Berberine – Several Cancer Impacts

Berberine has gained scientific research attention for its impact on gut health, blood glucose, and controlling cancer cell growth.

Written by Keith Bishop, Clinical Nutritionist
B.Sc. Pharmacy, Author of Prevail Over Cancer Tactics™

Berberine is a natural compound found in several plants in the Berberis family, including goldenseal, barberry, and Oregon grape. It has been used in oriental, Indian Ayurvedic, and Middle Eastern medicine for centuries for numerous conditions including diarrhea, infections, and inflammation.[i]

Rarely do I come across an herbal supplement that has so many valuable effects on the body.

Berberine: Gut Health

Berberine is a commonly used intestinal anti-inflammatory herb. Berberine reduces inflammation and toxins in the intestines while restoring the beneficial bacteria balance in people consuming an unhealthy fat diet.[ii] Research shows berberine helps normalize diarrheal bowel movements in children and adults.[iii] Another study of recurring Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) found berberine reduced numerous inflammatory chemicals, improved weight loss, loose stool consistency, and rectal bleeding.[iv]

Berberine can intervene and control malignant colorectal cancer by inhibiting the growth of several colorectal cancer-driving bacteria, especially peptostreptococcus anaerobius.[v]

Berberine: Blood Glucose

Studies have shown that berberine improves insulin sensitivity, insulin secretion and lowers blood glucose. Additionally, berberine induces glucose use by normal cells and reduces inflammation.[vi] Berberine increases insulin secretion by the pancreas without causing hypoglycemia because its actions are only under elevated blood glucose levels. An analysis of thirty-seven studies involving 3,048 patients found berberine lowered fasting blood glucose, and A1c in patients with diabetes. Berberine alone or with oral prescription diabetes medications did not significantly increase the incidence of adverse effects and the risk of low blood glucose.[vii]

A meta-analysis of health studies published in medical journals revealed that berberine significantly improves blood glucose levels, insulin resistance, cholesterol, triglycerides, body fat, inflammatory markers, colorectal cancer, and helicobacter pylori infections in the stomach and intestines.[viii]

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Berberine: Cancer Cell Growth

Berberine has potent anticancer effects on various types of cancer cell studies, including breast, colon, rectal, pancreatic, prostate, renal, lung, gastric, stomach, and ovarian cancers.[ix] [x] Berberine inhibits the overactive glucose metabolism of colon cancer cells while helping normal cells use glucose (sugar) for energy.[xi] This effect essentially helps starve cancer cells of glucose. Another study published in MDPI found that berberine can inhibit the migration of pancreatic cancer cells, indicating that it may have potential as a treatment for pancreatic cancer⁵. Researchers found in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled human trial that berberine was safe and effective in reducing the risk of recurrence of colorectal cancer.[xii] 

These findings suggest that berberine is a potent natural supplement.

Berberine: Absorption Issues

Berberine has poor absorption from the intestines into the body. Frequent and higher doses tend to cause gastrointestinal distress.[xiii] My clients and I have experienced a variety of symptoms including loose stools, diarrhea, cramping, and gas at moderate doses of most brands of berberine. My clients and I rarely report such side effects with the Onco-Adjunct Pathway 3 UltraBer™-LPS complex by UltraBotanica. Pathway 3 berberine is conjugated with protein to increase the absorption. As the body digests the complex the berberine is released and can interact with the cells in the body. Most of my clients and I take 2 capsules before meals and 1 before snacks that have carbohydrates typically without any gastric concerns. 

Onco-Adjunct Pathway 3 is available online at Flourish Nutraceuticals.


Onco-Adjunct Pathway supplements should be used under medical supervision. This information is for educational purposes only. You should consult with your healthcare provider before making changes to your health program. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Reference Sources Include 

[i] Panigrahi, A., Mohanty, S. Efficacy and safety of HIMABERB® Berberine on glycemic control in patients with prediabetes: double-blind, placebo-controlled, and randomized pilot trial. BMC Endocr Disord 23, 190 (2023).

[ii] Chen D, Xiong J, Chen G, et al. Comparing the Influences of Metformin and Berberine on the Intestinal Microbiota of Rats With Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis. In Vivo. 2023;37(5):2105-2127. doi:10.21873/invivo.13308

[iii] Yu M, Jin X, Liang C, Bu F, Pan D, He Q, Ming Y, Little P, Du H, Liang S, Hu R, Li C, Hu YJ, Cao H, Liu J, Fei Y. Berberine for diarrhea in children and adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Therap Adv Gastroenterol. 2020 Oct 23;13:1756284820961299. doi: 10.1177/1756284820961299. PMID: 33149763; PMCID: PMC7586028.

[iv] Laurindo LF, Santos AROD, Carvalho ACA, et al. Phytochemicals and Regulation of NF-kB in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: An Overview of In Vitro and In Vivo Effects. Metabolites. 2023;13(1):96. Published 2023 Jan 7. doi:10.3390/metabo13010096

[v] Yan J, Fang C, Yang G, et al. Identification of FtfL as a novel target of berberine in intestinal bacteria. BMC Biol. 2023;21(1):280. Published 2023 Dec 5. doi:10.1186/s12915-023-01778-w

[vi] Shrivastava S, Sharma A, Saxena N, Bhamra R, Kumar S. Addressing the preventive and therapeutic perspective of berberine against diabetes. Heliyon. 2023;9(11):e21233. Published 2023 Nov 3. doi:10.1016/j.heliyon.2023.e21233

[vii] Xie W, Su F, Wang G, et al. Glucose-lowering effect of berberine on type 2 diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Front Pharmacol. 2022;13:1015045. Published 2022 Nov 16. doi:10.3389/fphar.2022.1015045

[viii] Li Z, Wang Y, Xu Q, et al. Berberine and health outcomes: An umbrella review. Phytother Res. 2023;37(5):2051-2066. doi:10.1002/ptr.7806

[ix] Savoji AB, Kaheni Y, Rezaei P, Farkhondeh T, Pourhanifeh MH, Samarghandian S. Therapeutic Effects of Berberine against Urological Cancers: Biological Potentials Based on Cellular Mechanisms. Curr Mol Med. Published online November 6, 2023. doi:10.2174/0115665240263630231009050436

[x] Xiong R-G, Huang S-Y, Wu S-X, Zhou D-D, Yang Z-J, Saimaiti A, Zhao C-N, Shang A, Zhang Y-J, Gan R-Y, et al. Anticancer Effects and Mechanisms of Berberine from Medicinal Herbs: An Update Review. Molecules. 2022; 27(14):4523.

[xi] Mao, L., Chen, Q., Gong, K., Xu, X., Xie, Y., Zhang, W. ... Zhan, Y. (2018). Berberine decelerates glucose metabolism via suppression of mTOR‑dependent HIF‑1α protein synthesis in colon cancer cells. Oncology Reports, 39, 2436-2442.

[xii] Chen YX, Gao QY, Zou TH, et al. Berberine versus placebo for the prevention of recurrence of colorectal adenoma: a multicentre, double-blinded, randomised controlled study. Lancet Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2020;5(3):267-275. doi:10.1016/S2468-1253(19)30409-1

[xiii] Shan CY, Yang JH, Kong Y, Wang XY, Zheng MY, Xu YG, Wang Y, Ren HZ, Chang BC, Chen LM. Alteration of the intestinal barrier and GLP2 secretion in Berberine-treated type 2 diabetic rats. J Endocrinol. 2013 Jul 29;218(3):255-62. doi: 10.1530/JOE-13-0184. PMID: 23757509.


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