Can Berberine Cause Constipation? Side Effects

Medically Reviewed on 12/21/2022
Can Berberine Cause Constipation
Constipation is a common side effect of berberine, especially when taken in large doses

Berberine may cause digestive problems, including constipation, diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, and gas.

Other side effects of berberine may include:

What is berberine?

Berberine is a bitter-tasting, yellow-colored chemical found in some medicinal plants, such as European barberry (Berberis vulgaris), goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), goldthread (Coptis chinensis), Oregon grape (Berberis aquifolium), Phellodendron, and tree turmeric.

It belongs to a class of compounds called alkaloids and has a history of use in traditional Chinese medicine to treat various ailments.

Berberine is also used as a supplement and is available in extract, powder, or capsule form.

How does berberine work?

Research studies have reported that berberine has powerful effects on many biological systems.

When consumed orally, it is transported into the bloodstream, which travels into the cells of the body. Once it reaches the cells, it binds to various molecular targets and alters their function (similar to how a pharmaceutical drug works).

In addition, berberine activates an enzyme inside cells called AMP-activated protein kinase, also referred to as a metabolic master switch and found in the cells of various organs, including the brain, muscle, kidney, heart, and liver. This enzyme plays a critical role in regulating metabolism.

What are the potential benefits of berberine?

Berberine has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and may help:

  • Strengthen the heartbeat (in certain heart conditions)
  • Promote heart health
  • Kill bacteria, fungi, parasites, viruses, and other microbes
  • Regulate blood sugar levels
  • Reduce swelling

Although there is insufficient scientific evidence to support the use of berberine for these conditions, people most commonly use berberine to treat:

How much berberine is safe?

For most adults, berberine is safe when taken orally or used topically. Berberine can be used safely in doses of up to 1.5 grams daily (500 mg, 3 times per day) for 6 months. It can cause unpleasant side effects if taken in large doses.

Berberine is relatively unsafe for pregnant and breastfeeding women (may affect the growing fetus). It can also inhibit the action of other medications, such as metformin.

If you are currently taking other medications or have an underlying condition, talk to your doctor before taking berberine.


Next to red peppers, you can get the most vitamin C from ________________. See Answer
Medically Reviewed on 12/21/2022
Image Source: Getty image

6 Potential Benefits of Berberine You Should Know About. American Association of Naturopathic Physicians:

Berberine. Medline Plus:

Health Benefits of Berberine. WebMD:

Significant Pharmacokinetic Differences of Berberine Are Attributable To Variations In Gut Microbiota Between Africans And Chinese. NIH: