A crystalline alkaloid, berberine is obtained from the roots of many dissimilar plants. A number of cultures consider berberine to be useful in the form of a dietary supplement as well as a medicine. The color of this crystalline alkaloid is rather yellow and it tastes bitter. Although berberine is not very water-soluble, it dissolves completely in alcohol and ether.

You can use the dried out alkaloid internally, while occasionally it is also employed in the form of a poultice. Different disciplines of alternative medicine employ this substance differently for healing purposes. Occasionally, it is used in the form of a tincture and, at other times, it is used in combination with different herbal products.

Berberine is associated with numerous health benefits. Among the most important and widespread health benefits is its use for treating a variety of dissimilar fungal infections. It is understood that this fairly yellow and bitter crystalline alkaloid is also useful for taking care of yeasts and also coping with parasites that penetrate the skin. Some evidence indicates that berberine is also effective for treating bacterial as well as viral infections. In addition, people have been traditionally using this alkaloid for a long time to effectively combat cholera.

Although some people claim that berberine works effectively in the form of an antibiotic, such claims are basically anecdotal and are not supported with strong scientific evidence. Hence, a great section of the medical community does not accept this claim. Nonetheless, berberine has the aptitude of working in the form of potentiate, thereby aiding other compounds to perform further efficiently. Owing to this particular characteristic of berberine, this crystalline alkaloid has be incorporated in a number of traditional and homeopathic remedies that have been prepared to treat specific heath issues where berberine does not have a direct impact.

Continuing studies regarding the use of berberine for health purpose have resulted in the incorporation of this crystalline alkaloid in several non-prescription products, in addition to herbal medications and supplements. A number of eye drop brands contain berberine in their formula. Studies regarding the effectiveness of this crystalline alkaloid in treating infections caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are underway and findings of some of these studies are said to be encouraging. Berberine is also known to be effective in treating some skin conditions, especially when used in the form of a poultice. In addition, this substance is an effective means to alleviate the symptoms related to common cold.

Several medical traditions, which basically differ from one another, make use of berberine for various therapeutic purposes. A number of utilities of this alkaloid have been identified by Eastern as well as Western medicine. As a result of this several pharmaceutical companies across the world have incorporated this alkaloid in several different medications. Although use of berberine may possibly result in a number of adverse effects, such as headaches and insomnia, these side effects seem to be of minor nature, making this alkaloid a well-accepted alternative among medical practitioners belonging to different schools.

Ayurveda as well as Chinese medicine have been using berberine for a long time now for treating several health problems, counting bacterial infections, problems related to the intestines, and even inflammation. Berberine can be found in several different types of plants, for instance, goldenseal, European barberry, Oregon grape, goldthread, turmeric, phellodendron and many others. This alkaloid substance is present in the stems, bark, roots, and rhizome of the plants.

Health benefits of berberine

In China and India, berberine is generally used in the form of herbal remedy for problems related to the intestines and lungs. Besides, it is also applied topically to heal skin disorders. Currently, even the Western world is acknowledging the usefulness of using berberine to treat a variety of health conditions varying from infections of the urinary tract to cancer. Berberine has numerous therapeutic uses and some of the major ones include aiding the combat against Alzheimer's disease, lowering blood cholesterol levels and treating problems related to the digestive tract.

Ongoing studies have found that berberine has great potential as a medication to lower the blood sugar levels, especially in the case of diabetes. In effect, people with diabetes who have been taking berberine confirmed that they felt less thirsty and drank lesser amounts of water and also urinated less. Moreover, such patients reported augmented strength together with reduced blood pressure. Hence, it is advisable that diabetic patients should use berberine, because it does not result in any severe adverse effects.

A major health benefit of using berberine is that it has the ability to neutralize diarrhea and also combat Escherichia Coli. Findings of one research have hinted that berberine is effective in halting the activities of E. coli in our body. This particular therapeutic attribute of berberine has led to considerable enhancement in symptoms related to diarrhea in people who were treated with just a single dose of this plant alkaloid.

If you are using berberine to lower the blood cholesterol level, it will take around three months to yield the desired results as long as you have been taking the herbal medication in appropriate dosage. Berberine is especially helpful for people having a medical history of high levels of blood cholesterol. It also appears that berberine lowers the cholesterol level employing a means that is different from the means employed by the statin drugs. In other words, this denotes that berberine may prove to be a useful option for statin medications for people who are really worried over lowering their blood cholesterol levels.

Berberine also offers cardiovascular benefits, including lowering blood pressure. These attributes of berberine makes this plant alkaloid useful in treating heart failure or arrhythmia successfully.

Despite the fact that berberine is a natural amalgam having insignificant side effects, a number of people who have used this substance internally have complained of vomiting as well as nausea. Therefore, it is advisable that you should consult a physician before you start using berberine.

As most of us are aware, inflammation occurs when our body reacts to any dangerous stimulus. Inflammation not only aids in combating infections, but also has the aptitude to result in various health conditions, including problems related to the heart as well as infertility. There is some evidence that hints that unadulterated berberine (about 98% pure) has the ability to lessen inflammation. However, experts are unanimous about the fact that further studies are required to find out the precise manner in which berberine supplements work to lessen inflammation.

Besides its therapeutic utilities, berberine is used in the form of a dye. This dye has a deep yellow hue and is present in the bark of the plant called Berberis (among others mentioned above). This herbal product should never be recommended for women during pregnancy, nursing mothers and newborns. Prior to using any product containing berberine, it is essential to carefully read the instructions on the product label.

Side effects and cautions

Although berberine offers numerous health benefits, its use may also lead to a number of adverse effects. For instance, berberine is not recommended for pregnant women, as it may possibly result in the contraction of the uterus and also miscarriage. In addition, there have been reports that berberine may also be responsible for neonatal jaundice. Therefore, it is not safe for pregnant women, nursing mothers as well as newborns.

The safe dose of berberine appears to be roughly anything between 200 mg and 400 mg taken as a single dose every day. Here is a word of caution: if you take large amounts of berberine continuously for over four weeks to six weeks, it may lead to liver problems.

Some of the common side effects of using berberine include vomiting, nausea, hypertension (high blood pressure), chest pain, breathing problems, skin rashes and skin hives.


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