Berberine induces cell death in leukemia cells – study

A study published in The American Journal of Chinese Medicine revealed that a compound called berberine induces cell death in leukemia cells. In this study, the subcellular localization and the apoptotic mechanisms of berberine were investigated.

  • Berberine is an isoquinoline alkaloid found in medicinal plants used in traditional and folk medicines.
  • In the study, researchers at Nagasaki International University in Japan first treated human promyelocytic leukemia cells with berberine, then examined its antiproliferative activity.
  • Five to 15 minutes after treatment, berberine exhibited powerful antiproliferative activity in the cells.
  • Then, the researchers investigated the effect of berberine on inducing cell death and found that the compound induced cell death in leukemia cells.
In conclusion, these findings suggest that berberine can induce cell death in leukemia cells immediately after administration.

Journal Reference:

Okubo S, Uto T, Goto A, Tanaka H, Nishioku T, Yamada K, Shoyama Y. BERBERINE INDUCES APOPTOTIC CELL DEATH VIA ACTIVATION OF CASPASE-3 AND -8 IN HL-60 HUMAN LEUKEMIA CELLS: NUCLEAR LOCALIZATION AND STRUCTURE–ACTIVITY RELATIONSHIPS. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine. 6 October 2017; 45(7): 1497-1511. DOI: 10.1142/S0192415X17500811



Berberine is a chemical found in several plants including European barberry, goldenseal, goldthread, Oregon grape, phellodendron, and tree turmeric.  It might cause stronger heartbeats which might help heart conditions.  It also helps regulate how the body uses sugar in the blood which may help with diabetes. It also might also be able to kill bacteria and reduce swelling.  According to Dr. Axe, research on berberine shows benefit for the following conditions:

  • Anti-aging
  • Diabetes
  • Gastrointestinal infections
  • Heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Immune challenges
  • Joint problems
  • Low bone density
  • Weight control

Another great article by Dr. Mercola:

Berberine was able to control blood sugar and lipid metabolism as effectively as metformin, with researchers describing berberine as a “potent oral hypoglycemic agent.”4

A separate meta-analysis also revealed “berberine has comparable therapeutic effect on type 2 DM [diabetes mellitus], hyperlipidemia and hypertension with no serious side effect.”5

There is also evidence for reducing inflammation, oxidative stress, tumor growth, & depression and helping with infections, all of which Lyme/MSIDS patients can struggle with.

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