Berberine is a natural compound found in several plants, such as goldenseal, barberry, Oregon grape, and turmeric. It has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda to treat various ailments, such as diabetes, infections, and inflammation. But can it also help you lose weight?
In this blog post, we will explore the evidence behind berberine's effects on weight loss, how it works, and what are the possible side effects and precautions.
What does the research say?
Several studies have suggested that berberine may have beneficial effects on weight loss and metabolic health. For example, a meta-analysis of 14 randomized controlled trials involving 1068 participants found that berberine supplementation significantly reduced body weight, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and body fat percentage compared to placebo or no treatment. The average weight loss was about 2.3 kg (5 lbs) over 12 weeks.
Another meta-analysis of 27 randomized controlled trials involving 2569 participants found that berberine improved several markers of metabolic health, such as blood glucose, insulin, cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure. These effects were comparable or superior to those of conventional drugs used for diabetes and dyslipidemia, such as metformin, glipizide, and rosiglitazone.
How does berberine work?
Berberine is thought to work by activating an enzyme called AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which is involved in regulating energy metabolism and cellular functions. AMPK acts as a master switch that controls many processes related to weight loss and metabolic health, such as:
Increasing glucose uptake and insulin sensitivity in muscle cells
Reducing glucose production and gluconeogenesis in liver cells
Enhancing fatty acid oxidation and ketogenesis in liver and muscle cells
Inhibiting lipogenesis and cholesterol synthesis in liver cells
Suppressing appetite and food intake in the brain
Modulating gut microbiota and inflammation
By activating AMPK, berberine may help improve insulin resistance, lower blood sugar levels, reduce fat accumulation, curb hunger, and balance gut flora.
What are the possible side effects and precautions?
Berberine is generally well tolerated and safe when taken at recommended doses. However, some people may experience mild gastrointestinal discomfort, such as diarrhea, constipation, nausea, or gas. These symptoms usually subside with time or by reducing the dose.
Berberine may also interact with some medications, especially those that affect blood sugar or blood pressure levels. Therefore, it is advisable to consult your doctor before taking berberine if you have diabetes, hypertension, or any other medical condition that requires medication.
Berberine is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women, children under 18 years old, or people with liver or kidney disease.
How to take berberine for weight loss?
The optimal dose of berberine for weight loss has not been established yet. However, most studies have used doses ranging from 900 to 1500 mg per day, divided into two or three doses before meals. It is important to take berberine with food to increase its absorption and bioavailability.
Berberine may take some time to show its effects on weight loss and metabolic health. Therefore, it is recommended to take it for at least 12 weeks to see significant results.
Berberine may also work better when combined with other natural supplements that enhance its action or provide additional benefits. For example, some studies have shown that combining berberine with curcumin (a compound from turmeric) or quercetin (a flavonoid from fruits and vegetables) may improve its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
Berberine is a natural compound that may help you lose weight and improve your metabolic health by activating AMPK and modulating various cellular processes. It has been shown to be effective and safe in several clinical trials. However, it may cause some gastrointestinal side effects or interact with some medications. Therefore, it is advisable to consult your doctor before taking berberine if you have any medical condition or are taking any medication. You should also take it with food and follow the recommended dose and duration.