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Berberin vs. Metformin

Berberine vs. Metformin

What does the research show?

Recent research indicates that berberine is very effective in the treatment of type 2 diabetes and compares its effect with that of metformin. Berberine itself has caused a rapid reduction in blood glucose concentration by 21% to 36%, which is comparable to the effects of metformin and rosiglitazone.  

Dong-H, Wang N, Zhao L, Lu F review randomized studies on Berberine compared with lifestyle modifications, placebo and/or oral hypoglycaemics interventions on the treatment of diabetes. The researchers concluded that berberine compared with lifestyle modifications is more effective in lowering blood glucose than lifestyle modifications with placebo alone. Berberine showed additional hypoglycaemic effects in combination with other pharmaceutical interventions. They concluded that the hypoglycemic abilities were as effective as conventional treatments.

Jun Y, Huili X and Y Jianping examined the effectiveness of the blood sugar-lowering abilities of Berberine. Berberine was given to newly diagnosed diabetics and poorly controlled diabetes patients. Patients were randomly selected to take either metformin or berberine. The researchers measured the blood sugar levels of the participants for a period of three months. Compared to metformin, berberine worked just as effectively.

Blood glucose dropped quickly to 30% and after eating it dropped by 45%. The individuals who took Berberine did not experience severe gastrointestinal symptoms, unlike the patients who took metformin. In terms of regulating fat metabolism, the activity of berberine was significantly better than that of metformin. Triglycerides and total cholesterol levels were reduced by 21% in the group setting and were thus significantly lower than in the metformin group. Triglycerides are usually elevated in people with type 2 diabetes, so this finding is significant for diabetes treatment options!

The researchers found that "Berberine is a potent oral antihypoglycemic agent, [means it is a powerful blood sugar reducer], with modest effects on fat metabolism [means it lowers cholesterol and triglycerides]. It is safe and the cost of treatment with Berberine is very low. It may therefore serve as a new drug candidate in the treatment of type 2 diabetes."

In addition to lowering glucose levels, animal studies also show that berberine has a very beneficial effect on the treatment of complications that have been reported in diabetics, such as diabetic nephropathy.

Does Berberine have side effects?

Berberine side effects vs. metformin
Berberine is a much safer alternative to chemically produced drugs, with fewer side effects. Metformin is not safe for patients with liver inflammation because it can contribute to other liver diseases. Berberine, on the other hand, actually helps to increase liver function and may even help against several other diabetic complications.

Metformin is associated with some severe gastrointestinal side effects. Dugic Et Al. (2015) studied 92 patients with newly developed diabetes who took metformin. They found that almost half of the participants (47%) experienced moderate to severe gastrointestinal symptoms while taking metformin during these studies.

Long-term use of metformin is also associated with B12 deficiency and anaemia, while long-term use of Berberine is not associated with such adverse effects. In another study by Hertog Et Al. (2015), the researchers conducted a multicenter, randomized, controlled, open-label phase II study with blinded results in stroke patients with impaired glucose intolerance. The researchers took note here:

"Nineteen randomly selected patients were randomly assigned metformin. Nine of these patients had side effects, mainly in the gastrointestinal tract, and in four patients this led to a continuous discontinuation after three to ten weeks.

Berberine, on the other hand, has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries as a treatment for diarrhoea, and thus has not been associated with severe gastrointestinal complaints. It is also safe to take Berberine in the long term.

The most important side effects of Berberine are that if you are currently taking other blood sugar-lowering drugs, such as metformin, you will get low blood sugar. So if you are taking other medications, be sure to consult your doctor, including if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Some other minor side effects include some GI discomfort, diahrrea or constipation. However, these tend to occur either if you take the Berberine in the first week, or if the dosage exceeds 500mg, which we discuss in the next section.

Berberine dosage - How much Berberine should I take?

Always taking the correct dosage is important that the Berberine works for you. Berberine is very well absorbed by the body, but it is also very quickly metabolized in the liver.

That means you must take Berberine after every meal. The recommended dosage of Berberine for diabetes is 500mg, so this should be taken three times a day with breakfast, lunch and dinner, resulting in a daily amount of 1500mg. At best, do not take more than 500mg at once as this can sometimes cause GI side effects.

Be sure to also choose a pure Berberine supplement, as many brands sell Berberine mixed, making it weaker and not as effective as pure. Our tested Berberine recommendation - Click Here.

How long does it take for Berberin to work?

Berberine starts to significantly lower blood sugar levels after about a week of regular use and reaches its maximum after about five to six weeks.

Concluding Thoughts

Berberine is an excellent herbal alternative to metformin, it is better suited to reduce blood sugar, increase insulin sensitivity and causes far fewer side effects. Berberine does indeed have a whole range of positive health benefits apart from its effectiveness against diabetes and lowering cholesterol.


Interesting articles about Berberin and Metformin: - Berberine Vs. Metformin: Which Should be Your Ultimate Choice? -


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