- For centuries, Berberine has been an herbal supplement used to lower blood sugar levels in Eastern Medicine practices. Current research suggests that taking daily berberine supplements can aid weight loss.
- Berberine is not a miracle solution for weight management. Although it can help, you should make lifestyle changes to facilitate healthy weight loss.
- Berberine isn’t suitable for everyone; you should speak with your healthcare team before taking it.
New natural health products are introduced to the market daily, and recently, Berberine has been making headlines for its potential to improve several areas of health.
The all-natural herbal supplement may help you lose weight, control blood sugar, and improve cholesterol levels. However, no supplement alone can improve your health.
You’ll need to take active steps to maintain a healthy lifestyle to experience all the benefits Berberine offers.
In this article, you’ll learn more about Berberine, how it may help weight management, and if you are a good candidate to try this over-the-counter supplement.
What Is Berberine?
Berberine is a plant alkaloid extract used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for diarrhea or loose stools, blood sugar control, and general health maintenance.
The alkaloid extract is harvested from various plants and fruits, including grapes and European barberry. Although you could eat these foods and technically absorb trace amounts of Berberine, the dosage is too small to impact your health significantly.
Now, Berberine extract is packaged into a convenient capsule to make it easier to meet the therapeutic dose (the amount you need to see a change in health.)
These supplements are sold over the counter and do not require a prescription.
Still, you should talk to your doctor before starting a new supplement — especially if you are pregnant or already taking medications.
Health scientists are researching Berberine for its potential benefits in:
- Weight management.
- Cancer prevention.
- Improved cholesterol.
- Better blood sugar levels.
- Anti-inflammatory response.
- Helping to restore the gut microbiome.
- Neuroprotective activity.
So far, the outcomes look very promising. However, no single supplement will miraculously cure health conditions or improve symptoms overnight.
Using berberine with other evidence-based medical practices is recommended for weight loss results.
These practices can include using other medications and lifestyle and dietary changes.
How It Works
A leading theory of how berberine can help with weight loss is its role in lipid (fat) and glucose (sugar) metabolization pathways.
Both of these molecules are fuel sources, and burning these energy stores can help with weight management and potential weight loss.
Your body has several metabolic pathways to burn energy. One specific enzyme, AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), can help tissues increase lipid and glucose uptake for fuel.
The additional cellular activity can make this supplement a practical addition to your weight management plan.
Benefits of Taking Berberine for Weight Loss
Some literature suggests that daily ingestion of Berberine can lower cholesterol levels and improve blood sugar levels.
This is because more energy is metabolized, and circulating levels of lipid and glucose decrease. We need more research to better understand how Berberine can improve health.
Although some people claim Berberine can help with hypertension, little evidence supports these claims.
Instead, you can work with a dietitian specializing in blood pressure to help you meet your goals.
How Long Does It Take For Berberine To Work For Weight Loss?
Berberine does not produce instant results, and most studies that observed positive weight loss lasted approximately three months.
Findings from an older 2012 study showed similar results—participants who took 500mg of berberine three times per day experienced weight loss results after twelve weeks.
Factors That Affect Weight Loss with Berberine
- Dosage: Taking the correct dosage can affect results. Taking 300 mg daily, combined with regular exercise and a balanced eating pattern, can lead to promising results.
- Starting weight: People with a body mass index (BMI) above 30 are more likely to experience positive weight loss results after starting Berberine.
- Changes in appetite: Berberine may reduce appetite, which can decrease consumed calories. After several months, an energy deficit may contribute to a decrease in weight.
- Improves insulin sensitivity: Insulin resistance can lead to unwanted weight gain. Berberine can improve insulin function by increasing sensitivity, bringing you closer to your weight management goals.
Taking more than 300mg can lead to diarrhea or constipation, flatulence, and stomach pain.
Generally, Berberine appears safe for most people to take, but more research is needed on the long-term effects of this supplement.
Berberine has several contraindications against prescription medications. The enzymes in the plant alkaloid inhibit medication function, which can be dangerous for people who rely on these drugs to stay healthy.
You should not start taking berberine if you take medications to manage your blood sugar levels, heart disease, cholesterol, blood pressure, or blood thinners.
Similarly, you should avoid taking Berberine with medications that make you drowsy.
Anybody who is immunocompromised or undergoing chemotherapy will need to ask their doctor if Berberine is appropriate.
Some supplements, including Berberine, can be more harmful than helpful without a healthy immune system to fight off potential bacteria.
Berberine is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women as it can worsen infant jaundice.
Always talk to your healthcare team before starting a new supplement, vitamin, or herbal product to ensure safety.
Tips For Taking Berberine for Weight Loss
Like any supplement, you should always follow the directions on the packaging. Only take the indicated dosage and stop using the product if you experience any side effects.
Remember that taking a supplement is not enough to facilitate long-lasting weight changes.
You must nurture your progress by including regular physical activity, following a balanced and nutritious diet, and managing other areas of your health.
Even if the number on the scale does not change, adopting healthy practices that improve how you feel is an achievement.
Examples of improved health outcomes unrelated to your weight include lowering your blood pressure, experiencing more energy, improved mood, and better values on your next blood test.
Finding a strategy to lose weight can take time because everyone’s metabolism is unique.
What works for your friends or family may not work for you, but working with a registered dietitian can help bring you closer to your goals.
General weight loss guidelines recommend regular exercise and eating a balanced diet.
Adding a berberine supplement may boost your weight loss efforts, but it is not a miracle cure for weight loss.
Focus on daily, sustainable changes to help you meet your goal. Contact your dietitian for discussion and support if you have any nutrition questions.
How a Dietitian Can Help
Working with a registered dietitian specializing in weight management can help you achieve your goals safely. You may not know what to ask if you’ve never met with a dietitian. Here are some common questions you can ask during your visit:
- How much food should I eat to meet my weight loss goals?
- What kinds of foods should I be snacking on throughout the day?
- How can I make dietary changes that last?
- Why is my weight not changing despite making these changes?
- Can I still eat my favorite foods despite trying to lose weight?
You and your dietitian can create a nutrition care plan that feels right. Knowing that you have future appointments together can give you accountability, which can be motivating between visits.
Frequently Asked Questions
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