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Bergamot vs. Berberine: Which One is Right for You?

  • Are you aware of the therapeutic benefits of bergamot and berberine?

  • Do you know the similarities and differences between these two plant-derived compounds?

  • Are you wondering which one of these compounds would work best for your health? 

Both bergamot and berberine are well-known for their ability to protect cells from the adverse effects of free radicals.* As natural polyphenol and alkaloid compounds, respectively, bergamot and berberine display antioxidant properties and support the body’s natural inflammatory responses.* 

Bergamot vs. berberine—which one of these works best for your health? Get the answers to common queries about these two plant-derived compounds, how they support different health functions, and ways to incorporate them into your diet. Use the links below to jump ahead to different topics on this page.

Table of contents
Bergamot: Origin, Properties, and Therapeutic RoleBerberine: Origin, Properties, and Therapeutic Role
How Does Bergamot Support Your Health? How Does Berberine Support Your Health?
Bergamot vs. Berberine: A ComparisonCombined Effects of Bergamot and Berberine 
Bioavailability Challenges of Bergamot and Berberine FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions

Bergamot: Origin, Properties, and Therapeutic Role

Bergamot is a citrus fruit of the Citrus bergamia Risso et Poiteu plant and is extensively grown in southern Italy. The fruit is the size of an orange with a yellow peel. Citrus fruits are naturally rich in flavonoids and are known for their antioxidant properties and the ability to help maintain the body’s natural inflammatory response. An exceptionally high content of flavonoids in bergamot translates to its therapeutic potential in supporting immune health, heart functions, glucose metabolism, lipid metabolism, and nervous system function.

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Berberine: Origin, Properties, and Therapeutic Role 

Berberine is an alkaloid—a class of nitrogenous organic compounds of plant origin found in the roots, rhizomes, and stem barks of barberry, Oregon grape, tree turmeric, goldenseal, yellowroot, Californian poppy, and similar trees. The antioxidative and immunomodulatory properties of berberine protect your heart, liver, and nervous system, help regulate glucose metabolism and lipid metabolism, and promote weight management.*     

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How Does Bergamot Support Your Health? 

Traditionally, bergamot has been used as an extract, juice, or essential oil. Bergamot juice and essential oil contain up to 93-96 percent of volatile compounds, resulting in the wide use of bergamot peel in the perfume and cosmetic industries. Flavonoids such as neoeriocitrin, naringin, neohesperidin, and C-glucoside, among others, found in bergamot have been of significant interest for their cardiovascular benefits and role in enhancing glucose tolerance.* The following table summarizes how bergamot supports a wide range of health functions.    

FunctionHow Bergamot Works
Lipid Metabolism

Bergamot initiates1 adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase—an enzyme that plays a critical role in activating glucose and fatty acid uptake and oxidation.Flavonoids present in bergamot—particularly neoeriocitrin, naringin, and rutin—have been reported to lower the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein particles.  
Glucose Metabolism
The flavonoid naringin present in bergamot2 enhances overall insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance. 
Cardiovascular Function
Bergamot protects against free radical damage in the body, including the vascular endothelium, an important determinant of cardiovascular health.The lipid and glycemic effects of bergamot might be associated with promoting cardiovascular health. 
Neuroprotection
Studies3 in rats have demonstrated the role of bergamot essential oil in enhancing extracellular glycine, aspartate, and taurine in the hippocampus of the brain, thereby benefiting synaptic transmission.   
Wound Healing
Bergamot oil and its major active components, such as limonene, linalyl acetate, and linalool, demonstrate immunomodulatory and wound healing activities, while supporting the body’s natural inflammatory response. 
Bergamot juice (20 mg/kg) shows promising results in lowering pro-inflammatory cytokines—the signaling molecules secreted by immune cells that are involved in the up-regulation of inflammatory reactions.  

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How Does Berberine Support Your Health? 

Numerous randomized clinical trials have demonstrated the neuroprotective and cardiovascular protective effects of berberine, along with its insulin-resistance-enhancing action.* The therapeutic benefits of berberine are attributed to its antioxidative properties and its role in mediating inflammatory responses.* The following table summarizes how berberine supports various health functions.  

FunctionsHow Berberine Works
Glucose Metabolism
Berberine’s glucose support properties include stimulating glucose breakdown, promoting insulin secretion, inhibiting glucose synthesis from non-carbohydrate components, and limiting digestion of carbohydrates in the intestine.* The potential benefits of berberine for providing nutritional support in diabetes lie in its ability to benefit insulin resistance and promote natural blood sugar regulation.* 
Berberine also enhances lipid metabolism, inhibiting lipid accumulation, particularly that of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C).* 
Immune Response
Berberine has been found4 to inhibit functions and differentiation of pro-inflammatory T helper (Th) cells.* It also indirectly down-regulates the activity of other immune cells to limit Th-cell-mediated inflammatory responses.* 
Liver Detoxification
Berberine’s Liver Detox Benefits: Berberine has been found5 to enhance liver functions, help moderate elevated liver enzymes, and lower fatty deposits in the liver.* 
Weight Management
Owing to its benefits in glucose and lipid metabolism, berberine is currently trending for its potential role in weight management that could help individuals improve their overall health.* 

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Bergamot vs. Berberine: A Comparison

Both bergamot and berberine are well-tolerated with minimal reported adverse side effects and are considered safe to be used as ingredients in dietary supplements. Although several of the potential benefits of bergamot and berberine are similar, they likely influence different biochemical pathways to exert their beneficial effects. It is worth noting that the mechanisms of action of these plant-derived compounds are not fully understood yet.

Bergamot vs. Berberine: Similarities and Differences
BergamotBerberine
OriginA citrus fruit of Citrus bergamia Risso et Poiteu plant. Roots, rhizomes, and stem barks of barberry, Oregon grape, tree turmeric, goldenseal, yellowroot, Californian poppy, and similar trees.
PropertiesBoth have antioxidant properties and promote the body’s natural response to inflammation.*
Chemical compositionBergamot has a high content of flavonoids. Berberine is an alkaloid.
BenefitsBoth exert similar benefits on the heart, immune health, endocrine health, and the nervous system.* 
Mechanisms of ActionFlavonoids present in bergamot help lower blood lipid levels.  Berberine is less effective than bergamot in lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels. 

When comparing bergamot vs. berberine, there is no definitive top choice. Each compound works well under different physiological conditions to support your overall health and wellness.  

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Combined Effects of Bergamot and Berberine 

The synergistic effects of bergamot and berberine are being extensively studied6 on the mechanisms of action underlying cholesterol synthesis, triglycerides, and LDL-cholesterol oxidation. This approach has shown promising results by acting at different levels on the cholesterol pathway.*

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Bioavailability Challenges of Bergamot and Berberine

There have been limited studies on the bioavailability of bergamot, and the available bioavailability studies have only assessed the presence of flavanone metabolites after 1 to 4 hours post-consumption of bergamot juice. To better understand the potential of bergamot as a cardioprotective agent, bioavailability studies involving more prolonged periods (up to 24 to 48 hours) are required. 

The poor absorption, extensive metabolism, and rapid loss of berberine from the body results in an absolute bioavailability of less than 1%. Dihydroberberine (dhBBR) — a reduced derivative of berberine, displays a 5-fold intestinal absorption rate compared to that of berberine. However, dhBBR is unstable and is oxidized to berberine in gastrointestinal tissues. 

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FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions About Berberine Supplements 

Can I take bergamot and berberine together?

Although there is ongoing research exploring the effects of taking bergamot and berberine together, it is recommended to consult with your health-care provider before incorporating both supplements into your diet.  

When should I take a berberine supplement?

A berberine supplement can support your gastrointestinal health, cardiovascular function, liver function, immune function, glucose metabolism, and lipid metabolism, as well as promoting a healthy weight management program.* Consult with your health-care provider to evaluate the need for a berberine supplement in your diet.          

Can I take a berberine supplement with a prescription medication?  

Although the safety profile of berberine is well established, it is always advisable to consult with your health-care provider before taking a berberine supplement with a prescription medication.  

How do I determine the efficacy of a berberine supplement formulation?

The efficacy of a berberine supplement formulation is determined by its enhanced palatability, bioavailability, and absorption in the body. Tesseract’s BerberActiv®, an innovative, oral berberine supplement formulation, exhibits optimal absorption of the active ingredient to support your overall health.*

The proprietary CyLoc® - DexKey® nutrient delivery nanotechnology facilitates unprecedented absorption of billions of berberine molecules in the intestinal tract. Each berberine molecule is encased in the CyLoc® matrix that masks the bitterness of berberine. The DexKey® reactors accompany CyLoC® molecules and release them at the desired point in the intestinal tract. The enhanced absorption of berberine enables micro-dosing, which means ingesting a lesser amount of berberine to achieve a powerful and rapid physiological response to support health functions.*        

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The power of Tesseract supplements lies in enhancing palatability, maximizing bioavailability and absorption, and micro-dosing multiple nutrients in a single, highly effective capsule. Shop products on our website and learn more about how they can help support your endocrine health.* 

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Works Cited:.

1Nauman MC, Johnson JJ. Integrative food, nutrition and metabolism vol. 6,2 (2019): 10.15761/IFNM.1000249. doi:10.15761/IFNM.1000249

2Dayarathne LA, et al. Journal of veterinary science vol. 22,6 (2021): e92. doi:10.4142/jvs.2021.22.e92

3Rombolà L, et al. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 22,4 614. 11 Apr. 2017, doi:10.3390/molecules22040614

4Ehteshamfar S-M, et al. Journal of cellular and molecular medicine vol. 24,23 (2020): 13573-13588. doi:10.1111/jcmm.16049

5Nejati L, et al. Medical journal of the Islamic Republic of Iran vol. 36 39. 20 Apr. 2022, doi:10.47176/mjiri.36.39
6Amante C, et al. Life (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 12,8 1162. 30 Jul. 2022, doi:10.3390/life12081162

Al Czap, Founder | Tesseract

Al Czap has more than four decades of professional experience in preventative medicine. He founded Thorne Research in 1984 (sold in 2010) and he published Alternative Medicine Review for 17 years beginning in 1996. AMR was a highly acclaimed, peer-reviewed, and indexed medical journal. Al was the first to recognize the need for hypoallergenic ingredients and to devise methods of manufacture for and delivery of hypoallergenic products to underserved patient populations. His work has greatly impacted those with impaired immune and digestive systems and compromised health due to environmental exposures.

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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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