A dietary supplement dubbed ‘Nature’s Ozempic’ is taking the internet by storm with thousands of people touting its weight loss benefits.
The barberry-derived weight loss tool is believed to help treat inflammation, high cholesterol and diabetes, although the evidence to support these claims is limited – and there is no not yet clear if the supplement can be taken safely long term.
While people on social media rave about the transformations they’ve witnessed in the form of looser pants and a lower number on the scale, they’ve also shared uncomfortable side effects, including diarrhea and the constipation.
Given berberine’s growing popularity, DailyMail.com has gathered all the facts you need to know about what it claims to do and how well it works.
What is it exactly ?
Berberine is derived from the barberry plant, pictured here. Its berries, rich in berberine, are also said to have antioxidant properties.
The bitter-tasting chemical is found in some plants, including European barberry, goldenseal, golden thread, Oregon grape, phellodendron and tree turmeric.
The compound was a key figure in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years to treat a myriad of conditions, including pink eye, itchy skin, high blood sugar, and urinary tract infections, among other bacterial infections.
Yet these benefits have not been confirmed in large-scale clinical trials.
A bottle of 60 supplements, one taken before each meal, can be purchased on major retail sites, including Amazon, for around $30.
With thousands of positive reviews and glowing reports on TikTok, the chemical is quickly becoming known as a natural alternative to expensive Wegovy or Ozempic, prescription drugs that aren’t always covered by health insurance.
But it works very differently from prescription drugs, also called semaglutide.
Wegovy is a higher dose version that has been approved for weight loss in people with a body mass index of at least 30, or in overweight people with a BMI of 27 or more, who also have a weight-related medical condition.
Ozempic, meanwhile, is approved to treat type 2 diabetes, but is prescribed “off-label” for obesity.
Semaglutide stimulates weight loss by mimicking the actions of GLP-1, or glucagon-like peptide-1, a hormone in the brain that regulates appetite and feelings of fullness.
What are the benefits?
Despite anecdotal evidence that berberine can help users lose weight — including a woman on TikTok who lost seven pounds in six weeks — its weight loss benefits have not been confirmed in large, reviewed studies. by peers.
The mechanism behind berberine purporting to work as a weight loss supplement is also unclear.
Yet the evidence is mounting. A 2017 review published in the Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences found that patients who took two 750-milligram capsules a day for three months experienced a “significant decrease” in weight.
A separate study published in the American Journal of Translational Research suggested that the supplement activates brown adipose tissue or fat cells that tell the body to turn food into energy by burning calories.
The chemical also has several other applications.
A 2019 analysis published in the Endocrine Diary reported that taking berberine supplements was more effective at lowering blood sugar than a placebo.
Also research suggests the supplement may help treat polycystic ovary syndrome, a condition that occurs when the ovaries produce significantly more of a certain type of hormone called androgens, leading to irregular menstrual cycles and unpredictable ovulation.
And research has also shown that berberine can decrease hemoglobin A1Ca blood sugar test in people with type 2 diabetes.
What are users saying?
In an update five weeks after starting the berberine supplement, Savannah Crosby shared another before and after photo detailing her weight loss transformation
In another clip, viewed over 83,000 times, @briana_parra2 shared before and after photos of seven months of using berberine. “I use puritans pride 500mg,” she told one user who commented on her video. Before she started taking berberine, she weighed 129.2 kg (285 lbs)
The #berberine hashtag has racked up 58 million views on TikTok, with one specific to weight loss hitting 1.7 million.
Savannah Crosby, a 34-year-old TikToker from Texas, lost about seven pounds while taking the supplement.
She started using berberine about two months ago. At the same time, she also changed her diet and lifestyle as recommended. Although you eat healthy and exercise almost every day, the number on the scale has not changed.
Before starting her weight loss journey, she weighed 187.4 lbs (85 kg) and described herself as “frustrated”.
In an effort to lose weight, she took to TikTok to record her experience with the supplement, taking three 600mg capsules a day – one 30 minutes before each meal.
Sharing her weekly progress with before and after photos, at six weeks she claimed she weighed 180.8 pounds (82 kg).
“I definitely saw a change in my body in the way my clothes fit. I’m probably losing inches,” Crosby said.
Another TikTok user said, “Week 9 on berberine and down 18 pounds,” while a second boasted, “Two weeks and down 8 pounds.”
Another clip with 1.7 million views posted on the @daphnunez account says, “Berberine is my favorite supplement for my weight loss clients simply because it’s extremely transformative.”
“It has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries to treat a number of metabolic health conditions like diabetes and obesity.
“Overall, this is a great supplement if you’re looking to lose weight.”
Is it safe?
Berberine supplements, like all dietary supplements, are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. People interested in taking it, especially those already taking prescription medications for other conditions, should consult their doctor first.
Scientists are still trying to answer this question with certainty. Because it’s derived from plants, it’s easy to fall into the illusion that it must be harmless. Pregnant women are advised not to take it, as it may pose a risk of brain damage to the fetus or young children.
Taking it as directed on the bottle could negatively affect the metabolism of prescription drugs to treat diabetes or other medical conditions.
It is not known if it is safe to resume for a long period of time. Users who stop taking it may also gain weight quickly.
It is believed that stopping Wegovy or Ozempic abruptly will cause the pounds to accumulate.
Common side effects of berberine include diarrhea, constipation, and upset stomach.
Crosby, for example, complained about the capsule’s gastrointestinal side effects, saying that overall the benefits outweigh the costs.
She also said, “I notice some of my hunger is coming back a little bit and I don’t know if that means I need to up my dose, but it’s okay, I’m getting through it.”