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How to Use Berberine for Cancer Treatment?

Berberine is known as berberine hydrochloride, and isoquinoline alkaloid is a powerful alkaloid from Coptis chinensis. Berberine's extensive biological properties have been used clinically to treat diarrhea, hypertension, diabetes, and other diseases.

Through extensive research, berberine has been shown to protect and defend the body against cancer by attacking the energy production system (the AMPK pathway) of cancer cells, weakening cancer cells, and aiding in chemotherapy treatment. Berberine is mainly taken for diabetes, high levels of cholesterol and other fats (lipids) in the blood (hyperlipidemia), and high blood pressure. It is also used to treat burns, canker sores, liver disease, and many other conditions.

What is Berberine?

Berberine is a bioactive compound extracted from several different plants, including a group of shrubs called Berberis. Berberine is an isoquinoline alkaloid component of many medicinal herbs, such as Goldenseal (Hydrastis Canadensis), Chinese Isatis (Isatis tinctoria), Oregon grape root (Berberis aquifolium), and barberry bark. 

This fascinating alkaloid increases blood supply to the spleen and, thus, increases the immune response. 

It has also been shown to activate macrophages in a number of ways. Coupled with its ability to inhibit tumor formation, it seems berberine possesses some anti-neoplastic activity.

Berberine and Health

Berberine has several general health benefits, which are listed below:

Lowering Cholesterol: Taking berberine regularly appears to lower total cholesterol, bad cholesterol, and triglycerides in people with high cholesterol. It works differently from today’s standard cholesterol medications, so it may help treat people who are resistant to other cholesterol-reducing drugs.

Heart Health: People with heart disease often feel fatigue and irregular heartbeats. Studies show that taking berberine combined with standard heart disease treatments reduces these symptoms. Berberine decreases the risk of death from heart disease, and it does so without apparent side effects.

Blood Sugar Control: Berberine has been shown to lower glucose levels in people with diabetes. Studies show that it lets your body respond better to insulin and prevents your liver from creating more glucose. As a result, people with diabetes may benefit from berberine, as it can help lower their blood sugar levels.

Weight Loss:  Berberine is not a magic weight-loss pill; however, it may help people with a body mass index (BMI) over 30 lose weight. Two studies have shown that taking berberine for three months results in significant weight loss. This may be due to how berberine helps control insulin and other hormones that regulate your fat cells.

How Does Berberine Fight Cancer?

Berberine seems to have so many benefits against cancer well beyond its sugar control. Berberine works in vitro and in vivo against particularly nasty cancer.

Berberine can create changes within the cells of cells, which could assist in fighting cancer.

Berberine inhibits p53 expression and non-expression in cancer xenografts, increasing p53 and, therefore, inhibiting the G1 phase of tumor cells. CDK (Cyclin-Dependent Kinase) is a heterodimeric protein that promotes the progression of the cell cycle by modulating the kinase cascade. This is one of the primary reasons behind its inhibitory benefits against cancer. 

Berberine could be an effective antimicrobial agent. A study found that berberine helped inhibit the growth of Staphylococcus aureus.

Berberine can act on its own, but because it attacks and weakens cancer cells, it can also improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy by enhancing chemo sensitivity. It also improves radiotherapy by enhancing the radio sensitization of cancer cells. It helps drugs work longer by helping overcome cancer cell resistance. 

Berberine and Specific Cancers

There have been a lot of quality research studies conducted on berberine and its effects on cancer, and research is gathering momentum. For example:

  1. Berberine and Colorectal Cancer- Berberine has several significant capabilities, such as decreasing blood sugar levels, having strong anti-inflammatory properties against Cox-2, promoting digestion, and killing yeasts and pathogens. 

A 2017 study showed that berberine could inhibit the metastases (1) and invasion of colorectal cancer cells by restricting Cox-2, reducing phosphorylation, and restricting MMP expression (2).

  1. Berberine and Breast Cancer- A 2016 study on breast cancer cells showed that berberine worked in combination to cause apoptosis (cancer cell death) and autophagic cell death (3).

Berberine inhibits cell growth and induces apoptosis in breast cancer cells to keep everyone healthy. 

  1. Berberine and Brain Cancer Berberine inhibits the enzyme activity required for glioblastoma and astrocytoma growth. Previous studies have shown that berberine, a natural plant alkaloid, has potent anti-tumor capabilities. A study showed that BBR has profound effects on the metabolic state of GBM cells, leading to high autophagy flux and impaired glycolytic capacity (4). BBR significantly decreases tumor growth in vivo, demonstrating the potential clinical benefits. 

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  1. Berberine and Prostate Cancer: Berberine has been shown to inhibit metastatic activity in prostate cancer cells. In particular, berberine seems to be one of the few compounds that inhibit the EMT program, which causes metastases to bones. Neither hormone therapy, chemotherapy, nor radiotherapy has any action on bone metastases in prostate cancer, but berberine does show results. 
  2. 5. Berberine and Other Cancers:

Berberine warns lung tumor cells of radiation and inhibits cell growth in pancreatic cancer cells by inducing DNA damage. Berberine also prevents an enzyme called arylamine N-acetyltransferase (NAT) that is thought to initiate cancer. 

Can Berberine Be Taken with Metformin?

Metformin and berberine share many similarities, and both could do excellent work in treating T2DM, obesity, cardiac diseases, tumors, and inflammation when taken in conjunction.

How Often Should You Take Berberine?

Berberine seems to be dose-dependent, and research indicates that low doses may be totally useless and may even cause problems. Cancer-inhibiting doses taken during research seems to start at 3 x 500 mg a day.


  2. Xuan Liu,
  3. Kai Wang et al: 7 Jan 2016; Nature, Scientific reports 26064