Berberine: Separating Fact from Fiction – What the Evidence Says

In this video, Dr. Leonid Kim discusses the claims and evidence regarding the benefits of berberine supplementation. Berberine is a compound derived from medicinal plants and has been used for various purposes in traditional medicine. Studies have shown that berberine can have positive effects on glucose metabolism, cholesterol levels, weight loss, gut health, and inflammation. However, the research on berberine is still limited compared to prescription medications, and the quality and dosing of berberine supplements can vary. Dr. Kim suggests consulting with a doctor before taking berberine, especially if one is already on multiple medications or supplements that require close monitoring.

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Key Insights:

  • Berberine is gaining attention as a supplement with potential cardiovascular and metabolic benefits for people with diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol.
  • Berberine has been used in traditional Chinese and ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years and has a range of uses, including diarrhea, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
  • Animal studies show additional benefits of berberine in weight loss, gut health, inflammation, fatty liver, and heart failure.
  • A meta-analysis of 27 randomized controlled clinical trials involving over 2500 patients shows that berberine has comparable effects on type 2 diabetes as other therapeutic regiments; it can reduce hemoglobin A1c, fasting blood glucose levels, and postprandial insulin levels.
  • Studies also indicate that berberine can lower triglyceride levels and LDL cholesterol.
  • Berberine has been found to have a weak activity against inhibiting pcsk9, an enzyme targeted by newer class cholesterol medications.
  • Berberine may modulate the microbiome, leading to increased GLP-1 hormone, which is the basis for popular weight loss and diabetes drugs.
  • While the studies on berberine are impressive, they are relatively small compared to studies on common medications like metformin or statins.
  • Common medications are more regulated and ensure therapeutic doses, unlike the supplement industry where the quality and dosage might be unclear.
  • If unable to take common oral diabetes medications or statins, consult a doctor about incorporating berberine into the treatment regimen, taking into account potential drug interactions.
  • It is not recommended for individuals taking multiple drugs or supplements, especially those requiring close monitoring.


Berberine is a supplement that is gaining attention for its potential cardiovascular and metabolic benefits. It is often promoted for its effects on diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, and inflammation. In this video, I will discuss the evidence behind these claims and who should consider taking berberine.

Berberine is an alkaloid derivative found in various medicinal plants. It has been used in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years, with applications ranging from treating diarrhea to managing type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.

Animal studies have shown additional benefits of berberine, including weight loss, improved gut health, reduced inflammation, and treatment of fatty liver and heart failure.

One of the most studied effects of berberine is its impact on glucose metabolism and cholesterol. A meta-analysis of 27 clinical trials involving over 2500 patients found that berberine has comparable effects on type 2 diabetes as other therapeutic regimens. One study compared berberine to metformin, a commonly prescribed diabetes medication, and found that berberine reduced hemoglobin A1c levels by two percentage points, similar to the metformin group. Berberine also showed comparable effects on fasting blood glucose and insulin levels.

Berberine appears to be beneficial in treating lipid disorders as well. A study of 106 subjects with type 2 diabetes and dyslipidemia found that berberine treatment for 12 weeks improved blood glucose levels, triglyceride levels, and lowered LDL (bad) cholesterol levels by 21%. Another study published in Nature reported a 25% decrease in LDL cholesterol with berberine treatment. In a head-to-head comparison with simvastatin, a common statin medication, berberine showed better LDL reduction. Animal studies also suggest that berberine may inhibit the enzyme PCSK9, which is targeted by newer cholesterol medications.

Furthermore, berberine may influence the microbiome and increase the hormone GLP-1, which can promote metabolic health. These effects are similar to those seen in popular weight loss and diabetes drugs like Ozempic and Victoza.

When considering who should take berberine, it is important to note that while the studies on berberine are promising, they are still relatively small compared to studies on prescription medications for diabetes and cholesterol. I would personally recommend common medications like metformin and statins over berberine due to the extensive research and regulation of these prescription drugs. Additionally, it is often difficult to determine the quality and accuracy of berberine supplements in the market.

If you are unable to take common diabetes medications or statins, it may be worth discussing berberine with your doctor to see if it can be incorporated into your treatment plan. However, it is essential to be aware that there is limited information on potential interactions between berberine and other medications. Therefore, it may be more appropriate for individuals without major comorbidities or those not taking multiple medications, especially those that require close monitoring.

If you are currently taking berberine, I would love to know which brand you prefer and why. It is important to trust the brand you choose since quality and consistency can vary in the supplement industry.

In conclusion, berberine shows promising effects on glucose metabolism, cholesterol, and potentially other metabolic factors. However, more extensive research is needed, and prescription medications remain the preferred choice due to their regulation and larger body of evidence. Consult with your doctor to determine if berberine is suitable for you based on your individual health circumstances.