The Effect of Berberine on Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Patients with Insulin Resistance (PCOS-IR): A Meta-Analysis and Systematic Review

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2018 Nov 14;2018:2532935. doi: 10.1155/2018/2532935. eCollection 2018.


Purpose: To evaluate the effect of berberine (BBR) on polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) patients with insulin resistance (IR).

Methods: PubMed (in English), Medline (in English), Embase (in English), CNKI (in Chinese), WanFang DATA (in Chinese), and VIP (in Chinese) were searched for randomized controlled trials in human beings with the search terms including "polycystic ovary syndrome /PCOS" and "berberine/BBR/Huang liansu (in Chinese)/ Xiao bojian (in Chinese)" till July 2018. Relevant indices were collected and analyzed by Stata 13.0.

Results: A total of 9 randomized controlled trials were included. Limited data demonstrated the results as follows: No significant difference was found between berberine (BBR) and metformin (MET) on alleviating insulin resistance, improving glycolipid metabolism, or reproductive endocrine condition. MET combined with BBR was not superior to MET alone, but cyproterone acetate (CPA) combined with BBR was superior to CPA alone in improving some of the reproductive endocrine indices. The combination of BBR and Chinese herbs also showed positive effect. However there are insufficient data to make any conclusions on the effect of BBR on PCOS-IR.

Conclusion: BBR showed a promising prospect in treating PCOS-IR. But its mechanisms are still unclear, and more properly designed, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials are needed to further confirm its effect and safety.

Publication types

  • Review