Citrus bergamot and berberine are two traditional medicines often compared to one another due to their similar health effects, particularly for cholesterol and blood sugar regulation.
In order to make the best decision, read our entire article to see the similarities and differences between citrus bergamot and berberine, as well as which one is most effective.
Table of Contents
Citrus Bergamot Overview:
Citrus bergamot (Citrus bergamia), also known as bergamot orange or sour orange, is a citrus fruit that has been used in traditional medicine for many years. It is native to a southern region in Italy known as Calabria.
Traditionally, citrus bergamot was used for fevers and parasitic diseases. Modern research shows that citrus bergamot has many benefits, such as for cholesterol and blood sugar.
Below is an overview of the primary health benefits of citrus bergamot.
1. May Improve Cholesterol Levels
Citrus bergamot has been proven to improve cholesterol levels, according to many clinical trials. This is arguably the most well-researched benefit of citrus bergamot.
For example, one clinical trial found that citrus bergamot supplementation significantly reduced low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, triglycerides, and total cholesterol, while also increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
Another clinical study showed that citrus bergamot flavonoids greatly improved cholesterol profiles, including reductions in LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides, alongside an increase in HDL cholesterol.
These are just two of several clinical trials which all show the health benefits of citrus bergamot for cholesterol.
Researchers have discovered that citrus bergamot improves cholesterol by inhibiting the HMG Coa-reductase enzyme, which ultimately leads to less cholesterol produced. Moreover, citrus bergamot is able to help remove cholesterol from the blood, inhibits LDL oxidation, and offers general anti-inflammatory effects.
2. May Lower Blood Sugar
Citrus bergamot also appears effective for lowering blood sugar and improving insulin sensitivity.
One clinical trial on individuals with type 2 diabetes found that supplementing with citrus bergamot extract led to a significant decrease in blood sugar compared to the placebo.
Another clinical study on obese adults with high blood sugar and metabolic syndrome showed that citrus bergamot supplementation markedly decreased blood sugar levels and improved body composition. This study also showed that bergamot improved insulin sensitivity and insulin resistance.
Researchers have also found that citrus bergamot is effective for lowering blood sugar in both patients with high blood sugar and normal blood sugar levels, which suggests both mitigative and preventive effects.
Citrus bergamot seems to work for blood sugar control by enhancing AMP kinase (AMPK) and other enzymes involved in sugar metabolism. Additionally, citrus bergamot appears to be able to improve insulin sensitivity, which leads to improved blood sugar levels.
3. May Help With Weight Loss
Somewhat tied into the point above is that citrus bergamot is also beneficial for weight loss and body fat reduction.
One clinical trial on older adults with high cholesterol showed that those given citrus bergamot had a lower body weight, waist circumference, and body mass index (BMI) compared to the placebo group.
Another clinical study on patients with metabolic syndrome discovered that bergamot supplementation led to decreases in body weight and BMI, alongside notable improvements in various hormonal markers related to metabolism and weight management.
Citrus bergamot supplements seem to work for weight loss in a few ways, such as by increasing the activity of enzymes involved in fat and sugar metabolism. Furthermore, citrus bergamot improves the function of ghrelin and leptin, which are hormones involved in hunger and satiety. Lastly, the general anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of bergamot may be beneficial for weight loss.
4. May Reduce Inflammation
Another potential benefit of citrus bergamot is for reduced inflammation.
One clinical trial on patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease revealed that citrus bergamot supplementation led to reductions in c-reactive protein (CRP) and other markers of inflammation.
Another clinical study found that citrus bergamot supplementation decreased a variety of inflammatory markers in people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and type 2 diabetes.
Citrus bergamot works for inflammation due to its high presence of flavonoids and other antioxidant compounds. These can reduce numerous inflammatory markers and decrease oxidative stress in the body.
Berberine is a phytochemical found in various medicinal plants, such as goldenseal, barberry, and Chinese goldthread.
This compound has a long history of use in traditional medicine to treat various diseases, such as infections and gastrointestinal disorders. Modern research shows that berberine has many potential health benefits, such as for cholesterol, blood sugar, and immunity.
Listed below are the main researched benefits of berberine.
1. May Improve Cholesterol
Several clinical studies show the benefits of berberine for reducing cholesterol and improving total blood lipids profiles.
One clinical trial on individuals with cardiovascular risk showed that berberine supplementation decreased LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides, while also increasing HDL cholesterol.
Another clinical trial on patients with lipid disturbances revealed that berberine led to marked declines in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol compared to the placebo.
A few other clinical trials echo these similar effects, such as this study. One of the ways berberine may lower cholesterol is by upregulating LDL receptors, which ultimately results in greater removal of LDL cholesterol from circulation. Moreover, berberine may inhibit cholesterol absorption and promote cholesterol excretion.
2. May Reduce Blood Sugar
Berberine also has solid evidence behind it for lowering blood sugar levels.
One clinical study on individuals with type 2 diabetes discovered that berberine supplementation decreased blood sugar and improved insulin resistance.
A clinical trial on patients with metabolic syndrome showed that berberine greatly reduced blood sugar and insulin levels while also increasing insulin sensitivity.
There are other clinical trials which have shown similar blood sugar-lowering effects as well. Researchers have found that berberine is able to lower blood sugar in a few ways, such as by activiating AMPK and other enzymes involved in sugar metabolism.
Moreover, berberine increases insulin sensitivity and inhibits an enzyme called alpha-glucosidase, the latter of which decreases absorption of blood sugar.
3. May Help with Weight Loss
A couple of clinical trials provide limited evidence for the weight loss benefits of berberine.
One clinical trial showed that berberine supplementation decreased weight circumference, although only in women.
A clinical study on obese individuals discovered that the subjects treated with berberine experienced mild, but clinically significant weight loss.
Berberine may enhance weight loss by improving fat and sugar metabolism and other aspects of metabolic activity. Moreover, berberine is able to minimize fat and sugar absorption while also enhancing insulin activity, all of which may generally support weight loss.
4. May Enhance Gut Health
There is some evidence that berberine enhances gut health and digestive function.
One clinical trial on individuals with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) revealed that berberine improved symptoms of IBS and overall quality of life.
A clinical study on individuals with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) showed that an herbal remedy, which included berberine, was at least as effective as a prescription medication for improving gut dysbiosis and reducing SIBO symptoms.
Researchers note that berberine may promote the production of healthy gut bacteria while also removing pathogenic bacteria, thus creating a healthier gut environment.
Citrus Bergamot vs. Berberine: Which One is Right for You?
Due to the many similar benefits of citrus bergamot and berberine, you may be thinking about which one is best for you.
Citrus bergamot is a very well-researched and safe herb with proven benefits, especially for cholesterol, blood sugar, and weight loss. Moreover, it may help to reduce inflammation.
Yet, berberine is also effective for managing cholesterol, blood sugar, and improving gut health. It also shows some promise as a weight management supplement.
When comparing citrus bergamot vs. berberine, there isn’t really a definitive top choice.
With that said, one may be better than the other depending on your situation.
For example, citrus bergamot seems to have a little bit better efficacy in weight loss than berberine. So, it seems to be the best choice for those looking to specifically lose weight while also improving metabolic health.
Alternatively, berberine has unique benefits for digestive health that may not be offered by citrus bergamot. So, berberine seems to be better in this case.
But if you just want to use one of these for cholesterol improvement or blood sugar management, either citrus bergamot or berberine will likely work.
Can You Take Citrus Bergamot and Berberine Together?
Yes. It is safe to take citrus bergamot and berberine together, especially if the goal is cholesterol or blood sugar reduction.
With that said, keep in mind that these effects may be more pronounced than taking either supplement alone. So, it is recommended to consult with your doctor and get periodic bloodwork done to ensure that levels don’t fall too low.
Citrus Bergamot vs. Berberine: Potential Side Effects & Interactions:
Both of these herbs are generally considered safe to use and pose little risk for most people.
These herbs may interact with medications that lower blood sugar or cholesterol, so it’s important to be particularly mindful when using these herbs if you already take those medications.
Citrus bergamot essential oil may cause phototoxicity. But this isn’t much of a concern because the supplements that one would use to get the benefits mentioned in this article are in oral extract form, not as topical essential oils.
Click here for additional information regarding citrus bergamot dosage.
Some people who supplement with berberine experience gastrointestinal side effects, such as diarrhea, constipation, gas, and bloating.
Below, we’ve compiled our articles that go over the specific health benefits of citrus bergamot and berberine for additional reading.
• 5 Benefits of Citrus Bergamot
• Citrus Bergamot Dosage: How Much Should You Take Per Day?
• Citrus Bergamot for Cholesterol
• Citrus Bergamot for Inflammation
• Citrus Bergamot Safety: Side Effects & Interactions
Citrus bergamot and berberine are both highly effective herbs with multiple potential health benefits.
Both of these herbs offer benefits for blood sugar, cholesterol, and weight management. However, citrus bergamot seems better for weight loss and is also more effective as an anti-inflammatory supplement.
Berberine sets itself apart from citrus bergamot because it has possible benefits for gut health and digestion. It is also highly effective at regulating blood sugar.
Overall, both citrus bergamot and berberine are effective for reducing cholesterol and blood sugar, so one could take either for these benefits. But citrus bergamot seems more effective for weight loss while berberine is better for gut health. So, one must think about their specific health conditions in order to determine which herb is most efficacious.