THERE ARE SOME INTERESTING THINGS IN WIKIPEDIA ABOUT BERBERINE. For instance it is a quarternary ammonium salt from the protoberberine group of isoquinoline alkoloids. (Do I know what that is, would anyone not having organic chemistry under their belt?) Even if you had been “hit” with that description it still doesnt explain what it DOES! It suppresses the growth of a wide variety of cancer/tumor cells, including breast, leukemia, melanoma, epidermoid carcinoma, hepatoma, oral carcinoma, glioblastoma, prostate cancer and gastric carcinoma. So even if you do not understand the chemical categories and names know that BERBERINE works.
If you have congestive heart disease, do not take BERBERINE.
BERBERINE is found in the “berberis” family of plants which include: Oregon Grape (Berberis aquifolium), Barberry (Berberis vulgaris) (I’ve seen Barberry growing I believe, in the woods around my home) and Tree Turmeric (Berberis aristata). According to Wikipedia it is found in the roots stems rhizomes and bark. According to Wikipedia also found in Goldenseal, Phellodendron amurense, Chinese Goldthread, Prickly Poppy, the Californian Poppy and Phellodendron lavalei. Also found in a plant used in China for tea: Mahonia bealei (Fort.) Carr.
It is NOT found in Yerba Mansa as is sometimes reported. An extensive search turned up little else that one can find BERBERINE within. Many articles repeated the same words and same plants over and over. It surprises me that so few plants have been publicly identified as containing BERBERINE. Usually phytochemicals are NOT limited to one or two plants, especially those found in varying species in varying locations around the world. I also ran a search on BERBERIN and came up with the same meager results.
My “raw” initial notes appear below. Brief description of some of the studies published on BERBERINE also appear below:
–induces G-1 phase cell cycle arrest and caspase-3-dependent apoptosis (programmed cell death) in human prostate cancer cells
–inhibits DU 145, PC3 and LNCaP prostate cancer cell lines (see What Is section) per Mol Cancer Ther 2006;5
–study: anti-inflammatory, antitumor properties.. in a dose dependent manner in DU 145, LNCaP and PC3 cell lines.
–study: BERBERINE showed a strong inhibition on the proliferation of hepatoma and leukemia cell lines
–BERBERINE interferes with gastric peristalsis which slows down diarrhea, can also inhibit platelet aggregation, upregulates interferon beta and tumor necrosis factor alpha(TNF-a) in breast cancer genes
study: suppresses the growth of both androgen independent and androgen dependent cancer cells without affecting normal prostate cells.
–study: BERBERINE induces oxidative stress in cancer cells. BERBERINE induced apoptosis was blocked by N-aceytlcysteine. …dose dependent apoptosis
–study: radiosensitizes esophageal cancer cells
–study: “Berberine and monocaffeyltartaric acid were identified to be effective inhibitors that have the ability to bind to 5-α reductase type 2.”
–study: growth suppression of Her2 overexpressing breast cancer cells
–study: BERBERINE suppresses AR signaling in androgen independent cancer cells. “Several ligand-binding, domain-truncated AR splice variants have been identified, and these variants are believed to promote the development of CRPC in patients. Interestingly, we found that these variants were more susceptible to berberine-induced degradation than the full-length AR.” I quoted from the abstract because of the importance of this one study for patients who have (or will get) androgen independent prostate cancer. I admittedly do not understand all that I read in fine detail, at least not yet, but I have the sense to understand when something IS important.
–study: causes apoptosis in bladder cancer cells
–study: causes apoptosis in melanoma cancer
–study: causes apoptosis in cervical cancer cells
–study: causes apoptosis in hepatoma cells
–study: two year toxicity study conducted with BERBERINE in mice and rats, resulted in an increase in liver tumors. Translation to humans not done yet.
–study: inhibits COX-2 ..unknown pathway..inhibits rat colon cancer
–study: inhibits the angiogenic potential of HEP 2 cancer cell line
–study: strong anti-proliferative activity on HT-29 colon cancer cells
–study: inhibits lung tumorigenesis
–study: inhibits melanoma skin cancer cell migration
–study: inhibits human glioblastoma T98g cells
My research on this particular phytochemical is incomplete. There were many more studies uncovering the ability of BERBERINE to fight various cancers.
I have a bottle of Echinacea and Goldenseal, which I sometimes use when I have a cold. Why wait for a cold when you can add one more feather to the pile. While there have been some conflicting studies regarding long term effects, it shouldnt be a problem for those with prostate cancer that has crossed the line into androgen independence. It would seem to be better to fight that kind of cancer now than to worry about what may or may not happen two years down the line.