How Long Does Berberine Take to Work?

October 24, 2023

Berberine is a bright yellow, naturally-occurring compound found in plants like barberry, Oregon grape, goldenseal, goldthread, Phellodendron, Mayapple, and more (1).

Traditionally, berberine has been used as an antimicrobial, antiparasitic, and antidiarrheal agent in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. Interestingly, it’s only effective and safe when taken orally. When applied externally or topically, it’s actually toxic (2). 

Once ingested, berberine is absorbed in the small intestine. After absorption, it enters your bloodstream and is carried to different cells throughout the body, where it activates/deactivates or promotes the reaction of certain enzymes and proteins in the body (3). These enzymes play essential roles in controlling processes related to metabolism, immunity, and inflammation.

What Factors Influence Berberine’s Effectiveness?

The effectiveness and speed at which berberine begins to work can be influenced by several variables, including dosage, form, and individual factors like metabolism and lifestyle.


  • Higher Dosage: Typically, a higher dosage of berberine is more likely to produce a faster and stronger effect. However, it's essential to follow the recommended dosages on the supplement label to avoid potential side effects or adverse reactions.
  • Split Dosage: Splitting the daily dosage into smaller, more frequent doses may lead to better absorption and sustained effects. For example, taking berberine two or three times a day can help maintain a consistent level in the bloodstream.

Capsules vs. Powder

Berberine is available in various forms, such as capsules and powder. The form can affect how quickly it’s absorbed and starts working. Generally, capsules have a more controlled release, while powdered berberine may be absorbed more rapidly due to its immediate exposure to the digestive system.

A hand holding two capsules of NativePath Native Berberine

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An effective botanical for blood sugar management and metabolic support, Native Berberine contains 900 milligrams of Barberry Root along with Goldenseal and Oregon Grape Extract for an added health boost.

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Cardiovascular Health

Berberine may help improve heart health by improving cholesterol levels, reducing triglycerides, promoting better blood vessel function, and reducing inflammation (6, 7). 

In one study, people who took berberine for eight weeks had better heart function and were able to exercise longer than those who took placebo (8). Other studies suggest that when berberine is combined with standard medicines for heart failure, it can improve heart function and quality of life. 

Be sure to talk to your doctor about whether it’s safe and appropriate for you to take berberine in addition to your usual care. Berberine can potentially interact with a number of medications.

Gut Health & Digestion

The anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial aspects of berberine may support the gut microbiome of people with gastrointestinal ailments, diarrhea, and bacterial overgrowth due to irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and other inflammatory bowel diseases.

In a randomized, placebo-controlled study published in Phytotherapy Research, patients with diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome took 400 milligrams of berberine a day for eight weeks, resulting in improvements in diarrhea frequency and urgency, and abdominal pain (9).

Weight Management

A study on the effects of berberine on obesity demonstrated that an intake of 500 mg of the supplement three times a day resulted in a noticeable weight reduction (7). In three months, participants on average, lost 5 pounds. Body fats were reduced by 3.6% before and after treatment with berberine.

Another study with very promising results examined the effectiveness of taking 300 mg of berberine three times a day for twelve weeks in reducing participants’ body mass index (BMI) (10). Results of the study revealed that berberine reduced the BMI of the treatment group from 31.5 to 27.4. For reference, a BMI of 30 or greater falls in the obese category, while a BMI of 25 to 29 is overweight.

Based on these two studies, taking berberine for at least three months may be necessary to see positive results in the weight and BMI of individuals. However, caution should still be taken when interpreting findings, as both studies only recruited a very small sample size.

A hand holding two capsules of NativePath Native Berberine

Give Your Health a Botanical Boost

An effective botanical for blood sugar management and metabolic support, Native Berberine contains 900 milligrams of Barberry Root along with Goldenseal and Oregon Grape Extract for an added health boost.

Add to Cart

NativeNote: It's important to note that berberine's effects may not be immediately noticeable, and it may take some time for its full benefits to become evident. Factors like the specific health condition being treated and individual variations can influence the time it takes for berberine to work.

How Much Berberine Should I Take?

The recommended dose of berberine can vary depending on the specific health condition you're trying to address. It's important to consult with your healthcare provider before starting berberine to determine the appropriate dosage for your needs. They can take into account your health condition, medications you may be taking, and other factors that could impact the recommended dose.

Based on the current studies, here are the general berberine dosages:

For Blood Sugar Control and Type 2 Diabetes

  • A common dosage range for berberine used in studies for blood sugar control is 500 mg to 1500 mg per day.
  • This total daily dose is often divided into 2-3 smaller doses to be taken with meals.

For Cholesterol & Lipid Management

  • A typical dosage range for improving lipid profiles is 500 mg to 1500 mg per day.
  • As with blood sugar control, it's often divided into multiple doses.

For Gut Health & Digestive Issues

  • The dosage for gut health can vary widely. In some cases, lower doses, such as 200 to 400 mg per day, may be used.
  • However, for more significant digestive issues, higher doses may be necessary.

For Weight Management

  • Dosages used in weight management studies can also vary, but they often fall in the range of 500 mg to 1500 mg per day.

It's important to not exceed the recommended dosage, as high doses of berberine can lead to gastrointestinal side effects in some individuals. Berberine should be taken with meals to help reduce the risk of upsetting your stomach.

Kat Kennedy
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Kat Kennedy

Kat Kennedy is the Fitness and Nutrition Editor at NativePath. With a NASM CPT, NCSF CPT, and NCSF Sports Nutrition Certification, she has a passion for giving people the tools they need to feel healthy, strong, and confident.

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    Medical Disclaimer

    This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Chad Walding nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program.

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