Current knowledge and pharmacological profile of berberine: An update

Eur J Pharmacol. 2015 Aug 15;761:288-97. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2015.05.068. Epub 2015 Jun 16.


Berberine, a benzylisoquinoline alkaloid, occurs as an active constituent in numerous medicinal plants and has an array of pharmacological properties. It has been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for its antimicrobial, antiprotozoal, antidiarrheal and antitrachoma activity. Moreover, several clinical and preclinical studies demonstrate ameliorative effect of berberine against several disorders including metabolic, neurological and cardiological problems. This review provides a summary regarding the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic features of berberine, with a focus on the different mechanisms underlying its multispectrum activity. Studies regarding the safety profile, drug interactions and important clinical trials of berberine have also been included. Clinical trials with respect to neurological disorders need to be undertaken to exploit the beneficiary effects of berberine against serious disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. Also, clinical studies to detect rare adverse effects of berberine need to be initiated to draw a complete safety profile of berberine and strengthen its applicability.

Keywords: 5-hydroxytryptamine (PubChem CID: 5202); 6-OHDA (PubChem CID: 4624); Berbamine (PubChem CID: 10170); Berberine; Berberine (PubChem CID: 2353); Berberrubine (PubChem CID: 72704); Daunomycin (PubChem CID: 30323); Immunomodulation; Jatrorrhizine (PubChem CID: 72323); Mitoxantrone (PubChem CID: 4212); Oxidative stress; Pharmacodynamics; Pharmacokinetics; Streptazotocin (PubChem CID: 29327); Thalifendine (PubChem CID: 3084288); Verapamil (PubChem CID: 2520).

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Berberine / adverse effects
  • Berberine / pharmacokinetics
  • Berberine / pharmacology*
  • Drug Interactions
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / pharmacology
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / pharmacology


  • Antioxidants
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Berberine