What’s the best berberine supplement out there? This is a question we were getting a lot because there is a lot of rave about berberine and its potency as a blood sugar reducer. Is this supplement the real deal, and if so, is there a specific supplement type or brand to aim for?
What Is Berberine?
Before we identify the most preferred berberine supplement, we want to discuss a thing or two about berberine for those unfamiliar with it. The name is still alien to much of the general public. It’s not an obscure compound by any means, though. It’s been around as an herbal remedy in non-western countries for at least 3,000 years.
Berberine is an alkaloid compound found in several plant species, including the goldthread and European barberry, the latter of which the compound takes its similar name from.
Berberine has long been a sought-after substance due to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It’s actually a popular folk remedy for treating a number of ailments, including diarrhea, food poisoning and external wounds.
Recent studies, though, show that the benefits of this botanical extract may be far more reaching than previously believed. This post is about berberine for controlling blood sugar. However, it’s just as beneficial for lowering LDL cholesterol, preventing heart failure, offsetting fatty liver disease and treating depression.
Berberine for Lowering Blood Sugar
People for ages have been wanting to know how to lower blood sugar immediately without resorting to pharmaceuticals. The world at large, after all, is sort of in the midst of an anti-big-pharma revolution. People are gravitating towards natural cures, and berberine looks to be a promising candidate; the studies back this up.
One study1 compared the use of berberine with the common diabetes drug metformin. Subjects in the study took 500 milligrams of berberine up to three times daily for 90 days. Researchers concluded that the results were comparable to metformin. Another study concluded that berberine is effective as an oral hypoglycemic agent and regulating blood glucose. In a study published in the Journal of Molecular Endocrinology, berberine improved vasodilation and reduced hypertension in diabetic rats.
How Berberine Works
How is berberine supplementation one of the best ways to lower blood sugar? It all comes down to monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) activation. AMPK is an enzyme that resides in cells and plays a huge role in metabolism regulation. It controls a range of biological activities, including glucose and lipid control. Studies2 show that berberine is a major player in AMPK activation.
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Researchers believe that when AMPK is inhibited, metabolic syndrome soon sets in. In turn, this triggers a number of diseases, including hormonal imbalance, hyperglycemia and type 2 diabetes. Researchers have compared the effects of AMPK activation to that of exercising and healthy dieting, both of which are essential for longevity and maintaining quality of life.
Long story short, AMPK is essential for cellular function and keeping the body in homeostasis. If you want to know how to reduce blood sugar, you need to maintain normal AMPK activation and refrain from lifestyle factors that suppress it.
Other ways you can activate AMPK include:
- Supplementing with resveratrol
- Supplementing with alpha lipoic acid
- Supplementing with fish oil
- Consuming more soluble fiber
- Going on an intermittent fast
- Exercising, as muscle contraction (especially explosive movements) is believed to stimulate AMPK
So, What’s the Best Berberine Supplement?
Don’t expect to find ground berberine in the supermarket. The most accessible way to take it, therefore, is via supplementation. We don’t think there is a single berberine supplement that is best, though we do think there are some brands that are clearly better than others.
With berberine, any source will do. As we said earlier, the alkaloid comes from various tree species. Whether the manufacturer gets its source from the barberry, goldenseal or another tree is not important. There is no research at this point suggesting one source may deliver more potency than another.
It also doesn’t matter whether you take berberine as a standalone supplement or if it’s one of multiple ingredients, such as in the case with our blood sugar-lowering supplement Sensolin.
If you opt for a standalone berberine supplement, we recommend looking carefully at the capsule. The powder inside should be yellowish, berberine’s natural color. Any other color suggests dilution via inactive ingredients.
Beyond that, stick to the same rules regarding supplements in general. This means steering clear of unnatural ingredients, excessive fillers and proprietary blends. The last point is a gimmick for manufacturers to not fully disclose the ingredients.
Keep in mind that berberine may also go by other names, such as berberine hydrochloride, barberry root extract or berberine phellodendron extract. These all more or less refer to the same substance.
Lower Blood Sugar Without Drugs
Berberine is one of many compounds for lowering blood sugar that come courtesy of Mother Nature. If it’s available in nature, then you don’t need a synthetic substitute. A berberine supplement like Sensolin will prevent unhealthy blood sugar spikes, though you also have to do your end by making sound food choices.