Berberine Uses and Drug Interactions

Berberine is a natural alkaloid found in goldenseal, barberry, and Oregon grape plants. Berberine has anti-inflammatory properties that may benefit some health conditions like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. However, some side effects are nausea and diarrhea.


Berberine is native to China and India, where it was initially used in Traditional Chinese Therapy and Ayurvedic medicine thousands of years ago.

What is the modern-day application of berberine? Many pharmacological actions have been shown in investigations, including antibacterial, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and blood glucose-lowering properties.

Berberine HCL and other extracts and supplements derived from this molecule are typically affordable, safe, and well-known for their wide antibacterial properties. They may even be able to assist in the natural treatment of illnesses that would otherwise need the use of antibiotics.

What Is Berberine and How Does It Work?

Goldenseal, barberry, goldthread, Oregon grape, and tree turmeric all contain berberine (also known as berberine hydrochloride), a natural isoquinoline alkaloid found in several plants.

The berberine alkaloid may be found in several plants’ stems, barks, roots, and rhizomes (rootlike underground stems). It has a vivid yellow hue that has made it popular as a natural dye.

Berberine is found in the Berberis genus of shrub plants. It’s also the active ingredient in Coptidis Rhizoma and Phellodendri Chinensis Cortex, two prominent natural medicinal plants.

These herbs have been naturally used to treat diabetes in Traditional Chinese Medicine for millennia. This chemical has also been used for a long time to treat bacterial gastroenteritis, diarrhea, and other digestive disorders.

Alkaloids are a group of organic chemicals derived from plants that contain primarily basic nitrogen atoms. They can have significant physiological effects on people, particularly in terms of cardiovascular and metabolic health.

Berberine advantages have been discovered in a rising number of studies to include protection against:

  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Diabetes
  • Infections of the gastrointestinal tract
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Cholesterol levels are high
  • Hypertension
  • Threats to your immunity
  • Joint issues
  • Bone density is low
  • Controlling your weight
  • Depression and cognitive deterioration are two possibilities
  • The development of cancer cells is a possibility

What is the reason behind this? It’s because of the chemical structures that berberine has.

It has the chemical formula C20H18NO4 and, like other protoberberine alkaloids like jatrorrhizine, may be beneficial to one’s health.

Health Advantages

1. Potential Diabetes Treatment

Berberine was observed to help reduce blood glucose levels in one research. This may aid in preventing and treating type 2 diabetes and associated consequences, such as diabetic cardiomyopathy and diabetic neuropathy.

In individuals with metabolic syndrome, it has also been demonstrated to positively affect glucose-lipid metabolism, inflammatory markers, and insulin resistance.

One of the most striking trials compared taking 500 milligrams of the molecule two to three times each day for three months versus taking metformin, a standard diabetic treatment. Berberine was shown to be as efficient as metformin in controlling blood sugar and lipid metabolism, with researchers describing it as a “potent oral hypoglycemic drug.”

Berberine has also been shown to enhance glucose uptake and lipid metabolism abnormalities in other investigations. Berberine, for example, may enhance insulin sensitivity by altering adipokine production, according to research published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

According to some research, this compound’s effects on insulin sensitivity may also help avoid kidney damage.

2. May aid in the reduction of high cholesterol and blood pressure

According to research, berberine may help improve high LDL, total cholesterol, and blood pressure levels.

According to research published in the journal Metabolism, berberine lowered blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels in type 2 diabetes individuals. It seems to function by suppressing PCSK9, which, according to Harvard Medical School studies, aids in cholesterol reduction.

In a second study, researchers discovered that combining red yeast rice with berberine, which is renowned for its capacity to naturally decrease cholesterol, may give a larger range of cholesterol protection with a lower risk of major side effects than prescription statin medication.

Berberine has been proven in animal experiments to reduce unusually high levels of fats and lipids in the blood by boosting cholesterol excretion from the liver and blocking cholesterol absorption via the intestine.

It may help women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) by lowering blood sugar, improving LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, lowering testosterone levels, and lowering the waist-to-hip ratio.

When combined with a nutritious diet rich in antioxidants or supplements like folic acid, coenzyme Q10, and astaxanthin, it may help persons with metabolic syndrome improve their blood pressure and circulation.

3. May Assist With Weight Loss 

Berberine is one of the few substances that may activate adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMP-kinase) (or AMPK). AMPK is an enzyme found within the human body’s cells that is known as a “metabolic master switch” because it regulates metabolism.

Because AMPK activation increases fat burning in the mitochondria, studies have shown that berberine may help prevent fat storage and protect against metabolic syndrome.

Obese people were given 500 mg of berberine orally three times per day for a total of 12 weeks in a research published in Phytomedicine. Bodyweight, a thorough metabolic panel, blood lipid, and hormone levels, inflammatory factor expression levels, a complete blood count, and an electrocardiograph were used to assess the treatment’s effectiveness and safety.

According to this research, berberine is a powerful lipid-lowering chemical with a modest weight-loss impact.

4. Potential Antidote to Cognitive Decline

Berberine’s therapeutic potential against neurodegenerative illnesses including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and trauma-induced neurodegeneration has been studied. While additional research is needed, one study found that berberine has various beneficial benefits, some of which improve neuroprotective factors/pathways and others that help prevent neurodegeneration.

It has also been found in animal experiments to aid in treating depression. In addition, there’s evidence that berberine has mood-lifting properties, including the capacity to block monoamine oxidase-A, an enzyme involved in the breakdown of norepinephrine and serotonin.

5. Can Assist With SIBO Management 

Patients with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) have an overabundance of bacteria in their intestines. The current standard of care for SIBO is oral antibiotics, with varying degrees of effectiveness.

One research published in Global Advances in Health and Medicine aimed to compare the rate of SIBO remission while taking an antibiotic vs. a herbal treatment. However, it was discovered that the herbal medication, which contained berberine, was as effective and safe as antibiotic treatment.

6. It is beneficial to the heart

Berberine’s beneficial impact on heart health is largely due to its capacity to control blood sugar levels and obesity, both of which may increase the risk of coronary heart disease.

It also promotes nitric oxide production, a signaling molecule that relaxes arteries, improves blood flow, decreases blood pressure, and protects against arteriosclerosis.

According to a study published in the World Journal of Cardiology, people who took berberine had a greater cardiac function and were more able to exercise than those who took a placebo.

Berberine’s cardiovascular properties point to its potential therapeutic use in treating arrhythmias and heart failure.

7. It has the potential to improve lung health

Berberine’s anti-inflammatory properties have been shown to aid lung function in studies. This alkaloid has even been found to lessen the effects of acute lung inflammation caused by cigarette smoke.

In one research published in the journal inflammation, mice were administered 50 mg/kg of berberine intragastrically after exposure to cigarette smoke to elicit acute lung damage. When lung tissues were examined, it was discovered that cigarette smoke produced inflammation of the alveoli as well as cellular edema or abnormal fluid retention.

Berberine pretreatment dramatically reduced lung inflammation and ameliorated cigarette smoke-induced acute lung damage through its anti-inflammatory effect.

8. It has the potential to protect the liver

Is berberine beneficial to the liver? Although more research is needed to confirm that berberine can protect against liver diseases, preliminary evidence suggests that it can help the liver by lowering blood sugar, insulin resistance, and triglycerides, all of which are markers of liver damage in people with diabetes and viruses like hepatitis.

It may also help those who have fatty liver disease. Studies show berberine to have anti-hyperglycemic and anti-dyslipidemic properties, which means it improves glucolipid metabolism and may help address the fundamental causes of fatty liver disease.

9. It may have anti-cancer properties

Berberine hydrochloride is being studied more and more for its ability to regulate cancer cell metabolism. This is because berberine may aid in the killing of cancer cells.

Because of its anticancer properties, which include suppressing cancer cell growth and proliferation, it is anticipated to become a natural component of nanoparticulate delivery methods for cancer berberine treatment. In a study done at China Medical University, berberine triggered apoptosis in human tongue cancer cells.

How to Make Use of It

Berberine is available as a supplement, most often as berberine HCL, and may be bought online or in most health food shops.

Don’t get berberine mixed up with piperine (black pepper extract), berberrubine (a metabolite), or berberol (a brand name mixture of tree turmeric and milk thistle).

Because berberine has a short half-life, it’s best to take it in little amounts (three times a day, for example) to keep your blood levels steady.

Many studies employ daily doses ranging from 900 to 1,500 mg. Therefore, taking 500 milligrams three times per day for a total of 1,500 mg per day is the most usual recommendation.

Taking advantage of the blood glucose and lipid surge that occurs with eating a meal should be taken with or immediately thereafter. Acutely high dosages of berberine may induce stomach distress, cramps, and/or diarrhea, which is why it’s best to take it in numerous doses throughout the day.

You may consult with a natural health care practitioner to figure out what dosage is right for you.

Berberine may also be used directly to the skin to heal burns and the eye to treat bacterial infections like trachoma, leading to blindness. In addition, it’s been demonstrated to be effective against various bacteria, protozoa, and fungus that might cause skin problems.

Interactions, Side Effects, and Risks

What are the berberine side effects? If you have a medical condition or are taking any drugs, especially antibiotics, you should see your doctor before using this supplement.

If you’re on blood sugar-lowering medication, this is extremely critical.

Because it may drop blood sugar, people with diabetes who are already on insulin or other drugs to manage their blood sugar should exercise care while taking this supplement to prevent dangerously low blood sugar levels. In addition, people with low blood pressure should be cautious while taking it since it may drop blood pressure naturally.

Pregnant or breastfeeding women should not use berberine.

Is it safe to consume berberine for a long time? If you want to use it for more than 12 weeks, you should consult with a doctor.

Overall, the safety profile of this alkaloid is excellent. The most common adverse effects are digestive in nature and are modest, such as cramps, diarrhea, gas, constipation, and stomach discomfort.

Again, these slight negative berberine side effects may be prevented entirely by keeping to the suggested lower amounts — spaced out throughout the day and after meals.


  • Berberine is a natural alkaloid found in a broad range of plants and is used in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medical therapies.
  • Antibacterial, antimicrobial, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, and blood glucose-lowering properties have been shown.
  • Berberine has the ability to cure diabetes, decrease high cholesterol, battle obesity, defend against neurological illnesses, treat SIBO, promote heart health, and increase lung health, among other things.
  • Cancer inhibition, digestive difficulties, osteoporosis, burns, bacterial infections, and even depression are all possibilities; however, further study is required.
  • While used in modest dosages, berberine has few negative effects. However, it may drop blood sugar and blood pressure; therefore, people who take medicines should exercise care when using this supplement.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you take berberine with antidepressants?

A: Yes. Berberine is a natural supplement that can be taken with or without antidepressant medication to relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety disorders.

Can berberine be taken with amlodipine?

A: Berberine is an herbal supplement, and amlodipine is a blood pressure medication. It’s not recommended to take berberine with this medication, but it can be taken together if you’re sure of what you’re doing.

Related Tags

  • berberine benefits and side effects
  • berberine benefits for diabetes
  • berberine drug interactions
  • berberine interactions
  • berberine weight loss reviews

FDA Compliance

The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)