What is Berberine used for?
Berberine is used for its studied effect in treating several diseases including
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Skin-related problems
- Liver disease
- Heart diseases
- Gut health
- Type 2 Diabetes
Researchers are conducting several studies to find out the reason behind the antidiabetic property behind Berberine. One such study conducted on 36 adult patients given Berberine as treatment indicated its beneficial role in reducing the sugar level in blood.
Another study revealed Berberine’s efficiency as containing antimicrobial properties against 17 types of microorganisms with varying degrees.
Can I find Berberine in Turmeric?
You can find Berberine in Tree turmeric as well as Coptis Chinensis, European barberry, goldenseal, goldthread, Oregon grape, and Phellodendron.
There’s a common misconception that Tree turmeric is the same plant as Turmeric that’s widely known for its infamous cooking ingredient the ‘curcumin’. Nevertheless, they are very different from each other.
Tree turmeric is generally found in India and Nepal.
Just in 2017, researchers have gathered data from multiple studies to produce a literature review investigating the effect of natural products like curcumin, berberine, and others in traditional medicine use.
How much Berberine should I take?
The recommended Berberine dosage that you should take typically ranges between 300 mg to 1500 mg per day.
It’s advised to take around 500 mg of Berberine supplements 3 times a day to spread it out and gain the most benefits.
With that in mind, be sure to check the ingredients of your chosen product and consult your doctor for the dosage that best suits you.
In the video below, Dr. Eric Berg DC talks about the Amazing Benefits of Berberine:
This is our recommended Berberine supplement (Amazon’s Choice):
Can Berberine tea help in weight loss?
Berberine tea can help in weight loss, which is believed to directly affect the activation of brown adipose tissue that in turn converts fats to body heat.
This finding was also confirmed by another study done on lab rats that compared Berberines’ and metformins’ effect in managing gut microbes and the prominent role that they both play in changing obesity profiles and reducing diabetes symptoms.
How much Berberine is needed for weight loss?
The amount of Berberine needed for weight loss is around 500 mg three times a day.
This was proven by a 12-week study conducted on obese patients where they exhibited the average loss of 5 pounds of their weight in addition to reducing 3.6% of their body fat.
Researchers reveal through another study that Berberines’ impact on obesity is due to its effect in managing gene regulation, absorbing cholesterol, and utilization of fats.
Although these are just preliminary studies, they certainly show promise in using Berberine for the treatment and prevention of obesity.
Can Berberine help in muscle growth?
Berberine is said to help in muscle growth by copying the results of exercising. Berberine gives glucose to muscle cells encouraging them to grow all while promoting fat cells to burn. Additionally, it also releases a whole lot of energy that bodybuilders are looking for.
This is evident by this study which was done on mice that revealed Berberine’s effect as an antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, and in improving skeletal muscle mass.
On the other hand, there have been some studies that don’t support the idea of Berberine and muscle growth. For example, this study was also done on mice but proved to cause muscle atrophy and suppress protein synthesis.
Is Berberine good for the Liver?
Berberine is good for the liver. This is evident by studies where scientists found out that it plays a critical role in decreasing the building up of fats inside the liver.
According to one pre-clinical study done on rats subjected to a diet with Berberine: it revealed the positive effect it had on the fatty liver by regulating lipid metabolism and decreasing fats.
Another study confirmed previous findings and recommended its further utilization as treatment targets. In addition, this study implicates a specific signaling pathway called AMPK which helps in lipid transportation and can be a promising treatment target.
Does Berberine lower cholesterol levels?
Berberine has been known to lower cholesterol levels in many studies. A systematic review showed that its beneficial effect on the cholesterol level in the blood is due to its reduction properties on LDL and Triglycerides.
LDL cholesterol transports fats into the cell. So, it’s also known as bad cholesterol.
Another study concluded that after giving high cholesterol-bearing subjects Berberine for 3 months, they displayed reduced cholesterol in the blood by 29% and LDL cholesterol by 25% for human subjects, as for the hamsters showed reduced cholesterol by 40% and reduced LDL by 42%.
Can Berberine affect testosterone in males?
Berberine can affect testosterone levels in males and females. A recent study in 2021 published in the journal of Nutrients supported this claim, where their results revealed that Berberine supplements increase testosterone levels in males and lower them in females. This of course sheds light on the sex difference effect of Berberine.
However, there have been contrasting opinions on this matter. Some say that owing to its metabolic properties it will lower testosterone levels, while others claim that it increases testosterone.
Is there a relationship between Berberine and estrogen?
There is a relationship between Berberine and estrogen because Berberine can affect estrogen positively by increasing its level in cases that need it. For instance, polycystic ovary syndrome or perimenopausal women have abnormally low estrogen levels, so intervening with Berberine can make all the difference.
This is backed up by this study which recommends the use of Berberine as a natural replacement therapy of estrogen for peri and postmenopausal women. Another is a study done on 98 Chinese women who were given Berberine, revealing improved patterns of the menstrual cycle.
Can Berberine help with hair loss?
Berberine can help with hair loss whether it’s due to high testosterone levels, polycystic syndrome, genetics, or hair damage.
Due to its antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties, it gets rid of any damaging free radicals and treats infections causing your hair loss.
This antifungal property was evidenced in this study, displaying an effective treatment solution against one of the most widely resistant fungi like “Candida’ and others.
Berberine can also prove very useful in treating hair loss resulting from polycystic ovary syndrome complications. By managing hormonal imbalances, hair loss should subsequently be managed as well.
Does Berberine have skin benefits?
Berberine has a wide range of skin benefits starting from healing to anti-aging properties.
Due to its anti-inflammatory property, it can play a role in reducing pain, redness, discharge, and sores. It helps in treating cankers and open wounds as well.
As for its anti-aging effect, it mainly relies on its antioxidant properties, this was evidenced by studying the aging mechanism and Berberines’ effect on them. What research has found was the potential of Berberine in putting the brakes on the skin aging process and activating a cellular pathway directly related to that effect.
Can Berberine affect cortisol levels?
Berberine has been found to affect the cortisol hormone by lowering its levels in the body.
Cortisol is very important in metabolism and consistent release of it has been linked to weight gain and type 2 diabetes to name a few. According to the literature of this study, Berberine’s effect on cortisol will lead to reducing inflammation, blood sugar, and harmful fats.
A pre-clinical study determined the efficacy of Berberine on the metabolic pathway in rats and found out that it regulates lipid and glucose metabolism optimally. This was confirmed by another study that recommended Berberine as a possible therapeutic target.
What are the long-term side effects of Berberine?
Since there has been no conclusive data to reveal the long-term side effects of Berberine, it’s advised to only use it on a short-term basis.
Hence, here’s a list of some side effects of Berberine that may appear:
- Stomach cramps
- Digestion problems
Some efforts in a study to assess the efficacy and safety of Berberine in Type 2 diabetes patients showed that 20 out of 36 patients suffering from gastrointestinal problems. While another study showed cytotoxicity with harmful effects on DNA synthesis of Berberine.
Generally, these aforementioned side effects subside after getting used to the dosage.
Does Berberine interact with any medications?
Based on the information available, It’s well-known that Berberine does interact with the following medications which is why it’s always better to consult with your doctor before taking it.
- Anticoagulants (ex. Warfarin)
- Anti-diabetic medication (ex. Insulin, Metformin)
- Anti-hypertensive drugs (ex. Beta-blockers, ACE-inhibitors)
- Medication metabolized by Cytochrome P450
These should never be combined with Berberine. This is mainly due to the many effects that it has on the body.
In fact, there’s a study showing that repeated exposure to Berberine inhibits Cytochrome P450 medications. Furthermore, it alters the metabolism which should be considered.
Are Berberine and metformin a good combination?
Yes, some studies have shown that Berberine and metformin are a good combination. This is especially true for patients with type 2 diabetes where a study has shown that both drugs can prove very beneficial in regulating blood glucose levels.
On the other hand, you should always keep in mind to first discuss dosage and drug combinations with your doctor.
Having possible interactions with metformin, it can be quite hard to manage sugar levels in the blood with both drugs, this was evident by another study which revealed that Berberine can lower the effect of metformin by 25%.
How long should I take Berberine?
Optimally, it’s recommended that you should take Berberine for as long as 3-12 months according to the benefits and side effects impact it has on you.
However, there hasn’t been enough evidence to give official advice on how long you should take Berberine.
It’s always best to follow the advice of a healthcare professional and read the bottle of Berberine supplements carefully before consuming any.
Although it has a very good safety profile, you should stop immediately if you notice any serious side effects appearing.
What’s a good Berberine dosage for SIBO?
The Berberine dosage used to treat SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) will of course differ according to the exact product, but it’s recommended to take 2 to 3 capsules daily for the duration of 14 days. However, this can cause headaches.
Berberine can help in treating Sibo as a result of its antimicrobial property. Although in some studies it’s used as an adjuvant therapy next to other antibiotics, there are some recommendations of using it alone.
When is the best time to take Berberine?
The best time to take Berberine would be half an hour before eating. This can have subsequent beneficial effects in regulating blood sugar levels.
However, it can also be taken on an empty stomach if it doesn’t cause any digestive problems or side effects that may make you ill.
It depends on each person and how they experience Berberine in their body.
How long does Berberine stay in your system?
Berberine doesn’t stay in your system for long. It only has a half-life of several hours and after that, it’s gone.
Although this is good news for the safety profile, it’s worth noting when you start taking Berberine supplements to spread it out throughout the day to gain maximum efficiency.
This article makes use of information from the U.S. National Library of Medicine under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
- Yin J, Xing H, Ye J. Efficacy of berberine in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Metabolism. 2008 May;57(5):712-7. DOI: 10.1016/j.metabol.2008.01.013. PMID: 18442638; PMCID: PMC2410097.
- Cernáková M, Kostálová D. Antimicrobial activity of berberine–a constituent of Mahonia aquifolium. Folia Microbiol (Praha). 2002;47(4):375-8. DOI: 10.1007/BF02818693. PMID: 12422513.
- McCubrey JA, Lertpiriyapong K, Steelman LS, Abrams SL, Yang LV, Murata RM, Rosalen PL, Scalisi A, Neri LM, Cocco L, Ratti S, Martelli AM, Laidler P, Dulińska-Litewka J, Rakus D, Gizak A, Lombardi P, Nicoletti F, Candido S, Libra M, Montalto G, Cervello M. Effects of resveratrol, curcumin, berberine and other nutraceuticals on aging, cancer development, cancer stem cells, and microRNAs. Aging (Albany NY). 2017 Jun 12;9(6):1477-1536. DOI: 10.18632/aging.101250. PMID: 28611316; PMCID: PMC5509453.
- Hu X, Zhang Y, Xue Y, Zhang Z, Wang J. Berberine is a potential therapeutic agent for metabolic syndrome via brown adipose tissue activation and metabolism regulation. Am J Transl Res. 2018 Nov 15;10(11):3322-3329. PMID: 30662589; PMCID: PMC6291723.
- Zhang, X., Zhao, Y., Xu, J. et al. Modulation of gut microbiota by berberine and metformin during the treatment of high-fat diet-induced obesity in rats. Sci Rep 5, 14405 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1038/srep14405
- Hu Y, Ehli EA, Kittelsrud J, Ronan PJ, Munger K, Downey T, Bohlen K, Callahan L, Munson V, Jahnke M, Marshall LL, Nelson K, Huizenga P, Hansen R, Soundy TJ, Davies GE. Lipid-lowering effect of berberine in human subjects and rats. Phytomedicine. 2012 Jul 15;19(10):861-7. DOI: 10.1016/j.phymed.2012.05.009. Epub 2012 Jun 26. PMID: 22739410.
- Ilyas Z, Perna S, Al-Thawadi S, Alalwan TA, Riva A, Petrangolini G, Gasparri C, Infantino V, Peroni G, Rondanelli M. The effect of Berberine on weight loss in order to prevent obesity: A systematic review. Biomed Pharmacother. 2020 Jul;127:110137. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopha.2020.110137. Epub 2020 Apr 27. PMID: 32353823.
- Chen L, Su X, Hu Y. Berberine Down-Regulated Myostatin Expression and Facilitated Metabolism via Smad Pathway in Insulin Resistant Mice. Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes. 2020 Nov 23;13:4561-4569. DOI: 10.2147/DMSO.S275301. PMID: 33262628; PMCID: PMC7695611.
- Wang H, Liu D, Cao P, Lecker S, Hu Z. Atrogin-1 affects muscle protein synthesis and degradation when energy metabolism is impaired by the anti-diabetes drug berberine. Diabetes. 2010 Aug;59(8):1879-89. DOI: 10.2337/db10-0207. Epub 2010 Jun 3. PMID: 20522589; PMCID: PMC2911075.
- Zhao L, Cang Z, Sun H, Nie X, Wang N, Lu Y. Berberine improves glucogenesis and lipid metabolism in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. BMC Endocr Disord. 2017 Feb 28;17(1):13. DOI: 10.1186/s12902-017-0165-7. PMID: 28241817; PMCID: PMC5329945.
- Ren S, Ma X, Wang R, Liu H, Wei Y, Wei S, Jing M, Zhao Y. Preclinical Evidence of Berberine on Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Animal Studies. Front Pharmacol. 2021 Sep 9;12:742465. DOI: 10.3389/fphar.2021.742465. PMID: 34566663; PMCID: PMC8458904.
- Liu Y, Zhang L, Song H, Ji G. Update on berberine in nonalcoholic Fatty liver disease. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:308134. DOI: 10.1155/2013/308134. Epub 2013 Jun 17. PMID: 23843872; PMCID: PMC3703418.
- Koppen LM, Whitaker A, Rosene A, Beckett RD. Efficacy of Berberine Alone and in Combination for the Treatment of Hyperlipidemia: A Systematic Review. J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2017 Oct;22(4):956-968. DOI: 10.1177/2156587216687695. Epub 2017 Jan 16. PMID: 29228784; PMCID: PMC5871262.
- Kong W, Wei J, Abidi P, Lin M, Inaba S, Li C, Wang Y, Wang Z, Si S, Pan H, Wang S, Wu J, Wang Y, Li Z, Liu J, Jiang JD. Berberine is a novel cholesterol-lowering drug working through a unique mechanism distinct from statins. Nat Med. 2004 Dec;10(12):1344-51. DOI: 10.1038/nm1135. Epub 2004 Nov 7. PMID: 15531889.
- Zhao JV, Yeung WF, Chan YH, Vackova D, Leung JYY, Ip DKM, Zhao J, Ho WK, Tse HF, Schooling CM. Effect of Berberine on Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors: A Mechanistic Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutrients. 2021 Jul 26;13(8):2550. DOI: 10.3390/nu13082550. PMID: 34444711; PMCID: PMC8401658.
- Caliceti C, Rizzo P, Cicero AF. Potential benefits of berberine in the management of perimenopausal syndrome. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2015;2015:723093. DOI: 10.1155/2015/723093. Epub 2015 Feb 17. PMID: 25785174; PMCID: PMC4346702.
- Li L, Li C, Pan P, Chen X, Wu X, Ng EH, Yang D. A Single-Arm Pilot Study of Effects of Berberine on the Menstrual Pattern, Ovulation Rate, Hormonal and Metabolic Profiles in Anovulatory Chinese Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. PLoS One. 2015 Dec 8;10(12):e0144072. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0144072. PMID: 26645811; PMCID: PMC4672885.
- Zhang SW, Zhou J, Gober HJ, Leung WT, Wang L. Effect and mechanism of berberine against polycystic ovary syndrome. Biomed Pharmacother. 2021 Jun;138:111468. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopha.2021.111468. Epub 2021 Mar 16. PMID: 33740526.
- Lao-Ong T, Chatuphonpraset W, Jarukamjorn K. Berberine Disturbs the Expression of Sex-hormone Regulated Genes in β-naphthoflavone-induced Mice. 2013. DOI: 10.3923/jbs.2013.271.276
- da Silva AR, de Andrade Neto JB, da Silva CR, Campos Rde S, Costa Silva RA, Freitas DD, do Nascimento FB, de Andrade LN, Sampaio LS, Grangeiro TB, Magalhães HI, Cavalcanti BC, de Moraes MO, Nobre Júnior HV. Berberine Antifungal Activity in Fluconazole-Resistant Pathogenic Yeasts: Action Mechanism Evaluated by Flow Cytometry and Biofilm Growth Inhibition in Candida spp. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2016 May 23;60(6):3551-7. DOI: 10.1128/AAC.01846-15. PMID: 27021328; PMCID: PMC4879420.
- Xu Z, Feng W, Shen Q, Yu N, Yu K, Wang S, Chen Z, Shioda S, Guo Y. Rhizoma Coptidis and Berberine as a Natural Drug to Combat Aging and Aging-Related Diseases via Anti-Oxidation and AMPK Activation. Aging Dis. 2017 Dec 1;8(6):760-777. DOI: 10.14336/AD.2016.0620. PMID: 29344415; PMCID: PMC5758350.
- Díaz-Castro F, Monsalves-Álvarez M, Rojo LE, Del Campo A, Troncoso R. Mifepristone for Treatment of Metabolic Syndrome: Beyond Cushing’s Syndrome. Front Pharmacol. 2020 Apr 24;11:429. DOI: 10.3389/fphar.2020.00429. PMID: 32390830; PMCID: PMC7193078.
- Mi J, He W, Lv J, Zhuang K, Huang H, Quan S. Effect of berberine on the HPA-axis pathway and skeletal muscle GLUT4 in type 2 diabetes mellitus rats. Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes. 2019 Sep 3;12:1717-1725. DOI: 10.2147/DMSO.S211188. PMID: 31564939; PMCID: PMC6731988.
- Meng Z, Yu Y, Zhang Y, Yang X, Lv X, Guan F, Hatch GM, Zhang M, Chen L. Highly bioavailable Berberine formulation improves Glucocorticoid Receptor-mediated Insulin Resistance via reduction in association of the Glucocorticoid Receptor with phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase. Int J Biol Sci. 2020 Jul 19;16(14):2527-2541. DOI: 10.7150/ijbs.39508. PMID: 32792855; PMCID: PMC7415432.
- Singh N, Sharma B. Toxicological Effects of Berberine and Sanguinarine. Front Mol Biosci. 2018 Mar 19;5:21. DOI: 10.3389/fmolb.2018.00021. PMID: 29616225; PMCID: PMC5867333.
- Guo Y, Chen Y, Tan ZR, Klaassen CD, Zhou HH. Repeated administration of berberine inhibits cytochromes P450 in humans. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2012 Feb;68(2):213-7. DOI: 10.1007/s00228-011-1108-2. Epub 2011 Aug 26. PMID: 21870106; PMCID: PMC4898966.
- Wang H, Zhu C, Ying Y, Luo L, Huang D, Luo Z. Metformin and berberine, two versatile drugs in treatment of common metabolic diseases. Oncotarget. 2017 Sep 11;9(11):10135-10146. DOI: 10.18632/oncotarget.20807. PMID: 29515798; PMCID: PMC5839379.