Grow Youthful: How to Slow Your Aging and Enjoy Extraordinary Health
Grow Youthful: How to Slow Your Aging and Enjoy Extraordinary Health


What is berberine?

Berberine properties and remedies

How to take berberine

Berberine side effects, cautions


What is berberine?

Berberine is best known as a powerful herbal antifungal, though it has many other benefits such as being an antimicrobial, and cardiovascular and diabetes support. It has been used since 3000 BC in Chinese traditional medicine, and is widely used in traditional medicine, especially in northern India.

Berberine is an alkaloid quaternary ammonium salt found in the roots, rhizomes, stems and bark of plants such as Berberis vulgaris (barberry), Berberis aristata (tree turmeric), Mahonia aquifolium (Oregon grape), Hydrastis canadensis (goldenseal), Xanthorhiza simplicissima (yellowroot), Phellodendron amurense (Amur cork tree), Coptis chinensis (Chinese goldthread), Tinospora cordifolia (Heart-Leaved Moonseed), Argemone mexicana (prickly poppy) and Eschscholzia californica (Californian poppy).

Today most berberine is synthesised rather than being obtained from the above plants, which are used in traditional and natural medicine, where much of their value comes from their Berberine content. As always, using a product produced by nature ALWAYS beats using a similar product produced in a factory.

Berberine has a strong yellow colour and is used in India even today to dye wool, leather and wood. The deep yellow colour also makes it useful as a microscope specimen stain.

Berberine properties and remedies

How to take berberine

Berberine is usually available in capsule form or as a powder. Start with a low dose, at the low end of the instructions on the container. Give your digestive system time to adjust or cramping, diarrhoea or nausea may occur.

Take berberine with food two or three times a day. After building up to it, the daily total taken may be 500 mg to 2,000 mg. This means each dose is between 200 mg and 1,000 mg.

Berberine side effects, cautions

Berberine can cross the placenta and may cause harm to a fetus, so the advice of a healthcare practitioner should be sought before taking it when pregnant. Berberine is not safe for use with newborns and infants. (1)

Berberine is generally well tolerated when taken at the recommended dosage. Side effects if any are usually mild, and can include digestive cramping, nausea, diarrhoea, flatulence and gut distension, constipation and stomach pain. (20)

Berberine inhibits an enzyme which metabolises a wide range of pharmaceutical drugs, so these medications spend more time in your body and have a stronger effect. These drugs include tetracyclines and some other antibiotics and oral hypoglycemic drugs. If you are using any medications it is important to tell your doctor.

Your comments about any of your experiences - positive or negative - with your use of berberine are welcome at Grow Youthful. I am always curious about your use of and experience with natural remedies, and your feedback is very welcome.


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6. Dong H, Wang N, Zhao L, Lu F. Berberine in the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus: a systemic review and meta-analysis. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:591654. doi: 10.1155/2012/591654. Epub 2012 Oct 15. PMID: 23118793; PMCID: PMC3478874.

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9. Kuo CL, Chi CW, Liu TY. The anti-inflammatory potential of berberine in vitro and in vivo. Cancer Lett. 2004 Jan 20;203(2):127-37. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2003.09.002. PMID: 14732220.

10. Xu D, Wan C, Wang T, Tian P, Li D, Wu Y, Fan S, Chen L, Shen Y, Wen F. Berberine attenuates cigarette smoke-induced airway inflammation and mucus hypersecretion in mice. Int J Clin Exp Med. 2015 Jun 15;8(6):8641-7. PMID: 26309516; PMCID: PMC4538094.

11. Kim BY, Park HR, Jeong HG, Kim SW. Berberine reduce allergic inflammation in a house dust mite allergic rhinitis mouse model. Rhinology. 2015 Dec;53(4):353-8. doi: 10.4193/Rhino15.028. PMID: 26275466.

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13. Guo T, Woo SL, Guo X, Li H, Zheng J, Botchlett R, Liu M, Pei Y, Xu H, Cai Y, Zeng T, Chen L, Li X, Li Q, Xiao X, Huo Y, Wu C. Berberine Ameliorates Hepatic Steatosis and Suppresses Liver and Adipose Tissue Inflammation in Mice with Diet-induced Obesity. Sci Rep. 2016 Mar 3;6:22612. doi: 10.1038/srep22612. PMID: 26936230; PMCID: PMC4776174.

14. Sack RB, Froehlich JL. Berberine inhibits intestinal secretory response of Vibrio cholerae and Escherichia coli enterotoxins. Infect Immun. 1982 Feb;35(2):471-5. doi: 10.1128/iai.35.2.471-475.1982. PMID: 7035365; PMCID: PMC351064.

15. Gu L, Li N, Gong J, Li Q, Zhu W, Li J. Berberine ameliorates intestinal epithelial tight-junction damage and down-regulates myosin light chain kinase pathways in a mouse model of endotoxinemia. J Infect Dis. 2011 Jun 1;203(11):1602-12. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jir147. PMID: 21592990.

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17. 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.

18. Yang J, Yin J, Gao H, Xu L, Wang Y, Xu L, Li M. Berberine improves insulin sensitivity by inhibiting fat store and adjusting adipokines profile in human preadipocytes and metabolic syndrome patients. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:363845. doi: 10.1155/2012/363845. Epub 2012 Mar 8. PMID: 22474499; PMCID: PMC3310165.

19. Pham TP, Kwon J, Shin J. Berberine exerts anti-adipogenic activity through up-regulation of C/EBP inhibitors, CHOP and DEC2. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2011 Sep 23;413(2):376-82. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2011.08.110. Epub 2011 Aug 27. PMID: 21893041.

20. 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.

21. Anna Luganini, Beatrice Mercorelli, Lorenzo Messa, Giorgio Palu, Giorgio Gribaudo, Arianna Loregian. The isoquinoline alkaloid berberine inhibits human cytomegalovirus replication by interfering with the viral Immediate Early-2 (IE2) protein transactivating activity. Antiviral Res. 2019 Apr:164:52-60. doi: 10.1016/j.antiviral.2019.02.006.