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What Is Berberine, The Supplement Deemed ‘Nature’s Ozempic’?

It might not be as harmless as it seems.
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Berberine might be the most sought-after dietary supplement right now. Since being dubbed ‘nature’s ozempic’ by social media, the dietary supplement has received an influx of attention online, with thousands of videos claiming to experience the supplement’s weight loss and metabolism boosting benefits. 

Unlike Ozempic, which is not only expensive but also in short supply, berberine is both affordable and widely available. This however, doesn’t mean that berberine is a safe alternative, or something you should be taking before consulting a medical professional. 

Below, we breakdown everything you need to know about the viral supplement and its risks. 

What Is Berberine?

Berberine is a bioactive compound found in several plants, including barberry, tree turmeric and Oregon grape. The yellow compound has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat diarrhoea, skin conditions, and fungal infections, and other ailments for a long time. 

Berberine comes from various plants. (Credit: Getty)

Does Berberine Cause Weight Loss? 

According to a study from 2010, which looked at the effects of berberine on obese mice, the supplement caused a decrease in weight, food intake and cholesterol levels. 

Another study found that berberine will generally help people lose around four and a half pounds (two kilograms) of body weight. In comparison, semaglutide (the generic name for Ozempic) typically results in a 15% loss of body weight. 

While berberine does seem to result in a small amount of weight loss, a meta-analysis of 49 studies found that the supplement is actually most effective at providing metabolic benefits for the heart—but this still doesn’t mean that it’s safe to take. 

berberine supplement
Berberine is a natural supplement. (Credit: Getty)

Is Berberine Safe? 

Ozempic comes with a number of undesirable side effects, and it’s not a drug that should be taken without professional medical advice. While the ‘natural’ element of berberine might make the supplement seem safer than Ozempic, it’s actually little more complicated than that. 

Dr Sam Megalli, Pharmacist, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Ultra Nature, emphasises that not enough research has been done on berberine to understand both its effectiveness and its risks. 

“While some studies have shown that berberine supplements may aid in weight loss, most of these have been performed on mice, not humans, Dr Sam warns. 

“There is also not yet enough evidence to suggest that taking berberine daily long term is safe.” 

Dr Sam also warns that the side effects of berberine can be serious. 

“It can have several serious side effects and is associated with a number of risks, including nausea, vomiting, sleepiness, slowed breathing, and interference with other medications, “ Dr Sam says. “Therefore I do not recommend using berberine for weight loss.”

It’s also important to remember that while berberine might offer some health benefits, it’s still an active pharmaceutical drug and you shouldn’t take it before consulting a medical professional. 

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