The effects of berberine on blood lipids: a systemic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Planta Med. 2013 Apr;79(6):437-46. doi: 10.1055/s-0032-1328321. Epub 2013 Mar 19.


Clinical trials have reported lipid-lowering effects of berberine intake, but the findings have been inconsistent. The aim of this meta-analysis was to assess the safety of berberine and its effects on blood lipid profiles. A systemic review was designed, undertaken and reported in accordance with the PRISMA statement. Randomized controlled trials of the effects of berberine on blood lipids in adults were included. Study population characteristics and the main results, including changes in the levels of total cholesterol, triglycerides, low-density and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, were extracted. Weighted mean differences were calculated for net changes in blood lipid concentrations using fixed-effect or random-effects models. After filtering, eleven randomized controlled trials (including a total of 874 participants) were included in this study. The methodological quality of these studies was generally low. The final analysis showed that administration of berberine produced a significant reduction in total cholesterol (mean difference - 0.61 mmol/L; 95 % confidence interval - 0.83 to - 0.39), triglycerides (mean difference - 0.50 mmol/L; 95 % confidence interval - 0.69 to - 0.31), and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (mean difference - 0.65 mmol/L; 95 % confidence interval - 0.76 to - 0.54) levels, with a remarkable increase in high-density lipoprotein (mean difference 0.05 mmol/L; 95 % confidence interval 0.02 to 0.09). No serious adverse effects of berberine have been reported. In conclusion, berberine may have beneficial effects in the control of blood lipid levels. However, the efficacy of berberine in treating hyperlipidemia should be further evaluated by more randomized controlled trials in a larger population of patients.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Berberine / administration & dosage
  • Berberine / adverse effects
  • Berberine / therapeutic use*
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Humans
  • Hyperlipidemias / drug therapy*
  • Lipids / blood*
  • Lipoproteins, HDL / blood
  • Lipoproteins, LDL / blood
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Triglycerides / blood


  • Lipids
  • Lipoproteins, HDL
  • Lipoproteins, LDL
  • Triglycerides
  • Berberine
  • Cholesterol