What Is Berberine
A holistic supplement, berberine is a naturally occurring compound in plants. This includes barberry fruit, goldenseal, Oregon grape, tree turmeric, and philodendrons. Used for hundreds of years in traditional Chinese medicine, berberine has several pharmacologic properties so that it has antioxidative, immunomodulatory, and cardioprotective effects. Extracted from the root and stem of the plant, berberine has been used to treat a wide variety of health conditions such as respiratory and digestive problems, skin diseases, inflammatory disorders, and asthma.1
In this article we’ll look at berberine health benefits, dosage and side effects, and reviews by consumers who have used this natural supplement.
There is significant evidence that shows berberine is beneficial for a variety of health conditions, such as the treatment of diabetes and obesity. Berberine uses include the following:
- Diabetes – Berberine may help to reduce high blood sugar levels in those people with diabetes. In a recent study, 18 adults were treated with 500 mg of berberine each day for 3 months. After this time, patients showed that by regularly taking berberine, they were able to control their blood sugar levels and see reduced levels of blood glucose.2
- Cholesterol – If you’ve been diagnosed with high cholesterol there is some evidence that taking berberine may lower your levels. During a 2 week study, after taking 100 mg of berberine each day, patients were able to notice a reduction in triglyceride levels.3
- Mood Disorders – A 2019 study is showing that berberine may be effective in treating some mood disorders such as anxiety, bi-polar disorder, and depression. Berberine may work by modulating the brain’s neurotransmitters which have a dramatic effect on mood.4
- Diarrhea and IBS Symptoms – Berberine may help to treat diarrhea. In an 8 week study with patients suffering diarrhea from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), after taking 400 mg of berberine each day, diarrhea had significantly improved after just 2 weeks of treatment. Continued use of berberine cleared up diarrhea completely for several study participants.5
- Cardiovascular Disease – Used widely in Eastern medicine, research has been done showing that berberine may be used to effectively treat cardiovascular disease and lower the risk of congestive heart failure. This includes regulating blood pressure and blood lipids.6
Berberine For Weight Loss
No matter how much weight you have to lose, it can be difficult to get started and prepare for the long process of weight loss. Berberine is showing positive results when it comes to losing weight. Numerous studies are being done on the effectiveness of a berberine supplement for weight loss. Some results show that berberine may be able to shrink fat cells known as adipocytes and lipocytes, which can promote weight loss. Used in junction with exercise and a healthy diet, berberine may be able to boost the weight loss process.7
As well, berberine activates an enzyme known as AMPK. This protein enzyme helps to adjust the way the body metabolizes fats and carbohydrates, working towards lowering fat stores in the body.8
In one study, obese patients were given 500 mg of berberine per day for 12 weeks. At the end of the clinical study, individuals had lost up to 3.6% of body fat.9
Although losing weight comes down to fitness and reducing calorie consumption, taking a supplement of berberine may help to initiate weight loss, providing encouragement and a continued commitment to reaching a goal weight. Some athletes take natural testosterone support products like Delta Prime to help them stay in shape. Asking your doctor if you should combine a product like this with berberine to lose weight and get fit may be a good idea.
Berberine Side Effects
When taken orally or topically on the skin, berberine is safe for most adults. Possible side effects include constipation, diarrhea, cramps, bloating, and stomach pain.8
Consult your doctor before taking berberine if you have low blood pressure or are managing diabetes through medication.
Those who should avoid taking berberine include children and women who are pregnant or breast feeding.
Berberine Drug Interactions
Consult your doctor before taking berberine if you’re taking medication for any existing health conditions. This includes the following medications:
Berberine is available in pill, powder, gel, or sublingual liquid that is administered under the tongue. Dosage will vary depending on what health condition is being treated:
- Diabetes – 500 mg three times per day for up to three months
- High Cholesterol – 500 mg two times per day, for up to three months
- High Blood Pressure – 300 mg three times per day, for up to two months
- Weight Loss – 500 mg three times per day for up to three months
Berberine is best taken with meals – taking on an empty stomach may cause stomach upset.
How Long Can You Take Berberine?
Do not take berberine indefinitely as it can cause damage to the liver if used long-term. It’s recommended to use berberine in cycles of 6 to 8 weeks, taking a break of at least two months before beginning the cycle again.
Reviews for berberine are positive when it comes to consumers reporting on their own personal experience with the supplement. Many people have achieved significant weight loss, losing both pounds and body fat.
When it comes to taking berberine for diabetes, many reviewers have been able to lower their glucose levels, with hemoglobin A1C tests confirming positive results.
Where To Buy Berberine
Although no prescription is necessary to purchase and use berberine, it’s recommended that you talk to your doctor or a natural health care practitioner before taking.
You can buy berberine at a local health food store or online. Check out the reviews and always buy from a reputable retailer.
- 1Neag, MA. & Mocan, A. (2018). Berberine: Botanical Occurrence, Traditional Uses, Extraction Methods, and Relevance in Cardiovascular, Metabolic, Hepatic, and Renal Disorders. Front Pharmacol. 9: 557. Retrieved on July 21, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6111450/
- 2Yin, J. & Xing, H. (2008). Efficacy of Berberine in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes. Metabolism. 57(5): 712-717. Retrieved on July 21, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2410097/
- 3Doggrell, SA. (2005). Berberine–a novel approach to cholesterol lowering. 14(5): 683-5. Retrieved on July 21, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15926873
- 4Fan, J. & Zhang, K. (2019). Pharmacological effects of berberine on mood disorders. J Cell Mol Med. 23(1): 21-28. Retrieved on July 21, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6307759/
- 5Chen, C. & Tao, C. (2015). A Randomized Clinical Trial of Berberine Hydrochloride in Patients with Diarrhea-Predominant Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Phytother Res. 29(11): 1822-7. Retrieved on July 21, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26400188
- 6Xia, LM. & Luo, MH. (2015). Study progress of berberine for treating cardiovascular disease. Chronic Dis Transl Med. 1(4): 231-235. Retrieved on July 21, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5643735/
- 7Xu, JH. & Lui, XZ. (2017). Berberine protects against diet-induced obesity through regulating metabolic endotoxemia and gut hormone levels. Mol Med Rep. 15(5): 2765-2787. Retrieved on July 21, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5428400/
- 8Wang, H. & Zhu, C. (2018). Metformin and berberine, two versatile drugs in treatment of common metabolic diseases. Oncotarget. 9(11): 10135-10146. Retrieved on July 21, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5839379/
- 9Hu, Y. & Ehli, EA. (2012). Lipid-lowering effect of berberine in human subjects and rats. Phytomedicine. Vol 19, Issue 10: pp 861-867. Retrieved on July 21, 2019 from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0944711312001870