- About 2.8 million people globally have multiple sclerosis (MS), for which there is currently no cure.
- Researchers recently found that the natural compound berberine helps ease disease severity in mice.
- Scientists believe these findings promise a significant therapeutic potential against neurological disorders, including MS.
There is currently no cure for MS.
Now, researchers from the Semnan University of Medical Sciences in Semnan, Iran, have found the natural compound berberine helps ease the severity of the disease in a mouse model of MS.
The study was recently published in the journal
Berberine — also known as berberine hydrochloride — is a compound naturally occurring in various plants, including the
Berberine has been used in
Previous research shows berberine aids the body against
According to Dr. Karen D. Sullivan, a board certified neuropsychologist and owner of I CARE FOR YOUR BRAIN in Pinehurst, North Carolina, the mechanism of action for berberine is three-fold.
“One, it activates an enzyme inside cells called
How could a natural compound like berberine help a person with MS?
Dr. M Kara, a functional medicine expert and founder of KaraMD — a line of digestive support, heart health, and anti-inflammatory supplements to support full-body health — explained that MS is a disease in which the immune system starts to attack the central nervous system.
MS is also often associated with increased levels of inflammation, which make symptoms worse over time.
“Berberine seems to be the most impactful as a substance at the cellular level, and it has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties,” he detailed.
“I always say that chronic inflammation is the root of all evil because inflammation if left unchecked, can cause numerous health issues beyond just simple aches and pains. It can impact
“When it comes to MS, controlling the body’s inflammatory and immune system response is essential and berberine, as a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant that acts directly at the cellular level, may be a worthwhile solution for reducing inflammation.”
— Dr. M. Kara
In this study, researchers used a mouse model of MS to test the effects of berberine. Mice in two groups received either a low or high dose of berberine, while the third control group received saline water.
Upon analysis, scientists found mice receiving both the low and high berberine dosage experienced a reduction in disease severity, and taking berberine also lowered the severity of disability and paralysis when compared to the control group.
Additionally, mice in the high-dosage group greatly reduced their symptoms of the disease.
“Based on the results of this study, it was found that berberine, by eliminating the inflammation of the central nervous system, led to a decrease in the permeability and disruption of the blood-brain barrier, and thus led to a decrease in the penetration of immune cells, the function and proliferation of inflammatory cells in the central nervous system and the brain,” Dr. Dariush Haghmorad, assistant professor of immunology in the School of Medicine at Semnan University of Medical Sciences in Semnan, Iran, and lead author of this study, explained to MNT.
“By stimulating the anti-inflammatory and regulatory cells, this combination increases the secretion of a series of anti-inflammatory mediators from the cells, and in this way, they can reduce the symptoms of the disease and improve the beneficial course of the disease. Therefore, berberine can reduce the symptoms and improve the course of the disease in the animal model of MS.”
— Dr. Dariush Haghmorad
Dr. Haghmorad said taking into account the results of this research, it is clear that berberine at prescribed doses reduces the autoimmune inflammation of the central immune system, and these in vitro results promise a significant therapeutic potential against neurological disorders, including MS.
Dr. Haghmorad said the next step for this study is more research to understand the mechanism of berberine effects.
“For now it’s an animal model, and we need more investigation,” he added when asked how quickly we may see a berberine-based treatment for MS.
“The next step would be to use this same experimental paradigm in human studies in a variety of autoimmune conditions, including MS, and see if we get the same disease-modifying benefits,” Dr. Sullivan added.
Dr. Kara said educating patients on how something like inflammation can impact their future health outcomes — especially when it comes to chronic disease — is crucial.
“It’s also important for those living with chronic disease to be educated on the options that are available to help with symptom management. For people with MS, it’s essential to know that there are natural remedies out there that may offer a worthwhile solution when it comes to reducing the severity of their symptoms,” he said.
“As always, before starting any new natural remedy or adding anything new to your routine, regardless of if you have MS or not, it is always important to consult your medical professional to make sure it’s right for your health goals and needs.”
— Dr. M. Kara