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One study suggests that topical use of berberine could cause photosensitivity (an increased tendency to react to sun exposure. 1 Berberine-containing herbs should not be used by pregnant women because berberine may increase levels of bilirubin, 2 potentially damaging the fetus, and might also cause genetic damage. 3 Individuals who already have elevated levels of bilirubin (jaundice), or any other form of liver disease, should also avoid berberine-containing herbs.
Safety in young children and nursing women has not been established.
One study hints that berberine may decrease the efficacy of the drug tetracycline. 4
Interactions You Should Know About
If you are using antibiotics in the tetracycline family, barberry might decrease their effectiveness.
- Inbaraj JJ, Kukielczak BM, Bilski P, et al. Photochemistry and photocytotoxicity of alkaloids from goldenseal ( Hydrastis canadensis L.) 1. Berberine. Chem Res Toxicol. 2001;14:1529–1534.
- Chan E. Displacement of bilirubin from albumin by berberine. Biol Neonate. 63(4):201-8.
- Pasqual MS, Lauer CP, Moyna P, Henriques JA. Genotoxicity of the isoquinoline alkaloid berberine in prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms. Mutat Res. 286(2):243-52.
- Khin-Maung-U, Myo-Khin, Nyunt-Nyunt-Wai, et al. Clinical trial of berberine in acute watery diarrhoea. BrMed J. 1985;291:1601–5.