top of page

Berberine: A Metabolic Superstar

Berberine is making headlines lately, for its potential to support weight loss. Some outlets have even gone so far as to call it “nature’s Ozempic.” While the latter is certainly a stretch, berberine does offer a range of health benefits with research to support them. Some of berberine’s proven impacts include blood sugar regulation in people with type 2 diabetes, cholesterol regulation, and improved liver function.

Although berberine is getting its fifteen minutes, it’s actually been used in traditional Chinese, Native American, and Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Berberine is a plant-based compound, known as an alkaloid (like caffeine, morphine, and nicotine), found in European barberry, golden seal, gold thread, Oregon grape, and phellodendron (also known as cork-tree). As a supplement, it is most commonly sold in capsule form.

The beauty of berberine is that it can benefit lot of people, as it addresses a number of health concerns including:

• Aid in healthy blood sugar levels. Berberine offers multi-faceted support of healthy blood sugar levels, especially for those with type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Berberine helps decrease insulin resistance, improve your body’s ability to break down sugars within cells (glycolysis), reduces sugar production in the liver, and slows the breakdown of carbohydrates in the gut. It also has been shown to reduce A1c levels. Interestingly, a review of older studies suggests berberine may be as effective as metformin, glipizide, rosiglitazone—but with fewer side effects—and possibly even more effective when used in conjunction with blood sugar-lowering medications.

• Lower cholesterol and decreased risk of heart disease. Berberine has a proven effect on cholesterol levels, having been shown to reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and total overall cholesterol while boosting HDL, aka “good,” cholesterol. It also supports blood flow, meaning it has the potential to prevent heart failure, high blood pressure, and heart arrythmias.  

• Potential weight loss and metabolism support. In addition to regulating blood sugar, studies show that berberine supplementation can lead to weight loss, improved BMI, and a reduction in belly fat, thereby improving body composition. Furthermore, berberine appears to inhibit the growth of fat cells at the molecular level, as well as activate AMPK (activated protein kinase, which is found in every cell and is responsible for regulating metabolism). It may also lower appetite by reducing the secretion of the hunger hormone leptin.

• Support for those with PCOS and insulin resistance. Berberine has a number of positive benefits for women with PCOS, the first being its proven effect on reducing insulin. Supplementation has been shown to reduce testosterone levels similar to that of metformin but with far fewer side effects. Additionally, it’s been shown to improve ovulation in PCOS sufferers, improve pregnancy rates following IVF treatment, as well as improve the menstrual pattern and ovulation rate in women who do not ovulate—with an average improvement of 25 percent after four months. It also improves the waist-to-hip ratio and weight loss resistance experienced by those with the condition.

• Treatment for Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NFAD). Berberine is also good for your liver health, as it has been shown to improve liver enzymes in people with NFAD. It is believed to work by aiding the liver in ridding itself of the stored fat that negatively impacts liver function and leads to liver disease. One study showed that people who consumed berberine daily for 16 weeks saw reductions in liver fat by as much as 53 percent!

• Gut health improvement. Small animal studies have shown that berberine has the potential to positively impact gut health by reducing harmful bacteria while promoting the growth of good bacteria. It also appears to improve the gut barrier and is sometimes prescribed by functional medicine practitioners to heal leaky gut. Berberine has also historically been used to improve the symptoms of IBD and ulcerative colitis.

• Powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. Meaning, berberine has far-reaching positive potential, including the ability to fight cancer (particularly colorectal cancer), prevent recurrent UTIs and/or cystitis, restore gut microbiota balance to treat SIBO and kill off pathogenic digestive bacteria, and more. It has also been shown to lower the inflammation marker CRP (c-reactive protein), which is a hallmark of chronic disease.

• Potential depression treatment & preventative. While more human studies are needed to prove a strong connection, a study on mice saw a correlation between berberine consumption and higher levels of both serotonin and dopamine.

While berberine holds a lot of health potential, it is important to note that it interacts with a number of medications, including blood sugar management medications and blood thinners, so it’s especially important to speak with a healthcare professional before adding the supplement to your regimen. And although it has gut health-promoting properties, its most common side effect is digestive upset, including diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating, and nausea.

If you’re curious about adding a berberine supplement to your wellness regimen, please contact me. Together we can devise a plan that supports your health goals and helps you achieve the results you’re looking for.


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page