If you’re looking for a supplement to manage your blood sugar, berberine should be at the top of your list. As a doctor with over three decades of providing advice and recommendations for managing blood sugar health, berberine is, bar none, my number one nutritional supplement recommendation—and for good reason. It’s validated by multiple scientific research studies supporting its effectiveness.
What exactly is berberine? It’s a phytonutrient that is abundant in a variety of plants such as barberry. Its original use dates back over 3,000 years, when it was used in ancient Chinese medicine to help with digestion. But berberine is only recently starting to get the spotlight it deserves from scientists because of the abundant benefits it provide for blood sugar health, cholesterol, triglycerides, and even liver health.
How Does Berberine Work?
Before we go into how berberine works, it’s important to first understand the role insulin plays in the body. When you enjoy a meal or snack, glucose emerges in the bloodstream. This signals your pancreas to make insulin, which transports the sugar from your bloodstream into your cells where it’s used for energy.
When everything is working optimally, your cells open allowing insulin inside—which means your body is “sensitive” to insulin. But, it’s an entirely different scenario when the reverse happens: “resistance” replaces “sensitivity.” When the body is resistant to insulin, glucose is not entering the cells and builds up in the bloodstream.
What Does Berberine Do?
Berberine works by helping to enhance AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which controls the synthesis and uptake of glucose transporters that move glucose from your bloodstream into your cells. Research suggests that berberine may also help to increase the number and activity of insulin receptors—supporting insulin sensitivity.
Berberine’s unique ability to support AMPK has another benefit, too—helping to keep cholesterol levels balanced.
The Benefits of Berberine Are Nothing Short of Impressive
In a double-blind placebo-controlled study spanning three months, 116 subjects were randomly split into two groups and given either 1,000 mg of berberine or a placebo daily. At the end of the trial, fasting and postprandial blood glucose levels significantly improved in the group taking berberine compared to the placebo group. In addition, the study demonstrated berberine's ability to support healthy cholesterol levels.
In another significant clinical trial published in the medical journal Metabolism, people with blood sugar concerns took 1,500 mg of berberine a day. After three months, both fasting and postprandial blood sugar levels improved.
In addition to berberine’s benefits for blood sugar and cholesterol, numerous studies report that berberine can help support a healthy body mass index (BMI). For example, one small clinical trial published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that subjects who supplemented with 300 mg of berberine three times a day for a three-month period had improvements in BMI.
Berberine has yet another benefit that most people don’t know about: It helps to support the health of your liver. As you can see, berberine is no one-tricky pony—it’s the real deal! But, if you think any ordinary berberine supplement will do, think again and here’s why…
What Is the Best Berberine Supplement?
When selecting a supplement to support blood sugar, you need to make sure you’re getting the right combination of nutrients and the proper dosages. For optimal blood sugar support, I have long recommended that my patients take berberine along with cinnamon and chromium. Let me explain…
Cinnamon is a well-known culinary spice that has several medicinal benefits, including positive effects on blood sugar. What's more, cinnamon makes berberine even more powerful! Cinnamomum cassia, from the bark of the Southeast Asian evergreen tree, was shown in one study to increase the bioavailability of berberine in the intestines and to raise its concentration in the blood and for longer periods of time.
And last but not least, there’s a trace mineral that has big benefits for blood sugar health. The essential mineral I am referring to is chromium, and it has been shown in studies to help support normal blood glucose levels. Research also suggests it may help support normal cholesterol and other lipid profiles, glutathione levels, and endothelial function. But it’s important to take a specially optimized and clinically studied form of chromium called Crominex® 3+ Chromium and in the dose used in the latest research, 400 mcg, for the most effective results.
You can find all three of these ingredients in my Berberine GlucoGOLD+ formula, in the research dosages shown in clinical studies to help maintain fasting blood glucose levels already in the normal range. Plus, it helps support normal total and LDL cholesterol levels.