10 health benefits of berberine supplements — and how to take them

Berberine supplements come with a huge set of benefits including weight loss and improving heart health. Read on to know more
supplement capsules in a bottle
Berberine comes in capsule and powder form and can be had in limited doses every day. Image courtesy: Pexels
Anjuri Nayar Singh Published: 21 Apr 2024, 15:35 pm IST
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Berberine supplements, available in both powdered and capsule form, come with a host of health benefits. From lowering cholesterol to helping you lose weight, it may also help in diabetes management and in protecting the body from other diseases.

Berberine used to be an integral part of ancient Chinese medicines. According to a study published in Frontiers in Pharmacology, Berberine was an important part of treatment when it came to several respiratory and gastrointestinal ailments. Read on to know more about this health supplement, and how to consume it.

What is berberine?

Berberine can be found in several plants such as goldenseal, barberry, and Oregon grape. “It has been used in traditional medicine for its potential health benefits, such as supporting heart health, blood sugar regulation, and gut health,” says nutritionist Garima Goyal. The study published in Frontiers in Pharmacology, also reveals that berberine is used for inflammatory disorders, skin diseases, and wound healing, besides treatment of tumors and eye care.

Health benefits of berberine

Berberine works through multiple mechanisms in the body: Here are some of the benefits for taking berberine supplements.

1. Activation of AMPK

Berberine activates AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), an enzyme that plays a central role in regulating cellular energy metabolism. “This helps the cells become insulin sensitive, and promotes the breakdown of fatty acids for energy, which can contribute to its effects on blood sugar regulation and metabolic health,” says Goyal. A study published in European Journal of Pharmacology, found that berberine was successful in significantly enhancing AMPK activation and stopping diabetic nephropathy effect, that is a condition where the blood vessels in the kidney that filter waste from blood are damaged.

2. Promotes growth of beneficial bacteria

Berberine has been shown to alter the composition of the gut microbiota. “By promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria and inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria, berberine may support gut health and contribute to its metabolic effects,” says Goyal. It also leads to the elimination of harmful bacteria in the intestine, claims this study, published in Frontiers in Cellular And Infection Microbiology.

Blood sugar machine
Berberine helps with blood sugar regulation. Image courtesy: Pexels

4. Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties

Berberine exhibits anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which can help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the body. “This would mean that consuming berberine would have a positive impact on diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic syndrome,” says Goyal. A study published by National Institute of Health, studied the effect of berberine in mice and concluded that berberine was able to protect the kidney from nephrotoxicity due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.

5. Lowers blood sugar

Berberine has garnered considerable attention for its potential to lower blood sugar levels and is a great way to manage conditions such as type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. “Berberine enhances insulin sensitivity. By increasing insulin sensitivity, berberine enables cells to respond more efficiently to insulin, thereby facilitating glucose uptake and utilization,” explains Goyal. A study, published in Evidence based complementary and Alternative medicine, suggests that berberine also helps promote the positive effects of diabetic medicines. In fact, berberine hydrochloride or berberine HCL, a crude form of berberine, helps regulating sugar as well.

6. Helps you lose weight

One of the biggest advantages of Berberine is said to be weight loss. Berberine has been studied for its potential to aid in weight loss and improve metabolic health. “Berberine enhances the body’s ability to burn fat for energy, which could lead to a reduction in body fat and weight loss,” says Goyal. A study published in Phytomedicine states that a group of people consumed berberine three times a day, and at the end of the time frame, they had lost 5 pounds each. The berberine dosage for weight loss was 500 mg. Wondering how does berberine work for weight loss? Berberine may help reduce appetite and food intake by increasing satiety and hunger regulation. This study published in Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity, pointed out the fact that this supplement hinders the growth of fat cells.

7. Lowers cholesterol

Taking berberine for cholesterol is a great idea. Berberine has gained attention for its potential to lower cholesterol levels and improve lipid profiles. According to this study, published in Phytomedicine, this supplement reduced bad cholesterol or LDL and increased good cholesterol or HDL in the body.

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8. Has antimicrobial properties

Berberine has demonstrated antimicrobial properties against a variety of pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites, making it useful in fighting infections. This study, published in Infection and Drug Resistance, states that this supplement can hinder the growth of harmful microorganisms.

9. Has neuroprotective effects

Some research suggests that berberine may have neuroprotective properties, potentially benefiting conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders, states this study, published in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment.

10. Digestive Health

Berberine has been investigated for its role in promoting digestive health, including alleviating symptoms of gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and promoting gut microbiota balance. A study, published in Bacteriology, indicates that this supplement can improve gut health.

11. Reduces risk of heart disease

Berberine can prevent heart failure as it stops clot formation in arteries. It reduces oxidative stress, and improves insulin resistance, reports a study, published in Chronic Disease and Transitional Medicine. It can counteract cardiovascular disorders. however, more research is needed in this field.

a woman's waist being measured
Berberine supplements help you lose weight as well. Image courtesy: Pexels

What are the side effects of berberine?

While berberine is generally considered safe for most people when taken at recommended doses, it can cause side effects in some individuals.

  • Gastrointestinal discomfort: The most common side effects of berberine include diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, cramping, and bloating.
  • Hypoglycemia: Berberine may lower blood sugar levels, which can lead to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in individuals with diabetes or those taking medications that lower blood sugar levels.
  • Interactions with medications: Berberine may interact with certain medications, including blood thinners, antidiabetic drugs, and medications metabolized by the liver.
  • Allergic reactions: Some people might have rash, itching, swelling, dizziness, or difficulty breathing.
  • Liver toxicity: There have been rare reports of liver toxicity associated with high doses of berberine. Individuals with liver disease or those taking medications that affect liver function should exercise caution when using berberine.


Can you have berberine every day?

Wondering when to take berberine? While berberine supplements are generally considered safe, and can be had every day, it is important to stick to the recommended doses, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen.

Berberine: Dosage and recommendation

The appropriate dosage of berberine can vary depending on factors such as the individual’s health status, age, and the reason for taking it. However, typical dosages used in clinical studies for various conditions range from 500 mg to 1500 mg per day, divided into two to three doses. It is important to consult your health care professional to decide the best berberine supplement for you.

How to have berberine?

Berberine is commonly available in both capsule and powder forms. The choice between capsules and powder depends on personal preference and convenience. Berberine capsules are convenient and easy to take. They come in pre-measured doses, which can be useful for ensuring accurate dosing. Capsules are typically swallowed with water or another beverage. Berberine powder offers flexibility in dosage as it can be easily adjusted according to individual needs. It can be mixed into water, juice, smoothies, or other beverages. Some people prefer to mix the powder with food, such as yogurt or oatmeal, to mask the taste. When it the best time to take berberine? It should be taken half an hour before meals. Do not consume without consulting your healthcare provider.

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About the Author

Anjuri Nayar Singh has over 12 years of experience in writing for various topics including lifestyle, films, television and OTT. She also writes on art and culture, education and human interest stories. ...Read More

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