Posted on Tue, 27 Oct 15
Berberine, a phytochemical found in traditional herbal medicines, has been show to relieve irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms in a new randomized controlled trial.
A number of herbs rich in berberine have traditionally been used to treat gastrointestinal illness, especially infections and diarrhoea. Indeed modern research has demonstrated anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, gastro protective effects of berberine (1). And clinical research has demonstrated an anti-diarrhoea effect of 200 mg per day of berberine hydrochloride (2).
A new study tested the effects of 400 mg berberine hydrochloride twice daily in people with diarrhoea predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-D) over an 8-week period (3).
Compared to placebo, berberine reduced diarrhoea frequency, abdominal pain, and urgent need for defecation. Berberine also resulted in a trend to improvement in overall IBS symptom score, depression, anxiety, and quality of life.
“Further studies should be warranted to confirm that berberine hydrochloride is a new promising candidate to improve the symptom of discomfort in IBS-D,” concluded the study investigators.
If you are considering berberine it is available as a dietary supplement and typically taken at around 500 mg to 1000 mg per day in divided doses. Berbeine is safe and rarely associated with side-effects (minor gastrointestinal symptoms which typically resolve without needing to stop, or by reducing to 500 mg daily) (4).
- Chen C, et al. Effects of berberine in the gastrointestinal tract - a review of actions and therapeutic implications. Am J Chin Med. 2014;42(5):1053-70.
- Rabbani GH. Mechanism and treatment of diarrhoea due to Vibrio cholerae and Escherichia coli: roles of drugs and prostaglandins. Dan Med Bull. 1996 Apr;43(2):173-85.
- Chen C, et al. A Randomized Clinical Trial of Berberine Hydrochloride in Patients with Diarrhea-Predominant Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Phytother Res. 2015 Sep 24. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5475.
- Lan J, et al. Meta-analysis of the effect and safety of berberine in the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus, hyperlipemia and hypertension. J Ethnopharmacol. 2015 Feb 23;161:69-81.