A Registered Dietitian’s Take On Berberine

The viral weight loss pill, Ozempic, has some disturbing side effects. But a new supplement, Berberine, is taking social media by storm, and its won the name “nature’s ozempic.” 

Does this viral supplement work? Is it worth the side effects? Is Berberine right for you?

After watching and researching Berberine, I’m ready to make my opinion public. Here’s everything you need to know about Berbertine—its positives, its negatives, and whether you should try it. 


What is Berberine?

Berberine is a chemical found in some plants, like European barberry, goldenseal, goldthread, Oregon grape, phellodendron, and tree turmeric. You can buy Berberine in pill form like any other over-the-counter supplement at places like Walmart, Target, and supplement shops. 

Although Berberine has recently gained popularity, it’s old news. This natural, powerful plant alkaloid has been used since 3000 BC in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. Today, it’s best known for its potent blood sugar-regulating potential.

Your body uses Berberine in many of its processes, like when it metabolizes sugars, fats, and proteins. Some believe that it may support a healthy GI system and gut microbiome, help combat obesity, and even work as an anti-aging compound. 


The Benefits of Berberine

Berberine has been around for centuries, but little about it is known from a scientific standpoint. So far, we’ve found five potential benefits of taking Berberine.


1.Berberine May Balance Blood Sugar

Balanced blood sugar helps regulate your insulin levels. Insulin is the number one fat-storing hormone in our bodies, so the better we can manage blood sugar spikes throughout the day, the better we can manage our weight long-term. 

Several studies have shown that Berberine can balance blood sugar, improve insulin sensitivity, enhance glucose metabolism, and reduce the production of glucose in the liver. The supplement works at a cellular level similar to some pharmaceutical drugs, making it a promising natural option for blood sugar management, especially for those with Type 2 diabetes.  


2. Berberine May Help Support Heart Health

A healthy heart is critical for your overall well-being and longevity. Since heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, investing in your heart health now can literally save your life later. 

Research suggests that Berberine can boost heart health by cracking down on cholesterol. Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that can build up in the walls of your blood vessels, restrict blood flow, and increase the risk of heart disease and heart attacks. Berberine may help lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels while increasing HDL (the good kind of) cholesterol. 


3.Berberine May Facilitate Fat Loss

People are losing weight on Berberine. Here’s why, according to the Cleveland Clinic

An enzyme called AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) exists in every one of your cells. Its primary job is to regulate your metabolism. So, AMPK controls how your body breaks down and uses energy. AMPK also regulates your appetite and influences your body fat composition. Berberine activates this enzyme. 

While more research is needed, some studies suggest that Berberine contributes to significant weight loss. A review of 12 studies found that Berberine led to lower body weight, body mass index, and belly fat. The supplement may also inhibit the growth of fat cells at a molecular level. 


4.Berberine May Be Good For Your Gut

Your gut is packed with trillions of microscopic organisms that come in the form of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and cells. An unhealthy gut (when the good critters outgrow the bad critters) is related to auto-immune conditions, diabetes, neurogenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s, and even mental health issues like anxiety and depression, 

A healthy and balanced gut microbiome is foundational to your mental and physical health. Berberine may help to keep your microbiome balanced. It contains antimicrobial properties that can help combat harmful bacteria, parasites, and yeast. It may also fight against small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and Candida overgrowth. Berberine has also been found to alleviate symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) by reducing inflammation. 


5.Berberine May Mitigate Inflammation

Inflammation and oxidative stress are underlying factors in various chronic diseases. But Berberine may have potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It may suppress inflammatory markers and increase antioxidant enzymes. 

As a result, Berberine supports the body’s defense against oxidative damage and inflammation. It can, therefore, potentially reduce the risk of conditions such as arthritis, neurodegenerative diseases, and certain cancers. 


The Side Effects of Berberine

Berberine is generally a safe supplement to add to your routine. With its potential benefits, Berberine also brings a few negative side effects. Common side effects include diarrhea, constipation, gas, and upset stomach. 


Is Berberine Right for You?

Berberine can lower blood sugar levels, so it’s best to not take this supplement if you already struggle with low blood sugar. Berberine shouldn’t be taken along with diabetes medications to avoid blood sugar to drop too low. 

It’s likely unsafe to take Berberine if you are pregnant. Berberine can cross the placenta and might cause harm to the fetus.

Some medications, called sedatives or CNS depressants, can also cause sleepiness and slowed breathing. Taking Berberine with sedative medications might cause breathing problems and/or too much sleepiness.

Berberine is considered a safe supplement, but it’s best to have a chat with your doctor before trying it. Always talk to your doctor if you have questions, comments, or concerns about any side effects after taking Berberine. 


How to Use Berberine

Dosing for Berberine will vary from person to person. It’s best to start with a low dose and work up in order to assess your tolerance. Start with 500mg once a day and slowly work up to 500mg three times per day before meals. Note any benefits, side effects, or changes in how you feel after 30-60 days.

Berberine is also a supplement that should be cycled on and off. Some recommend taking it for 3-4 months and then taking a break for 1-2 months before restarting again. 


Which Brand of Berberine is Best?

From blood sugar regulation and cardiovascular support to weight management and digestive health, Berberine can be a great supplement to consider in your health journey. 

As Berberine grows in popularity, many brands have flooded the market. But not all supplements are created equal. Before starting Berberine, make sure you find a high-quality supplement. Currently, the only Berbertine supplement I recommend is this one

If you want to learn more about which supplements will support your health goals, grab your spot for my next LEAN session now

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1 Response
  1. JeN Turcotte

    I took Berberine for over a year to lower bad cholesterol. It lowered my HDL by 20 points and my triglycerides and LDL by 2 points each. Ugh! I quit taking it!

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