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Berberine

Synonyms/Common Names/Related Substances:

  • Acetone, barberry, benzophenanthridine alkaloid, berberin, berberin hydrochloride, berberine alkaloid, berberine bisulfate, berberine chloride, berberine complex, berberin hydrochloride, berberine hydrochloride, berberine iodide, berberine sulfate, berberine sulfate trihdyrate, berberine tannate, Berberis aquifolium, Berberis aristata, Berberis vulgaris, Coptis chinensis, coptis, goldenseal, goldenthread, Hydrastis canadensis, isoquinoline alkaloid, jiang tang san, levo-tetrahydropalmatine (l-THP), Oregon grape, protoberberine, protoberberinium salts, rhizoma Coptis chinesnsis, tetrohydorprotoberberine, tree turmeric.

Clinical Bottom Line/Effectiveness

Brief Background:

  • Berberine is a bitter-tasting, yellow, plant alkaloid with a long history of medicinal use in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. Berberine is present in the roots, rhizomes and stem bark of various plants including Hydrastis canadensis (goldenseal), Coptis chinensis (coptis or goldenthread), Berberis aquifolium (Oregon grape), Berberis vulgaris (barberry), and Berberis aristata (tree turmeric) (1). Berberine has also been used historically as a dye, due to its yellow color.
  • Varma first documented the use of berberine in 1933 for chronic trachoma (2).
  • There is some clinical evidence to support berberine's use in the treatment of trachomas (eye infections) (3;4), bacterial diarrhea (5;6;7;8;9), and leishmaniasis (10;11). Berberine has also shown antimicrobial activity against bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoans, helminths (worms), and chlamydia (1). Future clinical research is warranted in these areas, as well as cardiovascular disease, skin disorders, and liver disorders.
  • Berberine has been generally shown to be safe in the majority of clinical trials. However, there is a potential for interaction between berberine and many prescription medications, and berberine should not be used by pregnant or lactating females, due to potential for adverse effects in the newborn.

Dosing/Toxicology

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Precautions/Contraindications

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Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Mechanism of Action

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History

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Evidence Table

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Evidence Discussion

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Products Studied

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.