Berberine is a quaternary ammonium salt of the group of benzylisoquinoline alkaloids whose brute formula is: C20H18NO4 +. In the IUPAC nomencalatura is: umbellatine; 5,6-dihydro-9,10-dimethoxybenzo [g] -1,3-benzodioxolo [5,6-a] quinolizinium. This alkaloid is found in some plants of the genus Berberis, from which the name derives and is found in the roots, rhizomes, stems and bark of these plants. The species in which it is present are: Argemone mexicana, Berberis vulgaris Barberry, Hydrastis canadensis L. Goldenseal, Mahonia aquifolium, Coptis japonica, Coptis chinensis and Thalictrum flavum L.
This active ingredient has a thousand-year history and is known in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine; today it is also used for the preparation of homeopathic remedies against high cholesterol.
This alkaloid has antimicrobial activity on bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa, helminths, and chlamydia. In vitro it was noted that berberine interferes with the DNA of protozoa (promastigote form) thus inhibiting the maturation of the parasitic microorganism. It also has the ability to inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines.
Berberine is used in medicine for the treatment of diarrhea and intestinal parasitic infections. It is also used to treat trachoma and leishmaniasis.
Recent studies are focusing on the anticancer, cardiological and metabolic properties of berberine.
At the dosages commonly used in traditional medicine berberine is quite tolerated and safe; with the increase in doses it can determine: gastrointestinal disorders, dyspnoea, pressure decrease, flu-like symptoms and cardiac damage. Furthermore, berberine, due to its particular interactions, should be avoided during pregnancy and in newborns.
Recently, however, some hypocholesterolemic and hypoglycemic properties of berberine have also emerged, which is why it is an aid for those suffering from metabolic disorders, but also for many sportsmen who take supplements to improve their tolerance to glucose.
For this reason, interest in its metabolic and cardiovascular effects has increased, attracting interest in this substance as a natural alternative to statins, medicines that are usually given to those suffering from high cholesterol.
Warning: The information reported is not medical advice and may not be accurate. The contents are for illustrative purposes only and do not replace medical advice.