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Berberine Supplement: 10 Potential Health Benefits From A Potent Plant Compound

Do you desire to lose unwanted weight? There are various medicines and supplements to choose from, like berberine. It’s a herbal compound derived from various plants and shrubs. Traditionally, it has been used in some countries as a natural remedy with surprising benefits.

Explore how this herb might help support your overall health. Read on to learn more about this remarkable supplement! This blog post will provide an overview of the following:

  • Potential health benefits
  • How it works
  • Possible side effects
  • Dose and usage guidelines
  • Safety and interactions with drugs and nutrients

Berberine Supplement: What are the Potential Health Benefits?

Berberine supplement contains a powerful plant-based compound, berberine, also known as an isoquinoline alkaloid. Alkaloids are chemical compounds that may help fight different types of diseases. Berberis vulgaris or barberry contains more than 8% alkaloid, 5% of which is berberine. You can find it in barberry, goldenseal, and Oregon grape plants. 

This fascinating substance, derived from traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, has been used for centuries to treat various ailments.

At the same time, native Americans used this for fevers, ulcers, and other health problems. Scientists have discovered that this natural compound can improve overall health.

Scientists say that it reduces inflammation and promotes gut function. They also studied berberine and found it helps with five health problems: 

  1. Type-2 diabetes or high blood sugar levels
  2. Being Overweight
  3. Fatty liver disease
  4. High bad fat or cholesterol levels
  5. Gout 

It works by controlling different body processes like insulin release and glucose use. Although, more clinical trials are needed to learn how it works and if it’s safe for long-term use. Find out more about what science says about berberine’s 10 potential benefits.

1. Reduce Blood Sugar Levels

Some people who have diabetes often look for natural options or add-on therapy. Researchers reviewed 46 studies to see how well berberine from Rhizoma Coptidis herb works for diabetes. They found that people who used berberine had lower blood sugar levels. It also made it easier for insulin to work. Moreover, it helps with regulating fats and inflammation. 

This review suggests that berberine could be a helpful addition to high blood sugar and high blood fat medicines. Additionally, the review found no significant safety issues while using berberine.

Another review looked into 18 studies about berberine and metabolic problems. They found that berberine can lower total circulating blood fats (triglycerides) and bad cholesterol while raising good cholesterol. It is helpful for people who are overweight or have too much fat in their blood. 

Moreover, it helps improve insulin resistance, which is critical for people with type-2 diabetes. Finally, the review suggests it might help prevent a brain condition called diabetic encephalopathy.

These studies show that a berberine supplement may help alleviate metabolic disorders. Speak with your healthcare provider first if you want this natural supplement as part of your health plan.

2. Lower Cholesterol Levels and Possibly Lose Weight

Did you know that when you have high cholesterol, your body doesn’t give you any warning signs? You can’t feel it. The only way to find out if you have high cholesterol is to undergo a blood test. If you already have this condition, read more to learn why a berberine supplement can be appropriate.

A review studied if berberine could help people with high blood fat or cholesterol levels. It looked into 12 studies that measured cholesterol levels. Berberine lowered the bad kind of cholesterol or LDL by 20-50 mg/dL and triglycerides by 25-55 mg/dL. 

According to the review, some studies lacked information. But overall, berberine might be a good option for people who can’t take statins. It could also help people who don’t need them but still want to lower their cholesterol levels.

An imbalance of blood fats or dyslipidemia can also cascade into other heart-related problems. Berberine may be a safe and cost-effective way to manage these problems. 

For instance, a review of 25 studies found it can lower bad cholesterol (LDL) while raising good cholesterol (HDL) levels. Moreover, it reduces total cholesterol with no serious side effects. Although, more research is needed to verify these results and determine berberine’s safety.  

These studies show promising results of berberine in regulating blood fat levels. It’s best to discuss with your healthcare provider if berberine could help balance the fats in your bloodstream.

3. Berberine Supplement for Liver Problems

People may suffer from two kinds of fatty liver problems. These are Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) and Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH). John Hopkins Medicine defines NAFLD as fat without liver damage. In contrast, NASH is more serious since it’s fat with inflammation and liver damage.

Researchers found that after 8 and 16 weeks of being on a high-fat diet, rats had different levels of NAFLD. They were also obese and had too much fat in their blood. But when given berberine, their blood fat levels improved, making their livers healthier. Moreover, it increased proteins in the liver, which helped them fight off NAFLD.

It shows that berberine may help people with NAFLD. It works by turning on specific pathways in the liver. Berberine could be an excellent natural choice to make the liver healthier and reduce the risk of NAFLD.

Berberine may also help people with NASH. A review shows berberine can stop NASH from getting worse. It also helps with obesity, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome. 

Researchers suggest it prevents the liver from having too much oxidative stress and inflammation, which stops NASH from progressing. It also helps reduce inflammation response and regulate multiple metabolic pathways to help with NAFLD.

Berberine can help control blood sugar and fat in the body. Additionally, it helps make people’s bodies more sensitive to insulin. It is vital for people with NASH or NAFLD. If you or somebody you know has these issues, check with a healthcare provider before taking a berberine supplement.

4. Relieve Gout

Uric acid is something our bodies naturally make. It happens when our bodies break down a substance called purines. These are also natural and found inside us.

Gout is characterized by joint inflammation. It happens when too much uric acid builds up and causes joint swelling or pain. Drugs used to ease gout can have harmful side effects. 

A study examining berberine could lower uric acid levels in rats with too much uric acid. The rats either took nothing, potassium oxonate, or various doses of berberine for seven days. The results showed that berberine lowered the amount of uric acid in rats. It also made more uric acid come out when they peed. Low doses of berberine had the best effect.

It means that berberine might be a good medicine to help with gout. However, more research is needed to verify if it works on people. Researchers should also determine the right amount for people to ease inflammation.

Researchers examined how berberine might help reduce inflammation in people with gout. 

So, they looked at molecules that cause inflammation in the blood cells of people with gout and healthy people. They also studied macrophages and cell cultures. The researchers found that TLR4 and NF-κB were active in gout inflammation. Berberine reduces inflammation by regulating TLR4-NF-κB and NLRP3, which triggers inflammation.

Hence, berberine can help control these molecules to reduce gout inflammation.

5. Berberine Supplement to Support Heart Health

Berberine may improve heart health and metabolic conditions. Studies have found that berberine has many good effects on heart and liver diseases, stroke, and diabetes. It helps fight multiple illnesses by improving various pathways related to heart function.

However, it is hard for the body to absorb berberine. Technology now offers solutions that help with these heart problems. People can benefit from berberine without as many side effects and frequent doses using this technology.

A 2023 review probed into 44 studies with 4,606 people. It aimed to see if taking berberine alone or with statins was better than routine care for heart problems. The results show that berberine did not greatly help cholesterol, triglycerides, or lipoproteins. 

But it did help reduce stroke scores and inflammation markers. It also reduced the thickness of blood vessels compared to routine care. 

Moreover, berberine and statins reduce bad cholesterol and total circulating blood fats. They also reduce protein and fat particle levels in the blood. But it does not help increase good cholesterol or make people feel better from inflammation. 

Based on the findings, a berberine supplement may be a good option for managing heart disease with no serious side effects.

6. Enhance Gut Function

Many experts claim that gut health affects other organs in the body. They call it an axis, like how the gut connects to heart health.

For example, a study shows that berberine can help keep the heart healthy and control gut bacteria. It changes the type of bacteria living in the gut. As a result, it helps reduce inflammation and improve blood sugar and fat metabolism.

Moreover, different bacteria in the gut respond to varying doses of berberine. A higher dose works better, but even a lower amount can be helpful. So, adding the right amount of it is great for the gut and heart.

Although, it doesn’t work the same for everyone. Scientists studied how gut bacteria affect how well berberine works. They found that the number of certain bacteria in the gut can tell whether or not berberine will be effective.

The scientists experimented with mice to see if gut bacteria was important for berberine to lower blood fat levels. They found that when a particular bacteria called Blautia wasn’t there, berberine didn’t work as well. Talk to your doctor about testing your gut bacteria if you consider taking berberine.

7. Fight Harmful Microbes

You get exposed to harmful bacteria and fungi in contaminated food, surfaces, and air. But not everyone gets infected. You can easily catch it if you have a weak immune system.

Once you harbor it, it can spread and wreak havoc on your tissues and organs.

For example, researchers studied how berberine affects Streptococcus agalactiae bacteria. Newborn babies and people with chronic health conditions can get meningitis and pneumonia from this bacteria. 

Berberine stopped the growth of the bacteria at a dose of 78 μg/mL. The more the bacteria gets exposed to berberine, the more it gets killed.

Moreover, it damaged the cell membrane and proteins of the bacteria and stopped DNA formation. The bacteria died out as a result. The researchers suggest a berberine supplement is good at killing Streptococcus agalactiae bacteria. 

Other scientists found that berberine stops drug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus from forming biofilms. Biofilms are like communities of bacteria that help protect them from medicines. 

It can also stop specific proteins from sticking together to make amyloid fibrils. It means berberine makes the bacteria more vulnerable to antibiotics. As a result, antibiotics can now fight off harmful bacteria.

Additionally, researchers tested berberine to see if it could help fight against fungi like Cryptococcus neoformans and Candida. They found that berberine stopped the fungi’s growth and killed fluconazole-resistant strains. It does this by damaging the cell membrane and DNA near it. 

As a result, it causes the fungus to die. Berberine also stopped drug-resistant Candida tropicalis cells from forming biofilms. Because of these effects, berberine can be a good way to fight fungi infections.

8. Berberine Supplement to Battle Cancer

Berberine might help fight cancer by working on different bodily pathways. It may also help stop inflammation. Scientists think it could be suitable for breast and colon cancers.

Additionally, it is safe for healthy cells. 

For example, researchers studied cells from colon cancer in people. They gave the cells berberine which caused 33 genes to be turned down. As a result, it helps stop cell growth and cancer spreading. Berberine is important for helping fight cancer with plant extracts like Tinospora cordifolia. Although, more research is needed to understand how it works.

Another example is a study of how berberine affects DNA repair and how it works with other drugs to fight cancer. Results show that it can break apart DNA and make cells stop growing. It also helps some cancer-fighting drugs work better, but not all. 

Moreover, berberine interferes with a special pathway called XRCC1-mediated base excision repair. It helps fix DNA mistakes. It could support breast cancer therapy. These findings show that berberine may help fight cancer. 

A 2022 updated review further reveals that it helps fight other organ cancers. It includes the lungs, stomach, liver, large intestines, ovary, and prostate.  Although, It’s best to talk to a healthcare professional before trying a berberine supplement.

9. Alleviate Symptoms of Ovary Problems

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a health issue that affects women of reproductive age. It can cause problems with the menstrual cycle, too much androgen in the body, and infertility. 

A review looked into nine studies on PCOS and insulin resistance. The results show that berberine worked like metformin, a medicine used to treat PCOS. Adding berberine to metformin did not help more than metformin alone. 

But, adding it to cyproterone acetate (CPA) benefited even more. Hence berberine may help with PCOS symptoms if someone has insulin resistance. Although, scientists need to do experiments to ensure it is safe and works. 

Similarly, another study shows berberine could help women with PCOS. It works better than other drugs and has fewer bad side effects. It helps with insulin resistance, lowers androgen levels, and reduces chronic inflammation.

Moreover, it helps by working on parts of the body’s pathways, like PPAR, MAPK, and AMPK. Sometimes it is used with other medicines like metformin and CPA to work better. Scientists are still studying berberine to learn how it works for PCOS and insulin resistance.

10. Berberine Supplement Potential for Brain Disorders

Neurodegenerative diseases are brain and nervous system disorders. They cause progressive loss of brain cells. As a result, your movement, memory, and thinking are affected. Sadly, these conditions won’t go away permanently with medical interventions. But there are therapies to alleviate their symptoms.

Researchers suggest berberine could help with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s. It helps protect brain cells by keeping certain enzymes away, reducing inflammation and stress. It also helps clear out unhealthy proteins that cause these brain conditions. 

But the body does not absorb berberine very well when taken by mouth. To make it work better, scientists are using nanotechnology to create special forms of berberine. People with these conditions may get better results with these new forms as it crosses the blood-brain barrier.

Similarly, researchers suggest berberine may stop the build-up of harmful plaques in the brain. It may reduce stress in your body and protect against Alzheimer’s. More studies, though, are needed to understand how safe and helpful it is for brain disorders. 

Other experts have studied how berberine might help with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Most of the studies have been done on animals or in labs, but only a few with people. 

Fortunately, berberine can be found in some foods. Regarding supplements, scientists still need to determine the correct amount to take; and see if it helps people with these brain conditions.

How Does Berberine Work?

Berberine has great potential for many health conditions like metabolic and brain disorders and cancer. It’s exciting because it works in critical biological pathways that affect cell growth, cancer development, and even programmed cell death. The best part is that a berberine supplement is safe for healthy cells. 

  • Antioxidant – Berberine reduces oxidative stress by removing harmful reactive oxygen species (ROS). Moreover, it enhances the efficacy of various antioxidants in your body. These are GSH, SOD, CAT, NQO1, NRF2, and GPx. These antioxidants break down ROS, thus protecting cells from damage. Additionally, the antioxidant property also helps reduce inflammation.
  • Anti-inflammatory – Berberine reduces inflammation by decreasing the number of certain immune cells and levels of inflammatory proteins. It regulates a pathway called NF-κB, which controls inflammation in your body. Moreover, it prevents NF-κB from entering the nucleus of cells and activating pro-inflammatory genes. At the same time, it promotes anti-inflammatory genes. 
  • Bacteria, Fungi, and Microbe Fighter – The roots and leaves of Berberis vulgaris plant contain phenolic and flavonoids. These compounds can stop the growth of harmful bacteria and fungi. Experts say these extracts can be effective against Gram-positive and Gram-negative strains. Moreover, berberine works for multi-resistant harmful organisms. 
  • Berberine Supplement as Gut Enhancer – Berberine can promote the growth of short-chain fatty acids in your gut. These fatty acids help regulate blood sugar levels and insulin use. Moreover, it positively alters the gut community of bacteria, improving metabolic disorders like diabetes.  It strengthens the microbiota-gut-brain axis or the communication between body systems.
  • Cancer Killer – It has cancer cell-killing action, first published in 1986. Later studies confirm that berberine can kill different types of cancer cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner. It means the more a person takes it, the more effective it gets. Moreover, it prevents the growth and spread of cancer cells, regulates gut microbiota, and improves anti-cancer drug effects.
  • Brain Protector – Aβ and Tau proteins can damage brain cells by triggering inflammation and cell death. But berberine can break them down to alleviate their harmful effects. Additionally, berberine increases blood supply to the brain by reducing oxidative and inflammatory damage. It also maintains normal synaptic plasticity or the brain’s adaptability. It does this by strengthening new connections between brain cells. These effects help prevent further brain function decline and might even improve it.

In sum, berberine works for various health issues due to its ability to affect different pathways. But your body may not absorb it well, so you might not get all the benefits. Scientists are trying to develop new and better ways to take berberine to be better absorbed.

What are the Sources of Berberine?

Barberry has tart or tangy berries that you can eat. Some are made into jellies, jams, and added to salads or as garnish to dishes. For example, an Iranian dish, Zereshk Polo ba Morgh is made of rice with barberries and raisins. People also enjoy it as tea or juice.

Other than berries, you can find a berberine supplement in health specialty shops and drug stores. It comes in capsules, liquids, and ointments. Choosing the best supplement is tricky. 

The  US Pharmacopeial (USP) Convention requires supplements containing a potency of 90% to 110% berberine.  Based on a study, 9 out of 15, or 60% of products tested, failed to meet this standard.

It’s noteworthy to mention that their costs cannot determine the quality of berberine. So, just because it’s more expensive doesn’t mean it’s higher quality.

Moreover, since berberine is hard to absorb, check the ones that contain phytosomes. These are delivery systems like tiny lipids that help improve absorption. Best supplements are also free from GMOs and gluten, which may cause sensitivities.

Always check the manufacturer’s label and do your research on berberine supplements. Also, seek advice from a healthcare provider before you take it.

What are the Side Effects and Risks?

The most common side effects are stomach discomfort. It includes nausea, vomiting, gas, stomach pain, constipation, or diarrhea. Some health experts say adjusting the body to the dosage takes some time. But people should immediately seek medical attention for severe adverse events.

What is the Dose and Best Time to Take Berberine?

The usual dose of berberine varies depending on your specific health condition. People usually take 400 to 1,500 mg daily for up to 8 weeks. To achieve the best results, healthcare providers recommend dividing it into two to three smaller doses throughout the day. Some studies show the following daily doses for the following:

  • High blood fat levels: 300 mg 
  • High blood sugar levels: 1000 mg
  • Total blood fat and weight loss: 1000 mg  
  • High-density lipoprotein “good” fats: 5000 mg
  • Gut health: 500 mg

It’s best to talk to your healthcare provider to determine the correct dose for your specific health problem. Regarding timing, some people take it 30 minutes before meals. It can also be taken once or distributed throughout the day.

Berberine Supplement: Is it Safe?

Berberine is generally safe for adults when taken by mouth. Studies show doses up to 1.5 grams daily for six months are safe. 

Like medicines, a berberine supplement can also affect people differently. For example, it’s essential to be aware of its effects if a baby has high bilirubin levels.

Bilirubin is a chemical produced when old red blood cells break down. Your liver normally removes it. But, berberine can slow down the liver’s ability to eliminate bilirubin. It can result in brain problems, especially in babies with high bilirubin levels in their blood. Thus, experts suggest avoiding berberine if a baby has high bilirubin levels. 

For pregnant women, it’s likely best to avoid taking berberine by mouth. It’s because berberine can cross the placenta and might harm a baby’s development. In some cases, newborns exposed to berberine have developed kernicterus, a type of brain damage.

Likewise, breastfeeding women should avoid taking berberine. It can be transferred through breast milk, which might harm the baby. But, there is not enough information to know whether it’s safe for older children.

Interactions with other nutrients and medications  

There are drugs and herbal supplements that don’t go well with berberine. Healthcare providers usually advise people to refrain from taking berberine if they also take the following:

  • Blood thinner drugs and herbs: The risk of bleeding is higher.
  • Diabetes drugs and herbal supplements that lower blood sugar levels: Blood sugar levels may further go down.
  • Downers/depressants and herbal supplements that have sedating effects: Sedating effects or dizziness can worsen.
  • High blood pressure drugs and herbal supplements that lower blood pressure levels: Blood pressure may also further decrease.
  • Cyclosporine to treat organ rejection: Berberine can increase serum levels and side effects.
  • Probiotics: Berberine may lessen its potency.

Moreover, a study found that taking antibiotics can reduce the number of gut bacteria. It leads to reduced berberine absorption and lowers its efficacy. So, it’s crucial to maintain a healthy gut microbiome to get the most out of berberine’s therapeutic effects. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1: What is berberine?

A berberine supplement is a natural compound in barberry, goldenseal, and Oregon grape plants. It has been used by traditional medicine for various health issues. It includes infections and gut problems. Recent studies also suggest its potential benefits for managing blood sugar and fat levels.

Question 2: How does berberine work for diabetes?

Studies show it can lower blood sugar levels and aid insulin function. A berberine supplement may also lower your bad cholesterol and increase your good cholesterol. As a result, it helps with diabetes and weight control, too. 

Question 3: What are the side effects of berberine?

A berberine supplement is generally safe for most people. But possible side effects include nausea, vomiting, and upset stomach. It may also interact with certain medicines, so speaking with your healthcare provider before taking it is important.


A berberine supplement may help in various ways based on science. It may reduce blood sugar and fat levels, keeping off unwanted weight. Moreover, it may support heart, liver, brain, and gut health.

However, speaking with your healthcare provider is crucial to ensure your safety. You may need to follow the right dose and usage guidelines to support your health.

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