Effects of berberine on lipid profile in subjects with low cardiovascular risk

Expert Opin Biol Ther. 2013 Apr;13(4):475-82. doi: 10.1517/14712598.2013.776037. Epub 2013 Feb 27.


Objective: To evaluate the efficacy as antihypercholesterolemic agent of berberine in patients with low cardiovascular risk.

Research design and methods: 144 Caucasian subjects were enrolled. After a 6-month run-in period following diet and practicing physical activity, patients were randomized to take placebo or berberine 500 mg twice a day, for 3 months, in a double-blind, placebo-controlled design. Berberine and placebo were then interrupted for 2 months (washout period), and all patients continued with only diet and physical activity. At the end of the washout period, patients restarted berberine or placebo twice a day for further 3 months. Anthropometric and metabolic parameters were assessed during the run-in period, at randomization, before and after the washout period.

Results: A decrease of body weight and BMI was observed after the run-in period. Berberine reduced total cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol and increased HDL cholesterol after 3 months from randomization and compared with placebo. After the washout period, lipid profile worsened; afterward, when berberine was reintroduced, lipid profile improved again both compared with the washout period, and with placebo.

Conclusions: Berberine is effective and safe to mildly improve lipid profile in subjects with low risk for cardiovascular disease.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anticholesteremic Agents / pharmacology
  • Anticholesteremic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Berberine / pharmacology
  • Berberine / therapeutic use*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / blood*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / drug therapy
  • Cholesterol, HDL / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood*
  • Cholesterol, LDL / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Triglycerides / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Triglycerides / blood*


  • Anticholesteremic Agents
  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Triglycerides
  • Berberine