The weight loss medication Ozempic is a hot topic right now in the media. We are seeing pictures of celebrities who previously struggled with their weight becoming very thin. People are wanting the same results without the cost and the side effects. Tiktok is making the supplement Berberine trend and touting that it is “nature’s Ozempic,” but is this true?
Naturopathic doctors and holistic practitioners have been using the supplement Berberine safely for decades to help improve their patient’s metabolism by regulating blood sugar and insulin sensitivity. Naturopathic doctors also commonly use Berberine for improving cholesterol, lowering blood pressure, supporting the immune system, and addressing gut infections. It’s important to note that although we refer to the supplement as Berberine, there are several plants that contain the constituent berberine. Nearly 550 plants worldwide belong under the genus Berberis. Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine has been harnessing the power of berberine-rich plants for medicinal use for thousands of years, so rest assured this isn’t a new supplement!
How does it cause weight loss?
There are several mechanisms that can explain how taking berberine may result in weight loss. One of the most cited actions of berberine is that it activates an enzyme called AMPK (AMP-activated protein kinase) and this, in turn, improves insulin sensitivity. Activating AMPK stimulates liver fatty acid oxidation which, in turn, means fat can be broken down and turned into energy.
One action that Ozempic has that berberine does not, is delayed emptying of the stomach, aka gastroparesis. It’s why people feel fuller for longer and experience a decrease in their appetite. Although that may seem appealing, the effects of gastroparesis can be very severe and even life-threatening. The possible negative effects of gastroparesis and the black-box warning of thyroid c-tumor cells should have people thinking twice whether Ozempic for them is worth the risk.
So, is berberine a safer option for weight loss and if so, what are the potential side effects?
Overall, berberine shouldn’t be seen as a “weight loss” supplement but more of an herbal aid for controlling blood sugar and improving metabolic challenges. Along with dietary changes and exercise, it can address the root cause of weight issues, which may be a better option for those who are looking mostly for weight management and not as much for weight loss.
Experts are saying that weight gain is highly likely for those who get off Ozempic. Berberine is a safe supplement, but gastrointestinal upset is a risk. Essentially, if you have gut infections (aka gut dysbiosis) berberine, which is a strong antimicrobial, can kill off those pathogens, however you may then experience symptoms like diarrhea, constipation, upset stomach and gas. Addressing these gut infections can be key to improving the gut microbiome overall and in turn improving your endocrine system and metabolism.
I suggest working with a healthcare practitioner if you are looking to use berberine for weight loss and gut healing. A well-educated practitioner can help address these issues while minimizing side effects. Our wellness experts are also trained to help you troubleshoot gut issues and find other high-quality, therapeutic-grade supplements like digestive enzymes, probiotics, gut healing powders, and binders like charcoal. As for long-term use of berberine, I do not suggest more than 4-6 months usage before cycling off and then back on. Mainly because of its antimicrobial properties, taking a break for short-periods of time would be best.
Ready to give berberine a try?
If you are someone with metabolic issues like PCOS, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, or insulin resistance, it may be time to try berberine to see if you can benefit. I recommend Integrative Therapeutics Berberine or Thorne’s Berberine, 1 capsule 2-3 times a day about 30 minutes before meals. If you are experiencing gastrointestinal discomfort, reduce by 1 capsule and ask our wellness team what they recommend for soothing your gut.
Not ready to try berberine but still want support for improving your blood sugar, cholesterol, or help with weight management? Ask our wellness specialists about our top-selling products to support your health goals.
If you have comments and/or questions about this blog, email us at email@example.com.
Dr. Lauren Sanchez, ND* helps people who want to feel their best and gain more energy and optimal wellness through a plant-based diet. Learn more about her approach to wellness and schedule a visit with her here. Learn about Peoples Rx practitioners who are available for consultation both virtually as well as in person here.
*Although licensed in other states, Naturopathic Doctors are not currently licensed in Texas. To support licensure efforts, please visit www.txand.org.