Berberine is gaining popularity as a natural herbal therapy for a wide range of diseases, including diabetes and digestive issues. But Can Berberine Damage the Liver?
In this article, we’ll examine at the evidence to see if berberine can cause liver damage and other possible negative effects. We’ll also look at what the study says about the safety of berberine and the suggested dosage.
So, if you’ve been considering trying berberine, keep reading to learn everything you need to know about its potential adverse effects and warnings before you begin.
Table of Contents
- What is Berberine?
- The Liver and Berberine
- Does Berberine Damage the Liver?
- What is the Recommended Dosage?
- SugarMD DiaVitamin and Neuropathy Support
- What is the Evidence that Berberine Can Damage the Liver?
- Gastrointestinal Upset
- Lowering Blood Glucose
- SugarMD Super Berberine
- Is Berberine Safe?
- About The Author
What is Berberine?
Berberine is an alkaloid component found in plants such as barberry, goldenseal oregon grape and goldthread. It’s been used for centuries in Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine and Native American medicine. Berberine has numerous health benefits, including its usage as an anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and anti-diabetic agent.
The Liver and Berberine
Berberine has recently been examined for its possible health benefits which include the capacity to lower cholesterol and enhance blood sugar control. Unfortunately, research on the effects of berberine on the liver is currently lacking.
The most prominent worry regarding berberine and the liver is that it is potentially harmful to the liver. Animal studies indicate that large dosages of berberine may cause liver damage, albeit the amount of this harm is uncertain. It is crucial to note, however that these trials used much greater doses than are generally used in humans. As a result, berberine is unlikely to affect the liver when used in moderation.
Does Berberine Damage the Liver?
The subject of whether berberine can harm the liver has yet to be answered definitively. However, it does not appear to harm the liver, according to recent research. Berberine was reported to be protective against various types of liver disease, particularly nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, in one research. Another study discovered that berberine medication could reverse liver damage caused by high dosages of acetaminophen.
Yet some research has revealed that berberine may have negative effects on the liver. High doses of berberine caused liver damage in rats in one study. Chronic berberine intake was linked to liver fibrosis in another investigation.
At this moment the evidence is equivocal and further research is required before any definitive judgments concerning the potential hazards of berberine to the liver can be reached. Until more study is completed the recommended course of action is to use berberine supplements with caution and to consult a healthcare expert before using berberine.
Other Potential Side Effects
Although research indicates that berberine is typically safe there are still substantial possible hazards to be aware of. Berberine side effects include headache, constipation, diarrhea, upset stomach and other gastrointestinal disorders. These symptoms normally go away as time passes and the dosage is reduced.
Long-term dangers to specific organs and systems are more concerning. Berberine has been linked to kidney injury in several studies. It has been shown to be nephrotoxic and cause kidney damage in rats. The lesions, however, were both reversible and dose-dependent, implying that kidney damage can be prevented with prudence.
Berberine has also been associated in animal studies to a range of reproductive difficulties, including a fall in testosterone levels, an increase in male infertility and miscarriage. There is no evidence of equivalent effects in people at this time but additional research is needed to fully grasp the scope of potential negative effects.
Generally, before using berberine, you should think about the potential adverse effects. While studies indicates that berberine is generally safe and well-tolerated, it is necessary to visit a doctor to determine that it is appropriate for you.
Precautions and Warnings
There are a few things to consider when it comes to berberine’s potential to induce liver damage. To begin, it is critical to understand that berberine is a potent natural substance that has traditionally been employed in Eastern medicine for its medical effects. Berberine has antifungal, antibacterial, anti-diabetic, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effects, to name a few. Yet, because of its potency, berberine may cause harmful health effects if taken in large quantities or in combination with certain medicines or vitamins.
To begin, it is critical to recognize that berberine can interact with a variety of prescription and over-the-counter drugs (e.g., antidepressants and antipsychotics, antibiotics, blood thinners, statins and birth control pills). Berberine can raise the chance of negative effects when used with certain drugs. Berberine has been shown in studies to impact medication metabolism, potentially leading to harmful drug interactions.
Furthermore, research on the long-term usage of berberine to lower glucose levels yields contradictory outcomes. While some studies have found that berberine helps to lower glucose levels there is minimal evidence that berberine can lower glucose levels without causing hazardous adverse effects.
Because of this risk, berberine should not be taken in doses greater than those prescribed by doctors or healthcare professionals, who will be able to best advice on the right dosage and supplement combinations.
What is the Recommended Dosage?
Berberine dosage for general health and wellness is 500-1,000 mg per day, given in divided dosages throughout the day. While this is a safe amount, no clinical trials have been conducted to investigate the safety and efficacy of larger dosages.
While 500-1,000 mg of berberine is commonly prescribed per day, this amount may vary depending on individual goals, age and medical condition. Those with type 2 diabetes, for example, may require greater doses of berberine, often in the range of 1,000 to 1,500 mg per day. Similarly, those interested in additional potential berberine health benefits may choose to raise their dosage, however this should always be done under the supervision of a medical practitioner.
Because berberine can interfere with some medications, persons who take prescription medications should always contact with their doctor before taking berberine supplements. Berberine should also not be taken by pregnant or nursing women as well as anyone with serious liver, renal or cardiac illness.
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What is the Evidence that Berberine Can Damage the Liver?
Many studies have been conducted to investigate the possibility of berberine causing liver damage. The majority of these investigations used animal models and the outcomes were mixed. In one study, for example, it was discovered that berberine can cause liver damage in animal models. The study found that berberine-induced liver damage could be due to oxidative stress and the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines which can irritate and damage the liver.
There is scant scientific evidence, largely from animal research that berberine can, in theory, cause liver damage. Berberine has been shown in animal studies to inhibit Cytochrome P450 enzymes and transporters. Toxins are broken down and removed from the body by cytochrome P450 enzymes in the liver. Berberine has been reported to block these enzymes which could overwhelm the liver and cause harm.
Berberine was observed to lower the activity of the CYP2D and CYP3A enzymes in the liver in one investigation on mice. Toxins could accumulate as a result, causing liver injury.
Berberine induced an increase in liver enzymes in a rat study which could be symptomatic of liver injury. However, more research is needed to understand whether berberine causes liver injury in rats.
Lastly, an investigation discovered that berberine increased liver enzymes while decreasing kidney function. This shows that berberine is toxic to the liver and kidneys and may cause liver damage.
Overall, animal studies suggest that berberine may be capable of causing liver damage but further research is needed to determine whether this is real.
Some human investigations have focused on the efficacy of berberine as a potential treatment for chronic liver disorders and other ailments. While animal studies indicate that berberine may give some protection against liver toxicity, it is unknown if berberine can induce liver damage in people.
A 2016 Chinese study looked at the impact of berberine on liver function in 103 people with chronic hepatitis B. The individuals were divided into two groups: one received berberine 500mg orally three times per day for three months, while the other received a placebo. When compared to the placebo group the berberine group exhibited a significant improvement in liver function. This study found no serious side effects such as liver poisoning or damage.
A double-blind, randomized controlled experiment conducted in China in 2017 assessed the safety of berberine in individuals with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Berberine was found to be safe and to improve symptoms and liver function in patients with NAFLD. There were no reports of liver injury or toxicity.
A review of existing studies on the effects of berberine on liver health published in 2018 indicated that berberine may have a protective effect against liver damage, while more research is needed to determine the safety and efficacy of berberine in humans.
Generally, existing data indicates that berberine is safe and does not harm the liver in humans. However, due to the paucity of long-term studies, people who are considering taking berberine for any disease should visit their doctor to confirm that doing so is safe.
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GI upset is one of the possible negative effects of using berberine supplements. Symptoms such as nausea, bloating and diarrhea may occur. These gastrointestinal issues are usually moderate and temporary but in some circumstances they can be severe.
Although there is no evidence that berberine directly affects the liver, gastrointestinal distress could lead to liver damage if an individual already has a liver problem. This is because toxins may be generated during digestion during a spell of gastrointestinal upset, putting a burden on the liver as it strives to eliminate them from the body.
Berberine has been shown in studies to interfere with the body’s natural absorption of certain minerals and vitamins, resulting in dietary deficiencies and detrimental effects on the liver. Furthermore, excessive dosages of berberine are known to induce an increase in liver enzymes which might be a symptom of liver inflammation or injury. Long-term usage of berberine may raise the risk of liver damage so it is critical to consult with a doctor before using supplements to guarantee safety.
It is vital to understand that berberine can produce gastrointestinal discomfort which can lead to liver damage if taken in high amounts or over an extended period of time. If you are thinking about using berberine supplements, talk to your doctor beforehand and keep an eye on your liver health.
Lowering Blood Glucose
Berberine has been shown in studies to effectively reduce blood glucose levels. It accomplishes this by activating an enzyme known as AMPK which aids cells in increasing glucose uptake and use while decreasing glucose synthesis. Blood glucose levels fall as a result. It has been proven in clinical trials to reduce fasting blood glucose levels by up to 17% and post-meal glucose levels by up to 20%.
Berberine has also been shown to lower cholesterol levels in diabetics. It accomplishes this by blocking the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase which aids in the production of cholesterol in the body. Berberine has been demonstrated in studies to lower total cholesterol levels by up to 16%. Berberine has also been shown in human trials to lower triglycerides by up to 30%.
In terms of potential liver injury there have been no instances of berberine causing liver damage. However, keep in mind that berberine is mostly unregulated and consuming too much of it or taking it for an extended period of time may result in negative effects. It is best to check your doctor before using berberine as a supplement and to utilize berberine supplements as directed on the package.
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Is Berberine Safe?
Berberine has been researched for its possible therapeutic effects in diabetes, metabolic syndrome and cholesterol. Yet, one of the biggest problems concerning berberine consumption is the possibility of liver damage.
Berberine does not produce severe liver toxicity at levels of up to 1 gram per day, according to research. This is similar to the dosages used in traditional medicine. Mice studies have also revealed no increase in liver enzymes which is a symptom of liver injury. However some studies have showed that using larger amounts of berberine may result in increased levels of liver enzymes therefore use berberine at the recommended dose and consult your doctor on a frequent basis if you are taking excessive doses.
It is also vital to understand that some people may be more susceptible to liver damage when using berberine. Berberine should be used with caution by persons who have pre-existing liver illness, those taking drugs that may cause liver toxicity and alcoholics. Berberine users should also be advised that it has been reported to interact with some drugs, thus any berberine use should be discussed with your doctor prior to taking it.
Berberine does not appear to be connected with liver damage when taken at the recommended amount. Nonetheless, it is critical to use it with carefully and to check with a healthcare practitioner before using it.
Overall, research into the effects of berberine on the liver is unclear and further research is required before any firm conclusions can be made. Berberine has the potential to prevent liver damage in some circumstances, although it has yet to be demonstrated useful in humans. Even if berberine is safe and effective, it should only be used under the supervision of a healthcare professional as a high amount can be damaging to the liver. Overall the research on berberine shows some promise but further research is needed before any claims can be made.
About The Author
Meet Dr. Ahmet Ergin a highly skilled and dedicated endocrinologist with a passion for diabetes care. Dr. Ergin earned his medical degree with honors from Marmara University in Istanbul. He completed internal medicine residency and endocrinology fellowship at Cleveland Clinic.
Dr. Ergin is board-certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism due to his vast medical expertise. He’s a certified diabetes educator, author of “The Ultimate Diabetes Book,” and founder of “the SugarMD YouTube channel.” Dr. Ergin offers exceptional diabetes care to his patients in Port Saint Lucie, FL, helping them manage effectively.
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