A Review of the health benefits of Berberine 
Health benefits of berberine

A Review of the health benefits of Berberine 

A comprehensive review of the health benefits of berberine is necessary to inform users. Berberine has been in use for therapeutic purposes since ancient times. Presently, it is available as a supplement for more convenient use. Berberine is a substance extracted from certain plants, including barberry, goldenseal, goldthread, Oregon grape, Phellodendron, and tree turmeric (Berberis aristate).

Benefits of berberine
Benefits of berberine

Berberine has a history of usage in traditional Chinese medicine. Research evidence shows that berberine could support health in many ways, including heart disease, cholesterol-lowering, preventing obesity, preventing atherosclerotic disease, preventing cognitive degeneration. Berberine is available as a supplement to manage various disease conditions. However, it is mainly used as a supplement to promote healthy cholesterol, blood sugar levels, and cardiovascular health.

Biologically, berberine has been shown to provide many beneficial bioactivities against several disease conditions, such as microbial infections, inflammation, certain cancers, cardiovascular diseases, gastrointestinal disorders, neurodegenerative diseases, depression, and metabolic dysfunctions.

User reviews of the benefits of berberine in human health

User reviews on the use of berberine supplements show a rating of 4.1 out of 5, with the overall satisfaction that the supplement worked for them, and that it is easy to use. The health conditions most reported with the use included diabetes, Polycystic ovary syndrome, weight loss, and high cholesterol. However, a minority with negative reviews reported side effects such as increased blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, bloating, anxiety, and constipation.

The beneficial effect of berberine in diabetes Miletus

The incidence of type 2 diabetes continues to increase worldwide, making every effort towards managing the disease outside of conventional medical care a welcome approach.

Research sourceEvidence
https://bit.ly/3IiTjCuBerberine is effective in improving glycemic control. However, more research is needed to evaluate the safety dosage, when administered alone or in association with other anti-hyperlipidemic or anti-diabetic drugs, especially among the European population.
https://bit.ly/3675lBNBerberine is documented to improve glucose and lipid metabolism disorders. This suggests the ability of berberine to reduce inflammation, thereby improving vascular health, even in patients already affected by cardiovascular diseases. A possible role of berberine in clinical practice is predicted.
https://bit.ly/3wB88OeCompounds and extracts from Berberis species, particularly berberine, are revealed to be effective in treating diabetes mellitus and other metabolic diseases.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.joim.2020.01.004Berberine effectively manages diabetes and its complications, such as hypertension, atherosclerosis, cardiomyopathy, diabetic nephropathy, and retinopathy. It also suggests indirect benefits for the prevention of dementia.
https://bit.ly/3iyRfvwThe available evidence suggests a possible application of berberine in managing chronic cardiometabolic disorders, including cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes mellitus and chronic renal failure.


Beneficial effect of berberine on High blood pressure

Hypertension represents the highest risk factor for disease. Due to the asymptomatic nature of hypertension, patients often decline treatment due to hypertension and sometimes turn to alternative therapies including lifestyle and herbs. One such popular therapy is the use of berberine.

Research sourceEvidence
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctcp.2020.101287Compared to metformin, berberine provided a moderate reduction effect on systolic blood pressure.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctcp.2020.101287A branded nutraceutical with berberine as one of its main ingredients effectively reduced blood pressure compared to the control.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctcp.2020.101287The herbal extract of Chunghyul-dan, another branded product that contains berberine, was shown to have a moderate beneficial effect on systolic 24 h ambulatory blood pressure compared to no treatment. However, the limitation of this evidence is that the impact could not be ascribed to berberine alone.


Benefits of berberine in Obesity

Obesity is a chronic disease that is characterised by abnormal accumulation of fat. The global prevalence of obesity is rapidly increasing and is of great public health concern. Obesity increases a person’s risk for diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disorders, infertility, certain cancers, and psychological and social disorders.

Therefore, approaches to address the global concern need to be explored.

Research sourceEvidence
https://bit.ly/3iyyN66Berberine effectively prevented the development of obesity in rats fed a high-fat diet, which showed a decrease in food intake. In addition, it is indicated that berberine partially facilitates the structural variation of the gut microbiota, which may help in reducing inflammation and elevating the levels of short-chain fatty acid in the intestine.
https://go.nature.com/3iyEe50Berberine could help prevent obesity by inhibiting the genes that promote the production and diversity of adipocytes. It helps in regulating the levels of gut hormones, subsequently treating obesity.
https://bit.ly/3JEoDNiBerberine administration might be a useful therapy in the treatment of fatty liver and hyperlipidemia.
https://bit.ly/3wAMj1qThe use of berberine supplements significantly reduces body mass index and waist circumference.


In mice, experiment berberine shows potential as an appetite suppressant and hence obesity prevention.


Berberine and high cholesterol

Nutritional approaches involving the use of supplements accompanied by improved dietary habits and lifestyle are becoming increasingly acceptable methods for the control of high cholesterol. Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in the blood. The body needs cholesterol to build healthy cells, however, high levels of cholesterol lead to an increased risk of heart disease through the deposits of fatty substances in the blood vessels.

Research sourceEvidence
https://bit.ly/3IiTjCuBerberine is effective in improving the lipid profile.
https://bit.ly/3D8J9mKBerberine has a beneficial impact on gene regulation for absorbing cholesterol at a daily dose of 300 mg
https://bit.ly/3IGbHW3Berberine is shown to prevent the development of plaque that narrows the blood vessels. This is done by its action in reducing levels of blood cholesterol, especially low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol through the LDL receptor-dependent and independent mechanisms. Also, its activities in preventing the formation of large fat cells, and its anti-oxidant activities.


In humans, berberine’s lipid-lowering has been demonstrated. Both pure berberine and berberine-enriched were shown to have a significant effect on lowering blood cholesterol within 4 weeks to 12 months treatment period.
https://bit.ly/3NqfDhkThe administration of berberine in a supplemental form comprising 500 mg in combination with 200 mg red yeast extract, 10 mg policosanol, 0.2 mg folic acid, 2 mg CoQ10, and 0.5 mg astaxanthin consistently shows a marked cholesterol-lowering effect. In subjects with high cholesterol, the combination reduced the total cholesterol by 17% and LDL by 23%. Also, the berberine combination product was shown to be effective in elderly persons with high cholesterols who were intolerant to statins. There was a reduction of 20% in total cholesterol and 31% in LDL.


Berberine and polycystic ovary syndrome

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal imbalance condition in women resulting in the production of higher-than-normal amounts of male hormones, skipping of menstrual periods and difficulty in falling pregnant. Berberine has been found helpful for women having PCOS.

Research sourceEvidence
https://bit.ly/3tGOGOlBerberine can interfere with the progression of PCOS with fewer adverse reactions. However, berberine is often used along with other drugs, to achieve a better therapeutic effect on PCOS. Because it is a natural drug, very few patients will have side effects which include constipation, mild stomachache, anorexia and abdominal distention.
https://bit.ly/3JNJn5kPolycystic ovary syndrome is often associated with insulin resistance. The intake of berberine was found to improve some metabolic and hormonal imbalances in a group of

women with PCOS. The main effects were related to desirable changes in body composition, body weight and levels of LDL and triglycerides.

https://bit.ly/3qP6TYlThe treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome is usually through synthetic hormones associated with lifestyle changes. However, hormone administration cannot be taken endlessly, more so if the women desire to become pregnant. Therefore, the nutraceutical compound, berberine was investigated as a possible agent for the treatment of PCOS. Berberine was shown to be effective against insulin resistance and obesity, particularly against visceral adipose tissue. As a result, these researchers proposed that berberine could be effective in the treatment of PCOS.
https://bit.ly/3tRt2HgA study investigated the benefits of berberine for women with polycystic ovary syndrome who are undergoing in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment. It was reported that berberine or metformin treatments before IVF improved the pregnancy outcome in women with PCOS.  The clinical, endocrine and metabolic parameters were normalized. Of note is the fact that berberine has a more pronounced healing effect and achieved more live births with fewer side effects than metformin.


Beneficial effect of berberine on Cancer

Cancer is a disease that results from cellular changes caused by the uncontrolled growth and division of cells. Therapeutic strategies are constantly improving and they include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, stem cell transplantation, and precision medicine. The use of berberine has been indicated as having potential in the management of cancer.

Research sourceEvidence


The anti-cancer mechanisms of berberine through its anti-inflammation and antioxidant properties are explained in a review paper. Berberine prevents the spread of cancer cells by regulating the cell cycle and cell destruction. BBR prevents cell invasion and the growth of secondary malignant aside from the primary site of cancer. Furthermore, berberine inhibits cell proliferation by interacting with microRNAs and regulates the tumour microenvironment. The researchers see berberine as having the potential for clinical use in cancer therapy.
https://bit.ly/3iMkRphMicroRNAs are important regulatory elements in almost all biological processes like cell production, cell death, differentiation and embryonic development. Berberine was shown to normalize the activities of MicroRNAs in several diseases. This activity explains berberine’s potential in the treatment of cancers such as hepatocellular carcinoma, colorectal cancer, gastric cancer, and ovarian cancer.
https://bit.ly/3iSvLd2A study describes the potential of berberine in the treatment of breast cancer. Berberine was shown to be effective in preventing the spread of cancer cells and promoting the destruction of various cancerous cells.
https://bit.ly/3iPZZgSThe enzyme called cyclooxygenase-2 is abundant in colon cancer cells and it plays a role in transforming normal cells into cancer cells. Berberine extract effectively inhibits the transcriptional activity of cyclooxygenase-2 in colon cancer cells in a dose- and time-dependent method. This beneficial effect is due to berberine’s anti-inflammatory and anti-tumour properties.
https://bit.ly/3uE3U66The metabolism of glutamine is essential for the spread of cancer cells. Berberine was found to block the uptake of glutamine by inhibiting SLC1A5, a neutral amino acid transporter. The researchers concluded that berberine can suppress the proliferation of liver cancer cells.


Benefits of berberine on gut health

The gut or digestive tract (starting from the mouth through the intestine, the large colon through the anus) is more than a simple body system of one long tube for food to pass through, be absorbed, and excreted. The gut is comprised of an array of microbes, that dictate the state of health including the immune system, mental health, autoimmune diseases, mood, skin conditions and more. Berberine is of great help in enhancing the gut health.

Research sourceEvidence
https://bit.ly/3gH7o4zEvidence shows that abnormal structural and numerical changes in the gut microbiota can be reversed by berberine administration.
https://bit.ly/3sB5mFvWhen berberine is taken with metformin, it can modulate the gut microbiome, which plays a vital role in the maintenance of gut homeostasis.
https://bit.ly/3DwjV3rBerberine was shown to improve intestinal dysbacteriosis, which reduces the hepatotoxicity caused by the pathological intervention.


Berberine and inflammation

Inflammation is the body’s response to trigger an immune reaction. Inflammation does not always indicate that there is an infection, however, an infection can cause inflammation. Health experts believe that inflammation may contribute to chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

Research sourceEvidence
https://bit.ly/3iyRfvwClinical evidence shows the ability of berberine to reduce inflammation of the thin membrane that lines the inside of the heart and blood vessels thereby improving vascular health in patients already affected by cardiovascular diseases.
https://bit.ly/3SAq6ImBerberine was shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect against respiratory inflammatory diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, lung cancer, and pulmonary fibrosis.


Benefits of berberine in bacterial infection

Disease-causing bacteria may get access into the body, thereafter, multiply rapidly and cause infections. Some of the common infections include the general signs and symptoms of infection such as swollen lymph nodes, skin swelling, soreness, headache, nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting abdominal pain etc. The use of berberine has also been found useful in reducing the symptoms of bacterial infections.

Research sourceEvidence
https://bit.ly/3st6FpYBerberine administration showed beneficial effects as an antibiotic adjunct in E. coli sepsis.
https://bit.ly/3N8hirLBerberine was effective in improving clinical cure rates and decreasing the duration of diarrhoea treatment among children and adults.
https://go.nature.com/3D7QpjhBerberine has anti-biofilm activity against a wide range of pathogenic microorganisms, including S. epidermidis, C. albicans, Salmonella Typhimurium and S. aureus.



Berberine’s numerous bioactive actions, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumour, anti-mutagenic, anti-diabetic, and lipid-lowering represent a great contribution to its clinical efficacy. Berberine is marketed in capsules for therapeutic use.


The health benefits of berberine are well documented in the literature. Many credible research studies establish the use of berberine in enhancing the health outcome in certain chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart diseases, high cholesterol, inflammation etc. Nevertheless, the use of supplements should be done with caution. Berberine is not an exception. Always discuss with your doctor to confirm if it is good for you. The fact that a supplement is good and works for people does not mean it will work for everyone.