Berberine Compared to Metformin in the Treatment of High Blood Glucose

Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder which happens when our body is incapable to properly use the insulin it produces, which is a hormone that regulate the metabolism of carbohydrates which your body uses for energy.

There are a few forms of diabetes but type 2 is the most common one, affecting 95% of all diabetes sufferers. There’s a diabetes pandemic in America at the moment caused by obesity, unhealthy diet and the sedentary lifestyle of our population

In order to prevent health complications as a result of diabetes you need to monitor your blood glucose levels and keep them within the normal range and if you can’t do it through a healthy diet and exercise you need to start some form of treatment and get them under control. How best to treat diabetes?

Latest studies have shown that a plant compound called berberine can be an effective remedy against elevated blood glucose levels. This compound is found in plants like barberry, turmeric, Chinese goldthread, goldenseal, yellow root, Oregon grape and goldenseal.

Research and Berberine

A study conducted in 2008 showed that berberine is effective at lowering the blood sugar and lipid levels. The study showed that taking berberine (500mg) 2-3 times a day for the duration of a couple of months can be just as effective as metformin in lowering the blood glucose levels and keeping them under control in diabetes 2 sufferers.

Moreover, a different study said that berberine has the same effects as rosiglitazone and there are about 4000 studies more conducted on the effect of berberine with promising results.

Health Benefits of Berberine

Aside from being efficient in reducing the blood glucose levels, berberine can help lower cholesterol levels in people suffering from hypertension. It can also help with:

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  • PCOS
  • Osteoporosis
  • Diarrhea
  • Hepatitis
  • Trachoma (eye disease)
  • Glaucoma
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Reducing CHF symptoms
  • Obesity
  • Low blood platelet counts
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Radiation injury
  • Liver disease
  • Menopausal symptoms

How Berberine Works

This compound stimulates your muscle cells, liver cells and fat cells to take the sugar in a process that doesn’t need insulin to be completed, which is similar to metformin. If there is insulin present the activity of berberin dramatically increases.

Furthermore, berberine regulates the function of our mitochondria and increases our sensitivity to insulin. It also lowers our blood sugar and lipid levels. It has an effect on α-glucosidase which is an intestinal enzyme that converts carbs to simple sugars. Our intestines then absorb less carbs from the food we ingest and this lowers our blood sugar levels after meals.

Berberine also stimulates fat reduction, lowering the abdominal fat accumulation and altering our waist/hip ratio significantly.

How does berberine achieve all of this? Well, it seems that it is able to have such an effect in our body thanks to its ability to lower the activity of certain genes which are in charge of storing fat and creating more fat in our body. This compound also increases the activity of the most important antioxidants in our body which lowers the oxidative stress and prevents health complications.

Berberine Natural Sources

As we already mentioned berberine is a plant compound which can be found naturally in the following plants:

  • Californian poppy
  • Prickly poppy
  • Barberry
  • Tinospora cordifolia
  • Tree turmeric
  • Oregon grape
  • Goldenseal
  • Yellow root
  • Amur cork tree
  • Chinese goldthread

However, it’s not possible to take berberine through our diet, it has to be taken in the form of supplements which are available in tablet, powder or liquid form.

Berberine and its safety

Berberine is safe for most adults to be taken orally or applied topically. However, it’s not safe for newborns because it can cause accumulation of bilirubin and induce jaundice and kernicterus.

Berberine can also be transferred through the placenta and breast milk causing harm to the fetus, which is why it’s not recommended for consumption for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

It can interfere with diabetes drugs and medications and lead to hypoglycemia, which means that if you’re already on a therapy for diabetes use it with caution.

It’s advised that if you have low blood pressure you consult with your doctor before starting supplementation with berberine as it can further lower your blood pressure.

Berberine Side Effects

As we already mentioned, it’s generally safe to take berberine orally but it can have some minor adverse effects like diarrhea and nausea. There haven’t been any cases of other side effects from both long-term or short term use.


It has been proven that berberine has a positive effect on metabolic syndrome, carb digestion, absorption, blood sugar and lipid levels, inflammation, fat accumulation and metabolism and our cardiovascular system. If taken as a supplement, the compound can aid people suffering from diabetes to lower the glucose levels and protect their vital organs and metabolic processes, effectively preventing any additional health complications connected to diabetes.


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