Berbamine health benefit and side effects, research studies
June 2 2016 by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.

Berbamine and berberine are found in the plant barberry. Early research suggests berbamine has anti-tumor properties and may reduce heart palpitations although few studies are available.

Benefits of berbamine

Heart rhythm problems
Comparison of the anti-arrhythmic effects of matrine and berbamine with amiodarone and RP58866
Yao Xue Xue Bao. 2004.
To clarify mechanisms that the antiarrhythmic effects of matrine and berbamine are weaker than those of amiodarone and RP58866. The inhibitory actions of matrine and berbamine on IK1, IKr, IKs, Ito were lower than those of amiodarone and RP58866, which might be the reason that the antiarrhythmic effects of matrine and berbamine were weaker than those of amiodarone and RP58866.

Against inflammation
A comparative study on the anti-inflammatory, antinociceptive and antipyretic effects of isoquinoline alkaloids from the roots of Turkish Berberis species.
Life Sci. 2002.
Roots and barks of various Berberis species are used as folk remedy for the treatment of various inflammatory diseases such as lumbago, rheumatism and to reduce fever. Six isoquinoline alkaloids namely berberine, berbamine, palmatine, oxyacanthine, magnoflorine, and columbamine were isolated as the main components of alkaloidal fraction from the roots of Turkish Berberis species and effects were studied using various in vivo models in mice. All alkaloids inhibited inflammations in varying degrees, among them berberine, berbamine and palmatine were shown to possess significant and dose-dependent inhibitory activity against serotonin-induced hind paw oedema both on oral and topical applications and acetic acid-induced increase in vascular permeability on oral administration. Moreover, these three alkaloids were also shown to possess dose-dependent antinociceptive activity, which assessed by using the model based on the inhibition of p-benzoquinone-induced writhing movements as well as antipyretic activity on FCA-induced increased rectal temperature on subacute administration. However, all alkaloids induced gastric lesions in varying degrees.

Colon cancer
Biocell. 2012. Mechanisms involved in the cytotoxic effects of berberine on human colon cancer HCT-8 cells.

Study on effect of berbamine on multidrug resistance leukemia K562/Adr cells
Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 2004.
To study the effect and mechanism of berbamine on the apoptosis of multidrug resistant leukemia K562/Adr cells and in reversing the drug resistance. Berbamine could activate Caspase-3 to induce human leukemia K562/Adr cell apoptosis, and by reducing mdr-1 gene expression to reverse its multidrug resistance.

Liver cancer
Effect of O-4-ethoxyl-butyl-berbamine in combination with pegylated liposomal doxorubicin on advanced hepatoma in mice.
World J Gastroenterol. 2004.
To study the synergistic effects of calmodulin antagonist O-4-ethoxyl-butyl- berbamine (EBB) and pegylated liposomal doxorubicin (PLD) on hepatoma-22 (H(22)) in vivo. EBB and liposomization could improve the therapeutic efficacy of Dox in liver cancer, while decreasing its liver toxicity.

Effects of berbamine on intracellular calcium concentration in cultured HeLa cells.
Zhongguo Yao Li Xue Bao. 1999.
The effects of Berbamine were similar to those of verapamil.

Lung cancer
Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2014.  In vitro and in vivo antitumor evaluation of berbamine for lung cancer treatment. Lung cancer, one of the most frequently diagnosed cancers in the world, is characterized by relatively high morbidity and mortality. Berbamine has been initially reported to exert anti-proliferative effects against a series of cancers. In this study the in vitro cytotoxicity of BER was measured by MTT assay. In vivo anti-cancer efficacy of BER was assessed in A549 xenografts. Cytotoxicity tests showed dose-dependent cell growth inhibition effects of BER against A549 cells. Moreover, BER significantly reduced the growth of lung cancer in a dose-dependent manner in nude mice with prolonged survival time.