I’m constantly on the lookout for the most potent and safe natural medicines that have withstood the test of time.
Especially, the substances prized by ancient medical systems like Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine.
One of those is a plant extract called berberine.
After thoroughly reviewing the science and data behind supplemental berberine, I began testing it myself.
Several hundred doses later, I’m thoroughly impressed by this compound.
In this post, I’ll share my own experience, common mistakes, the benefits and use cases, and the best berberine supplements on Earth—to help you decide which product (if any) is right for you.
What is Berberine?
Berberine is a yellow-colored plant alkaloid that naturally occurs in certain plants such as goldenseal, Oregon grape, barberry, and tree turmeric. Medical systems like Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine have successfully used it as a staple ingredient for thousands of years, across massive swaths of their populations. Finally, modern science is validating what humans have known for centuries — berberine works.
While it won’t completely fix the root cause of many dysfunctions, this is a powerful remedy to enact change without the scary but common side effects of alternative treatments. Berberine can help everything from gut dysfunction to hormone regulation, cardiovascular health, infections… and much more.
The Best Berberine Supplements Worth Taking (For Your Goal)
Affiliate Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you buy (at no cost to you). Thanks for your support!
Contrary to the shiny labels and marketing of each brand, no one berberine product is best for every person and goal.
The things I looked for while evaluating, testing, and reviewing the products include:
- Quality (dose and form)
- Safety (third-party lab tested)
- Formulation (are there other synergistic ingredients)
- Additives, fillers, and unwanted ingredients (these reduce the price but cost your health)
- Tolerability (powders usually taste unbearable, and some products irritate the gut more)
- Price (usually but not always correlated with quality)
My friend, Shawn Wells, is a leading biochemist and world-class supplement formulator. He’s heavily involved in the industry and has personally tested 40 berberine supplements in his lab.
Just 3 out of the 40 passed his tests as pure berberine.
The rest were severely underdosed or included questionable other ingredients.
So we want to be careful with our pick.
With these factors in mind, let’s find the best berberine supplements for your lifestyle and goals.
Best Overall: Renue by Science
Renue by Science has become one of the most trusted names in longevity for its sustained release liposomal technology. RBS is best known for the NAD+ boosters, but they expanded their offerings to other essential products. One of which, is liposomal berberine.
Normal berberine is just 1% bioavailable, meaning most of it gets excreted without providing beneficial effects. If you recall from above, liposomal berberine is far more effective, better tolerated, longer lasting (23-46 times longer), and with fewer side effects. All use a much smaller dose.
They check all of the boxes of quality, from the USA-based manufacturing facilities to the stringent third-party lab testing for purity and potency (Certificates of Analysis available on each product page).
RBS tends to lead the industry with its science-backed formulas, and I’ve found its customer service team to be quite accommodating. I always have a bottle of this on hand.
Renue by Science’s LIPO berberine is the perfect balance between powerful long-duration effects, safety, and affordability.
Use the exclusive Renue by Science code GVQCUKN6 for 15% off
Best for Weight Loss: Blood Sugar Breakthrough
BiOptimizers is another iconic name in the health optimization and overall supplementation industry. The Founders, Wade, and Matt, set the bar for supplements with a full 365-day money-back guarantee. Plus, this team features the world’s greatest formulators with specialties ranging from herbalism to cognitive enhancing nootropics, to probiotics, to enzymes, and much more. So it was no surprise that Blood Sugar Breakthrough knocked the socks off everything else I’ve tried (about 25 products that include berberine).
Blood Sugar Breakthrough contains a thorough blend of the best synergistic ingredients. Staring the most potent of all berberine forms, DHB. Dihydroberberine is a few notches above liposomal berberine for overall effects. It’s also very gentle on the body.
This one certainly works to shuttle carbs into muscle rather than fat. In fact, half a dozen ingredients within it do exactly that. But it’s so much more. BSB amplifies all the beneficial effects of berberine and then some.
Blood Sugar Breakthrough also supports optimal cholesterol, energy production, metabolism, lean muscle building, hormone regulation (specifically insulin), inflammation, brain health, liver detox, and even anti-aging effects. It lowers levels of damaging free radicals while regenerating our built-in antioxidant defenses (like vitamins C and E).
If you exercise, this product supports both fat loss and muscle gain simultaneously. A quite rare feat. And that’s just the beginning. Whether I’m traveling or dining out at a local restaurant, once I tried BSB (and measured my progress), I’ve never looked back.
Blood Sugar Breakthrough is the top all-on-one formula that includes Dihydroberberine along with some of the best supportive ingredients—making this a legendary and versatile berberine supplement.
Use the BiOptimizers exclusive promo code URBAN to save 10%
Thorne is the supplement brand most often recommended by doctors, as well as the official choice for athletes (UFC, CrossFit, Olympic teams, and thousands of other health pros). They’ve made a name for themselves due to their transparency and stringent testing practices that guarantee their products will not cause athletes to fail drug tests.
Thorne’s Berberine (they call their lower potency version Berbercap), is exactly what you’d expect. Each capsule contains 500mg of pure berberine HCL. Nothing more or less. It’s certainly a bit expensive for a plain berberine product. With Thorne, you’re paying for the quality guarantee.
If that’s your top priority, you won’t be disappointed by Thorne.
Thorne’s Berberine HCL is a simple, premium quality, and 100% pure berberine—the best option for athletes and those that can’t afford to test positive for a banned substance.
Click the button to automatically unlock 15% off Thorne products (some exclusions apply)
Affordable Powder: BulkSupplements
If you’re looking for the absolute best deal on berberine products, you won’t beat BulkSupplements’ Berberine HCL. Although BulkSupplements wouldn’t be my first choice for complex herbals and supplements with many bioactive constituents, BulkSupplements is an excellent supplier for the most common and simple supplements. Their berberine is one such example.
This is just simple Berberine HCL. No other ingredients, plain and simple.
For those that haven’t used berberine powder, be careful. Berberine has quite an intense bitter taste that’s too much for most people. It also stains. I wouldn’t recommend powder, but it does have additional benefits. Although it’s unpleasant, berberine powder activates bitter taste receptors which is why it was the form used traditionally.
I probably have a dozen or so bulk bags of their powders. Berberine was one of the first I purchased. Years later, I still have some left. It works and is potent, but it’s not very convenient.
BulkSupplements’ Berberine HCL is very affordable but the staining and incredibly bitter taste dissuades most people.
Affordable Capsules: Double Wood
Double Wood is known for its barebones and competitively priced supplements. As long as you don’t mind the antiquated labeling and minimalist marketing. The quality isn’t quite on par with Thorne, and the prices don’t exactly match BulkSupplements. But where Double Wood shines is its massive yet affordable supplement catalog for all kinds of use cases.
Each of their products is produced and tested in a cGMP facility in New York. They use non-GMO ingredients, but unfortunately, also add unnecessary filled Silicon Dioxide.
Double Wood’s lab testing data is recent, with a recent CoA readily available on their website.
Their Berberine is exactly what you’d expect — Berberine HCL packed into 500mg capsules. I personally haven’t used it, because it’s inferior to the other upgraded berberine products previously mentioned.
Those looking for a blend of low price, convenience, and decent quality will like Double Wood’s Berberine HCL supplement—just know that it’s not as effective (and has more side effects) compared to some of the other products.
Better Forms of Berberine
Normal berberine is a great overall ingredient. Although it has a few downsides which have led to the rise of slightly different forms.
From my research, I will order them from best to worst and explain why.
The different forms of berberine include:
- Liposomal berberine
- Normal berberine
Dihydroberberine (DHB) is actually a purer derivative of berberine. Its chemical structure makes it superior in most ways (as you’ll see below), including zero gut irritation.
DHB compared to normal berberine:
- Lasts 2X longer (eight hours)
- Absorbs 5X better (better value)
- Used in smaller doses
- Promotes healthy gut
- Superior for learning & memory
If you can find a high-quality source, DHB is best.
The next best is liposomal berberine.
Liposomes are a supplement encapsulation technology that dramatically increases ingredient absorption and the duration of the effects. This allows products to use smaller serving sizes (fewer side effects) yet get bigger effects.
Liposomal berberine is far superior to normal but not quite as good as DHB.
Benefits of Berberine
Although it’s mostly known as a blood sugar stabilizer (Glucose Disposal Agent), berberine has a wide variety of benefits and uses.
Research around berberine is really picking up! In 2023, PubMed showed over 7,500 scientific papers.
Some of these benefits below are well documented and clearly understood, and some of them are more speculative based on berberine’s mechanisms.
This much is clear…
Berberine positively impacts the gut. We know that gut health is intricately linked to neurology and systemic, full-body health.
Virtually everyone familiar with berberine has heard of (or experienced) its blood sugar-lowering effects. It’s well-proven and often used as a treatment for diabetes. In fact, it reduces blood glucose comparatively to drugs that are currently the standard of care (like metformin).
This is believed to be mediated through the activation of AMPK.
Even in non-diabetics, prolonged elevated blood sugar (hyperglycemia), causes insulin resistance, inflammation, accelerated aging, and metabolic dysfunction. Then, potentially leading to other chronic diseases.
I’m a non-diabetic and when I track my blood sugar with a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), berberine is the most effective blood sugar regulator out of everything I’ve tried. When dosed appropriately, I can completely offset the spike caused by eating certain foods. My own testing has shown it works better than metformin too.
Cholesterol & lipoproteins
Cholesterol has become a public enemy but here’s the thing. It’s not causative. According to my friend and cardiologist Dr. Stephen Hussey, a large percentage of heart attacks and other complications have no pathological blockages or imbalanced markers of cholesterol.
And cholesterol is key to cellular health, brain function, and the synthesis of hormones. So the story is a bit more complicated. Making decisions solely based on one marker of “cholesterol” isn’t a good idea.
Luckily, berberine improves:
- Triglycerides (TG)
Looking at this collection of biomarkers, especially ApoB, is smarter and far more predictive of meaningful outcomes.
One of the mechanisms, scientists postulate, is that berberine upregulates liver cell LDL receptors. Helping remove some of the LDL from the blood.
Berberine seems to improve gut health in several different ways, helping:
- Harmful pathogenic overgrowths
- Encouraging the production of protective substances
- Helping beneficial microorganisms proliferate
It has a definite and strong microbiome-modulating effect on the gut. It’s a natural antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. Berberine also stimulates the production of highly beneficial short-chain fatty acids (like butyrate).
Berberine may improve many parameters of gut health:
Normal berberine can cause some unpleasant GI side effects (cramps, stomach discomfort). Although other forms don’t have this issue.
Cardiovascular health is a major focus to keep disease at bay. Some of the primary focuses include oxygenation, nutrient delivery, and general blood flow.
Abnormal blood sugar, cholesterol, or blood pressure may all cause major issues. Berberine can help improve each of these cardiometabolic markers.
Metabolism refers to the system through which our body converts raw materials (oxygen, glucose, water, etc) into cellular energy. Everything is tightly regulated, and when we introduce too much or too little of a particular input, havoc ensues.
Multiple organs regulate the metabolism, including the liver. Berberine can aid liver health by reducing the all-too-common non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. It also improves blood sugar management, and the key hormone, insulin. Insulin sensitivity is a key marker of metabolic health.
Clinical research shows berberine helps the metabolism.
Longevity & anti-aging
Longevity is the study of slowing our rate of biological aging to liver longer, more fulfilling lives (with full capability through our later years).
Part of the recent resurgence into berberine is thanks to the longevity community and researchers. An enzyme called AMPK is well-established to promote cellular energy balance and recycling.
Basically putting the body into repair mode, where it rids itself of dysfunctional and toxic cells.
So, the longevity benefits of berberine supplementation include:
In fact, berberine ranked well in longevity expert Dr. Sandy Kaufmann’s matrix of the world’s best longevity ingredients!
The vast majority of the immune system resides in the gut. This is the system responsible for helping keep you healthy despite omnipresent microbial threats. Berberine helps in a number of ways.
First, it makes the gut less hospitable to pathogenic colonies.
Berberine is also a weak anti-inflammatory, which can help immunity function better.
Plus, berberine displays significant anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-protozoal, and anti-viral properties.
The evidence that berberine improves mood and related conditions is weak. The likely mechanisms have to do with its ability to help rebalance the gut (which impacts the brain through vagus nerve activity).
Berberine can also cross the blood-brain barrier and modulate neurotransmitters involved in mood like noradrenaline and serotonin.
Several studies (most animal) have come out recently showing the anti-depressant benefits of berberine.
One of the more common inquiries is whether berberine can improve weight loss. Again, the research into the direct effects of berberine on weight isn’t as clear-cut.
It does appear to accelerate fat loss in several ways — at least in animal research.
Activating AMPK drives the carbs consumed into muscle rather than generating new fat.
A recent study titled The effect of Berberine on weight loss in order to prevent obesity: A systematic review showed it reduced weight gain in rats.
Another 2022 study concluded that berberine’s weight loss effects are likely due to normalizing hunger hormones.
It also appears to increase brown (body) fat burning.
For fat loss, berberine:
- Increases mitochondrial uncoupling
- Reduces fat formation
- Elevates GLP-1
- Activates AMPK
GLP-1 is especially interesting. It’s a powerful peptide involved in appetite. Berberine inhibits the enzyme that breaks it down, keeping GLP-1 high and users feeling full. In my opinion a much better alternative to the potentially dangerous GLP-1 drug, Semaglutide.
Very limited research suggests that berberine may have an impact on cancers and exhibit anti-tumor effects. Although this certainly isn’t a primary use case or standalone treatment. Nevertheless, as the 2020 paper titled, Berberine: A novel therapeutic strategy for cancer, suggests, it may have potential.
Berberine seems like an unlikely candidate for cognition and brain health, but it does have several interesting neuro effects.
Berberine passes through the blood-brain barrier where it may influence the activity of key neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and noradrenaline.
Interestingly, berberine seems to increase levels of BDNF, a neuronal growth protein dubbed “MiracleGro for the brain”. Especially in the hippocampus—the brain region associated with memory.
Although not as significant as many nootropics, berberine might improve memory. The effects are most pronounced in those suffering from some form of cognitive impairment.
Finally, it does activate the sigma opioid receptor. The significance of which I’m not totally sure.
Multiple studies have also concluded that berberine does indeed display neuroprotective effects.
How to Use Berberine
The best way to use berberine depends on your goals along with the form you’re using.
Each form exerts effects for a different amount of time (half-life). For that reason, to maintain consistent effects, the general recommendations vary.
For normal berberine: 500-1,500mg, divided into 1-3 doses per day
For liposomal: 150-300mg, once per day
For dihydroberberine: 100-200mg, divided into 1-2 doses per day
As powerful and useful as it is, berberine’s not for everyone.
Side effects & contraindications
Berberine is safe and well-tolerated. That said, it does impact certain enzymes which can interfere with the breakdown of other medications and supplements.
Berberine alters the functionality of a family of liver enzymes called cytochromes (derived from cytochrome P450). Specifically, berberine interacts with:
If you’re taking any medications, you should check with your healthcare professional to ensure berberine will not affect the dosing.
Even among those not using medications, berberine (especially in its normal form) does have some potential side effects:
- Stomach pain
I’ve experienced each of these from using normal berberine, which is why I recommend DHB and liposomal forms. The body and gut tolerate both far better.
Berberine is also not recommended for pregnant women.
Berberine Questions & Answers
I get a lot of questions about this ingredient.
Before supplementing berberine, there are a few things you might want to know.
Is berberine better than metformin?
In clinical studies comparing berberine vs. metformin, berberine more effectively lowers blood sugar and with fewer (serious) negative side effects. My personal continuous blood glucose data as a non-diabetic showed stronger effects from berberine than metformin, and berberine is available over the counter.
How does berberine improve weight loss?
Berberine indirectly increases weight (and fat) loss by helping shuttle sugars and fats into muscle rather than fat cells. It boosts natural levels of the appetite-suppressing peptide, GLP-1. Berberine also uncouples mitochondria and causes them to “waste” calories. Many reviews show that berberine dramatically reduces body weight, belly fat, body mass index (BMI), and an inflammation biomarker called C-reactive protein (CRP).
Do healthy people use berberine?
Yes, berberine is a powerful and safe supplement for non-diabetics and those without conditions to manage blood sugar and overall cardiovascular health. Especially if when in the form of liposomal berberine or DHB.
What supplements work best with berberine?
Berberine is great on its own, but combining it with the right ingredients can create powerful synergies. Cinnulin PF cinnamon extract, wild bitter melon extract, chromium picolinate, and rock lotus are great berberine stacks.
Is berberine hard on the kidneys?
Berberine is safe and healthy for the kidneys. In fact, one study showed that berberine improved chronic kidney disease by altering the gut microbiome.
Should You Supplement Berberine?
When a remedy withstands millennia of use and is revered by ancient cultures, take note.
Berberine fits the criteria.
This staple ingredient can be found in most blood sugar-stabilizing supplements.
But it does so much more.
- Metabolic health
- Weight loss
- Blood sugar
- Brain health
To enjoy the full array of benefits, I prefer to either use liposomal berberine or DHB.
These forms last longer, are stronger, and have very few side effects.
Choose your products carefully. According to one of the world’s top supplement formulators, only 3/40 berberine supplements passed his lab tests.
Berberine powder is quite cheap but stains and tastes incredibly bitter.
I use either liposomal berberine or DHB virtually every time I eat out. I enjoy my meal knowing that it’s preferentially fueling my muscle rather than creating new fat.
Go ahead and give it a shot. Check with your doctor and try one of the above products.
Let me know your experience in the comments below and let’s make this a conversation!