Berberine can trace its role in the medical history of mankind back more than 2,500 years. During that time tens of millions of people all over the world have derived health benefits from this remarkable compound. In recent years berberine has made the jump to the medical mainstream and has attracted intense interest from practitioners of Western medicine.
They’ve put it under the scientific microscope and uncovered the mechanisms by which berberine provides its cardio, digestive, immune system and other benefits. Today, there are scores of different berberine supplements vying for attention and finding a truly effective one can seem a daunting challenge. We’ve done the heavy lifting for you and below is our list of the 10 best berberine supplements the market has to offer.
1. Swanson Berberine HCL
Swanson Berberine HCL (hydrochloride) is a simple yet highly-effective supplement that contains 400 mg of pure berberine per capsule and nothing else. No soy, gluten, dairy or fish. No additives, fillers, genetically modified organisms or sugar. Just high-quality berberine to promote a healthy heart, a healthy gut and more stable blood sugars.
Swanson Berberine also works to reduce the amount of “bad” LDL cholesterol in the blood and can play a role in helping make your weight loss efforts more effective. Swanson has been around for 50 years and is known for producing high-quality high-potency vitamin and mineral supplements. Their Berberine HCL is produced in their good manufacturing practices-certified facility and is a great example of their non-nonsense approach to dietary supplements.
2. Divine Bounty Pure Berberine Complex
Divine Bounty supplements are typically high-quality products offered at very reasonable prices. In other words, they’re a great value. And this one is no different. There’s nothing complex about their Pure Berberine Complex. Each capsule contains 600 mg of pure berberine wrapped in a vegetarian capsule and presented without any artificial additives or common food allergens.
That means no soy, no gluten, no nuts, fish, dairy, eggs or anything else. No animal products or byproducts mean this supplement is vegan and vegetarian as well. If you’re looking for a way to enhance your cardiovascular health, digestive health and more, and do so without breaking your bank, Divine Bounty Pure Berberine Complex is a great way to go.
3. Integrative Therapeutics Berberine Complex
The berberine in Integrative Therapeutics’ Berberine Complex is sourced from Oregon grape, goldenseal and barberry. The company claims that this multiple sourcing method means their supplement has a higher degree of bioavailability than most others derived from a single source. The scientific jury is still out on that.
Nonetheless, this is a pure, potent supplement that’s not messing around. There’s no additives to make it taste better. No superfluous vitamins or minerals and no food allergens. Which means no soy, dairy, gluten, yeast, sugar or salt. Integrative Therapeutics Berberine Complex supports digestive system health, cardiovascular health and can help restore a balanced microbiome in your gut. It’s made in the US in a GMP facility.
4. Solaray Berberine Root Extract
Solaray Berberine Root Extract is sourced from Indian barberry and Oregon grape extract. It provides outstanding support for balanced blood glucose levels and cardiovascular health. As well as enhancing metabolic activity in a way that helps prevent the development of excessive fatty tissue. There are no fillers or additives here.
No food allergens like soy, gluten, yeast or tree nuts. And no genetically modified organisms are involved in any stage of the production process. Solaray Berberine is produced and bottled in the company’s GMP-certified facility in the US under the eye of the USDA. The company has been around nearly 50 years and has a hard won reputation for quality and value.
5. Bulk Supplements Berberine HCL Powder
What is there to say about Bulk Supplements products except that they’re the kings of no-nonsense supplementation? Bulk Supplements see it as something of their mission to save people money. As such, they eschew the process of creating capsules because that costs money.
They also forego bottles or other types of bourgeois packaging as that too would cost money and require them to raise their prices. Instead, they provide their supplements – in this case Berberine HCL – in powder form in a plain white, resealable plastic bag. The powder form means you’ll need to figure out your own way of measuring doses. But the powder itself is highly pure and free of all food allergens, additives, artificial flavors and genetically modified organisms.
6. Thorne Research Berberine-500
Thorne Research Berberine is sourced from Indian barberry and is produced in the US in a GMP facility. Berberine sourced from the barberry plant is thought to be particularly effective at helping to stabilize blood glucose levels and reduce LDL cholesterol levels. Thorne’s berberine supplement contains no artificial ingredients, no colors or flavorings, no GMOs.
It’s also free of soy, gluten, yeast, corn, tree nuts, eggs, rye and barley and is vegan and vegetarian. Thorne supplements tend to run a bit more than some other brands which can be attributed to the care they take in manufacturing. The bottom line is you can be sure the product you’re getting is exactly what you expect. And there’s certainly something to be said for that.
7. Sunergetic Premium Berberine Supplement
Sunergetic puts a little extra in their Premium Berberine Supplement. Instead of the standard 500 mg capsules you get from most other manufacturers they give you 600 mg derived from aristata root. This powerful berberine supplement will help stabilize your blood sugars, stave off type II diabetes, reduce LDL cholesterol levels and establish a balanced gut microbiome.
That’s a lot to expect from one supplement but Sunergetic is up to the challenge. These capsules are free of gluten, soy and dairy. Free of GMOs and artificial fillers. And free of sugar, salt or other flavorings. They’re manufactured in the US in the company’s GMP facility under the eye of the FDA. So you can always be sure of the highest quality.
8. EzyAbsorb Gluten-Free Berberine 500mg
EzyAbsorb is a lesser known supplement manufacturer but their Gluten-Free Berberine is right up there in quality with most of the big names. The berberine here is derived from the bark of the phellodendron amurense (sometimes called the Amur cork) tree, which is known for its ability to bolster cardiovascular health.
This type of berberine is also known for being rich in antioxidants and for providing a wealth of anti-inflammatory benefits. Including alleviating symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (1) among other things. EzyAbsorb’s berberine is also presented in HCL form, which is considered to be easier to digest than berberine in its raw incarnation. It’s produced in the US in an FDA certified facility.
9. Amazing Formulas Berberine 500mg
Amazing Formulas Berberine capsules promote stable blood sugars, lower cholesterol and better cardiovascular health. They’re fashioned from berberine HCL which, as we just discussed above, is considered to be more easily digestible than raw forms of the compound.
Each capsule here contains 500 mg of berberine HCL and is free of the usual suspects when it comes to food allergens (soy, gluten, fish, tree nuts, dairy, eggs etc.). Amazing Formulas subjects their supplements to rigorous 3rd party testing to ensure purity and potency. And their production facility is certified by the FDA and conforms to good manufacturing practices. If there is a downside here it’s that the capsules are made from animal-derived gelatin and therefore the product is not vegan friendly.
10. Naturebell Maximum Strength Berberine Plus
We bring this list of the best berberine supplements to a close with Naturebell Maximum Strength Berberine Plus. While Naturebell is not exactly a household name they do a bang-up job with this berberine supplement. It provides a larger than average dose of 600 mg per each capsule. And the berberine here is derived from Indian barberry.
Which means it will help enhance your cardiovascular health while lowering LDL blood cholesterol. The company suggests you take 2 capsules per day. But considering how quickly berberine dissipates once in your system you might not want to wait too long between doses. Naturebell Berberine Plus is free of gluten, soy, wheat, tree nuts, dairy, sugar, salt and artificial ingredients. And like the other berberine supplements on our list is produced in a GMP facility.
What is Berberine?
Berberine is a natural compound typically found in the stems, roots and bark of a variety of plants including Californian poppy, prickly poppy, Chinese goldthread, yellowroot, goldenseal, tree turmeric and barberry among others. For thousands of years it has been used for medicinal purposes by traditional healers while also serving as a dye for wood, leather and wool. Today it is most widely known for its therapeutic benefits.
Although in northern India it is still used to dye wool. The Chinese have long used berberine to increase energy and longevity, to bolster the immune system, to lose weight and to calm upset stomachs. Among other things. These days it has found its way to the West where it is being both celebrated, sold and studied to an unprecedented degree.
What Are the Benefits of Taking Berberine?
Berberine has been prescribed by traditional healers for thousands of years for just about everything under the sun. It’s not magic dust you can sprinkle on any old malady. But it does provide a number of real and quantifiable health benefits, including:
- Reducing the symptoms of type II diabetes – Berberine is not a cure for diabetes, but it has shown itself to be effective in reducing blood glucose levels in diabetes patients (2). Studies suggest that berberine is able to reduce the speed the body breaks down carbohydrates into sugar. This has the effect of preventing outrageous spikes in blood glucose levels. In addition, berberine seems to have a positive effect on insulin sensitivity. This too has the effect of mitigating blood sugar spikes. While more study is needed to nail down the precise mechanisms and efficacy of berberine in diabetes treatment these preliminary findings provide hope.
- Assisting in weight loss – Berberine has long been touted by traditional healers as being an effective treatment for weight loss. Over the past decade laboratory tests seem to confirm this effect (3). Berberine seems to be able to prevent the creation of fatty (adipose) tissue. The implication is that berberine could be useful in helping prevent people on high-fat diets from becoming obese. Berberine’s ability to stimulate the metabolism also bodes well for its potential to counteract metabolic disorders that are oftentimes the root cause of obesity (4). And of course being able to prevent, or at least slow, weight gain to some degree would have the effect of preventing other health conditions that commonly afflict the overweight.
- Preventing cardiovascular disease – Some of the same properties that allow berberine to assist in weight loss or prevent weight gain factor into improved cardiovascular health as well. Staving off obesity can only be good for the heart. Keeping blood glucose levels in check alleviates a major stressor on the cardiovascular system. In addition, berberine has shown strong anti-inflammatory capabilities (5). And since inflammation is strongly suspected of playing a role in heart attacks and strokes (6) it would follow that reducing inflammation would reduce those risks as well.
- Alleviating digestive issues – Inflammation is a major irritant that can have a negative effect on digestive health and likely plays a role in the development of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). In addition, a gut biome in which there is an abundance of unhealthy bacteria can also lead to various digestive issues. As we have seen, berberine has robust anti-inflammatory capabilities which can help reduce destructive inflammation in the digestive tract. It also is believed to have a role to play in balancing stomach bacteria (7), which in turn can promote better nutrient absorption and improved overall health.
- Lowering cholesterol – Heart disease is the number 1 cause of premature death worldwide. And a major cause of heart disease is elevated levels of LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol in the blood stream (8). Traditional medicine has long held to the belief that berberine has the ability to reduce the risk of heart attack. Even if the traditional practitioners didn’t know exactly how it did so. Well, it seems they were/are right. Because recent studies indicate that berberine can reduce the amount of LDL cholesterol in the blood (9). This would have the effect of reducing the risk of heart attack. Although it may not completely eliminate it since other factors such as stress and smoking can also be major contributors.
Who Should Take Berberine Supplements?
Because of its wide ranging benefits it would not be an exaggeration to say most people could benefit from taking supplemental berberine. After all, being able to control blood glucose levels, reduce the amount of LDL cholesterol in the blood and keep their weight in check are things most people would benefit from.
If we must get down to specifics though it would seem fairly obvious that the following groups would benefit the most from taking supplemental berberine:
- Those with a family history of heart disease – Heart disease tends to run in the family (10). As such it makes sense that someone who comes from a family with a history of heart disease would benefit from taking berberine in order to help control as many risk factors as possible.
- Those with IBS – Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a vexing condition that can impose an uncomfortable pall over everyday life (11). Because IBS is caused at least in part by inflammation of the digestive tract, and because berberine has potent anti-inflammatory abilities, it may be useful in treating some of the worst symptoms of IBS.
- Those wanting to lose weight – Taking berberine is not going to cause the pounds to magically melt away. However, it has been shown to be somewhat effective in blocking the production of fatty tissue. And because it can also have a positive metabolic effect, it can likely play a positive role in your weight loss program.
Is Berberine Safe?
Berberine is generally considered safe for most people. Though there have so far been few clinical studies putting its safety to the test. There are, however, thousands of years of circumstantial evidence involving millions of people that supports the idea that berberine is essentially safe.
Does Berberine Produce Side Effects?
Because it has an incredibly short half-life berberine doesn’t stay active in the human body for long. As such you’ll need to take it multiple times each day in order to enjoy any of the benefits we laid out above. Fortunately, taking berberine 3, 4 or even 5 times per day doesn’t seem to produce anything by way of serious side effects. But that doesn’t mean it’s always side effect free. People with historically sensitive digestive systems may find themselves experiencing diarrhea, cramps, a bit of nausea from time to time and perhaps flatulence.
Does Berberine Produce Weight Loss?
These days this is one of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to berberine. Everyone, it seems, is curious about the weight loss potential of this ancient compound. However, as we mentioned above, berberine is not the herbal form of the ketogenic diet that will cause you to burn fat for fuel and experience dramatic weight loss. Instead, its effects are more subtle and have to do with its ability to prevent (at least to some degree) the formation of fatty tissue in people who consume high fat diets. In addition, it’s ability to promote a healthier metabolism can also be useful for those looking to shed pounds. But by itself it is not a terribly effective weight loss product.
Can Berberine be Stacked?
Stacking is the practice of combining various supplements in a way which enables a synergistic effect whereby the total winds up being greater than the sum of the parts. Stacking is commonplace in the bodybuilding world where various steroids were often stacked to produce outrageous physical results (and equally outrageous physical dangers). But the practice has migrated to the mainstream in recent years and has even found favor among fans of berberine. Here are a couple of berberine stacks you may find interesting:
- Berberine and milk thistle – Milk thistle is most widely known as a way to prevent liver damage or alleviate the symptoms of various liver conditions. When stacked with berberine you get a powerful combination that enhances immune system response, improves digestive system and liver function and helps rid the body of harmful toxins.
- Berberine and quercetin – Quercetin (12) is known for its potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also believed to have important benefits for the human cardiovascular system. Stacking quercetin with berberine strengthens both the heart itself and the supporting blood vessels. It also helps stabilize blood glucose levels and lower LDL cholesterol.
The Bottom Line
Berberine is one of a number of traditional medicines that has maid the leap into the mainstream in recent years. That newfound popularity is based on solid scientific evidence that berberine has a potentially important role to play in cardiovascular health, digestive health and in alleviating some of the worst symptoms of type II diabetes.
Although berberine is not the be-all, end-all when it comes to weight loss, it has also shown an ability to help fend off obesity and increase metabolic activity in a way that promotes better all around health. If you’re looking for a way to help ensure improved cardiovascular health, more stable blood sugars and a more effective digestive system consider one of the fine berberine supplements on the above list.