Berberine may also be effective as a weight loss supplement. So far, two studies have examined the effects on body weight.
In a 12-week study in obese individuals, 500 mg taken three times per day caused about 5 pounds of weight loss, on average. The participants also lost 3.6% of their body fat (14).
Another more impressive study was conducted in 37 men and women with metabolic syndrome. This study went on for 3 months, and the participants took 300 mg, 3 times per day.
The participants dropped their body mass index (BMI) levels from 31.5 to 27.4, or from obese to overweight in only 3 months. They also lost belly fat and improved many health markers (15Trusted Source).
The researchers believe that the weight loss is caused by improved function of fat-regulating hormones, such as insulin, adiponectin and leptin.
Berberine also appears to inhibit the growth of fat cells at the molecular level (16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source).
However, more research is needed on the weight loss effects of berberine.
After 3 months of treatment, the women with PCOS who took berberine saw greater reductions in body fat loss than metformin or placebo. Berberine lowered insulin and glucose levels similarly to metformin.
Women with PCOS who took berberine also experienced significant reductions in total cholesterol, LDL (bad cholesterol levels), and triglycerides as well as a significant improvement in HDL (good cholesterol levels), more than with taking metformin or a placebo. In addition, taking berberine lowered total testosterone levels similarly to that of metformin.
While berberine does show benefits in improving metabolic complications of PCOS, it may also improve fertility. In a pilot study, 98 anovulatory women with PCOS were given berberine. Ovulation improved by an average of 25 percent after 4 months of taking berberine.
A study published in Clinical Endocrinology showed that women with PCOS who were randomly selected to take berberine had greater pregnancy rates than metformin or placebo and with fewer side effects when taken 12 weeks prior to IVF treatment.
One small study in 89 women with PCOS found that berberine was more effective at reducing both waist-to-hip ratio and male hormone levels than Metformin (12).
Although the results are promising, more research is needed to determine how berberine may affect weight gain and fat distribution in larger PCOS populations.
Berberine is usually consumed in capsule form but also available in liquid and powder formulations.
Due to a lack of robust data, there’s currently no consensus regarding the most appropriate dosage of berberine for PCOS.
That said, several studies have safely used daily doses between 500–1,500 mg divided into 2–3 servings, ideally taken with meals (11Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source).
If you’re interested in trying berberine to manage your PCOS symptoms, speak with your healthcare provider. They can advise you on whether it’s the right choice for you, as well as suggest an appropriate dosage.
Berberine in women with PCOS also improved the insulin resistance in theca cells, thanks to an increase of the expression of Glut-4 in ovaries with an improvement of the ovulation rate per cycle; so, berberine is also effective on fertility and live birth rates in women affected by PCOS [23, 24].
Berberine is safe to use in premenopausal women who want to become pregnant and showed few side effects in all the cited studies, in particular constipation and nausea [23, 24]. Regarding specifically side effects, 3 out of 31 subjects (BBR group) complained of a bitter taste in their mouth versus 9 out of 30 subjects (MET group) suffered by nausea, vomiting, mild diarrhea and flatulence . No adverse events were observed by Cicero et al.  and Orio et al. , while An et al. reported 1/50 subject (BBR group) transient gastrointestinal side effects including diarrhea vs. 2/50 subjects (Met group) gastrointestinal side effects including diarrhea . Wu et al. reported that 1 subject out of 214 subject (BBR group) had constipation and nausea, no fetal abnormalities in BBR group versus 1 fetal abnormality in letrozole group resulting in termination of pregnancy . All these observed side effects were transient and mild, underlining the good safety of the use of BBR in PCOS patients.
Research shows that berberine can lower blood sugar, improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels, reduce testosterone levels, and lower waist-to-hip ratio in women with PCOS. Berberine may even lower blood sugar levels similarly to metformin and may improve cholesterol levels better than metformin.
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