What is the Berberine PCOS Connection? Top 5 Benefits of Berberine for Women

The Berberine PCOS connection is an interesting topic. Unfortunately, a growing number of women suffer from PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) – a hormonal/endocrine disorder that is characterized by infrequent menstrual cycles, heightened testosterone levels, reduced insulin sensitivity, weight gain, and infertility. [1] As a result, more and more women are searching for supplements and herbs that may improve the symptoms of this disorder. In this article, we explore the Berberine PCOS connection – is there any scientific evidence that Berberine can help improve symptoms of PCOS? In the past, Berberine HCL was primarily used for its anti-diabetic and anti-inflammatory effects. [2] [caption id=""attachment_2218"" align=""alignright"" width=""690""] Research shows that Berberine may help to maintain a healthy body[/caption]

1.    May Help Regulate Insulin Sensitivity

One of the key aspects of PCOS is insensitivity to insulin. PCOS also affects how insulin is secreted – it causes your body to secrete less insulin than usual. Insulin resistance is linked to an increased risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. [3] One reason that people are searching for the Berberine PCOS connection is because of Berberine’s potential to help improve insulin sensitivity. For example, a 2013 study on 24 participants showed a significant increase in insulin sensitivity. These results were seen after 3 months taking 500mg of Berberine three times daily. Systolic blood pressure, triglycerides, and waist circumference also showed marked decreases. [4] In another study, scientists found that Berberine is able to regulate insulin sensitivity through its action on fat cells in the body. The researchers showed that Berberine promotes fat cell proliferation instead of growth – resulting in smaller fat cells as opposed to larger fat cells. The current scientific knowledge is that smaller fat cells are more sensitive to insulin than larger ones – indicating the mechanism by which Berberine improves insulin sensitivity. [5]

2.    Potential to Help Regulate Androgens

Another common symptom of PCOS is an excessive concentration of sex hormones (androgens) – particularly testosterone. Hence, people are interested in herbs and supplements that may have the potential to help lower androgen levels. A common agent prescribed for the treatment of PCOS is called Metformin. Studies have found that Berberine supplements work in a similar way to Metformin in helping with the reduction of excess sex hormones. [6] Therefore, researchers have proposed that Berberine may be an effective supplement for helping to regulate androgen levels in women with PCOS. [7]   For example, a study published in PLOs One Journal in 2015 indicated that Berberine has the potential to decrease sex hormone binding proteins in women with PCOS. The study also showed that Berberine at a dosage of 0.4 grams three times daily resulted in 14% of the 98 women regaining regular menstrual cycles after the four-month course. [8] Further evidence of Berberine’s ability to improve androgen levels is found in data published about its effects on fertility. In a 2014 study, researchers from China found that Berberine had pronounced effects on normalizing endocrine levels and reducing free testosterone. In the study, those who took Berberine had a significant increase in pregnancies and live births – more so than those being treated with Metformin. [9] [caption id=""attachment_2219"" align=""alignright"" width=""690""] Berberine may help to improve androgen levels and support a healthy reproductive system[/caption]

3.    Promotes a Healthy Gut Health

Unfortunately, many women with PCOS suffer from chronic inflammation. Recent research shows that the gut bacteria are extremely important in mediating inflammation in your body. [10] Gut bacteria are also responsible for producing as much as 80-90% of the serotonin in your body. Serotonin has multiple functions. When it is used as a neurotransmitter, research has shown that it can help to regulate mood. This may also be beneficial for women who suffer from PCOS, as studies have shown that PCOS is linked to depression and anxiety. [11] It’s easy to see that maintaining healthy gut bacteria is especially important for women with PCOS. Increasing evidence points to Berberine as a good supplement for improving gut microbes. A number of studies on animals have shown that Berberine helps to improve the activity of bacteria in the gut – further evidence of the Berberine PCOS connection. [12]   For example, a 2015 study published in the Journal of Scientific Reports found that Berberine helped to shift the overall structure of gut microbes in response to a high-fat diet. The study also showed that Berberine and Metformin exerted similar effects on the gut microbial structures. [13]

4.    May Help Your Body Regulate Cholesterol and Triglycerides

Women with PCOS are at a high risk of having high levels of LDL-Cholesterol (the ‘bad’ cholesterol (known as the ‘good’ cholesterol), and low levels of HDL-Cholesterol (the ‘good’ cholesterol). PCOS sufferers also tend to have higher than normal levels of triglycerides. [14] Numerous studies have pointed to Berberine’s potential benefits in lowering cholesterol levels. For example, a 2008 study on 118 patients with Type-2 diabetes showed that 1g of Berberine taken daily for 3 months had significant effects in reducing total cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The study indicated that Berberine was especially effective at reducing LDL-Cholesterol as well as the inflammation marker HbA1c. [15] Another example was a study from 2013 on 144 participants with high cholesterol. The volunteers were given 500mg of Berberine twice daily, for three months, in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. The study also examined the effects of lifestyle changes compared to Berberine using a 2-month ‘washout’ phase. After the washout period, participants then took Berberine for a further 3 months.   The results showed that Berberine helped to improve overall health by reducing cholesterol and triglyceride levels. During the ‘washout’ period cholesterol levels worsened but as soon as Berberine supplements were given again the cholesterol levels dropped significantly. [16] [caption id=""attachment_2220"" align=""alignright"" width=""690""] Berberine may be effective in supporting healthy blood lipid levels[/caption]

5.    Helps Maintain a Healthy Circulatory System

One of the most important aspects of PCOS is a heightened blood glucose level.  This is often referred to as ‘high blood sugar’ and is also a common symptom of diabetes – which is linked to PCOS. Medical practitioners refer to high blood glucose levels as hyperglycermia. [17] Systematic reviews are the most comprehensive forms of collecting information from clinical trials about various substances. In 2012, researchers from the Institute of Integrated Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine in China published a systematic review on the effects of Berberine on blood glucose levels. The review included results from 14 separate clinical trials, with a total of 1068 participants involved. The results of this data analysis showed that Berberine was efficient at reducing blood sugar and improving blood lipid levels in people with type-2 diabetes. Although the clinical trials were conducted on patients with type-2 diabetes, the results are also promising for women who suffer from PCOS – especially given the strong links between the two disorders. [18]

Conclusion – Is the Berberine PCOS Connection Real?

In summary, Berberine is a great supplement for women with PCOS. Research has shown that it has numerous potential benefits in helping with symptoms of PCOS and promoting a healthy body. Most importantly, studies have shown that Berberine has the potential to improve insulin sensitivity, to help regulate androgen levels, to promote a healthy gut flora, and to maintain a healthy circulatory system. Furthermore, new research has indicated that Berberine also has the potential to act as a potent supplement for improving LDL-Cholesterol levels and reducing triglycerides. These benefits are great for women with PCOS as well as anybody concerned about improving their blood lipid profiles. All in all, we can definitely recommend Berberine as a great health supplement with a PCOS connection. [caption id=""attachment_2030"" align=""aligncenter"" width=""300""] Berberine HCl is a great vegan supplement for blood sugar[/caption]  

Medical Disclaimer

Not intended to treat, diagnose, or cure any disease or ailment. Please read and fully understand potential adverse effects before using this product. These statements have not been reviewed by the FDA and are not written by a medical professional. Please consult your doctor before using any supplements, especially if you have any medical conditions.


B.Sc. in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Researched & written by Tristan and verified by the Liftmode.com Research Team


  [1]Polycystic ovary syndrome”, NHS.uk, National Health Services UK, accessed May 16, 2017 [2]Berberine”, Examine.com, accessed May 16, 2017 [3] A Dunaif, “Insulin resistance and the polycystic ovary syndrome: mechanism and implications for pathogenesis”, Endocr Rev. 1997 Dec;18(6):774-800. [4] KG Pérez-Rubio et al., “Effect of berberine administration on metabolic syndrome, insulin sensitivity, and insulin secretion”, Metab Syndr Relat Disord. 2013 Oct;11(5):366-9 [5] J Yang et al., “Berberine Improves Insulin Sensitivity by Inhibiting Fat Store and Adjusting Adipokines Profile in Human Preadipocytes and Metabolic Syndrome Patients”, Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012; 2012: 363845. [6] Z Wu et al., “Berberine improves insulin resistance in granulosa cells in a similar way to metformin”, Fertility and Sterility 86:S459-S460 · September 2006 [7] Y Li et al., “Effect of berberine on insulin resistance in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: study protocol for a randomized multicenter controlled trial”, Trials. 2013; 14: 226, Published online 2013 Jul 18 [8] L Li et al., “A Single Arm Pilot Study of Effects of Berberine on the Menstrual Pattern, Ovulation Rate, Hormonal and Metabolic Profiles in Anovulatory Chinese Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome”, PlosOne Medicine, Published: December 8, 2015, Doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0144072 [9] Y An et al., ""The use of berberine for women with polycystic ovary syndrome undergoing IVF treatment""  Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2014 Mar;80(3):425-31 [10] A Hakansson, G Molin, “Gut Microbiota and Inflammation”, Nutrients. 2011 Jun; 3(6): 637–682. [11] NL Rasgon et al., “Depression in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: clinical and biochemical correlates”, J Affect Disord. 2003 May;74(3):299-304. [12] Y Guo et al.,“Dose-response effect of berberine on bile acid profile and gut microbiota in mice”, BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2016, 16:394 [13] X Zhang et al., “Modulation of gut microbiota by berberine and metformin during the treatment of high-fat diet-induced obesity in rats”, Scientific Reports 5, Article number: 14405 (2015) [14] IR Pirwa et al., “Lipids and lipoprotein subfractions in women with PCOS: relationship to metabolic and endocrine parameters”, Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2001 Apr;54(4):447-53. [15] Y Zhang et al., “Treatment of type 2 diabetes and dyslipidemia with the natural plant alkaloid berberine”, J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Jul;93(7):2559-65. [16] G Derosa et al., “Effects of berberine on lipid profile in subjects with low cardiovascular risk”, Expert Opin Biol Ther. 2013 Apr;13(4):475-82 [17] R Dumitrescu et al., “The Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: An update on metabolic and hormonal mechanisms”, J Med Life. 2015 Apr-Jun; 8(2): 142–145. [18] H Dong et al., “Berberine in the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus: a systemic review and meta-analysis”, Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:591654.

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