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Does berberine lower blood sugar and which berberine supplement is best?

Question:
What is berberine? Can it really lower blood sugar? Are there any cautions? Which supplements are best?

Answer:
Berberine is a compound found in plants such as barberry and goldenseal. There is some clinical evidence that it may lower blood sugar and cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes. However, berberine may not be safe for certain people and it can interact with a number of medications. In addition, tests by ConsumerLab.com have revealed that some berberine and goldenseal supplements on the market do contain the expected amounts of berberine. For more about the clinical evidence for berberine and goldenseal, safety, dosage and the best way to take these supplements, plus our tests of products, see the Berberine and Goldenseal Supplements Review >>

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COMMENTS

John16886   June 6, 2018
It doesn't seem like anyone has mentioned the study suggesting that berberine can cause muscle wasting. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20522589

ConsumerLab.com   June 11, 2018
Hi John - It seems there is mixed evidence from animal studies as to whether berberine causes or improves muscle atrophy; in these studies, berberine injections worsened muscle atrophy, while berberine taken orally improved atrophy (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211383512000871). However, there do not appear to be any studies on the effects of berberine supplementation on muscle atrophy in people.

Eva16453   February 14, 2018
I've been taking Berberine for 3 months, (Natural Factors, 500mg twice per day) with spectacular results. It was recommended by my doctor and it lowered my blood sugar from pre diabetic to normal. No side effects.
I also lost a bit of weight without changing my diet. Could it be Berberine? Cholesterol is down, too.
My next doctor visit is this week and I plan to ask for the liver test. I will report it here later.

laura16635   March 27, 2018
Did you get your liver tests?

Jennifer15448   August 23, 2017
My naturopath put me on a SIBO protocol after I tested marginally positive. The first and third weeks included Neem oil, oregano oil and Grapefruit seed extract. The 2nd and 4th weeks involved the supplement Allicin and 6g/day (2g tid) of berberine. 6g/day of berberine is not healthy. It killed off most of my healthy microbiome (I did ubiome tests before and after the protocol) and gave me the worst diarrhea of my life (which is saying a lot since I've been on many courses of antibiotics). I've had severe health issues since following that protocol so please pay attention to your gut and lower your dose if you have problems. It takes a very long time to get your gut back to where it was, if that's even possible. It also gave me hypoglycemia (I am not diabetic) and lowered my BP too much (my BP is on the low side) so I was probably not a good candidate for even a lower amount of berberine. Be careful. Some treatments can be worse than whatever disease you're trying to cure.

Lorraine15409   August 18, 2017
I have taken Berberine twice in my life. The first time I took Berberine capsules my liver function tests became very high. I was taken off it and the tests came back down to normal. I told my naturopath that I had had trouble with berberine in the past, but he prescribed a supplement that had Berberine in it. Since it was not as strong as what I had before I tried it. He monitored my blood tests and again my liver function tests got very high and came back to normal or near normal after being taken off. I don't think this is a common problem, but beware, if you are taking Berberine it may be wise to have your LFTs checked for a few months after starting to make sure it isn't bothering your liver. Also at least yearly after that. Hope this info helps you think about the safety of this supplement. If I had not had my LFTs checked a few weeks after taking it, I might have done great damage to my liver. I was prescribed this by a Naturopathic Doctor who uses the highest quality supplements,

raymond16390   January 31, 2018
Could you share the brand's name, please, or is it just a standard brand?

Steve15403   August 16, 2017
I have been taking Berberine for well over a year now (special formulation). I was labeled pre- diabetic and put on metforim. My doctor took me off the drug about a 8 months ago. My blood sugar has been in the 80's and 90's and low 100's ( below 114...the new standard). My last annual in May showed a decrease in total cholesterol, LDL, and an increase in HDL. Diet has helped as well. Have had no side effects at all.

Don15398   August 16, 2017
These remarks based on my personal experience and that of many customers. We have a family business that sells supplements to China. The supplements there are very often fake, and many people do not trust them, so we fill that gap. We constantly hear back from our customers as they order again and again. All of the ones that tried berberine have responded with favorable results, most getting their blood levels to normal. Some have stopped using their diabetes medicines. Do not know about A1C. To me, that suggests berberine does in fact work for most. Anyone can easily test it themselves by getting a glucose meter, monitor their levels with and without berberine usage. Best to test every 2 hours after eating a meal to get a pattern. For me, using it reduces the glucose level to 90 within 4 hours for most foods. The testing for levels after a 12 hour fast is not really good method as in most cases one is not going to eat once every 12 hours. It is useful but getting readings after meals is a better approach. As far as brand, we do not use/sell capsules. We only deal with the pure powder. In fact, the company we were using had a clearance of everything. We told our clients about it, and they immediately responded to get as much as I could. Of course, I was too late to get much. By using powder, we avoid any possible side effects due to fillers. None of our customers have ever reported side effects. The only thing one has to be aware of is that the powder is a very bright yellow and stains everything! Bottom line, worth a try, especially if one is pre-diabetic.

NANCY15400   August 16, 2017
I find that I have to open capsules (Swanson) and pour out half or I get a high anxiety/manic reaction. How do I get the powder so I can more accurately dose? Also I noticed that the Swanson capsules changed from containing threads to a fine powder from one bottle to the next. I would like consistant quality product.

Anthony15208   June 25, 2017
I have tried taking Berberine and I was SHOCKED at how well it works for lowering my blood sugar. My AIC and my daily testing of my levels have confirmed that. HERE'S THE PROBLEM. After about 3 days, I have a heaviness in my chest, feel like I am having a heart attack. The same exact thing happened years ago when I tried taking Cardizem. I am not an ANY medication. Does anyone else get this horrible side effect when taking Berberine?

ConsumerLab.com   June 26, 2017
Hi Anthony -- Thanks for posting about your experience. Clinical trials with berberine have reported some abdominal pain but not chest pain. As chest pain is particularly concerning, consider discontinuing the berberine. If the pain has persisted, see your doctor.

Delia15198   June 22, 2017
I am a dentist and I tell ALL my patients not to take a supplement without checking your site.It would be very useful if you list for all that are approved, the place to buy.(where you get it)Gratefully waiting for your berberine report because I use organic tea(bulk)and I do not know how much to use.When available, I use the corespondent tea not the pill.

ConsumerLab.com   June 22, 2017
Thank you for your kind words, Delia. Our review of berberine products will be published (and announced in the newsletter) later this year.

Anthony13886   April 2, 2017
Berberine hydrochloride seems to be working in my "highly scientific" clinical study of one individual… me. When my blood sugar was getting a bit high my physician suggested I should consider Metformin. I did some reading and of all the supplements it seemed that the only one with some significant science behind it was berberine hydrochloride. That being said, as this series of notes indicates, a lot more research has to be done. I will say that I consulted an endocrinologist and brought in a number of the supplements I was taking her considering. He acted almost as if there was a microphone in the room when I asked him "do you think any of these really make a difference" and then pointed to the barbering and nodded his head saying "I think if any of them are going to do anything that would probably be the one." I have found that I am able to maintain healthy blood sugar levels (either in the low prediabetic or normal range) using berberine as well as a few other substances (cinnamon, Alpha lipoid acid, chromium and D3) but then again I also lost a lot of weight and move towards a semi Paleo diet at least 5 to 6 days a week. So there's no real telling. Now all that being said, it does seem to berberine can be tough on the liver and it's enzymatic action can lead to drug interactions as well as potential health problems. I'd be very interested in seeing consumerlabs do a background on gymnema - it sounds like a good possible alternative. One of the great things you were at on this website is that there is no such thing as "alternative medicine". There is medicine… Things that make you better or treat a symptom of the disease or condition and there are alternatives to medicine… Things that don't work. The majority of supplements and herbs simply don't work or certainly don't have the science to show that they do and less you're a conspiracy theory rest by nature you often find that a pharmaceutical alternative is safe or safer than a natural medicine that actually has a discrete and understandable physiological and find the kinetic reason why it works

ConsumerLab.com   April 6, 2017
Hi Anthony - Thank your for sharing your experience. For more information about Gymnema, please see this CL Answer: https://www.consumerlab.com/answers/_/supplements_to_lower_blood_sugar/
and this Encyclopedia article: https://www.consumerlab.com/tnp.asp?chunkiid=21774.

Roy16240   November 26, 2017
Dr. Whitaker is pushing Berberine for NIDDM and his supplement is priced quite high his company Healthy Directions. I hope you'll purchase and test his product in your 2017 go around.
...
The quality of supplements has always been a BIG question, so I'm very glad you are testing them since FDA is doing virtually nothing to protect us consumers. Please keep up the good work.
...
I'm personally NIDDM and have my blood sugar under good control with four 500 mg Metformin ER daily all at bedtime + two daily shots of Lantus Solastar (14U bedtime + 10U about 12 hours later) + reasonable control of the carbs I eat (very low sugar and simple carbs). Metformin is very cheap, but Lantus costs are a disaster and increasing fast (Medicare PDP Plan Finder for 2017 is prediction $500 for box of 5 pens1).
... BTW, some PDP MO pharms don't do good job of controlling Insulin temps during shipping. I've stopped allowing this and buying mine at Sam's Pharmacy (their cast price is $424, my copay about $75).


lynne16283   December 17, 2017
I tried using Berberine to reduce my cholesterol. And it worked! BUT after 6 weeks I also experienced the same leg pain I had while on Lipitor, and I lost a LOT of hair. I believe the side effects I had to both, Berberine and Lipitor is connected to my DNA where, rs11591147, also known as R46L, is a SNP in my PCSK9 gene.
I am not an expert on genetics, but I do believe we're all different, and the SNPs we all have cause us to process drugs and supplements differently.


Carole12763   March 2, 2017
I've been reading through the material on Berberine and noticed that interactions with cholesterol drugs seems prevalent. I take Simvistatin, which isn't listed and wondered if this metabolized differently from the others. I am looking forward to your report on this product.

ConsumerLab.com   March 5, 2017
Hi Carole - Thank you for your question. We've now added information about simvastatin in the answer above.

Mark12762   March 2, 2017
I started berebrine (1000mg twice daily with food) with an HbA1c of 6.1. No other changes in diet or medications. In 2 months, it reduced to 5.6 where it remains. No side effects.

Mark M. MD

Daniel11763   March 1, 2017
I took berberine twice daily for about 2 months and during that time my glucose numbers didn't budge. However I developed diarrhea thinking it was a stomach virus. When it didn't let up I stopped my most recent supplement addition, berberine, and in about a week I returned to a normal bowel movement. As a test I returned to taking berberine and the diarrhea returned too. My oldest son had the same results.

Betty15291   July 12, 2017
I had the same issue when I first took it - might have lasted a few months. But then the diarrhea stops (at least it did for me). I've been taking it for about three years now and I don't get that response any more.

ConsumerLab.com   July 12, 2017
Thank you for sharing your experiences with this, Daniel and Betty, others may find this helpful to know as well! You may be interested in the CL Answer about supplements which can cause diarrhea, which mentions berberine: https://www.consumerlab.com/answers/_/supplements-diarrhea/

Martha11762   March 1, 2017
Thank you for the wonderful work you do. I depend on ConsumerLab for all my supplements and recommend that others subscribe as well. You are indispensable. Am looking forward to your berberine review, as I have been a Type 2 diabecic for 20 years.

Thomas11760   March 1, 2017
So please for your future review. My wife and I use the substance with incredible results.

Doug12765   March 3, 2017
Could you please elaborate on the quantity and results in addition to the length of time you have been taking this product and provide an actual product name?

Carol11627   January 27, 2017
Do you know when in 2017 you will be reporting on Berberine please? I plan to start taking it asap but would like to see your quality reports first so that I don't buy an inferior product. Thank you for your excellent work which is so helpful to so many people.

ConsumerLab.com   January 27, 2017
Thank you for your kind words Carol. We plan to publish our tests of berberine in the fall of 2017.

Allison11600   January 15, 2017
Our eye doctor who is diabetic told my husband who is a new diabetic about berberine. Though you have not reviewed it yet, I was glad for the information you do have because of its interaction with certain medication. As more people hear about the effects of berberine, they will be looking to you for an impartial analysis. Please add our request along with others who would like you to review berberine.

ConsumerLab.com   January 16, 2017
Thank you Allison. As noted above, we will be testing berberine supplements this year.

ray11406   November 16, 2016
have used it off and on, so would like to see an analysis of it......it's not too cheap, so would like to know about quality

richard11352   October 19, 2016
What happens if berberine is used with Paxil?

ConsumerLab.com   October 27, 2016
Hi Richard - Berberine may increase blood levels of this medication and increase the risk of adverse effects (see "Cautions" in the answer).

Vonalda11271   September 9, 2016
Greetings,

You mention that you have not conducted a review on Berberine because not enough of your subscribers use it? Consider this: There are 29 million people with diabetes and 86 million adults aged 20 years and older have prediabetes in the United States! I am sure a number of these adults are subscribers. I was recently diagnosed with pre-diabetes and am trying to make an educated decision on Metformin or Berberine. My son, recently diagnosed with an aggressive form of non-hodgkins lymphoma, was prescribed the herb by his ND, for its anti-cancer properties and insulin-lowering effects. It could be very helpful for many people if ConsumberLabs were to review this important herb!

georganna8637   April 17, 2016
Thanks for the information about the clinical studies indicating that Berberine decreases blood sugar. While you gave the amount that was taken and how often, you did not say where one can purchase quality Berberine. Have you reviewed this supplement in your lab? I am very interested in trying this supplement. Would appreciate very much your response to where I can purchase Quality Berberine.
Again my Thanks.
Georganna

ConsumerLab.com   April 18, 2016
Hi Georganna - CL has not conducted tests of berberine supplements as they are not commonly used by our readers, so, unfortunately, we are not currently able to suggest a particular product. However, they are sold by several brands in the U.S.

christine11633   January 30, 2017
Maybe because the Dr. doesn't want to hear about berberine. Mine doesn't and I get good results. I would just like to hear also of your report. What berberine is perferred.

Anthony6928   September 8, 2015
My bilirubin levels definitely went up using 500mg, bid. However my fasting glucose and A1C plummeted. I have combined this herb with 2g cinnamon, bid, 800mg ALA bid and chromium at recommended doses. Had pretty spectacular results as I was diagnosed as diabetic in December of 2014 (FBG of 129 and an A1C of 6.8) and now with a modified high protein - low carb diet and daily exercise have an A1C of 5.2 and morning BG readings between 75 and 95.

I did not know that berberine was associated with lowered BP. I had attributed my drop from 140/90 to 120/68 on exercise.

This abstract was great because I did not know about the possible increase in adverse effects connected with ibuprofen.

Louise6942   September 10, 2015
I am so grateful for this information. You specifically identified one of my b/p lowering meds (Toprol XL) and I was actually thinking of checking out Berberine because my sugar is high. But now I ask, if Goldenseal can lower sugar or reduce my A1C, can I take that? God, I love your site and you are so helpful! Thank you so much.

ConsumerLab.com   September 18, 2015
Thank you for your kind words, Louise! There is evidence that goldenseal can inhibit the enzyme that breaks down Toprol XL (known as enzyme P450 2D6 (CYP2D6)), and could therefore potentially increase the levels of this drug (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2562884/ ). If would be best to let your doctor know if you decide to try it, so they can monitor any changes.

Louise7965   September 22, 2015
OK, will do. I am so glad I found you and have committed to keeping you as my go-to source for all things of this nature. I really do appreciate all that you do. Thank you.

Thomas11401   November 16, 2016
My wife and I use berberine with good results, we would love product reviews from CL. Thx


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This CL Answer initially posted on 8/29/2015. Last updated 8/16/2017.
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