Berberine is a quaternary ammonium salt from the protoberberine group of isoquinoline alkaloids. It is found in such plants as Berberis [e.g. Berberis aquifolium (Oregon grape), Berberis vulgaris (barberry), and Berberis aristata (tree turmeric)], Hydrastis canadensis (goldenseal), Phellodendron amurense (Amur cork tree, huang bai, huang po, po mu) and Coptis chinensis (Chinese goldthread, huang-lian, huang-lien), and Tinospora cordifolia, and to a smaller extent in Argemone mexicana (prickly poppy) and Eschscholzia californica (Californian poppy). Berberine is usually found in the roots, rhizomes, stems, and bark.
1. As a traditional medicine or dietary supplement, berberine has shown some activity against fungal infections, Candida albicans, yeast, parasites, and bacterial/viral infections. Berberine seems to exert synergistic effects with fluconazole even in drug-resistant C. albicans infections.
2. Some research has been undertaken into possible use against MRSA infection.
3. Berberine is considered antibiotic. When applied in vitro and in combination with methoxyhydnocarpin, an inhibitor of multidrug resistance pumps, berberine inhibits growth of Staphylococcus aureus and Microcystis aeruginosa a toxic cyanobacterium.
4. Berberine is a component of some eye drop formulations. There is some evidence it is useful in the treatment of trachoma, and it has been a standard treatment for leishmaniasis.
5. Berberine prevents and suppresses proinflammatory cytokines, E-selectin, and genes, and increases adiponectin expression which partly explains its versatile health effects. Berberine is a nucleic acid-binding isoquinolone alkaloid with wide potential therapeutic properties.
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