Taking the Supplement Berberine? Look Out for These 3 Side Effects and 3 Great Stacks!

Berberine HCl is a relatively unknown health supplement, especially when you consider the powerful health benefits that it can generate. Berberine is extracted from the Berberis vulgaris plant and is used to help promote healthy blood sugar levels. It has a huge amount of research showing the its therapeutic potential. Berberine side effects are often overlooked because of the low Bereberine toxicity rating. However, there are definitely some side effects of Berberine to look out for, which is what we’ll explore in this article. We also look into three great Berberine stacks to boost the health benefits! [caption id=""attachment_2093"" align=""alignright"" width=""848""] Research has shown that Berberine HCL is effective at promoting a health blood sugar level[/caption]

What does Berberine Do?

[caption id=""attachment_2030"" align=""alignright"" width=""300""] Click To Buy Berberine HCl in our store.[/caption] Berberine is one of the few dietary supplements available today with sufficient evidence to show that it is as effective as some commerically available compounds. It is one of the best supplements available today to support a healthy circulatory system. This is especially important in the Western world, where type 2 diabetes is so prevalent. In 2016, the percentage of Americans living with diabetes was estimated to be just under 10%. This equates to a staggering 29.1 million people living with diabetes in America.[1] Other potential benefits of Berberine include: anti-inflammatory effects, helps to destroy cholesterol, works as a powerful antioxidant, reduces fat in the liver, improves insulin sensitivity, and reduces triglycerides. For more information about Berberine’s great benefits, check out our article on the Top 6 Berberine benefits.  

Recommended Dosage

The recommended daily Berberine dosage to lower blood sugar is around 1500mg. [2] You can take Berberine 500 mg, three times daily to reach the correct recommended dosage. Using separate doses avoids potential gastrointestinal side effects like stomach cramps and nausea. [caption id=""attachment_2094"" align=""alignright"" width=""649""] Healthy eating habits are a great way to support a well-balanced blood sugar level[/caption]      

Top 5 Berberine Side Effects:

1.     Interacts with medication

Although Berberine is considered a very safe dietary supplement with a low toxicity and few side effects, it has the potential to interact with a large number of medications. For this reason, we do not recommend using Berberine HCl if you are taking any other type of medication. Please speak to your doctor if you’re taking any medication and would like to use a Berberine vulgaris extract. The most important Berberine interactions include:
  • May potentiate (increase) the effects of drugs that lower blood sugar. This is primarily due to Berberine’s blood sugar lowering effects.[3]
  • Berberine inhibits certain cytochromes: CYP2D6, CYP2C9, and CYP3A4. These cytochromes are the targets of a large number of medications, and by using Berberine HCl with other medication, you run a risk of potential dangerous side effects.[4]
  • Berberine has a powerful effect on anion transporter proteins in the cell membrane. A few medications use these transporters to access your cells and deliver their effects. One important medication is Metformin – a prescribed compound for type 2 diabetes.[5]

2.     High doses may cause diarrhea, stomach cramps

Berberine toxicity is considered to be extremely low. It is a very safe dietary supplement and natural plant extract. The few Berberine side effects include mild gastrointestinal discomfort at high doses. It’s useful to know that Berberine was once used as a treatment for diarrhea. Berberine’s absorption in your stomach is less-than-optimal due to the action of a number of enzymes. These enzymes affect the efficiency of Berberine’s uptake. This is why, at high doses, the few side effects of Berberine can include:
  • Stomach cramps
  • Gastrointestinal discomfort
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
In order to avoid these side effects, doctors and scientists recommend taking a daily Berberine HCl dosage in three separate servings. This equates to a Berberine 500 mg dosage three times per day. Using a lower dosage prevents upsetting your stomach and allows you to avoid the gastrointestinal side effects of Berberine. Despite the potential side effects at high doses, researchers have praised Berberine for it’s mild side effects when compared to other substances that lower blood sugar. For example, the metformin and diarrhea side effect is a powerful one that causes problems for many people. [caption id=""attachment_2095"" align=""alignright"" width=""640""] To avoid Berberine side effects, we recommend using three separate doses throughout the day[/caption]

3.     Dangerous interaction with macrolide antibiotics

One important and potentially dangerous interaction to mention is Berberine with macrolide antibiotics. There is evidence that Berberine can interact with a certain class of antibiotics called macrolide antibiotics. These include the antibiotics azithromycin and clarithromycin. The Berberine toxicity occurs at hERG channels in the heart. There is a potential for serious negative health effects in these interactions. Please make sure that you avoid taking Berberine if you are using antibiotics, especially macrolide antibiotics.[6] On another note, some preliminary research shows Berberine's potential antibiotic effects in the laboratory. Recent studies have indicated that Berberine may have a synergistic relationship with some antibiotic medications. [7] Multidrug resistance (MDR) pump inhibitors may also increase Berberine’s antibiotic activity in the lab. [8]

Top 3 Berberine Stacks:

1.     Berberine with P-Glycoprotein inhibitors

P-Glycoprotein is involved in the absorption of Berberine by your stomach. It seems that P-Glycoprotein contributes to the poor absorption of Berberine. Animal studies have shown that combining Berberine with a P-glycoprotein inhibitor can increase the Berberine absorption rate by up to 6 times! [9] Many P-glycoprotein inhibitors are research chemicals or laboratory-made compounds. These tend to have acceptable toxicity ratings, but can be difficult to obtain and may have unwanted side effects. Some natural P-glycoprotein inhibitors are found in certain plant chemicals like flavonoids and stilbenes. Natural sources include:
  • Baicalein and Baicalin
  • Grapefruit juice
  • Quercetin
  • Milk thistle
  • Stephania tetrandra [10]
[caption id=""attachment_2096"" align=""alignright"" width=""640""] Taking Berberine with milk thistle may help improve its absorption[/caption]

2.     Berberine with Sodium Caprate

Sodium caprate (also known as decanoic acid) is a research chemical with a number of applications in science. It has been studied for its benefits in improving the absorption of many chemical compounds in medicine. Recent Berberine reviews have found that Sodium caprate significantly helps to improve the absorption of Berberine vulgaris extracts. Research suggests that Berberine has a fairly poor rate of absorption in your stomach. Sodium caprate improves the transport of Berberine into the blood from your stomach.[11]  

3.     Berberine with Quercetin

[caption id=""attachment_2030"" align=""alignright"" width=""300""] Click To Buy Berberine HCl in our store.[/caption] Quercetin is a great dietary supplement to use with Berberine HCl. Quercetin is a plant-derived compound with a number of great benefits. The combination of Berberine and Quercetin may have a synergistic relationship and helps to provide a host of health benefits. Like Berberine, Quercetin is a powerful antioxidant. It helps to neutralize potentially dangerous free-radicals in your body. [12] Quercetin is also a potent anti-inflammatory supplement and may help to reduce allergic responses. It has been shown to aid in cardiovascular health and to support healthy blood-pressure.[13] While Quercetin doesn’t have as much research data as Berberine HCl does at this time, the evidence is certainly out that it is a powerful health supplement. Taken together, Berberine and Quercetin create a powerful health stack.  


In conclusion, Berberine is a safe dietary supplement to use on its own. It may have a synergistic relationship with a number of other health-promoting substances. Research is still being compiled about the synergistic relationship of Berberine with other health-promoting supplements. The recommended Berberine dosage is around 1500 mg per day, taken in two to three separate doses. Taken alone, Berberine toxicity is very low. Berberine side effects may include gastrointestinal discomfort and nausea at high doses. An important note is that Berberine may interact with a large number of medications, causing potentially dangerous health effects. If you are taking any other medication, please speak to your doctor to help avoid the side effects of Berberine interactions. [caption id=""attachment_2097"" align=""alignright"" width=""640""] Berberine is one of the top researched health-promoting supplements available today[/caption]


Medical Disclaimer

Not intended to treat, diagnose, or cure any disease or ailment. Please read and fully understand potential adverse effects before using this product. These statements have not been reviewed by the FDA and are not written by a medical professional. Please consult your doctor before using any supplements, especially if you have any medical conditions.


B.Sc. in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Researched & written by Tristan and verified by the Liftmode.com Research Team


 [1]Statistics About Diabetes”, American Diabetes Association, available online, retrieved on March 16, 2017 [2]Berberine: Scientific Review”, Examine.com, retrieved on March 15, 2017 [3] YQ Shan et al., “Tetrandrine potentiates the hypoglycemic efficacy of berberine by inhibiting P-glycoprotein function”, Biol Pharm Bull. 2013;36(10):1562-9. Epub 2013 Aug 8. [4] S Wanwimolruk , V Prachayasittikul, “Cytochrome P450 enzyme mediated herbal drug interactions (Part 1)”, EXCLI J. 2014; 13: 347–391, Published online 2014 Apr 2. [5] M Kwon et al., “Organic cation transporter-mediated drug-drug interaction potential between berberine and metformin”, Arch Pharm Res. 2015;38(5):849-56, Epub 2014 Oct 31 [6] D Zhi et al., “The enhancement of cardiac toxicity by concomitant administration of Berberine and macrolides”, Eur J Pharm Sci. 2015 Aug 30;76:149-55 [7] HH Yu et al., “Antimicrobial Activity of Berberine Alone and in Combination with Ampicillin or Oxacillin Against Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus”, Journal of Medicinal Food December 2005, 8(4): 454-461 [8] FR Stermitz et al., “Synergy in a medicinal plant: antimicrobial action of berberine potentiated by 5'-methoxyhydnocarpin, a multidrug pump inhibitor”, Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000 Feb 15;97(4):1433-7 [9] GY Pan et al., “The involvement of P-glycoprotein in berberine absorption”, Pharmacol Toxicol. 2002 Oct;91(4):193-7. [10] HM Abdallah et al., “P-glycoprotein inhibitors of natural origin as potential tumor chemo-sensitizers: A review”, J Adv Res. 2015 Jan; 6(1): 45–62rine interactions. s. If you arearch ry low. your doctor to help avoid the side effects of Berberine interactions. s. If you are [11] XY Lv et al., “Enhancement of sodium caprate on intestine absorption and antidiabetic action of berberine”, AAPS PharmSciTech. 2010 Mar;11(1):372-82 [12] M Zhang et al., “Antioxidant properties of quercetin”, Adv Exp Med Biol. 2011;701:283-9. [13] L Yao et al., “Quercetin, Inflammation and Immunity”, Nutrients. 2016 Mar; 8(3): 167.

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