All about Berberine

Research Based
Medically reviewed by - Dr. Abdul Khalique, MD Written by - Dr. Shaheen Shah


What is Berberine?

Alkaloids are natural compounds produced by plants for defense. Berberine (Berberine hydrochloride) is a natural alkaloid compound obtained from the roots, twigs, leaves, barks, and stems of medicinal plants such as berberis shrubs, oregon grape, goldenseal, tree turmeric, and phellodendron.

Berberine (Berberine hydrochloride) is a natural alkaloid compound obtained from the roots, twigs, leaves, barks, and stems of medicinal plants such as berberis shrubs, oregon grape, goldenseal, tree turmeric, and phellodendron.


Facts about Berberine

  • The medicinal uses of Berberine started around 3000 years ago
  • From ancient times, Berberine has been used in the traditional Chinese medicines
  • The bark stems and the leaves of the plant were used for diverse purposes
  • Traditionally, the plant was used for treating inflammations and infections
  • Berberine being a yellow compound is frequently used as a dye
  • Berberine is available as berberol (a tablet containing Berberine) and berberrubine (a metabolite of Berberine) 1Facts| Researched based study from


Properties of Berberine


  • It suppresses the generation of reactive oxygen species causing cell damage.10Properties| Researched based study from
  • It prevents and delays cell damage


  • It stops and kills the growth of microorganisms also inhibits the toxins released by microbes 2Properties | Researched based study from .


  • It stops and kills the bacterial growth.
  • Cell wall and membrane breakdown is a component of the mechanism of action.


  • It reduces swelling, pain and redness of the organs due to any endogenous or exogenous changes. 6Properties | Researched based study from


  • Found to be very effective in treating leishmaniasis, malaria and other diseases caused by protozoans (single-celled parasitic organisms)


Functions of Berberine

  • It stimulates the regulatory enzyme ( adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase) for cell energy homeostasis(maintaining stability within the body for survival)
  • The enzyme is involved in regulating the body’s protein, lipid and glucose metabolism (the body process to convert food into energy)
  • Berberine help turn on and off the genes (a region of deoxyribonucleic acid) inside the cells, which protects one against long-term diseases 3Functions | Researched based study from ,4Functions | Researched based study from , 5Functions | Researched based study from .


Benefits of Berberine.

Benefits of Berberine

Decreases blood sugar

  • Berberine decreases sugar in type 2 diabetes patients .
  • It increases the effectiveness of the insulin hormone
  • It reduces glucose production in the liver
  • It reduces carbohydrate breakdown in the digestive tract
  • It helps break down the glucose inside the cell 7Benefits | Researched based study from .

Reduces weight

  • Berberine helps reduce abdominal fat
  • It prevents the growth of fat cells in the body
  • It decreases the body mass index (body fat based on weight and height) 8Benefits | Researched based study from

Lowers cholesterol

  • It lowers the level of bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) that accumulates and collects in blood vessels and decreases the overall cholesterol level in our body 9Benefits | Researched based study from
  • It increases the level of good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein) that helps remove other cholesterol from the blood.
  • It reduces the triglycerides(fat) in the blood .
  • It lowers the level of apolipoprotein B 19Benefits | Researched based study from .

Improves the cardiac (heart) health

  • Berberine decreases irregular heartbeat and the other symptoms of heart diseases .
  • It decreases the fatality rate in heart failure patients and improved quality of life . 14Benefits | Researched based study from

Aids digestion

  • Improves digestive health .
  • Berberine supports the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestine and remove harmful bacteria from the intestine 11Benefits | Researched based study from .

Other benefits

Fatty liver

  • It reduces fat deposition in the liver


  • It improves the symptoms of depression like sadness, anxiety .

Fight infections

  • It decreases the growth of the body’s harmful microbes like a virus, bacteria etc.11Benefits | Researched based study from


  • It inhibits the growth of various cancers (tumor)
  • It also prevents metastasis (spread of tumor to other parts of the body ) 12Benefits | Researched based study from

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome is a disease in which the ovaries produce excess male sex hormone testosterone
  • Berberine decreases the level of testosterone hormone .
  • It reduces waist fat in PCOS individuals 13Benefits | Researched based study from .

Side effects

Side effects of Berberine

In Pregnant women

  • A pregnant woman should refrain from taking Berberine
  • It can cross the placenta and cause fetal harm (Like brain damage) .

In Nursing mothers

  • Nursing mothers should not take Berberine
  • Berberine might be transferred to the newborn through breast milk, potentially harming the baby.

Infants (0 to 1 year age) with high bilirubin

  • Old RBCs (red blood cells) breakdown lead to bilirubin (yellow substance) production in the liver, which the liver naturally removes.
  • Berberine slows the liver’s bilirubin removal process
  • It can cause brain troubles 16Side effects | Researched based study from .

Other side effects are

  • Digestion Problem 17Side effects | Researched based study from
  • Difficulty in clearing bowels (constipation)
  • Diarrhea( watery stool)
  • Gassy stomach(bloating)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Enlarged liver
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Reduced white blood cell count in the blood
  • Muscle trembling

With very slight and infrequent side effects that were common among those taking a placebo, berberine has shown to be well tolerated. 15Side effects | Researched based study from


Dosage of Berberine

  • The dose of Berberine is 500mg thrice daily before meals
  • The person taking medication for other health conditions, such as diabetes, must consult a physician before consuming Berberine..

Oral intake

  • It is safe for adults for oral consumption. A daily consumption of 1.5 gms for six months has yielded safe results.

For application to the skin

  • Berberine is quite safe for skin usage among adults of all ages .


Interactions of Berberine

Severe interactions


  • It is an immunosuppressive (reduces immune response) drug to prevent transplant rejection.
  • Berberine and cyclosporine took together slows the cyclosporine drug breakage and increases the side effect of the drug .

Moderate interaction

Anticoagulants (blood thinning medicine)

  • Anticoagulants and Berberine both lowers the blood clotting process . 18Interactions | Researched based study from
  • Berberine and anticoagulants, when taken together increases bleeding risks .

Antidiabetic medicine

  • Antidiabetic and Berberine both the drugs reduce the blood sugar level . 18Interactions | Researched based study from
  • So, taking both Berberine and antidiabetic drugs together causes a severe decrease in the blood sugar level and can lead to lightheadedness and fainting .
  • For instance, eating berberine two hours before taking Metformin can significantly lower blood sugar levels.

Antidepressant medicines

  • Both antidepressant medicines and Berberine induce sleepiness and slow breathing.
  • Consuming both together causes excessive sleeping and breathing problem .

Antihypertensive medicine

  • Antihypertensive medicine reduces the blood pressure and Berberine also known to decreases the blood pressure
  • So, consuming Berberine with antihypertensive medicine can further lower blood pressure.


  • The liver helps with tacrolimus removal from the body
  • Berberine makes the tacrolimus removal process slower and it increases the side effects of tacrolimus .


  • Berberine slows the midazolam removal process and increases the side effects of midazolam. 18Interactions | Researched based study from


  • The liver helps in the activation of losartan
  • Berberine hampers the losartan activation in the liver and decreases the medicine’s effect .18Interactions | Researched based study from


  • Pentobarbital is a medicine to treat sleeplessness Berberine also known to induces sleep
  • Taking two together enhances sleepiness in individuals .


  • Berberine slows the dextromethorphan removal from the body ,so the drug stays longer in the body and increases the chances of side effects of the drug. 18Interactions | Researched based study from

Key Takeaways

  • Berberine is an alkaloid compound with various health benefits, such as weight loss and reduced sugar and cholesterol levels.
  • Berberine supplements are commercially available and can be procured online.
  • It is always recommendable to consult a health care professional before consuming Berberine or its supplements.
Disclaimer: The user acknowledges that this article's information is being offered for informational purposes only. Every attempt has been made to guarantee that the article is informational and correct. If they have any doubts or questions about their health, we firmly advise our readers to visit a doctor or other healthcare professional.

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