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Natural Awakenings Greater Boston - Rhode Island

Berberine/Dihydroberberine: Nature’s Support for Many Health Issues

Aug 31, 2023 09:31AM ● By Dr. Gary Kracoff
Berberine is an alkaloid found in about 500 different plant species within the Berberis genus (including barberry, Oregon grape, goldenseal and berberis vulgaris. It has a long history of medical use and has been shown to have major effects in the body.

Antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory, berberine is used to treat bacteria, fungus, parasites and viruses. Its many other health benefits include aiding with bile and bilirubin secretion; promoting healthy cellular lining of the blood vessels and lymphatic system; inhibiting thrombin-induced platelet aggregation; improving cholesterol balance (lowers cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL-cholesterol and raises HDL-cholesterol); lessens elevated blood sugar (lowers insulin resistance and increases insulin secretion); and reduces hepatic inflammation, intestinal permeability, and dysbiosis in the gut via microbial-balancing. It may also help with weight loss and in shrinking belly fat.

The downside of berberine is that is has poor bioavailability and it causes increased rates of gastrointestinal distress at higher doses.

Dihydroberberine (DHB), marketed as Gluco Vantage, is one of the 17 metabolites of berberine and a key factor in the benefits fostered by berberine as it is metabolized by the body. DHB is five times more bioavailable than berberine. If taken with sunflower lecithin, the absorption rate is even greater.

Regular taking of berberine is associated with constipation, diarrhea, increased bloating and flatulence, so anyone that is already dealing with gastrointestinal issues will want to try DHB. Another valuable characteristic of DHB is its ability to lower blood sugar levels is stronger than that of regular berberine, making DHB a better choice for anyone with insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, blood vessel damage, systemic inflammation, high blood pressure and/or obesity.

Here’s more information on the benefits of berberine/DHB pertaining to specific areas:

Insulin Sensitivity

Berberine/DHB supports the production of messenger RNA which then increases production of insulin receptors on the cell surface. More receptor sites are then available for insulin to attach and cause an effect inside the cells. This helps maintain insulin sensitivity.

Kidney Disease

Without intervention, insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome lead to diabetes and kidney disease. Berberine/DHB provides support against kidney damage and disease at least in part by increasing insulin sensitivity and its anti-inflammatory effects.

Lower Blood Sugar

Berberine/DHB research shows it supports the inhibition of complex 1 in the electron transport chain; this is similar to the action of Metformin. When complex 1 activity is reduced, it reduces ATP production, moving the cell to break down glucose molecules to make energy.

Weight Loss

Berberine/DHB preserves lipid metabolism and helps maintain healthy blood glucose levels. It also helps by promoting a balanced level of leptin (dysregulation of leptin increases the appetite) and increases thermogenesis in white and brown adipose (fat) tissues.

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Berberine/DHB is one of the most promising bioactive compounds proposed to treat non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. It helps maintain hepatoprotective effects including support for the inhibition of lipogenesis (storing of fat) and gluconeogenesis (glucose formation) and helps maintain a healthy lipid profile. Growing evidence confirms the positive effects on multiple pathways may lead to improvements of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and related metabolic disorders.

High Cholesterol and High Triglycerides

Berberine /DHB helps to preserve lipid metabolism. It has been shown to help balance total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides significantly.

High Blood Pressure

Berberine/DHB supports the reduction of endothelial microparticles and promotes endothelia repair. Endothelial dysfunction is associated with arterial stiffness in hypertension.


Berberine/DHB affects blood glucose levels, so, theoretically, someone taking anti-diabetes drugs may have their blood sugar drop too low. While there is evidence that berberine/DHB doesn’t cause insulin secretion when glucose levels are low, let a doctor know if you are taking it. As our body balances, there may be a need to adjust prescription medications.

Dr. Gary Kracoff is a registered pharmacist with a doctorate in naturopathic medicine at the Johnson Compounding and WellnessCenter, located at 577 Main St., Waltham, MA. For more information, call 781-893-3870 ext. 2 or visit