About Berberine from Dr. Whitaker

By Derek Lakin
HighYa Staff Published on: Jul 10, 2017

With 500mg per dose, Berberine from Dr. Whitaker is a clinical grade, botanical-based dietary supplement that promises to represent a simple, effective solution for supporting healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

Specifically, the supplement’s website tells us that taking three capsules daily (one before each meal) could provide benefits like:

  • If you already have healthy blood glucose levels, Berberine might help you keep them there.
  • Similarly, if your triglyceride levels and your insulin sensitivity are normal, the supplement may also help maintain them.

Like all of Dr. Whitaker’s supplements, Berberine is manufactured in the USA and is triple tested (raw materials are rigorously screened, finished goods are batch tested, and are also tested at an independent laboratory).

Taken together, it seems like Berberine from Dr. Whitaker could represent “premium, research-based nourishment,” as claimed on their site. Does that necessarily mean it’s the right choice for you? Here, we’ll address many of your most important questions.

What Is Glucose & Cholesterol?

We don’t want to take too much time away from the topic at hand—or bore you to tears in the process—but let’s quickly take a high-level glance at a couple of fundamental concepts surrounding Dr. Whitaker’s Berberine.

What Does the Term ‘Blood Sugar’ Mean?

When you eat some foods (primarily carbohydrates like grains, but also fruits and many vegetables), the sugars they contain are converted into glucose molecules. In turn, this glucose helps provide the energy our cells need to thrive and ‘power’ our body.

If there isn’t enough insulin present—a hormone that allows glucose to enter our cells, where it can be used for energy—it can build up in the bloodstream and potentially lead to health consequences like chronically high blood sugar, including diabetes.

The Relationship Between Cholesterol & Triglycerides

On the other hand, cholesterol is a waxy lipid (water-insoluble substances derived from fatty acids) that circulates in the blood. The Mayo Clinic tells us that triglycerides are also a lipid, but instead of being used to build cells and certain hormones like cholesterol, they “store unused calories and provide your body with energy.”

These are clearly beneficial substances. But, if we eat too many foods containing high levels of carbohydrates or fats, these lipids can build up in our blood and clog our arteries, leading to a host of potential health concerns like increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and peripheral artery disease.

From a clinical perspective, how might Berberine from Dr. Whitaker help address these concerns?

Which Ingredients Are Found in Dr. Whitaker’s Berberine?

Taking a look the supplement facts label listed on the main Dr. Whitaker site, the only ingredient found in each dose is 500mg of BerberPure Berberine. What’s this?

According to the Natural Medicines Database, berberine is an alkaloid (a molecule consisting mostly of basic nitrogen atoms) found in plants, that’s been used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for millennia. This is the ‘phytonutrient’ referenced on Dr. Whitaker’s website.

Despite its length of use, is there proof that it can provide benefits in humans?

The NMD, as well as WebMD, reports that there is sufficient clinical evidence to classify berberine as “possibly effective” for reducing blood sugar in those with diabetes, as well as for reducing cholesterol levels in those with high cholesterol. For both conditions, they report participants took 500mg of the ingredient two to three times daily, which is what’s found in Dr. Whitaker’s version.

Examine.com indicates there are between three and five studies (each) closely associating berberine with several potential benefits, including those related to blood glucose, total cholesterol, insulin, and triglycerides. A couple of these studies are even referenced on Dr. Whitaker’s website.

In fact, for reducing blood glucose, Examine reports that berberine may work as well as prescription drugs like Metformin or Glibenclamide. But total cholesterol reduction is reported as “not overly potent,” while insulin and triglyceride reduction is cited as “not overly remarkable.”

Finally, we didn’t find any third-party references to the specific BerberPure found in Berberine, or whether or not this version provides different results from the details above.

However, we called Healthy Directions’ customer support department and learned that BerberPure is a proprietary blend from the company that contains berberine, chromium, Silbinol, gymnema, Portusana, GlucoHelp, banaba extract, and vanadyl sulfate. These same authoritative sites reported insufficient clinical evidence for these ingredients’ effectiveness at addressing blood sugar.

Will Berberine Cause Any Potential Side Effects?

Returning again to the sources referenced in the previous section, cumulatively, they list up to 2g of berberine daily as “possibly safe” for adults, for a period of up to eight weeks. This is whether applied topically or ingested.

Infrequent side effects (no specific circumstances noted) included digestive upset and headache.

However, they note that children shouldn’t use berberine, nor should expectant or lactating mothers, since it can be transferred to a fetus through the placenta, or to a newborn via breast milk.

WebMD indicates a major potential interaction between berberine and the prescription medication cyclosporine.

Given all of this, it makes sense that Berberine’s label indicates: “If you are on insulin, are hypoglycemic, are pregnant, or lactating, consult with a healthcare professional.”

How Much Does Dr. Whitaker’s Berberine Cost?

What you pay for Berberine largely depends on which of Dr. Whitaker’s sites you choose to purchase from.

For example, on their BuyBerberine.com site, the only option was to pay an initial $6.99 S&H fee for a full-size bottle, followed by a 20-day trial.

If you don’t cancel within this time, you’ll be enrolled in the company’s Autodelivery program. This means you’ll continue receiving two bottles of Berberine once every 60 days and charged $49.99 (plus applicable sales tax) each time.

On the other hand, shopping directly through the Dr. Whitaker website seems to offer more options. For a one-time purchase, Berberine customers pay:

  • 1 Bottle: $34.99
  • 4 Bottles: $104.96
  • 7 Bottles: $174.93

With Autodelivery, these prices drop to:

  • 1 Bottle: $27.99
  • 4 Bottles: $83.97
  • 7 Bottles: $139.94

Regardless of which website you use or the per-bottle price you pay, your Berberine order will come with a 90-day refund policy, less S&H.

To request one, or to cancel your Autodelivery enrollment, Healthy Directions’ customer support department can be reached at 800-665-9737 or [email protected]

What Can We Learn From Customer Reviews for Dr. Whitaker’s Berberine?

On the main Dr. Whitaker website, their Berberine supplement had nearly 150 customer reviews and an average rating of 4.1 stars. What was everyone saying?

Most compliments appeared to revolve around effective results (maintained healthy blood sugar levels, increased energy, etc.), while complaints commonly referenced no results. Was it much the same elsewhere online?

On Amazon, we encountered more than 300 customer reviews for the Berberine supplement, with a nearly identical four-star average rating. Many also reported that it helped improve their blood sugar levels—one even claimed they were using it as a replacement for Metformin (which we’d never recommend you copy, obviously, without speaking with your doctor).

Not all customers reported these same positive results, though. Which makes sense, considering that each of us might react differently to the same ingredients.

From a company perspective, Healthy Directions, LLC is based out of Bethesda, MD and specializes in a variety of dietary supplements promoted by different medical professionals.

They held an A+ Better Business Bureau rating based on 96 closed complaints, as of 7/10/17. Of those with details available, most appeared related to difficulties obtaining refunds, although a representative responded quickly to address the situations.

Who is Dr. Julian Whitaker?

According to the bio on his practice's website, Dr. Julian Whitaker earned his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth in 1968 and his MD from Emory University Medical School in 1970, and is a member of the American Medical Association.

Today, he operates the Whitaker Wellness Institute in Newport Beach, CA, which the practice’s website indicates is an “alternative medical facility” whose specialties include acupuncture, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, massage and microcurrent therapy, and neurofeedback.

He is also listed as the author of 13 books and the founder of the Freedom of Health Foundation.

How Does Berberine from Dr. Whitaker Compare to the Competition?

Quickly searching Google Shopping for berberine supplements returned hundreds of results at the time of our research, many of which also provided the 500mg per-capsule dose found in Dr. Whitaker’s formula. Most were priced somewhere between $10 and $25.

Berberine is such a popular supplement that many of these options were also reported to be available nearby, potentially saving S&H fees (as well as return charges if customers aren’t satisfied). How might you narrow down your choices?

In our guide to buying quality supplements, we learned that you’ll want to focus on companies that:

  • Display a commitment to providing positive customer support experiences (especially related to refunds and autoship un-enrollment),
  • List all ingredients and their dosages,
  • Don’t make overhyped claims,
  • Reference clinical studies to support their claims, and
  • Use the appropriate dosages found in those studies.

How does this—along with everything else we’ve discussed here—line up for the Berberine supplement?

What’s Our Bottom Line About Berberine from Dr. Whitaker?

In the beginning, we learned from Dr. Whitaker’s site that this supplement could potentially provide three key benefits:

  • Maintain healthy blood glucose levels already within the normal range
  • Support normal cholesterol and triglyceride levels
  • Support normal insulin sensitivity

And according to sites like the Natural Medicines Database, WebMD, and Examine.com, there seem to be several human-focused studies that provide support for these claims. Reportedly, this is especially the case for reducing blood glucose.

In addition, Dr. Whitaker’s Berberine supplement seems to come with mostly positive online feedback from hundreds of customers; feature the same dosages used in clinical studies for berberine in general, and a deliver a competitive (if not on the slightly higher side) price point.

Important: As a reminder, we learned from customer support that BerberPure is a proprietary blend of eight different ingredients, totaling 500mg. However, in the clinical studies we discussed above, they indicated participants took 500mg doses of berberine alone, so it doesn’t appear you’ll receive the same per-capsule dose in Dr. Whitaker’s blend as reflected in these studies.

Even with this caveat in mind, taken together, Dr. Whitaker seems to tick many important boxes when looking for a quality berberine supplement. And if his formulation ultimately isn’t to your satisfaction, you might only lose a few bucks in return shipping by processing a refund (within 90 days, of course).

Just be sure to speak with your doctor before taking any new supplement, as they can help you make the most informed decision possible.

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