Berberine Improves Menstrual Pattern and Ovulation in Women With Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Reviewer: Tori Hudson, N.D.
Author: Li L, Li C, Pan P, et al.
Reference: 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. PLOS One. Dec 8, 2015;10(12)
Design: In the current study, 102 women (average age of 22) with a diagnosis of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) were recruited for the study and 98 completed the study. Women were given berberine hydrochloride tablets, 400 mg three times daily for 4 months. Women recorded their menstrual cycles, and blood levels of progesterone and human chorionic gonadotropin were collected weekly to confirm ovulation and to assess pregnancy status, along with lipid profiles, sex hormone binding globulin and measures of insulin resistance. All of these measurements were repeated after 4 months of treatment.
Participants: Approximately 70% of the women were normal weight and 29% were overweight or obese. Women were recruited who had infrequent menstrual periods or anovulation, clinical and/or biochemical hyperandrogenism or ultrasound features of polycystic ovaries.
Key Findings: Fourteen of the women regained a regular menstrual cycle after the berberine treatment which was similar in the normal weight and overweight/obese women. The ovulation rate improved with a result of 25% of the women over the 4 months, with more improvement in the overweight group of 31% and 22.5% in the normal weight group. Other parameters improved in the normal weight group only: sex hormone binding globulin, insulin resistance, triglycerides, total cholesterol and low density lipoprotein cholesterol. The only laboratory change in the overweight/obese women was a decrease in total cholesterol.
Primary Outcome: This is the first study, to my knowledge, that has evaluated the effects of berberine as a single agent, on the menstrual pattern, rates of ovulation, and hormonal and metabolic profiles in women with PCOS.
Practice Implications: I’ve written numerous blogs and articles and given many lectures on natural medicine and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). I consider this a strong area for natural medicine in the areas of addressing the underlying endocrinologic disorders and improving the many manifestations of PCOS. Evidence-based natural medicines for PCOS include: N-acetyl cysteine, myo-inositol, d-chiro-inositol, black cohosh, licorice root, maitake mushroom, spearmint tea, fish oils and more, all in the treatment of PCOS.,,,,,,,, Here we have yet another new botanical study, using berberine to improve menstrual patterns and rates of ovulation in women with PCOS. While this study did not include a placebo group, and did not assess pregnancy rates, I would still want to consider the addition of berberine in women with PCOS. In addition, I especially use berberine in treating dyslipidemia, pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes, congestive heart failure, and in patients with Candida albicans and E. coli infections.
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