Berberine for Weight Loss

Berberine for Weight Loss

6 minute read

Although berberine isn’t a magic pill for weight loss, researchers do believe that this natural supplement can help people shed some weight. It also has several other significant benefits that make it a potentially powerful supplement for many people.


Here’s an overview of berberine and how people may use berberine for weight loss. 

What Is Berberine? Berberine for Weight Loss

Berberine is a compound found in different plants, particularly the shrub species Berberis. It gets extracted from the roots, rhizomes, stems, and barks of these plants and has a yellow tint that commonly gets used as a natural dye. 


People have been using berberine medicinally for over 3,000 years in China and South Asia. Today, many people use berberine for several potential health benefits:

  • Lowering cholesterol

  • Blood sugar control

  • Weight loss

Berberine and Weight Loss

There have been several studies on the impact of berberine and weight loss. In particular, researchers are interested in its relationship with the enzyme adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK). 


AMPK is a catalyst that regulates energy production in the body. Research has found that the more active AMPK is, the more it controls how the body burns fat for energy. 


AMPK also has an effect on mitochondria functioning. This effect is crucial to weight loss because the mitochondria produce chemical energy, and lower activity levels with mitochondria have correlations to obesity. 

Weight Loss Studies on Berberine

There are implications that berberine can be a weight loss supplement. Although there have yet to be any definitive conclusions, several studies allude to this supplement being an effective tool in combating obesity. 


For example, researchers did a 12-week study on berberine’s effects on weight loss. During the span of this study, individuals with obesity took three daily doses of 500mg of berberine. Results showed that the participants lost an average weight of five pounds. They also saw a reduction in their body fat as they lost about an average of 3.6% body fat. 


Another small study found a possible correlation between berberine and weight loss for people with metabolic syndrome. Participants in this study took 300mg of berberine three times a day for three months. 


At the end of the study, the participants’ body mass index levels reduced, and they went from being obese to overweight. 


The effects of berberine need more research to provide definitive statements of its impact on weight loss. However, many researchers believe that berberine helps hormones that regulate fat to function better. Such hormones include insulin, adiponectin, and leptin. 

Indirect Ways That Berberine Helps with Weight Loss

Along with directly addressing weight loss, berberine may also combat other conditions related to obesity and weight loss.

Type 2 Diabetes 

For example, we can examine the effects of berberine on type 2 diabetes. One study shows that berberine may regulate insulin resistance and improve insulin sensitivity. People with insulin resistance can’t use insulin to sufficiently use glucose or blood sugar for energy. This inability heightens an individual’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 


Berberine may help people with type 2 diabetes as obesity tends to have an impact on insulin resistance. It can be more difficult for someone with insulin resistance to lose weight because the body converts blood sugar to fat. Since berberine can help improve insulin sensitivity, the body can process blood sugar into energy instead of storing up fat. 


Therefore, as berberine addresses issues with type 2 diabetes, it simultaneously helps with weight loss concerns by helping to prevent fat storage. 


There are also implications that berberine can help with treating depression. A study done on rats showed that there’s a possibility that berberine has anti-depressant qualities. However, the exact reason for these qualities is unclear and requires further research. 


A survey completed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that 43% of adults with depression were obese. The survey also showed that people with depression were more likely to be obese.


Although we need more research to determine the exact efficacy of berberine on depression, current evidence implies that it can be an anti-depressant supplement. As it addresses depressive symptoms, it may also work to lower obesity at the same time. 


With the relationship that depression has with obesity, there’s a good chance that berberine can be a powerful supplement that helps people living with both depression and obesity. 

Side Effects of Berberine

Although berberine has significant benefits, it also has some potential side effects. Berberine is a generally safe supplement, but some people may experience several symptoms:

  • Diarrhea

  • Constipation

  • Gas

  • Upset Stomach

  • Headache

  • Digestion issues

  • Stomach cramps

  • Flatulence


Many of these symptoms subside as the body gets used to berberine dosages. 


Berberine is commonly taken orally in the form of a capsule. Make sure to check the inactive ingredients in these pills because they can contain allergens that are harmful to some people. 


Berberine can also interfere with any other medications or treatments you’re taking. Therefore, it’s important to consult with your doctor before adding berberine supplements into your diet. 

How To Use Berberine

Adults can take between 1,000 – 1,500mg of berberine a day. Dosages should start at a lower number and gradually increase. Suddenly consuming a lot of berberine can lead to an upset stomach. 


Berberine’s efficacy also wanes after a few hours, so you have to take it several times a day. If you miss a dose by a couple of hours, it’s best to wait and take your next dose. Don’t double your dosage because it can increase the risk of experiencing side effects. 


Although berberine can help reduce blood sugar levels, people with diabetes should be careful with their dosages. Berberine can cause a person’s blood sugar to drop too low. 


Pregnant people should also avoid taking berberine orally because it can enter the placenta and harm the fetus. 


A few studies show that berberine may help people to lose weight. However, these claims and implications need further research to determine the exact effects and reasons why berberine helps with weight loss. 

Berberine is a relatively safe supplement to consume. So, if you’re curious about it, consult with your doctor to see if it’s a good option for you.

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