✓ Medically Reviewed and Fact-Checked by Dr. Jesse Ropat, PharmD, RPh, B.Sc.
Berberine is a compound found in many plants that reduces blood sugar. It’s been studied as an intervention for diabetes1, for reducing high blood pressure, improving cholesterol, and as a result, for living a longer, healthier life.
If you’re into the nerdiness of it, berberine can improve HbA1c (a blood marker of the past 3 months of your blood sugar control).
Because of this, berberine is on a shortlist of hot-topic longevity supplements. It’s very in vogue, as the cool cats say, and a promising supplement for metabolic health and overall health that should grab your attention.
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Highest Quality, Best Overall: Renue by Science LIPO Berberine (use code RFS10 for 10% off)
Best Value + Quality Combo: Double Wood Supplements Berberine
Best Value: Pure Bulk Berberine HCl Powder
Because this is an emerging supplement, it’s not easy to sort through the fluff.
In fact, a recent study found that the majority of berberine supplements from vendors (9 out of 15 they tested), had lower berberine amounts and purity than they claimed on the label.
Even more surprising, the more expensive products weren’t necessarily better. With this list, we want to cut through the crap, and share the best berberine supplements in 2023. Let’s get into it.
Renue by Science has a unique and high-quality berberine capsule product that you won’t find elsewhere. One of the problems with berberine is that it has low bioavailability. In fact, one study showed that when taken orally, synthetic berberine HCl has around 1% absorption. In case you didn’t know, that’s bad.
This is one of the possible reasons why studies show people need to take a higher dose. But higher doses often lead to upset stomachs, diarrhea, and still, lackluster absorption overall.
Renue uses liposomal delivery to enhance its absorption and bioavailability.
Studies have shown upwards of 600% increases in oral bioavailability with liposomal formulations in rats.
Each of their capsules is protected by lipids so that the berberine makes it through the digestive tract and into the bloodstream.
With improved bioavailability you can take a much smaller dose and get a stronger effect.
For almost everyone, LIPO Berberine is the top choice out there, but it’s especially for you if have a sensitive stomach.
Renue also has among the strictest quality standards in the industry. They’re transparent with the lab results of every batch of their products, and they’re manufactured in an FDA-approved facility in the USA. It’s non-GMO, suitable for vegans, and has NO artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, or other fillers.
All of this is why Renue’s LIPO Berberine is #1 on our list.
Double Wood Supplements is another one of the most trusted brands in the longevity space. They’re GMP (good manufacturing practices) approved, and third-party tested. They even share a certificate of analysis of their lab results.
Their berberine product comes with a great combination of quality and value.
Each bottle has 60 x 500mg capsules for just $20, making it one of the best values on the market.
You can also buy a double pack, 120 capsules, for just $35.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t have anything to increase absorption.
Double Wood also offers a 100% money-back guarantee, so if for whatever reason you’re not satisfied, you can get a full refund.
Now Foods is one of the most trusted supplement brands out there, with a track record that’s decades-long for safety and purity.
While it doesn’t use a liposomal delivery to increase absorption, it includes MCT oil to protect the berberine molecules. As we’ve mentioned, absorption is crucial for any supplement, but especially a supplement like berberine which generally has poor bioavailability.
It’s also one of the best values on the market. Each capsule contains 400mg of berberine HCl and each bottle contains 90 capsules.
They advertise it as ‘glucose support,’ which is true of berberine across the board. But just because it’s in the title of the supplement doesn’t make it better for glucose support than other berberine supplements.
Whitaker Nutrition’s berberine is also a high-quality dietary supplement option. They use the synthetic berberine HCl version, but it’s clinical grade. Each capsule has 500mg of berberine, which is a competitive dose. The price, for the dose, is also in line with other high-quality products.
If you’re looking for the best bang for your buck, Pure Bulk is a GMP-certified company where you can get a whopping 25 grams of powder for just $12. Yeah… $12. And you can buy up to an entire kilogram. That’s 1000 grams for $270.
From a strict cost-per-gram perspective, this is far and away the best deal.
Here’s the problem: Berberine tastes like shit. Like… it’s really bad. You’d have to be an absolute warrior to take this straight.
Realistically, you have to put it in a smoothie or something. Luckily 1.5-2 grams is not a big scoop, so even though it tastes bitter, it won’t affect the taste of a smoothie. I’ve personally done this.
This product is different from all of the others on our list because it combines berberine with PQQ (pyrroloquinoline quinone). PQQ is a vitamin-like molecule with high antioxidant activity and promotes mitochondrial activity.
So why are these two ingredients together? Truthful, they don’t need to be. However, the theory goes that the additional mitochondrial support may improve energy production. As we’ll talk about, one of the side effects of berberine may be lower energy. If you take regular berberine and experience that, this may be a good option to try.
In terms of quality, Dr. Mercola passes all the tests. It’s non-GMO, gluten-free, and soy-free.
Paradise Herbs Berberine comes with 180, 500mg tablets capsules for $32, making it one of the best values out there, especially for capsules. They’re GMP-certified and made in an FDA facility. Their product is also vegan and gluten-free, so it could be the best option for our vegan friends out there.
There’s nothing that in particular stands out, but it passes the quality tests, so it’s a good option.
Thorne has high-quality products, and their berberine is no exception. Each capsule comes with 500mg of berberine and each bottle comes with 60 capsules for $36. Competitively priced and of high quality, Thorne’s berberine is another product to consider.
Natural Sources WellBetX Berberine contains 120 capsules with 500mg for just $36, which is twice the value of many similar products. They’re a third-party tested company, but don’t go above and beyond like many of the other products on our list.
ProHealth specializes in longevity products, like berberine. They’re a third-party tested company and display the results of each batch front and center on their website. Each capsule contains 600mg of berberine, and you can get a competitively-priced 30 capsules for under $18. They also have 20mg of BioPerine to help absorption.
There’s nothing in particular we love about this product, but it’s a solid choice from a reputable company.
Nuzena has one of the most popular berberine products on the market, and for a good reason. They manufacture their products right here in the US in an FDA-approved facility.
Their capsules are slightly higher doses, at 600 mg of berberine extract per capsule. Each bottle has 60 capsules and costs $40, so per gram, it’s competitively priced with many other products.
The benefits of berberine stem from its ability to act on what’s called the “AMPK” mechanism.
AMPK stands for “adenosine monophosphate-activated protein-kinase,” and it’s an enzyme that regulates of our blood glucose. Simply, the more AMPK is activated, the lower our blood sugar.
Berberine activates AMPK. Human studies show that 1.5-2 grams per day or more are the most effective.
The reason berberine caught fire in the longevity space is because the drug metformin works using the same mechanism.
It turns on the AMPK enzymes, which lower blood sugar, and that’s why metformin has been used as a prescription drug for diabetics for decades.
Because of this mechanistic effect, berberine may have a host of health and wellness benefits. Many of them are still being studied and we need more research to confirm. But, berberine has shown promise and potential to…
Support cardiovascular health (and maybe treat some cardiovascular diseases, per this study). Heart health benefits arise out of downstream benefits from improved blood sugar, and due to Berberine’s ability to dilate blood vessels, reducing blood pressure.
Support weight loss. Although this is through indirect mechanisms, like lowered blood sugar, so it’s NOT a typical fat burner or weight loss supplement. Nonetheless, it seems to support obesity and weight management overall.
Reduce inflammation. As shown in some studies like this.
Help treat depression. Again, this is very early, but it has been studied in mice and has a proposed mechanism. Right now it’s very far from having a clearer link to depression, but may additionally reduce the rate of neurodegeneration (including diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease).
Of course, we can’t say for sure. But berberine supplementation has led to longer lives in both fruit flies and mice. These aren’t human studies, because that would take about 90 years to complete and have thousands more variables. Because it’s the same mechanism we have reason to believe it would benefit humans as well.
While berberine is proven to be safe, it does have a few common, mild side effects.
Because it lowers our blood sugar, when we take berberine we’re probably going to have our energy zapped a little bit.
If you’re planning on having a big workout, you shouldn’t take berberine beforehand. As a general guideline, it makes a lot of sense to only take berberine on non-training days.
Many metformin users have adopted this routine for the same reasons, and it makes a lot of sense for berberine as well.
If you experience this, there are a lot of directions you could go to improve your energy. You may be tempted to reach for more caffeine, and although that’s a viable tool, it shouldn’t be your first line of defense. First, get your sleep right. Second, make sure you’re exercising. If you’re doing all the “big rocks” right, then the next step is to work with your healthcare provider on how to offset the drop in energy levels.
The other most common side effect is an upset stomach. If you’re trying it for the first time, start with one capsule. And if you know you have a sensitive stomach, then pick up Renue’s LIPO berberine. It has a much lower dose in a more bioavailable form to mitigate this downside.
Low-quality berberine supplements can lead to other gastrointestinal side effects like constipation. So if you take berberine, it may cause some GI distress, and you may need to place extra attention on your gut health.
And of course do not combine berberine with other drugs, especially ones targeting AMPK, without talking to your healthcare provider.
If you’re taking immunosuppressant medication, or you have a condition that predisposes you to have a weaker immune system, then talk to your healthcare provider before taking berberine.
Berberine acts on the same mechanism as metformin, and may be as potent. The upside it also seems to be safer. Metformin has a few concerns among researchers which don’t appear to show up in berberine use.
One study comparing berberine to metformin over 13 weeks reported the following:
“Compared with metformin, berberine exhibited an identical effect in the regulation of glucose metabolism, such as HbA 1c , FBG, PBG, fasting insulin and postprandial insulin. In the regulation of lipid metabolism, berberine activity is better than metformin. By week 13, triglycerides and total cholesterol in the berberine group had decreased and were significantly lower than in the metformin group (P<0.05).”
If you’re choosing between the two, berberine may be the safer choice to start. There’s a reason metformin is prescription-only and berberine isn’t. That said, always consult your healthcare provider.
A recent study found that the majority of berberine supplements from vendors (9 out of 15 they tested), had lower berberine amounts and purity than they claimed on the label.
To quote from the study…
“Nine of the 15 tested products (60%) failed to meet the potency standards of 90% to 110% of labeled content claim, as commonly required of pharmaceutical preparations by the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention… Variability in product quality may significantly contribute to inconsistencies in the safety and effectiveness of berberine. In addition, the quality of the berberine product cannot be inferred from its cost.”
Be sure to look at factors like third-party certification, especially companies that inspect in an FDA-approved facility. We put this list together to help.
There’s no clear evidence to show that synthetic berberine hydrochloride is better than natural forms, or vice versa. What’s more important is the product’s ability to increase absorption. The top recommendations on our list have taken measures to ensure this, making them a reliable choice.
For more context, you will typically hear about two sets of forms of berberine: synthetic versus natural. The most common form of synthetic berberine is berberine HCl, and it has shown lots of promise in the research.
Berberine is naturally occurring in many plants like barberry. Some supplements extract natural berberine from these plants. If you see on the label, “berberine extract,” that’s what this means. Right now, we can’t draw any conclusions about which is the best form of berberine.
Berberine is naturally occurring in an array of plants. The most common is barberry (also called berberis aristata), but it’s also in goldenseal, evergreen shrug, and Oregon grapes. Turmeric, another popular supplement, also has berberine, which may explain some of its benefits. Many supplements use the natural form, including our top choice, Renue LIPO Berberine. Berberine HCl is the synthetic form, which is generally more common in supplements.
Just because it’s natural though, does not inherently make it better, and based on the research we have right now, we can’t draw any conclusions.
Barberry extract is the most common naturally-derived form. While there isn’t clear evidence for its benefits, if you prefer natural products, look for “berberine extract” on the label.
While there’s still more researched needed, liposomal berberine seems to be a promising option for the most absorbable form. This high-absorption is why Renue LIPO Berberine is our top pick.
This is especially important when it comes to berberine supplements, because one study showed that when taken orally, synthetic berberine HCl has around 1% absorption. This poor absorption can conincide with common gut distress, which people often report with berberine supplementation.
Liposomes are tiny spherical structures made up of phospholipid bilayers, which are used to encapsulate and deliver substances like drugs or supplements. By surrounding the active ingredient, liposomes may enhance its stability and absorption, allowing it to pass through the digestive system and reach the target area in the body more effectively.
Liposomal Berberine is berberine that uses liposomes to protect the berberine, therefore supporting absorption and bioavailability.
This may allow for a smaller dose to achieve a stronger effect, making liposomal berberine our top choice for those seeking the benefits of this supplement.
Many studies use between 900mg up to 2 grams per day, often split into 3 doses with each meal. This is the best time to take it, because it limits the blood sugar boost of meals. It also may help mitigate the risk of an upset stomach by taking it with meals, and spacing it out.
Right now, berberine is not an approved intervention for type 2 diabetes. However, its mechanisms, which improve blood glucose, seem to improve insulin resistance and lower glucose levels overall. Basically, for any problems related to metabolic syndrome, berberine shows promise.
That means if you’re a type 2 diabetic, or prediabetic, it’s an interesting and emerging option that you can discuss with your healthcare provider.
Because it’s going to impact your blood sugar, you should take berberine with or just after meals. This will limit the blood sugar boost (one of its benefits), and make sure you still have energy.
The most commonly reported regimen is to take Berberine at a dose of roughly 300-500mg three times daily (with meals.)
When you’re 110 years old and still kicking. But if you want to know sooner, blood sugar measurements are the way to go. Set up a little self-experiment comparing blood sugar both with and without berberine. If you see lower measurements, you’ll know it’s doing its job.
This is also a great way to find out which dose is the best for you.
Berberine may interact with certain medications, so consult your healthcare provider. In particular, you wouldn’t want to mix it with other things that may lower blood pressure (because then it can low too much) without working closely with your healthcare pro.
However, keeping this to fitness, common dietary supplements shouldn’t be a problem. You can take berberine and still include common supplements like creatine and protein powder in your routine.
If you’re taking a longevity stack of supplements, it’s also best to talk to your healthcare provider.
Berberine is by no means the only way to activate AMPK. I’m currently writing a series on how to live forever (or at least a lot longer). But here’s the short list of AMPK activators…
One study found that berberine, if anything, may increase testosterone in men. While more research is needed, one of the critiques of life-extension supplements is that they decrease muscle and testosterone. With berberine, that appears not to be the case.
It’s wise to avoid taking berberine with other drugs targeting AMPK without consulting your healthcare provider. Also, if you’re planning an intense workout, it might be best to skip berberine beforehand, as it could affect your energy levels.
This depends on an array of questions, like the medication and your health conditions and history. The best course of action for a question like this is to talk to your healthcare provider. Some medications may not mix well with berberine, and may even be dangerous. Others may mix totally fine together.
Berberine has shown promise in supporting metabolic health and overall wellness and approved for consistent use. However, it’s always best to consult with your healthcare provider.
Yes, berberine does seem to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Some studies have suggested that berberine can lower LDL cholesterol levels for those with high cholesterol. However, we need more studies to confirm this. Other studies have shown that it can significantly reduce both the triglyceride levels, and total cholesterol.