines .

Several clinical trials have found that berberine can reduce fasting blood glucose, postprandial blood glucose, hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), and insulin resistance in people with type 2 diabetes. For example, a meta-analysis of 14 randomized controlled trials involving 1068 participants showed that berberine (0.9-1.5 g/day) significantly lowered fasting blood glucose by 0.9 mmol/L, postprandial blood glucose by 1.9 mmol/L, HbA1c by 0.7%, and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) by 1.8 compared with placebo or no intervention. Another meta-analysis of 27 randomized controlled trials involving 2569 participants showed that berberine (0.9-1.5 g/day) had similar effects on glycemic control as oral hypoglycemic agents, such as metformin, glipizide, and rosiglitazone.

Berberine may also have synergistic effects with other antidiabetic drugs or natural compounds. For instance, a study of 116 patients with type 2 diabetes found that adding berberine (0.5 g twice a day) to metformin (0.5 g three times a day) resulted in greater reductions in fasting blood glucose, postprandial blood glucose, HbA1c, and triglycerides than metformin alone. Another study of 48 patients with type 2 diabetes found that combining berberine (0.3 g three times a day) with cinnamon (2 g/day) improved fasting blood glucose, postprandial blood glucose, HbA1c, and lipid profile more than either agent alone.

Liver health

Berberine may also have beneficial effects on liver health by reducing inflammation, oxidative stress, and lipid accumulation in the liver. This may help prevent or treat various liver diseases, such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), hepatitis, and cirrhosis.

Berberine may protect the liver from NAFLD and NASH by improving lipid metabolism and insulin sensitivity in the liver. NAFLD and NASH are characterized by excessive accumulation of fat in the liver cells, which can lead to inflammation, fibrosis, and liver damage. Berberine may reduce hepatic fat accumulation by inhibiting lipogenesis (fat synthesis), enhancing lipolysis (fat breakdown), and increasing fatty acid oxidation (fat burning) in the liver. Berberine may also improve hepatic insulin sensitivity by activating AMPK and suppressing gluconeogenesis in the liver.

Several animal and human studies have shown that berberine can improve NAFLD and NASH by reducing liver enzymes, such as alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST), which indicate liver injury; improving liver histology, such as steatosis (fat accumulation), inflammation, and fibrosis; and lowering serum lipids, such as triglycerides and cholesterol . For example, a randomized controlled trial of 184 patients with NAFLD found that berberine (0.5 g three times a day) for 16 weeks significantly reduced ALT, AST, gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT), triglycerides, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), and body mass index (BMI) compared with placebo. Another randomized controlled trial of 60 patients with NASH found that berberine (0.3 g three times a day) for 24 weeks significantly improved steatosis grade and inflammation.

Berberine for Diarrhea:

Berberine has been traditionally used as a remedy for gastrointestinal issues, including diarrhea, in various traditional medicine systems such as Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. Modern research has explored its potential effectiveness in managing diarrhea, and there is evidence suggesting that berberine may offer benefits in this regard. Berberine’s antimicrobial properties are believed to play a significant role in its potential effectiveness against diarrhea. It can inhibit the growth of various pathogens, including bacteria, parasites, and certain types of viruses, which can be responsible for causing diarrhea.

Antimicrobial Activity: Berberine’s ability to inhibit the growth of harmful microorganisms can help in reducing the infectious load in the gut, potentially leading to a quicker recovery from diarrhea.

Gut Motility Regulation: Berberine may also affect gut motility, slowing down excessive contractions that contribute to diarrhea. This action could help provide relief from symptoms like frequent watery stools.

Inflammation Reduction: Inflammatory processes in the gut can contribute to diarrhea. Berberine’s anti-inflammatory properties may help in alleviating inflammation and subsequently reducing the severity of diarrhea.

Combination with Probiotics: Some studies have explored combining berberine with probiotics to address diarrhea more comprehensively. Probiotics can help restore a healthy balance of gut bacteria disrupted during episodes of diarrhea.

Berberine with Turmeric and Cinnamon:

Combining berberine with turmeric and cinnamon offers a potential synergy of health benefits. Berberine’s anti-inflammatory and blood sugar regulating properties, when combined with turmeric’s curcumin and cinnamon’s insulin-mimicking compounds, could create a multifaceted approach to managing inflammation and blood sugar levels. This combination might provide enhanced support for gut health, cardiovascular wellness, and metabolic function. However, caution is advised, as individual responses can vary, and consulting a healthcare professional before incorporating this blend into your routine is recommended to ensure safety and effectiveness.

Best Berberine Supplements 2023-2024

Berberine is a natural compound that has been shown to have various health benefits, such as lowering blood sugar, cholesterol, and inflammation. However, not all berberine supplements are created equal, and some may be more effective, safe, and affordable than others.

Here are some factors to consider when choosing a berberine supplement:

  • The source and quality of berberine. Berberine can be extracted from different plants, such as barberry, goldenseal, Oregon grape, and tree turmeric. Some of these plants may contain higher amounts of berberine than others, or have additional beneficial compounds. It is important to look for supplements that use pure and standardized berberine from reputable sources and are tested by third-party labs for quality and purity.
  • The dosage and frequency of berberine. Most studies suggest that taking 500 mg of berberine two or three times a day is effective for improving metabolic health. However, some people may need higher or lower doses depending on their individual needs and tolerance. It is advisable to start with a low dose and gradually increase it as needed, under the guidance of a healthcare provider.
  • The potential side effects and interactions of berberine. Berberine is generally safe and well-tolerated, but it may cause some digestive issues, such as constipation, diarrhea, gas, or nausea. These side effects usually subside within a few weeks of use. Berberine may also interact with some medications, especially those that affect blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, or liver function. Therefore, it is important to consult with a doctor before taking berberine if you have any medical conditions or are taking any medications.
  • The additional ingredients and benefits of berberine. Some berberine supplements may contain other ingredients that enhance its effects or provide additional benefits. For example, some supplements may combine berberine with chromium and cinnamon to improve blood sugar control . Others may add ceylon cinnamon to support heart health . However, some additives may be unnecessary or harmful, so it is important to read the label carefully and avoid any ingredients that you are allergic or sensitive to.

Based on these criteria, we have selected the following products as our top recommendations for the best berberine supplements in 2023-2024:

  • Best overall: Nuzena Berberine Pure + . This supplement contains 500 mg of pure berberine HCl per capsule, derived from barberry root extract. It is vegan-friendly, gluten-free, non-GMO, and made in a GMP-certified facility in the USA. It is also third-party tested for quality and potency.
  • Best for gut health: Thorne Research Berberine . This supplement contains 500 mg of berberine HCl per capsule, derived from Indian barberry extract. It also contains hypromellose (derived from cellulose) as a capsule ingredient. It is free of gluten, soy, dairy, yeast, corn, eggs, nuts, and artificial preservatives. It is also NSF Certified for Sport®, which means it has been tested for banned substances and contaminants.
  • Best for women: aSquared Nutrition Berberine . This supplement contains 500 mg of berberine HCl per capsule, derived from goldenseal root extract. It also contains rice flour and gelatin as inactive ingredients. It is made in the USA in an FDA-registered and GMP-compliant facility. It claims to support women’s health by balancing hormones, improving fertility, and reducing acne.
  • Best for weight loss: Integrative Therapeutics Berberine Complex . This supplement contains 400 mg of berberine HCl per capsule, derived from Indian barberry extract. It also contains extracts of Oregon grape root and goldenseal root, which provide additional alkaloids that may enhance the effects of berberine. It claims to support healthy metabolism and weight management by improving insulin sensitivity and reducing fat accumulation.

We hope this information helps you find the best berberine supplement for your needs. Please note that this is not medical advice and you should always consult with your doctor before taking any supplements.

(1) Berberine – Wikipedia.
(2) Berberine: Benefits, supplements, side effects, dosage, and more.
(3) Berberine Benefits, Supplement Dosage and Side Effects – Dr. Axe.
(4) Berberine: Are There Health Benefits? – WebMD.

(5)Can Berberine Lower Lipid Levels? – Verywell Health.
(6) Cholesterol-lowering supplements may be helpful – Mayo Clinic.

Scroll to Top