What is Berberine Tea? The Benefits, Side Effects, and More

Woman drinking a cup of tea and smiling

Berberine tea can help you on your wellness journey (Source: Shutterstock)

Berberine tea is a relative newcomer that has been making headlines in the world of alternative cures and wellness trends. Health enthusiasts and researchers alike are curious about berberine’s all-encompassing effects, including metabolic health and inflammatory control. In this article, we delve into the world of berberine tea, looking at its history, potential advantages, factors to take into account when consuming it, and any possible adverse effects. 

What is Berberine Tea?

The roots and bark of specific plants containing the bioactive chemical berberine, known for its potential health advantages, are used to make the herbal infusion berberine tea. These include the berberry, goldenseal, and Oregon grape plants. The resulting tea has a distinct bitter flavor and a vivid yellow hue.

Berberine has been used in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine for centuries to treat a range of ailments, including inflammation and digestive problems.

Berberine is a popular supplement among people with diabetes. This is because of its ability to positively impact blood sugar metabolism, insulin sensitivity, and glucose regulation. It has the ability to boost insulin sensitivity so that cells can more efficiently take in sugar from the bloodstream. This helps keep blood sugar levels stable.

Berberine has also been seen to block the conversion of glycogen (stored glucose) into glucose. This also helps to limit blood sugar levels. Furthermore, berberine activates the production of an enzyme called AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which is involved in energy production and blood sugar regulation.

Several studies have focused on berberine’s ability to help people with diabetes. A 2008 study that was published in the journal Metabolism found that berberine can be considered an effective supplementary treatment for type 2 diabetes. The researchers concluded that “berberine is a potent oral hypoglycemic agent with beneficial effects on lipid metabolism.”

Berberine Benefits

Here are eight reasons to consider adding berberine tea to your day:

  1. Blood Sugar Control: Berberine’s effects on controlling blood sugar levels have been encouraging. Research suggests that it could enhance cells’s ability to receive glucose from the bloodstream and lower insulin resistance. This is especially beneficial for those who suffer from type 2 diabetes.
  2. Metabolic Heath: Berberine supplementation has been associated with improved lipid profiles and helps with weight loss. Studies have also shown reductions in LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. The ability of berberine to lower insulin resistance may also help with weight control.
  3. Cardiovascular Support: Berberine’s impact on lipid metabolism extends to heart health. By inhibiting the absorption of dietary cholesterol and lowering total cholesterol levels, it may promote heart health, reducing the risk of heart disease.
  4. Anti-Inflammatory and Antioxidant Effects: Berberine has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that promote enhanced general health and might help avoid sickness.
  5. Digestive Health: Gastrointestinal problems have historically been treated with berberine. Through altering gut bacteria, it may help in reducing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms and promoting a healthy gut environment.
  6. Cognitive Health: New research on the relationship between brain health and neuroprotection suggests that berberine may have neuroprotective benefits by affecting pathways involved in cognitive performance. It could support cognitive wellness by shielding brain cells from harm.
  7. Effects on the Microbiome: Berberine has been used for its capacity to treat diseases brought on by bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. Berberine possesses inherent antibacterial capabilities.
  8. Possible Cancer Fighter: Studies have looked into the possibility of berberine preventing the development of specific cancer cells. Further research is required to understand this benefit fully.

Berberine Side Effects

A bottle of berberine capsules falling out on the counter

Berberine tea also comes in capsules that are easy to take (Source: Shutterstock

Berberine is considered safe when taken in moderation in line with supplement manufacturer recommendations. However, as with all supplements, some portions of the population may experience relatively minor side effects. These may include:

  • Potential Kidney Issues: Blood creatinine levels, which are a kidney function indicator, may rise as a result of berberine’s ability to alter renal function. As soon as the berberine is stopped, this elevation usually subsides and goes away. The kidneys excrete berberine through the renal clearance system. In people with pre-existing kidney ailments, high doses of berberine may overly stress the kidneys.

Berberine also has diuretic properties, which may lead to excess fluid loss, possibly stressing the kidneys. 

  • Stomach Problems: Some people may have stomach ache, gas, bloating., diarrhea, or constipation when they start taking berberine. This usually corrects itself after a few days.
  • Drug Interactions: People taking some prescription medications may experience negative effects when taking berberine. These include the liver medication CYP3A4, as well as immunosuppressants, some statins, and antihypertensive medications.
  • Potential Pregnancy Difficulties: Some research indicates that berberine may impact pregnancy and breastfeeding. As a result, pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid taking berberine as a tea or in supplement form.
  • Possible Liver and Renal Issues: Berberine may negatively affect liver enzymes, so those with renal or liver ailments should avoid taking it.
  • Allergic Reactions: A small portion of the population may have an allergy to berberine-containing plants. Symptoms of allergy are skin rashes, itching, and sneezing. 

How to Take Berberine as a Tea


  • Berberine powder
  • Water
  • Optional: Sweetener (honey, stevia) to taste


  1. Measure 1-2 teaspoons of berberine powder for every cup of water.
  2. Bring water to a boil and then remove it from heat.
  3. Add the dried plant parts to the hot water.
  4. Cover the container and let it steep for about 10-15 minutes. Steeping time can be adjusted for desired strength.
  5. Strain the liquid to remove the plant parts, leaving you with the berberine-infused tea.
  6. You can drink the tea as is or add a natural sweetener if desired.


Berberine tea has the potential to be a natural medicine with positive health effects. Although its effects on controlling blood sugar and metabolic health are intriguing, caution is advised due to its complicated interactions and potential negative effects. Consult a medical expert to ensure berberine tea is safe for you to consume, given your health situation, current medications, and specific requirements. With their assistance, you’ll be able to enjoy berberine tea’s potential advantages and make a wise health decision.