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The Secondary Metabolites Berberine Reverses Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOs), Human Studies Show

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Scientists may have discovered a bioactive and plan base ingredient for the prevention and treatment of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOs) with no side effects, according to studies.

The polycystic ovarian syndrome is an endocrinologic disease caused by undeveloped follicles clumping on the ovaries that interfere with the function of the normal ovaries as resulting of enlarged ovaries.

Women with PCOs are found to produce an excessive amount of androgen, leading to a male pattern hair development, acne, irregular period or absence of period, weight gain and infertility.

The condition affects over 5% of women population or 1 in 20 women. However, the actual numbers may be substantial high because a large percentage of women in the early stage of PCOs are undiagnosed.

Some researchers suggested that women with PCOs are at a higher risk of the onset of diabetes and heart disease.


What cause PCOs? Why some women are more susceptible to the incidence and others do not even they have the same health condition and family history? No researchers can answer this question.


However, they do know according to the epidemiological studies that people who carry mutated gene inherited from the parent,  with chronic inflammatory disease and having insulin resistance are at the increased risk of PCOs.


Treatment of PCOs can vary and totally depend on the range of symptoms, or just one.


Some researchers suggested that lifestyle change may be the best for reducing the symptoms in women with PCOs. Weight loss of just 5% can lead to a significant improvement in PCOS symptoms.


Dr. Sedigheh Sedigh in the study to compare the lifestyle in women With polycystic ovary syndrome and healthy women said, “there was a significant relationship between PCOS and inappropriate diet (p=0.009), low physical activity (p=0.009), but no relationship was observed between PCOS and unhealthy behaviors”.


These results clearly suggested that women who follow the Western diet with lack of exercise are associated with a substantial risk of PCOs. In other words, a change to a healthy lifestyle has a strong impact in reducing the incidence onset for women without PCOs and symptoms for women with PCOs.


Berberine is a phytochemical found in the group of protoberberine group of isoquinoline alkaloids, in many herbal plants including Oregon grape, barberry, turmeric, goldenseal, etc.

With an aim to find a natural ingredient for the treatment of the reproductive and metabolic disorder associated with insulin resistance (IR) in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), researchers at the Harbin Medical University examine the potential therapeutic value of berberine (BBR)for PCOS.


The study included 49 wone with PCOS and IR randomized assigned into one of three treatment groups: BBR+compound cyproterone acetate (CPA; n=31), MET+CPA (n=30), and placebo+CPA (n=28) for 3 months.


After 3 months, BBR treatment group showed a decrease in waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR; P<0.01), total cholesterol (TC), triglycerides (TG), and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C; P<0.05) as well as increase in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDLC) and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) compared to MET group.


Compared to the placebo, the BBR group demonstrated a similar effect as in the comparison with the control group.


These results suggested that BBR Intake of BBR improved some of the metabolic and hormonal derangements in a group of treated Chinese women with PCOS.


Dr. Wei W, the lead author in the final report wrote, “Main effects (of BBR) could be related to the changes in body composition in obesity and dyslipidemia.”


Furthermore, in order to reconfirm the effect of Berberine in PCOs subjects, researchers launched a review of the photochemical activity on polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) patients with insulin resistance (IR).


The search od the database of medical literature for the randomized controlled trials in human beings up to July 2018, found a total of 9 randomized controlled trials satisfied the guidelines and criteria.


 Berberine not only showed an effect in lowering blood sugar levels in db/db mice and anti-dyslipidemia inhuman.


Berberine exerted the similar effects similar to those of metformin (MET) in alleviating insulin resistance, improving glycolipid metabolism, or reproductive endocrine condition.


MET combined with BBR was not superior to MET alone, but cyproterone acetate (CPA) combined with BBR was superior to CPA alone in improving some of the reproductive endocrine indices.


The combination of BBR and Chinese herbs also showed a positive effect on all the parameters mentioned above.


Dr. Meng-Fei Li, the lead scientist, at the final report, said, “BBR showed a promising prospect in treating PCOS-IR”


Although the results indicated that Berberine has a potential effect on the treatment of metabolic and hormonal derangements in women with PCOs, due to the limitation of the studies, further data collection large example size and multi-centers studies performed with human consumption of the  bioactive compounds during the course of the disease will be necessary to complete the picture of Berberine anti PCOs possibilities.

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