Overview

Berberine is a chemical found in some plants like European barberry, goldenseal, goldthread, Oregon grape, phellodendron, and tree turmeric.

Berberine is a bitter-tasting and yellow-colored chemical. It might help strengthen the heartbeat, which could benefit people with certain heart conditions. It might also kill bacteria, help regulate how the body uses sugar in the blood, and help reduce swelling.

People most commonly use berberine for diabetes, high levels of cholesterol or other fats in the blood, and high blood pressure. It is also used for burns, canker sores, liver disease, and many other conditions but there is no good scientific evidence to support many of these uses.

Uses & Effectiveness ?

Possibly Effective for

  • Canker sores. Applying a gel containing berberine can reduce pain, redness, oozing, and the size of canker sores.
  • Diabetes. Taking berberine by mouth seems to slightly reduce blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
  • A digestive tract infection that can lead to ulcers (Helicobacter pylori or H. pylori). Adding berberine by mouth to multiple medications that are typically used to treat this condition might work as well as other accepted treatments for this condition. These other treatments also use multiple medications.
  • High levels of cholesterol or other fats (lipids) in the blood (hyperlipidemia). Taking berberine by mouth, alone or with other ingredients, might help lower total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol, and triglyceride levels in people with high cholesterol.
  • High blood pressure. Taking 0.9 grams of berberine by mouth daily along with the blood pressure-lowering drug amlodipine reduces blood pressure better than taking amlodipine alone in people with high blood pressure.
  • A hormonal disorder that causes enlarged ovaries with cysts (polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS). Taking berberine by mouth might lower blood sugar, improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels, reduce testosterone levels, and lower waist-to-hip ratio in people with PCOS.
There is interest in using berberine for a number of other purposes, but there isn't enough reliable information to say whether it might be helpful.

Side Effects

When taken by mouth: Berberine is possibly safe for most adults. It's been used safely in doses up to 1.5 grams daily for 6 months. Common side effects include diarrhea, constipation, gas, and upset stomach.

When applied to the skin: Berberine is possibly safe for most adults when used short-term.

Special Precautions and Warnings

Pregnancy: It's likely unsafe to take berberine by mouth if you are pregnant. Berberine can cross the placenta and might cause harm to the fetus. Kernicterus, a type of brain damage, has developed in newborn infants exposed to berberine.

Breast-feeding: It's likely unsafe to take berberine if you are breast-feeding. Berberine can be transferred to the infant through breast milk, and it might cause harm.

Children: It's likely unsafe to give berberine to newborns. It can cause kernicterus, a rare type of brain damage that can occur in newborns who have severe jaundice. There isn't enough reliable information to know if berberine is safe in older children.

High bilirubin levels in the blood in infants: Bilirubin is a chemical that is produced when old red blood cells break down. It is normally removed by the liver. Berberine may keep the liver from removing bilirubin fast enough. This can cause brain problems, especially in infants with high levels of bilirubin in the blood. Avoid using.

Interactions ?

    Major Interaction

    Do not take this combination

  • Cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune) interacts with BERBERINE

    Berberine might decrease how quickly the body breaks down cyclosporine. This might increase the effects and side effects of cyclosporine.

    Moderate Interaction

    Be cautious with this combination

  • Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates) interacts with BERBERINE

    Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Berberine might change how quickly the liver breaks down these medications. This could change the effects and side effects of these medications.

  • Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs) interacts with BERBERINE

    Berberine might slow blood clotting. Taking berberine along with medications that also slow blood clotting might increase the risk of bruising and bleeding.

  • Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs) interacts with BERBERINE

    Berberine might lower blood sugar levels. Taking berberine along with diabetes medications might cause blood sugar to drop too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely.

  • Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs) interacts with BERBERINE

    Berberine might lower blood pressure. Taking berberine along with medications that lower blood pressure might cause blood pressure to go too low. Monitor your blood pressure closely.

  • Sedative medications (CNS depressants) interacts with BERBERINE

    Berberine might cause sleepiness and slowed breathing. Some medications, called sedatives, can also cause sleepiness and slowed breathing. Taking berberine with sedative medications might cause breathing problems and/or too much sleepiness.

  • Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2C9 (CYP2C9) substrates) interacts with BERBERINE

    Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Berberine might change how quickly the liver breaks down these medications. This could change the effects and side effects of these medications.

  • Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2D6 (CYP2D6) substrates) interacts with BERBERINE

    Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Berberine might change how quickly the liver breaks down these medications. This could change the effects and side effects of these medications.

  • Dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM, others) interacts with BERBERINE

    Berberine might decrease how quickly the body breaks down dextromethorphan. This might increase the effects and side effects of dextromethorphan.

  • Losartan (Cozaar) interacts with BERBERINE

    The liver activates losartan to make it work. Berberine might decrease how quickly the body activates it, which might decrease the effects of losartan.

  • Midazolam (Versed) interacts with BERBERINE

    The body breaks down midazolam to get rid of it. Berberine can decrease how quickly the body breaks it down. This might increase the effects and side effects of midazolam.

  • Pentobarbital (Nembutal) interacts with BERBERINE

    Pentobarbital is a medication that can cause sleepiness. Berberine might also cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Taking berberine with pentobarbital might cause too much sleepiness.

  • Tacrolimus (Prograf) interacts with BERBERINE

    Tacrolimus is removed from the body by the liver. Berberine might slow down the body's ability to remove tacrolimus. This might increase the effects and side effects of tacrolimus.

  • Metformin (Glucophage) interacts with BERBERINE

    Berberine might increase the amount of metformin in the body. This may increase its effects and side effects. This interaction seems to occur when berberine is taken around 2 hours before metformin. Taking berberine and metformin at the same time doesn't appear to increase the amount of metformin in the body.

Dosing

Berberine has most often been used by adults in doses of 0.4-1.5 grams by mouth daily for up to 2 years. Berberine has also been used in eye drops and gels. Speak with a healthcare provider to find out what type of product and dose might be best for a specific condition.
View References

CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version. © Therapeutic Research Faculty 2018.