In a nutshell
This study assessed the effects of berberine on the menstrual cycle, ovulation rates, hormone levels and metabolism of Chinese women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). This study found that berberine may improve the menstrual pattern and ovulation rates in these patients.
PCOS is a syndrome in which hormone levels are out of balance. PCOS can lead to many issues such as infertility, menstrual cycle problems, heart disease and diabetes. PCOS is associated with insulin resistance (IR), when the body becomes resistant to the hormone insulin (needed to break down the glucose taken in from food). PCOS is also associated with low levels of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). SHBG controls the amount of testosterone (a sex hormone) made. Many women with PCOS do not ovulate normally. This is a common cause of infertility.
Berberine comes from a Chinese herb called Coptis Chinensis. It is usually used for diarrhea in China, but has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels and to improve pregnancy rates in women with PCOS undergoing assisted reproduction.
Methods & findings
This study examined the effect of berberine on ovulation rates, IR, and hormonal levels in women with PCOS. 98 Chinese women were treated with 0.4g berberine three times per day for 4 months. 69 women with a body mass index (measure of body fat that takes height and weight into account) of 23 kg/m2 or lower were considered to be 'normal weight'. 29 women with a body mass index above 23 kg/m2 were considered to be 'overweight/obese'.
14.3% of women had regular menstrual cycles after treatment (there were no differences between normal weight and overweight women). The ovulation rate was 22.5% in women of normal weight and 31% in overweight/obese women. IR and SHBG levels decreased significantly only in the normal weight group.
The bottom line
This study concluded that taking berberine may improve the menstrual pattern and ovulation rates in Chinese women with PCOS. Berberine decreased IR and SHBG levels in normal weight patients with PCOS.
The fine print
This study did not have a comparison group. The patients were advised to use contraception during the study as it was not known whether berberine could cause birth defects.
Discuss the use of alternative treatments with your doctor prior to use.
Published By :
Dec 08, 2015