berberine to lose weight, berberine for weight loss

Berberine to Lose Weight: Can It Help?

Last modified on October 20th, 2023

Berberine to lose weight can be an effective strategy. Berberine is a powerful supplement with many amazing benefits, including the potential reduction of obesity and overall weight loss.

Some of the ways the effects of berberine can help with weight loss include:

  • By activating something called AMPK, the herbal supplement can help keep your blood sugar levels in a healthy range and help your body use fat for fuel, reducing weight gain and promoting weight loss. 
  • Berberine inhibits gluconeogenesis in the liver, which is associated with obesity.
  • As a supplement, it can help modulate bacteria in the gut associated with obesity.
  • Inhibits the enzyme lipoprotein lipase, which otherwise increases fat storage.
  • Improves the function of fat-regulating hormones, including adiponectin and leptin.
  • May inhibit the growth of fat cells at a molecular level.

Below we’ll talk more about using berberine to lose weight and some of the other benefits of berberine.

What is Berberine?

Berberine is a compound naturally occurring in a variety of plants like barberry, tree turmeric, Oregon grape, and goldenseal. As a supplement with therapeutic effects berberine may help with obesity, inflammation, diabetes, PCOS, and other conditions. For thousands of years, berberine has been an integral part of Ayurvedic medicine and Chinese medicine.

Berberine is a rare and unique supplement because it can make cellular changes within your body similar to a pharmaceutical drug, yet it has minimal side effects.

A bioactive compound, berberine, can be extracted from a number of plants, and it’s technically an alkaloid. Having been tested in hundreds of studies, we know that berberine can affect many of our biological systems in a powerful way.

When you take berberine, it’s transported into your bloodstream, where it then travels into your cells. Once inside your cells, the berberine binds to molecular targets, changing their function. This is very close to how pharmaceutical medications work.

One specific way that berberine has health benefits includes its activation of an enzyme inside cells which is called AMP-activated protein kinase or AMPK. AMPK is also referred to as the metabolic master switch. It’s in the cells of many of our organs, including the brain, heart, liver, and muscles. AMPK’s mechanism of action plays a role in metabolism regulation. Berberine can also affect which genes are turned on or off through its effects inside our cells.

berberine to lose weight, berberine for weight loss
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Berberine to Lose Weight

Berberine for weight loss can be highly effective, and it’s backed by science and research.

Some of the ways berberine for weight loss is effective include:

  • When you take berberine, it can improve insulin function and lower blood glucose levels. Your body’s insulin function is a crucial part of how you use body fat as energy. When insulin cannot do what it’s meant to, you’re more likely to accumulate and store body fat. As your blood sugar function improves, you may find that you’re able to lose weight.
  • Taking berberine for weight loss can be beneficial because it inhibits lipoprotein lipase, which is an enzyme. That enzyme allows your body to store fat.
  • Leptin is a hormone in the adipose tissues of fat cells. This hormone helps inhibit hunger and regulates energy balance so your body isn’t constantly demanding food when you don’t need it. Berberine can reduce leptin levels.
  • In human studies and studies in animals, obese human subjects were given 500 mg of berberine three times a day for 12 weeks. Rats were also tested, and humans lost an average of five pounds over 12 weeks. They also had lower blood lipid levels, including a 12.2% average decrease in cholesterol. While five pounds might not seem like much, if this was combined with diet and exercise, there could be much more significant weight loss.
  • In another study of men and women with metabolic syndrome, taking 300 mg of berberine three times a day led to a significant improvement in body mass index.
  • Results from a 2020 study found berberine had a significant effect in preventing obesity via several mechanisms. These mechanisms included the modulate of gut microbiota, gene regulation, and intestinal permeability. This study shows gut function and health are essential for maintaining a healthy weight, and berberine is good for your gut.

Berberine to Lose Weight in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Berberine for weight loss is a topic especially relevant when talking about PCOS. PCOS is a condition with a hallmark symptom of ovulatory dysfunction. We aren’t entirely sure what causes PCOS, but it is likely because of insulin dysregulation. Since berberine can help support insulin sensitivity and normal ovary function, it can help with PCOS.

Indirectly, berberine may be a powerful tool to combat weight loss, often seen in PCOS.

In a study published in 2020, authors found similar effects between berberine and Metformin, prescribed for the treatment of diabetes. Berberine was found to reduce visceral adipose tissue and improve insulin sensitivity. Berberine may also help restore fertility in PCOS.

Berberine may be an insulin sensitizer. Women with PCOS, as we’ve touched on, tend to have higher insulin levels than women without the condition, even when they’re the same weight. Metformin is an insulin-sensitizing medicine often prescribed to women with PCOS to help manage glucose and insulin levels. There are adverse side effects of metformin. However, these include poor absorption of B12 and gastrointestinal side effects like nausea and cramping.

That’s why the similar benefits of berberine and metformin can be appealing. Berberine helps improve insulin resistance similar to metformin, without the negative side effects.

In one of the clinical trials on the topic, after three months of treatment, women with PCOS who took berberine saw more fat loss reduction than those participants taking metformin or a placebo.

Berberine, in studies, appears to be especially helpful in weight loss in the midsection.

berberine to lose weight, berberine for weight loss
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Berberine to Lose Weight in Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is a condition that frequently co-occurs in PCOS, but on its own as well.

Metabolic syndrome is a group of five conditions. These conditions contribute to a high risk of diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and other health problems. Metabolic diseases are diagnosed when you have three or more of the following risk factors:

  • Low levels of HDL in the blood (HDL is “good” cholesterol)
  • High levels of triglycerides in the blood
  • Large waist circumference
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood glucose (sugar)

Each of these on its own is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The more of the above conditions you have, the higher your risk of developing a serious heart condition. The impact of berberine has been shown to help all of these conditions of metabolic disorders. 

Other Potential Benefits in Addition to Berberine to Lose Weight

Along with berberine for weight loss, other beneficial effects of this powerful supplement include:

How Much Berberine for Weight Loss?

If you’re considering trying berberine, most studies use a dose of anywhere from 900 to 1500 mg a day. The most common dosage of berberine to lose weight is 500 mg, taken three times a day before meals for 1500 mg daily.

Berberine has a half-life of several hours. If you divide your doses and take them three times a day, it can help you achieve stable blood sugar levels. 

Berberine is powerful among weight loss supplements, and it’s often described as a natural weight loss pill. Berberine also has benefits for general metabolic health, cardiovascular health, and cholesterol levels. The supplement has antitumor activities and pharmacological activities as powerful as many prescription medications. 

Overall, berberine treatment is considered a very safe supplement to help with weight loss, diabetes, PCOS, and a number of other health conditions. The natural compound has minimal known side effects, but you should speak to your healthcare provider before taking it, as is the case with any supplement.

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Ashley Sutphin Watkins
Ashley Sutphin Watkins is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She's a medical content writer, journalist and an avid researcher of all things related to health and wellness. Ashley lives near the Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee with her family.
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