Cheating High Carbohydrate Meals...With A Pill?

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Stefan Filippo

September 8, 2022

Dihydroberberine and Metformin are both compounds that are used for regulating blood sugar and improving insulin sensitivity. Metformin has been approved for use in treating Type II Diabetes since 1995 and Dihydroberberine has only recently gained some notice as it is now readily available in supplement form.  Berberine, the parent compound of Dihydroberberine, has been around for a while. And now, the question on everybody’s mind… Is Dihydroberberine better than Metformin?

Key Facts

Is Dihydroberberine better than Metformin?

To cut straight to the point, there are no studies directly comparing Metformin with Dihydroberberine.

So it might look like we don’t have an answer.

But there is more to it than that.

We have a study comparing Metformin with regular Berberine.

And multiple studies comparing Berberine with Dihydroberberine.

So, by comparing these studies and using a bit of deductive reasoning, we can make some assumptions/thoughts about how DHB compares to Metformin.

Based on everything contained in this article, it appears Dihydroberberine would outperform Metformin.  

Read on to find out why.

What is Metformin?

Metformin is a drug used to treat type 2 diabetes.  As you would expect of a diabetes drug, Metformin lowers blood glucose.

Is Metformin derived from Berberine?

No, Metformin is derived from the herb Goat’s Rue (Galega officinalis) which contains no Berberine.

​​How does Metformin work in type 2 diabetes?

Metformin has 3 primary ways in which it lowers blood glucose.

Firstly, it decreases the amount of sugar that the liver produces (known as gluconeogenesis).

Secondly, it improves insulin sensitivity.

Both of these are due to Metformin’s ability to activate the AMPK enzyme.

Thirdly, it prevents how much sugar is absorbed in the intestines from the foods we eat.

What is Berberine?

Berberine is an isoquinoline alkaloid found in multiple plants, including Berberis shrubs, Barberry, Goldenseal and more.  This compound has been extensively studied, with over 600 studies being published on it in the last year alone (2021).

Its most notable uses are for enhancing metabolic health (the focus of this article) and acting as a microbiome modulator, showing anti-microbial effects to potentially pathogenic bacteria and assisting in the proliferation of helpful bacteria such as Akkermansia.

How Berberine lowers blood sugar

Multiple studies have shown the beneficial effect that Berberine has on lowering blood sugar. 

But that’s not all. 

Berberine has also been shown to favourably impact HbA1c, cholesterol, triglycerides and insulin sensitivity.

Together, a 2018 meta-analysis and 2021 systematic review and meta-analysis showed reductions in fasting blood glucose, fasting postprandial blood glucose, HbA1c, triglycerides and total cholesterol while increasing HDL and improving markers of insulin sensitivity [R, R].

The main way that Berberine improves blood glucose and the other metabolic markers is similar to Metformin, it activates the AMPK enzyme [R].  It also has a number of other ways that it impacts blood sugar, from restoring the function of pancreatic beta cells, and therefore improving insulin secretion [R], supporting the health of the liver (a key organ involved in blood sugar metabolism), increasing Adiponectin levels [R], supporting Autophagy [R] and more.

What is Dihydroberberine?

Dihydroberberine is one of the 17 natural metabolites of Berberine.  When we supplement with Berberine, our gut microbes add 2 hydrogen molecules to it (chemically known as reduction), making Dihydroberberine.  This Dihydroberberine is then absorbed through the intestinal wall, into the bloodstream and eventually converted back into Berberine to be absorbed into the cell and exert its effect on our metabolic function [R, R].

Dihydroberberine improves blood sugar in all the same ways regular Berberine does, but it does it better.

Dihydroberberine vs Berberine

As was mentioned above, we have multiple studies comparing Berberine and Dihydroberberine.

I’ve written about these in more detail here, but to summarise them;

  • Dihydroberberine is absorbed 5 times better than Berberine across the intestinal wall [R, R]
  • Dihydroberberine raises blood levels of Berberine better than supplementing with regular Berberine. Especially in those with compromised microbiomes [R].  This was shown in both mice and human studies [R, R]
  • Dihydroberberine has a half life of 8 hours while Berberine is only 4 hours [R]
  • Dihydroberberine showed better effects on insulin sensitivity, triglycerides and body fat levels than Berberine [R]
  • There are less gut side effects from Dihydroberberine compared to Berberine [R, R]
  • The dose of Dihydroberberine (100-200mg 1-2 times per day) is much less than Berberine (500mg 3 times per day)

Dihydroberberine vs Metformin

And now, the question we came here to answer.

Is Dihydroberberine better than Metformin when it comes to blood glucose control?

As was mentioned above, we have a study comparing Metformin to Berberine and multiple studies comparing Berberine to Dihydroberberine.  We already know Dihydroberberine outperforms Berberine, so if Berberine outperforms or matches Metformin, then we would expect that Dihydroberberine outperforms Metformin.

That’s just what happened.

A 2009 human study compared Metformin to Berberine and found Berberine was just as effective at improving carbohydrate metabolism and more effective at improving fat metabolism.  They used the same dose, 500mg 3 times per day, for both Metformin and Berberine [R].  

The 2 interventions had identical effects in how well they lowered the following;

  • Fasting blood glucose
  • Postprandial blood glucose
  • Fasting insulin
  • Postprandial Insulin
  • HbA1c

But wait, there’s more.

Berberine outperformed Metformin regarding fat metabolism, showing better effects on triglycerides and total cholesterol [R].

So, while there are no direct studies comparing Dihydroberberine and Metformin, based on all the information in this article, we’d expect Dihydroberberine to outperform Metformin.

Dihydroberberine Supplement

Where can we get Dihydroberberine supplements?

Can I get one without fillers or flow agents?

You can find the purest Dihydroberberine Supplement from Novel Nutrients right here.

Dihydroberberine (DHB)


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