It appears to have positive effects in both conditions, according to this study by researchers at Min-Hang Hospital in Shanghai.

First, the details.

  • 116 patients with type 2 diabetes and abnormal blood cholesterol levels were randomly assigned to berberine (1 gram daily) or placebo for 3 months.
  • The primary outcomes were changes in blood sugar and lipid concentrations.
  • Glucose disposal rate (GDR) was measured to determine changes in insulin resistance or sensitivity.

And, the results in the berberine group.

  • Fasting blood sugar levels decreased from 7.0 to 5.6 mM/L.
  • Post load blood sugar levels decreased from 12.0 to 8.9 mM/L.
  • HbA1c (a measure of long-term diabetes control) decreased from 7.5% to 6.6%.
  • Triglyceride levels decreased from 2.5 to 1.6 mM/L.
  • Total cholesterol decreased from 5.3 to 4.4 mM/L
  • LDL (bad) cholesterol decreased from 3.2 to 2.6 mM/L.
    • All changes were significant vs placebo.
  • GDR increased after berberine treatment, but the change was not significant vs placebo.
  • Mild to moderate constipation was observed in 5 participants taking berberine.

The bottom line?
The authors concluded, “Berberine is effective and safe in the treatment of type 2 diabetes and dyslipidemia.”

It has been proposed that berberine’s benefits in diabetes might be related to a change in insulin resistance. That was not found in this study.

4/13/08 14:53 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.