Berberine Balances Blood Sugar

If you have elevated fasting glucose – a high amount of sugar in your bloodstream even when you haven’t been eating – you could be on the track to getting type 2 diabetes.  A high blood sugar reading is a fasting blood glucose that is in the 100- 125 mg/dL range, and is considered a pre-diabetic level. When fasting blood glucose numbers are higher than that, you have diabetes.

Fortunately, a natural compound called berberine can help you get your blood sugar numbers into a better range.

In one clinical study, berberine lowered fasting and postprandial glucose from the beginning of the trial to the end of the three-month study. It lowered A1C levels from 8.1 percent to 7.3 percent, and reduced fasting plasma insulin by 28 percent and the insulin resistance index by 44 percent. Not surprisingly, given how all of these conditions are related, triglyceride levels dropped as well. The results were similar to the group treated with metformin, a commonly-used drug for type 2 diabetes that can cause side effects.

One of the ways that berberine can help reduce overall blood sugar levels is by stimulating glycolysis – the process of releasing the energy from sugars. Being used up by the mitochondria as fuel is far better than overloading the bloodstream or being converted into triglycerides. Some research also shows that berberine may inhibit alpha-glucosidase, an enzyme that slows the absorption of carbohydrates in the digestive system. While there are classes of drugs that do the same thing, berberine appears to be just as effective but without the potential for side effects.


Yin J, Xing H, Ye J. Efficacy of berberine in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Metabolism. 2008;57(5):712–717.

Berberine has been shown to regulate glucose and lipid metabolism in vitro and in vivo. This pilot study was to determine the efficacy and safety of berberine in the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus patients. In study A, 36 adults with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes mellitus were randomly assigned to treatment with berberine or metformin (0.5 g 3 times a day) in a 3-month trial. The hypoglycemic effect of berberine was similar to that of metformin. Significant decreases in hemoglobin A1c (from 9.5%+/-0.5% to 7.5%+/-0.4%, P<.01), fasting blood glucose (from 10.6+/-0.9 mmol/L to 6.9+/-0.5 mmol/L, P<.01), postprandial blood glucose (from 19.8+/-1.7 to 11.1+/-0.9 mmol/L, P<.01), and plasma triglycerides (from 1.13+/-0.13 to 0.89+/-0.03 mmol/L, P<.05) were observed in the berberine group. In study B, 48 adults with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes mellitus were treated supplemented with berberine in a 3-month trial. Berberine acted by lowering fasting blood glucose and postprandial blood glucose from 1 week to the end of the trial. Hemoglobin A1c decreased from 8.1%+/-0.2% to 7.3%+/-0.3% (P<.001). Fasting plasma insulin and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance index were reduced by 28.1% and 44.7% (P<.001), respectively. Total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol were decreased significantly as well. During the trial, 20 (34.5%) patients experienced transient gastrointestinal adverse effects. Functional liver or kidney damages were not observed for all patients. In conclusion, this pilot study indicates that berberine is a potent oral hypoglycemic agent with beneficial effects on lipid metabolism.

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