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  • Basic Info
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Generic: Berberine
treats Infectious diarrhea, Heart failure, Thrombocytopenia, Glaucoma, Parasitic infection, H. pylori infection, Hypercholesterolemia, Chloroquine-resistant malaria, Diabetes, and Trachoma

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DISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.


Avoided in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to berberine, to plants that contain berberine [Hydrastis canadensis (goldenseal), Coptis chinensis (coptis or goldenthread), Berberis aquifolium (Oregon grape), Berberis vulgaris (barberry), and Berberis aristata (tree turmeric)], or to members of the Berberidaceae family. Allergic reactions have been reported, with symptoms of vomiting, itching, and a feeling of faintness.

Side Effects and Warnings

Berberine has been reported to cause nausea, vomiting, hypertension (high blood pressure), respiratory failure and paresthesias (abnormal sensations such as numbness or tingling); however, clinical evidence of such adverse effects is not prominent in the literature. Rare adverse effects including headache, skin irritation, facial flushing, headache, bradycardia (slowed heart rate) have also been reported with the use of berberine. Use cautiously when taking berberine for longer than eight weeks due to theoretical changes in bacterial gut flora.

Use cautiously in individuals with diabetes, as both human and animal studies indicate that berberine may decrease blood sugar levels. Also use cautiously in individuals with hypotension (low blood pressure), as berberine may have antihypertensive effects.

Patients with cardiovascular disease should also use caution as berberine has been associated with the development of ventricular arrhythmias in subjects with congestive heart failure.

Although not well studied in humans, berberine may also theoretically cause delays in small intestinal transit time or increase the risk of bleeding.

Berberine may cause abortion, eye or kidney irritation, nephritis (inflamed kidneys), dyspnea (difficulty breathing), flu- like symptoms, giddiness, lethargy, or liver toxicity.

Patients with leukopenia (abnormally low white blood cell count) should use cautiously due to the potential for development of leukopenia symptoms.

When injected under the skin, berberine may cause hyperpigmentation in the arm. Use berberine cautiously in individuals with high exposure to sunlight or artificial light due to potential for adverse phototoxic reactions.

Avoid in newborns due to potential for increase in free bilirubin, jaundice, and development of kernicterus (brain damage caused by severe newborn jaundice). Use berberine cautiously in children due to a lack of safety information.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Berberine is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence. Although not well studied in humans, berberine has been suggested to have anti- fertility, abortifacient (abortion inducing), and uterine stimulant activity.

Berberine may cause kernicterus (brain damage) when used in newborn jaundiced babies, such as bilirubin encephalopathy (degenerative brain disease).

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