Berberine for a modern world’s health epidemic

by VitaGene Support

Diabetes, elevated LDL (bad) cholesterol, hypertension, fatty liver and excess body fat are examples of metabolic syndrome. One or more of these conditions affect a large percentage of people living in the world today and this can be attributed to our modern lifestyle. Often these conditions are interlinked and for those experiencing several of them this would then be classified as metabolic syndrome. Quality of life and health can be restored through lifestyle adaption and supportive supplementation or medication.

It must be noted that the major contributor to restored health is lifestyle modification through nutrition and physical activity. It would be a grave mistake to assume that the convenience of a medication or supplementation is the sole solution; one must also accept the potential side effects associated with medications both in the short and long term. Whilst medication or supplementation may improve a condition, the major contributor is addressing the very cause which is primarily lifestyle choices.

Risks and Implications

These conditions are leading precursors and indicators for major life-threatening events such as a stroke or heart attack. As conditions progress without treatment, they will start to impact more and more on the individual, cascading into other conditions and health implications. The conditions themselves or the current pharmaceutical medications used to treat these conditions such as antihypertensives, anti-hyperglycemics and lipid lowering medications can and will significantly affect quality of life.

Clinical evidence

A meta-analysis from 2015 published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, which included 27 randomized controlled clinical trials and 2569 patients, concluded that berberine was as effective as hypoglycaemic medications, such as Metformin, at reducing and managing blood sugar. Berberine was more effective than lifestyle intervention alone.

For the treatment of hyperlipidemia (elevated LDL/bad cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood), berberine with oral lipid lowering medications (statins) was better than lipid lowering medications alone in reducing the level of total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol, and raising the level of HDL/good -cholesterol.

In comparative study between berberine and oral lipid lowering medications, there was no statistical significance in reducing the level of total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol, but berberine showed better effect in lowering the level of triglycerides and raising the level of HDL-cholesterol. This outcome demonstrates that berberine was found to be as effective as cholesterol lowering medications and in certain respects better tolerated due to no side effects and improvements to HDL-cholesterol. 

No serious adverse reaction was reported in the 27 published studies. 


Jiarong Lan et al. 2015. Meta-analysis of the effect and safety of berberine in the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus, hyperlipidemia and hypertension. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 161: 69-81.

Berberine Safety

Berberine has a long history of use, but only in recent times have we appreciated its potential to assist those with lifestyle conditions and metabolic dysfunctions. Berberine is regarded as safe to use when using the commonly recommended amount each day as used by millions of people and their clinicians around the world to improve their health. Whilst the clinical studies have revealed that berberine is as potent in addressing health conditions as commonly prescribed medications, it has also been found to be safe with no major adverse events recorded. Unlike a medication, berberine will not have an effect on normal healthy blood sugar or cholesterol levels but instead regulates abnormal levels to a safe and healthy level.

Whilst berberine has a hypoglycemic effect, it must be noted that this is only evident in those who have elevated blood glucose levels. The use of berberine will not result in hypoglycemia in

those with normal blood glucose levels. In saying this, if already using pharmaceutical hypoglycemic agents blood glucose levels will need to be monitored as berberine will reduce elevated glucose in these individuals. The benefit of this is that individuals may be able to reduce the amount of medication required or replace it all together.

Berberine should not be used during pregnancy or by breastfeeding women. It is important to note that berberine may reduce the effectiveness of antibiotics. Individuals on medications used to manage hypertension, cholesterol and diabetes or with pre-existing health conditions, should be managed by a medical practitioner.


Information supplied by Phytoceutics

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