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Should you be supplementing with Berberine & L-carnitine to manage PCOS symptoms?

L-carnitine and Berberine are two supplements that are often talked about in the world of PCOS. Both have been studied for the various benefits they may offer in treating some of the more common symptoms of PCOS. Like with everything else, it’s important that we look at the science and what the evidence has to say about their effectiveness.

PCOS Supplements


Berberine is a plant extract that is widely used in Chinese Herbal medicine to treat infections, high cholesterol, Type 2 Diabetes, cancer, and infertility. Studies have shown that berberine is effective in alleviating insulin resistance, reducing serum androgen (testosterone) levels, improving lipid metabolism and reducing chronic inflammation.

Other studies have shown that it plays a role in regulating menstrual cycles and aiding with weight management. This all sounds very appealing to most of us suffering with PCOS.

Whilst some of the studies are very promising, it’s important to acknowledge that there are still large gaps in the research, it’s not yet completely clear how berberine works to improve PCOS nor do we know what the optimum dose is.


Carnitine is synthesised from the amino acids lysine and methionine, it is naturally occurring and is produced in the liver and kidneys as well as obtained by food sources such as red meat. It plays a role in energy production, glucose metabolism and oxidative stress.

Some studies have shown that those with PCOS have lower levels of L-carnitine when compared to those without PCOS. Studies have hypothesized that these low levels of L-carnitine may be associated with insulin resistance and hyperandrogenism. If this is true, then it would make sense that supplementing with L-carnitine would help improve insulin resistance and reduce androgen levels.

Several studies have looked at the impact of supplementing L-Carnitine alongside clomiphene in those who are resistant to the effects of clomiphene. Supplementation improved the quality of ovulation, pregnancy rates, lipid levels and lowered BMI. Again, this is exciting research to see. However, there is not yet enough high-quality research to start recommending L-carnitine as a supplement to those with PCOS.

Whilst the existing research is promising, there are insufficient long-term studies to look at the impact of taking these supplements for longer periods of time. I’ll be keeping my eye on the research as these could have a place in managing PCOS in the future.

Someone you know may be raving about these supplements, and they may well have experienced positive changes since starting their supplement. What’s important to remember is that PCOS shows up so differently for everyone and responds differently to changes we make.

It can also be really tempting to take all sorts of supplements to try and reduce your PCOS symptoms, however, lifestyle changes and just a few of the supplements with robust research behind them (such as inositol and Omega 3) can go a long way in managing your PCOS.


Fatih Celik, Mesut Kose, Mehmet Yilmazer, Gülengül N. Köken, Dagistan Tolga Arioz & Mine Kanat Pektas (2017): Plasma L-carnitine levels of obese and nonobese polycystic ovary syndrome patients, Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, DOI: 10.1080/01443615.2016.1264375

Rondanelli, M., Infantino, V., Riva, A. et al. Polycystic ovary syndrome management: a review of the possible amazing role of berberine. Arch Gynecol Obstet 301, 53–60 (2020).

Salehpour S, Nazari L, Hoseini S, Moghaddam PB, Gachkar L. Effects of L-carnitine on Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. JBRA Assist Reprod. 2019 Oct 14;23(4):392-395. doi: 10.5935/1518-0557.20190033. PMID: 31294953; PMCID: PMC6798588.

Semin Melahat Fenkci, Veysel Fenkci, Ozer Oztekin, Simin Rota, Nedim Karagenc, Serum total L-carnitine levels in non-obese women with polycystic ovary syndrome, Human Reproduction, Volume 23, Issue 7, July 2008, Pages 1602–1606,

Si-wei Zhang, Jing Zhou, Hans-Jürgen Gober, Wing Ting Leung, Ling Wang,. Effect and mechanism of berberine against polycystic ovary syndrome, Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, Volume 138, 2021, 111468, ISSN 0753-3322,


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Uncover the 3 simple, highly-effective steps used by myself and all my clients to improve their PCOS symptoms, regain their confidence and live a life they love with PCOS (without dieting). 

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