Even though plants containing the alkaloid berberine have been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for over 2500 years, berberine’s potential cardiovascular and metabolic effects have been studied only in the recent past. The objective of this review is to summarize the effects and possible mechanisms of action of berberine when applied to various aspects of the cardiovascular system. Evidence is presented from experimental studies, clinical trials, and meta-analyses accessed via PubMed. Further research is needed, particularly clinical trials, but a growing body of evidence suggests an important role for berberine in the treatment of dyslipidemia, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
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