What are the effects of frequent use of berberine hydrochloride on the human body?

When I was a kid, I would take berberine whenever I had diarrhea or stomach discomfort. On average, I took 6 or 7 capsules a month. What effect does it have on the human body? Will bacteria become resistant to berberine hydrochloride? What are the risks of berberine, which is widely used in many countries?

On April 1, 2024, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) of Singapore announced that Om Vedic Heritage Centre Pte Ltd is recalling a batch of Planet Ayurveda Tribulus Power capsules (batch number: TB-8790 ) at the retail level. The product was tested by the HSA and found to contain berberine.


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Berberine , is consider by traditional Chinese medicine to be cold in nature and has the effects of clearing away heat and dampness. Purging fire and detoxifying. It is usually used to treat dysentery, enteritis and infectious diarrhea , hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia and other diseases. In view of the wide range of pharmacological activities of berberine, not only are there many berberine-containing drugs on sale. But there are also a wide variety of dietary supplements /nutritional products containing it. So, are there any side effects or safety risks in the widespread use of berberine?

Berberine has good tolerance. The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) points out that berberine can be use as a dietary supplement. The recommend daily dosage is 900-1,500 mg. However, more and more sufficient research has also revealed that there may be side effects or safety risks in the use of berberine. Which are summarized as follows:

1. Berberine supplementation (especially at doses exceeding 300 mg/day) can cause gastrointestinal side effects in some people. Including diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and stomach pain.

2. Due to its ability to lower blood sugar, it may increase the risk of hypoglycemia at high doses;

3. Berberine inhibits several enzymes involved in drug metabolism, so there is a risk of serious drug interactions when taken with other drugs or supplements;

4. Safety in pregnant women: It can cross the placenta and may cause harm to the fetus. Its safety in pregnant women has not been fully studied;

5. Safety during breastfeeding: It can be transferred to infants through breast milk and may have unpredictable effects on infants;

6. Safety in children: It may cause kernicterus , a rare brain damage that can occur in newborns with severe jaundice; and there is not enough reliable information to know whether it is safe for older children.

Safety warning

In view of the wide range of pharmacological activities and potential risks of berberine, it is recommend that when using drugs containing it , it is necessary to fully inform the doctor and strictly follow the doctor’s advice, that is, fully inform the doctor or pharmacist whether you are taking drugs or products containing berberine when you see a doctor. If so, you need to take it and other drugs that need to be take at the same time strictly according to the doctor’s advice. For dietary supplements/nutritional products containing it, it is recommend not to take them randomly unless necessary. If you take them, it is recommend to treat them with caution in the same way and attitude as taking drugs containing it.

##This article is intend to convey global medical trends and does not constitute any medication advice. For individual medication guidance, please consult a professional physician##

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