Herbal Q&A-Berberine with Lipitor?

A reader asks: Is it ok to take Berberine with Lipitor? I take 500 mg of Berberine twice a day and 20 mg of Lipitor at bedtime.
Hello and thank you for your question!
Thankfully, as an herbalist who is also a pharmacist, I have access to some databases of drugs and their interactions (including with herbs). In looking at this data, I found no known interactions between Lipitor and Berberine.
It may interest you to know that
Berberine is actually not an herb, but is one of the many phytochemicals—in this case an alkaloid that has anti-bacterial action—that is present in high concentration in plants like goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) and Oregon grape root (Berberis nervosa). Berberine extract has not been listed as a drug itself in pharmaceutical databases, however herbs high in berberine do appear and they were not identified as having interactions with Lipitor.
However…that’s not to say that there’s no actual or potential for interaction between the two, only that they have not been studied and/or reported. Drug interactions, especially with herbs, are only documented once they have been examined or reported by enough people for it to be more than a coincidence. Berberine, not being a very frequently used supplement, is highly unlikely to have been studied for drug interactions. Lipitor, on the other hand, is a very commonly prescribed and used medication, but at this point in time there are only a select few herbal medicines that have been documented as having interactions with it.
What I would recommend is to take the Berberine two hours before Lipitor. So, for example, if you go to bed at 10 pm and take your Lipitor then, take the berberine at 8 pm (and at 8 am if you wish to separate the doses evenly). This will add an extra level of precaution in the case of a possible interaction.
Thanks for writing in to AskTheHerbalistsand I hope this helped.
Amani Elsawah lives and works in Dallas, TX. She is a pharmacist, PharmD Rutgers, has her MS Herbal Medicine from the Maryland University of Integrative Health and most recently has been a student of Arabic and Islamic Studies.

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