Berberine for Diabetes

Did You Know…that a natural plant compound appears to be as effective as a popular diabetes drug?

Berberine is a natural plant compound found in many different types of herbs.  Ancient Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners originally sourced berberine from the medicinal plant Indian barberry.  Since then, berberine has been extracted from goldenthread, goldenseal, Oregon grape, and the amur cork tree.

These unique plants share two important features:  they have all been used to help treat and prevent diabetes, and they all contain berberine, whether in their stems, bark, roots, or rhizomes.

A Promising Alternative to Diabetes Drugs 

Diabetes shortens your life span and dramatically lowers quality of life.  Elevated blood sugar levels damage your tissues and organs and lead to many different types of health complications.  Doctors prescribe drugs such as metformin to help lower blood sugar levels and keep diabetes in check.  These drugs, however, come with side effects that range from stomach troubles to life-threatening congestive heart failure.


A Safe, Natural Alternative
Berberine has been shown to work similarly to prescription drugs, without the risk of toxicity when taken in safe doses of 1500 mg or less daily, according to natural health experts and many medical doctors. 

Strong Scientific Support 

A 2012 meta-analysis showed that when diabetes patients took 300 mg of berberine 3 times a day (or 500 mg of berberine 2 times a day), blood glucose levels, serum insulin, and glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) dropped as much as when metformin was taken at similar doses (HbA1c is a marker for long-term blood sugar levels.)

In fact, studies have shown that 1-gram of berberine a day can lower fasting blood sugar by as much as 20%!

A review of 14 studies showed that berberine also works as well as the common diabetes drugs glipizide and rosiglitazone.  Berberine also exhibited a positive effect on cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood.

Scientists believe that berberine lowers blood sugar by:

  • Enhancing insulin sensitivity so that insulin works more effectively
  • Improving glycolysis so that the body can better break down sugars inside the cells
  • Suppressing the production of sugar in the liver
  • Slowing the breakdown of carbs in the gut, thereby optimizing energy production
  • Increasing beneficial gut bacteria

Berberine’s Other Benefits 

Other studies have shown that berberine acts as an antioxidant and antimicrobial agent capable of fighting against bacteria, fungi, viruses, protozoans, worms, and parasites.  Just some of the berberine benefits experts are touting include:

  • Strengthen the immune system
  • Lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels
  • Enhance heart health
  • Reduce blood sugar levels
  • Aid in weight loss
  • Help fight cancer
  • Alleviate depression

Berberine is such an effective compound because it travels through the blood to cells, where it attaches to molecules and can actually change their function.  For instance, berberine turns on the AMPK enzyme, which helps to control your metabolism.

Supplementing with Berberine 

Experts recommend supplementing with 900-1500 mg of berberine each day, taken in intervals.  (The half-life of berberine is just 4 hours.)  Side effects may include stomach upset, such as cramping or constipation.  Experts recommend always consulting with your health care professional before taking any herbal supplement.  With berberine, this is especially important if you have a medical condition or are already on blood-sugar-lowering drugs.