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Berberine - side effects and how to avoid them + expert advice

Find out what side effects the consumption of berberine can bring.

Nina Wawryszuk - AuthorAuthorNina Wawryszuk
Nina Wawryszuk - Author
AuthorNina Wawryszuk
Natu.Care Editor

Nina Wawryszuk specialises in sports supplementation, strength training and psychosomatics. On a daily basis, in addition to writing articles for Natu.Care, as a personal trainer she helps athletes improve their performance through training, diet and supplementation.

Learn more about our editorial process

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Alexandra Cudna-Bartnicka - Reviewed byReviewed byAlexandra Cudna-Bartnicka
Verified by an expert
Alexandra Cudna-Bartnicka - Reviewed by
Reviewed byAlexandra Cudna-Bartnicka
Clinical nutritionist

Clinical nutritionist whose main area of interest is nutrition in diseases and functional disorders of the digestive system.

Learn more about our editorial process

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Bartholomew Turczynski - Edited byEdited byBartholomew Turczynski
Bartholomew Turczynski - Edited by
Edited byBartholomew Turczynski
Editor-in-Chief

Bartłomiej Turczyński is the editor-in-chief of Natu.Care. He is responsible for the quality of the content created on Natu.Care, among others, and ensures that all articles are based on sound scientific research and consulted with industry specialists.

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Ludwig Jelonek - Fact-checking
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Berberine - side effects and how to avoid them + expert advice
29 April, 2024
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After all, berberine is from plants, it cannot harm you. Well, nothing could be further from the truth. It is a potent substance from not just any plant.

Dietary supplements, even those derived from plants, can cause unpleasant side effects. Sometimes it's a lottery - some will complain of headaches, others of sprints to the toilet. It is important that you are aware of what to expect and how to avoid side effects.

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From this article you will learn:

  • What the side effects of berberine can be.
  • .
  • How to minimise or avoid side effects.
  • .
  • How berberine affects the body.
  • .

See also:

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Berberine side effects

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Berberine, especially in doses above 1,500 mg per day can cause side effects such as abdominal pain, diarrhoea, constipation, nausea, vomiting and impaired absorption of other nutrients in some people. Doses that are too high can also cause low blood pressure and hypoglycaemiaand.

Unpleasant side effects usually occur due to its incorrect dosage (usually excessive) or interactions with other drugs, herbs or dietary supplements.

What are the most commonly reported side effectsand?

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Gastrointestinal problems

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Berberine can cause :

  • diarrhoea,
  • .
  • constipation,
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  • diarrhoea,
  • .
  • vomiting,
  • .
  • nausea,
  • .
  • abdominal pain,
  • .

Impaired absorption of other substances

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Berberine can reduce or potentiate the effects of drugs, vitamins, minerals and nutrientsand. This results in either not treating diseases because the medicine is not working, or putting yourself at risk of poisoning due to too high a concentration of active substances in the medicines or nutrients.

Pressure reduction and dizziness

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Berberine can dilate blood vessels and reduce blood pressure. This can cause headaches and dizzinessand.

Hypoglycaemia

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Research suggests that large amounts of berberine can cause hypoglycaemia (hypoglycaemia) in patients with type 2 diabetes, which manifests as muscle tremors, weakness, sweating and increased hunger, among other symptoms .

Interaction effects with other substances

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Berberine may interact with some medicines, dietary supplements and foodsand. Symptoms depend on what exactly berberine is 'competing' with.

The most common symptoms associated with berberine interacting with another ingredient areand:

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  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea,
  • .
  • headaches,
  • .
  • increased or decreased concentrations of other active substances (e.g. from medicines) in the body,
  • .
  • blood thinning and increased risk of bleedingand.
  • .

Berberine interacts withand:

  • grapefruit juice,
  • .
  • with drugs used after transplants (cyclosporine),
  • .
  • with antibiotics (tetracyclines),
  • .
  • with anticoagulants (aspirin, heparin, warfarin),
  • .
  • with NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs),
  • .
  • with blood sugar-lowering drugs (metformin, insulin),
  • .
  • with blood cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins, fibrates),
  • .
  • with blood pressure lowering drugs,
  • .
  • with sedative drugs.
  • .

How to avoid side effects? Expert advice

Dietitian Aleksandra Cudna has prepared a mini-tutorial on how to minimise the occurrence or avoid side effects when taking berberine.

    .
  • Comply with the dosage recommended by the manufacturer or your doctor.
  • Check interactions of berberine with medications you are taking.
  • .
  • Avoid the use of herbs, especially those with sedative, blood pressure or blood sugar-lowering effects (e.g. ginkgo biloba, garlic, Chinese clove, lemon balm, ashwagandha, valerian, field horsetail, nettle).
  • Do not drink alcohol while taking berberine or maintain a minimum interval of a few hours.
  • .
  • Do not combine berberine with grapefruit juice. Maintain a 4-hour interval between their intake.
  • .

When taking dietary supplements made from natural ingredients, we often forget how powerful they can be. It seems to us that, after all, something given by Mother Nature cannot harm us.

The nutritionist explains:

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Berberine belongs to the group of alkaloids, i.e. organic compounds with strong effects on, among other things, the brain and nervous system. Depending on the type of alkaloid, they can have analgesic, stimulant, sleep-inducing, antipyretic and even hallucinogenic effects.
Aleksandra Cudna.

Alexandra Cudna Clinical nutritionist

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Alkaloids, or what? We're talking about the company of substances such as caffeine and nicotine... but also cocaine, morphine and strychnine. Don't panic, but don't underestimate berberine.

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If used incorrectly, alkaloids can be dangerous to your health and harm you, so don't underestimate these active substances from plants.

Grapefruit juice

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People should avoid juice from this fruit while on medication. Is this a conspiracy by grapefruit heathens? No. Grapefruit can alter the activity of hepatic CYP3A4 enzymes, increasing drug concentrations in the blood and affecting drug metabolism and potentially causing adverse side effectsand.

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Berberine - properties and uses

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Berberine is a bioactive compound present in the leaves, roots, rhizomes, bark, twigs and stems of several plant species, including barberryand. Berberine belongs to the alkaloid group. They are chemical compounds of plant origin with potent effects on the bodyand.

Scientific studies to date confirm that berberine :

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  • lowers blood sugar concentrations in people with type II diabetes,
  • .
  • lowers concentrations of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol (so-called bad cholesterol) and triglycerides,
  • .
  • increases concentrations of HDL (so-called good cholesterol),
  • .
  • lowers apolipoprotein B - an important indicator of cardiovascular disease risk,
  • .

More research is needed, but potentially berberine mayand:

  • promote weight loss, by affecting fat-regulating hormones ,
  • .
  • boost immunity against viruses, bacteria and fungi ,
  • positively influence the gut microbiome ,
  • act as an anti-inflammatory ,
  • .
  • prevent non-alcoholic steatosis disease liver disease ,
  • .
  • Alleviate symptoms and reduce the risk of death in patients with heart failure,
  • .
  • support the treatment of depression ,
  • support the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome with insulin resistance (PCOS) ,
  • .
  • influence the reduction of skin complaints, such as those associated with atopic dermatitis (AD) .

Maybe of interest:

Standardised extracts

YANGO, Berberine Premium™

YANGO, Berberine Premium™
4.7
  • Active ingredients: berine 588 mg
  • Form: capsules
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  • Dose:  3 capsules daily
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  • Sufficient for: 30 days
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See price
in the Natu.Care shop
Product description

A dietary supplement with berberine, whichóra has a positive effect on sugar-insulin balance and reduces the risk of heart disease. It can support the weight loss process.

Pros and cons

A dietary supplement with berberine, whichóra has a positive effect on sugar-insulin balance and reduces the risk of heart disease. It can support the weight loss process.

Additional information

A dietary supplement with berberine, whichóra has a positive effect on sugar-insulin balance and reduces the risk of heart disease. It can support the weight loss process.

98% HCl

Aura Herbals Berberine 500 mg

Aura Herbals Berberine 500 mg
4.6
  • Active ingredients: berine
  • Form: capsules
  • .
  • Dose: 1 capsule per day
  • .
  • Sufficient for: 60 days
  • .
See price
in the Natu.Care shop
Product description

Berberine supports sugar and insulin metabolism, the cardiovascular system and liver function. It may promote weight loss, protect the liver and positively influence the gut microbiome.

Pros and cons

Berberine supports sugar and insulin metabolism, the cardiovascular system and liver function. It may promote weight loss, protect the liver and positively influence the gut microbiome.

Additional information

Berberine supports sugar and insulin metabolism, the cardiovascular system and liver function. It may promote weight loss, protect the liver and positively influence the gut microbiome.

Detoxification

OstroVit Berberine HCl 97% VEGE

OstroVit Berberine HCl 97% VEGE
5.0
  • Active ingredients: berine
  • Form: capsules
  • .
  • Dose: 1 capsule per day
  • .
  • Sufficient for: 90 days
  • .
See price
in the Natu.Care shop
Product description

Berberine supports sugar and insulin metabolism, the cardiovascular system and liver function. It may support weight loss, protect the liver and have a positive effect on the gut microbiome.

Pros and cons

Berberine supports sugar and insulin metabolism, the cardiovascular system and liver function. It may support weight loss, protect the liver and have a positive effect on the gut microbiome.

Additional information

Berberine supports sugar and insulin metabolism, the cardiovascular system and liver function. It may support weight loss, protect the liver and have a positive effect on the gut microbiome.

97% HCl

Pharmovit Berberine HCl

Pharmovit Berberine HCl
4.7
  • Active ingredients: berine
  • Form: capsules
  • .
  • Dose: 1 capsule per day
  • .
  • Sufficient for: 60 days
  • .
See price
in the Natu.Care shop
Product description

Berberine supports sugar and insulin metabolism, the cardiovascular system and liver function. It can promote weight loss, protect the liver and positively influence the gut microbiome.

Pros and cons

Berberine supports sugar and insulin metabolism, the cardiovascular system and liver function. It can promote weight loss, protect the liver and positively influence the gut microbiome.

Additional information

Berberine supports sugar and insulin metabolism, the cardiovascular system and liver function. It can promote weight loss, protect the liver and positively influence the gut microbiome.

User review

Berberine supports sugar and insulin metabolism, the cardiovascular system and liver function. It can promote weight loss, protect the liver and positively influence the gut microbiome.

Summary

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  • The most common side effects of berberine are: stomach problems, impaired absorption of other substances and nutrients, interactions with medications and herbs, lowering of blood pressure and hypoglycemia.
  • The most common side effects of berberine are: stomach problems, impaired absorption of other substances and nutrients, interactions with medications and herbs, lowering of blood pressure and hypoglycemia.
  • Side effects most often affect people who do not follow the manufacturer's recommendations regarding dosage and contraindications to use.
  • .
  • To minimise or prevent the risk of side effects, do not exceed the daily portions and pay attention to other medicines, dietary supplements and herbs you are taking.
  • .
  • Berberine is an alkaloid and has a positive effect on sugar-insulin metabolism and cholesterol.
  • .

FAQ

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. What are the harms of berberine?.

Berberine used in large amounts or in combination with certain medications can harm health and cause side effects such as: stomach discomfort, excessively low blood sugar and blood pressure, and impaired absorption of medications and nutrients, which can lead to abnormal blood levels (too low or too high).

. What not to combine berberine with.

Berberine should not be combined with alcohol, grapefruit juice and drugs used to treat psychiatric problems, diabetes, high cholesterol. Berberine should also be avoided in combination with antibiotics (tetracyclines), anticoagulants, anti-inflammatory drugs and drugs used after transplants.

. Does berberine harm the kidneys?.

There is no conclusive evidence that berberine harms the kidneys. Scientific studies to date show its protective effect on the kidneys. Further work by researchers is needed to determine the full extent of berberine's effects on kidney function.

. Does berberine raise blood pressure?.

There is no conclusive scientific evidence that berberine raises blood pressure. On the contrary, one study found that berberine may have a hypotensive, or blood pressure-lowering effect. Berberine has positive effects on cardiovascular health.

. Can you overdose on berberine?.

Yes, it is possible to overdose on berberine. Using too high a daily dose (more than 1,500 mg) can cause gastrointestinal problems (vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation, nausea), excessive lowering of blood pressure and blood sugar levels (hypoglycaemic state).

. How long can berberine be used?.

How long to use berberine is an individual issue and depends on the health, purpose of use and dosage in the individual. Clinical studies on berberine with humans or animals have lasted from a few weeks to two years. More long-term studies on its safety are needed.

. Does berberine help the liver?.

Yes, berberine may support the health of the liver. Berberine has positive effects on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) by reducing liver fat and improving lipid metabolism.

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Sources

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. See all.

Berberine. (2012). In LiverTox: Clinical and Research Information on Drug-Induced Liver Injury. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK564659/

Čerňáková, M., & Košťálová, D. (2002). Antimicrobial activity of berberine-A constituent ofMahonia aquifolium. Folia Microbiologica, 47(4), 375-378. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02818693

Cicero, A. F. G., Rovati, L. C., & Setnikar, I. (2007). Eulipidemic Effects of Berberine Administered Alone or in Combination with Other Natural Cholesterol-lowering Agents. Arzneimittelforschung, 57(01), 26-30. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0031-1296582

Dhamgaye, S., Devaux, F., Vandeputte, P., Khandelwal, N. K., Sanglard, D., Mukhopadhyay, G., & Prasad, R. (2014). Molecular Mechanisms of Action of Herbal Antifungal Alkaloid Berberine, in Candida albicans. PLOS ONE, 9(8), e104554. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0104554

Hu, Y.-J., Liu, Y., & Xiao, X.-H. (2009). Investigation of the Interaction between Berberine and Human Serum Albumin. Biomacromolecules, 10(3), 517-521. https://doi.org/10.1021/bm801120k

Lau, C.-W., Yao, X.-Q., Chen, Z.-Y., Ko, W.-H., & Huang, Y. (2001). Cardiovascular Actions of Berberine. Cardiovascular Drug Reviews, 19(3), 234-244. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1527-3466.2001.tb00068.x

Lau, C.-W., Yao, X.-Q., Chen, Z.-Y., Ko, W.-H., & Huang, Y. (2001). Cardiovascular Actions of Berberine. Cardiovascular Drug Reviews, 19(3), 234-244. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1527-3466.2001.tb00068.x

Liu, Y., Zhang, L., Song, H., & Ji, G. (2013). Update on Berberine in Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2013, e308134. https://doi.org/10.1155/2013/308134

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Yang, J., Yin, J., Gao, H., Xu, L., Wang, Y., Xu, L., & Li, M. (2012). Berberine Improves Insulin Sensitivity by Inhibiting Fat Store and Adjusting Adipokines Profile in Human Preadipocytes and Metabolic Syndrome Patients. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : ECAM, 2012. https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/363845

Yin, J., Xing, H., & Ye, J. (2008). Efficacy of berberine in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Metabolism - Clinical and Experimental, 57(5), 712-717. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.metabol.2008.01.013

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Yin, J., Gao, Z., Liu, D., Liu, Z., & Ye, J. (2008). Berberine improves glucose metabolism through induction of glycolysis. American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, 294(1), E148-E156. https://doi.org/10.1152/ajpendo.00211.2007

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Meet the team
Nina Wawryszuk - Author

Natu.Care Editor

Nina Wawryszuk specialises in sports supplementation, strength training and psychosomatics. On a daily basis, in addition to writing articles for Natu.Care, as a personal trainer she helps athletes improve their performance through training, diet and supplementation.

Alexandra Cudna-Bartnicka - Reviewed by

Clinical nutritionist

Verified by an expert

Clinical nutritionist whose main area of interest is nutrition in diseases and functional disorders of the digestive system.

Bartholomew Turczynski - Edited by

Editor-in-Chief

Bartłomiej Turczyński is the editor-in-chief of Natu.Care. He is responsible for the quality of the content created on Natu.Care, among others, and ensures that all articles are based on sound scientific research and consulted with industry specialists.

Ludwig Jelonek - Fact-checking

Natu.Care Editor

Ludwik Jelonek is the author of more than 2,500 texts published on leading portals. His content has found its way into services such as Ostrovit and Kobieta Onet. At Natu.Care, Ludwik educates people in the most important area of life - health.

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