The therapy of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is based on synthetic hormones associated with lifestyle changes, but these therapies cannot be taken continuously, especially by women who would like to become pregnant. Thus, nutraceutical compounds were investigated as possible agents for treatment of PCOS. Berberine is shown to be effective against insulin resistance and obesity, particularly against visceral adipose tissue (VAT). Because of these properties, researchers theorized that berberine could be effective in PCOS treatment.
The aim of this narrative review was to assess the state of the art about the use of berberine in PCOS management.
This review included 5 eligible studies. Despite the number of studies considered being low, the number of women studied is high (1078) and the results are interesting. Two authors find out that berberine induced a redistribution of adipose tissue, reducing VAT in the absence of weight loss and improved insulin sensitivity, quite like metformin. One author demonstrated that berberine improved the lipid pattern. Moreover, three authors demonstrated that berberine improved insulin resistance in theca cells with an improvement of the ovulation rate per cycle, so berberine is also effective on fertility and live birth rates.
Finally, berberine is safe to use in premenopausal women who want to get pregnant and showed few side effects in all the cited studies. In conclusion, the use of berberine for PCOS is safe and promising, even if more studies are needed to create a consensus about the dosage of berberine useful for long-term therapy.