Berberine and Goldenseal Have Many Benefits, But Should Not Be Assumed to Be Safe During Pregnancy and Breast Feeding

  • by Nils Osmar. August 7, 2023
  • This post is not intended as, and should not be taken as, medical advice. 
  • See full Medical Disclaimer

Berberine is a popular anti-aging supplement with many well-established benefits. But we should not assume it’s safe to take during pregnancy.

  • Like many people in our community, I take berberine.
  • When I take it, my lipid profile improves (higher HDL, lower triglycerides).
  • My blood sugar is lower (better A1C).
  • It appears to have similar benefits in both men and women.
  • This article by Dr. Rhonda Patrick goes into many of its purported health benefits.
  • However, it is not recommended for women during pregnancy.

From the Medline Plus article (emphases are mine):

It’s likely unsafe to take berberine by mouth if you are pregnant. Berberine can cross the placenta and might cause harm to the fetus

Note: Berberine is found in Goldenseal, so the same caution should be applied to taking goldenseal when pregnant.

What about breast feeding?

The same caution should be applied to breast feeding newborn babies. From the same article:

Kernicterus, a type of brain damage, has developed in newborn infants exposed to berberine. Breast-feeding: It’s likely unsafe to take berberine if you are breast-feeding.

Bilirubin is a chemical that is produced when old red blood cells break down. It is normally removed by the liver. Berberine may keep the liver from removing bilirubin fast enough. This can cause brain problems, especially in infants with high levels of bilirubin in the blood.

Not medical advice

This article is not intended as, and should not be taken as, medical advice. I’m not advising that people eat any particular diet or take any particular supplement(s), just reporting on what I’m doing. Supplements, like medications and other interventions, can have side effects; I would encourage people to research both possible benefits and side effects before starting on any supplementation regimen, and consult with a medical professional about any issues which might have a medical component.  See full Medical Disclaimer

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