The Benefits of Berberine as a Nootropic

Updated June 11, 2024 by | Reviewed by William Gallagher, MNeuroSci
(Estimated reading time: 5 minutes)

Berberine is a natural compound that has been shown to have many benefits.

This article will be focused on its use as a nootropic, with most of the discussion related to what it does in this capacity.

We'll talk about how Berberine works and the benefits it has as a nootropic.

So without further ado, let's get started.

What is Berberine?

Berberine (Coptis Chinensis, Hydrastis Canadensis) is a natural plant alkaloid that has been utilized in traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for thousands of years to treat diarrhea and gastrointestinal issues.

Berberine is a one-of-a-kind, nootropic substance with cognitive benefits.

Berberine's effectiveness in treating blood sugar, cholesterol, heart disease, blood pressure, autoimmune disease, inflammation, weight management, gut issues, cancer, and Alzheimer's Disease has been verified by research and clinical experience over the previous 8 years.

Berberine has been found to work similarly well in lowering blood sugar as metformin, a prescription diabetes pill.

Even if you don't have diabetes or pre-diabetes, you may find value in incorporating Berberine into your nootropic stack.

Our contemporary Western diet is harmful to one's general health. And cognitive wellness is particularly vulnerable. Berberine can help you achieve and maintain peak performance.

Berberine activates (adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase) AMPK, making it one of the few nootropic substances proven to do so.

This is especially significant if you're diabetic, pre-diabetic, or overweight. All states that compromise cognitive function are addressed by berberine.

AMPK is an important energy-generating enzyme that regulates cellular metabolism, including lipids, carbohydrates, and energy imbalances.

It's also necessary for regulating cellular metabolism, especially lipid, glucose, and energy imbalances. AMPK directly impacts brain cell energy production, function, repair, and maintenance.

Berberine activates AMPK, which stimulates fat burning in mitochondria.

Supplementation with Berberine has been shown to help prevent fat accumulation in the body.

In a clinical trial with Phytomedicine, obese human beings took 500 mg of Berberine three times per day for 12 weeks. Bodyweight decreased, blood lipid and hormone levels were balanced, and inflammation was reduced as a result of this study.

How does Berberine work in the Brain?

Berberine has several health benefits, including improved brain function and structure.

However, two, in particular, stand out:

  1. Berberine lowers blood sugar levels. Every cell in your body relies on glucose as a source of energy. Because your brain contains so many neurons, it consumes half of all the sugar energy available to it.
  2. Berberine improves memory. Berberine inhibits acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activity and stimulates glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1), according to studies. The enzyme AChE breaks down acetylcholine (ACh), which is important for concentration, focus, and memory.

Glucose levels are closely linked to learning, memory, and thinking or cognition and how effectively your brain utilizes this fuel source.

If your brain doesn't have enough glucose, neurotransmitters cannot be produced. Communication between neurons is also disrupted if there isn't enough glucose in the brain.

Low blood sugar levels can lead to hypoglycemia, a condition characterized by brain fog and tiredness. It is linked to attention and cognitive function problems.

This is a major factor in cognitive impairment for diabetics.

Berberine works to prevent hypoglycemia and the negative effects it has on the brain function by stimulating insulin release, thereby lowering blood sugar levels.

It also aids glucose uptake into cells that need these sugars most: your neurons.

In addition, Berberine improves how the brain cells communicate with each other by increasing the concentration of neurotransmitters in synaptic clefts, where signals are passed between neurons.

Berberine also increases levels of synaptophysin, a protein that is important for neuron-to-neuron communication and signal transmission through nerve endings (synapses).

What are the benefits?


When it comes to benefits, berberine seems to have it all.

Berberine helps with:

  • Neurotransmitters: Berberine has been found to boost serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine levels in the brain.
  • Berberine supports long-term potentiation (LTP) in synapses that would otherwise be damaged by diabetes.
  • Berberine activates adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK). AMPK is the major metabolic switch in each of your cells. When AMPK levels rise, you get a boost in energy, blood sugar control improves, insulin sensitivity improves, reduced triglycerides and increased fat burning in mitochondria occur.

The biggest benefit is that Berberine enhances the activity of important neurotransmitters in your brain.

Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that transmit signals from one neuron to another throughout your entire body, including your brain and central nervous system.

Neurotransmitter deficiencies can cause many negative effects on mood, behavior, learning ability, sleep patterns, energy, and many other functions.

Berberine also reduces inflammation in the brain by inhibiting COX-II activity and TNF alpha production while stimulating antioxidant enzyme activities to help protect against free radicals.

These actions provide neuroprotective effects that slow down cognitive decline due to aging or Alzheimer's disease. This is very intriguing for those looking to preserve their brain function in old age.

Berberine even has anti-aging benefits that are similar to those of caloric restriction, which is known for slowing down the aging process by reducing free radical production in cells and oxidative stress levels throughout the body.

What are the side effects?

When it comes to side effects, Berberine is pretty safe.

However, if you are suffering from a medical condition or are on any medications (including antibiotics), talk to your doctor before taking Berberine.

If you're on blood-sugar-lowering medication, that's even more critical.

Because Berberine can lower blood sugar in diabetics who are using insulin to control it, they must exercise caution.

Berberine also inhibits cytochromes P450 (CYP3A4, CYP2D6, and 2C9) in your liver.

This implies that it may enhance the bioavailability of certain medications and nootropics while simultaneously increasing their toxicity.

How does Berberine make you feel?

If you start to feel shaky in between meals, dizzy or nauseous, or your mood has taken a sudden dive – you might want to give berberine a go.

Many Biohackers have stated that taking berberine supplements has helped them feel a lot better. And their quality of life.

It might take up to a month for significant changes in how you feel to manifest themselves.

Many people notice or sense beneficial adjustments within days.

Sugar cravings go away. There are no late-afternoon sugar crashes. Energy levels improve, and one's endurance improves.

You get better sleep. You wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, not groggy or tired like you used to feel before berberine supplementation.

There are no more sugar highs followed by crashes throughout the day.

Your overall mood is enhanced; your anxiety recedes, along with depressive feelings that were once present in your life.

Berberine Recommended Dosage

The recommended dosage of Berberine is 900 – 1,500 mg per day.

Because Berberine has a short half-life, you'll need to take it several times a day to maintain healthy levels in your blood.

You may experience loose stools, sweats, or even vomiting when you begin using Berberine.

If this is the case, lower your dosage and slowly increase it as you get used to taking Berberine.

It's also important to cycle on and off of Berberine every few months (eg: two weeks on, two weeks off) because tolerance can occur with long-term use.

In Summary

Berberine is a naturally occurring compound that can provide many benefits for your health.

It acts as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and neuroprotective agent in the brain while also being able to lower blood sugar levels.

This has major implications for preventing cognitive decline due to aging or Alzheimer's disease.

Side effects are minimal at low doses, but berberine should not be taken by diabetics or those taking blood sugar-lowering medications.

Berberine is available in supplement form and can be trialed for a few months to determine its effects on your health before discontinuing use.

To avoid potential issues with tolerance, it's best to cycle off every two weeks with two weeks on.

The recommended dosage is 900 – 1500 mg per day in divided doses.

Berberine has a very short half-life, so it needs to be taken several times daily for best results.