New study: plant compound decreased MS severity

Published: 09 February 2022

Mice treated with a plant compound called berberine had decreased disease severity in a mouse-model of multiple sclerosis (MS), a new study has found.

Berberine is a compound found in plants such as tree turmeric, European barberry and goldenseal. It is bitter tasting and yellow in colour.

Previous research has found berberine to have anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties.

In this study, Iranian scientists treated mice with experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, a mouse model of MS. They were given either berberine or a salt water inactive treatment.

Mice treated with the plant compound retained greater body weight, which is generally used as an indicator of overall better health.

Disease severity measures were also significantly lower in the group given berberine, and a greater effect was seen with higher doses, with disability and paralysis severity decreased.

Analysis of tissues showed the brains of the mice who received berberine had fewer inflammatory cells and there was less evidence of demyelination. There were also less pro-inflammatory signalling molecules, and a higher level of anti-inflammatory molecules.

“These results confirmed that treatment with berberine efficiently improved the disease in the animal model of MS,” said the researchers, noting the study’s results suggest the compound may be a promising therapeutic approach for people with MS.

Please note this study was done on mice and not humans with MS. Always speak with your doctor before taking a supplement. Although berberine is available to buy as an over-the-counter supplement it is likely unsafe for some people to take and more research is needed to establish whether it is safe.