Is Berberine Really a Natural Substitute for Ozempic?

While interest in weight loss medications like Ozempic and Wegovy soared in 2023, health influencers and wellness enthusiasts on social media sought out other “more natural” ways to achieve the same lifestyle results—without any injections. Cue the induction of Berberine into TikTok. For a few months videos titled “Is Berberine nature’s Ozempic?” and “Everything you need to know about nature’s Ozempic,” proliferated the For You Pages of anyone with an algorithm geared health and wellness. Amid the Ozempic craze, berberine gained a niche cult status as a natural weight loss solution.

So, What is Berberine?

Berberine is a plant-based compound that has been studied for its efficacy in lowering blood sugar, supporting weight loss, and improving cardiovascular health. 

Historically, berberine has played a role in Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine, and has been used to treat a wide range of health concerns, including indigestion, infections, and wounds.1 And in Western culture, berberine is increasingly valued for its studied ability to balance metabolism and regulate blood sugar levels.

How Does Berberine Influence Metabolic Health?

Regulates blood sugar

Insulin regulates blood sugar levels by facilitating the uptake of glucose into cells, primarily muscle and fat cells. When blood sugar levels rise after eating a meal, the pancreas releases insulin into the bloodstream. Insulin then binds to insulin receptors on cell surfaces, which triggers a series of events leading to the movement of glucose transporters to the cell membrane.

These transporters help shuttle glucose from the bloodstream into the cells, where it can be used for energy production or stored for later use. Additionally, insulin inhibits the release of glucose from the liver into the bloodstream, further helping to lower blood sugar levels.

When you consume foods high in sugar or refined carbohydrates, your blood sugar levels spike. In response, the pancreas releases large amounts of insulin to help cells absorb the excess glucose from the bloodstream.2

If this pattern of high blood sugar and insulin release occurs frequently due to a diet high in sugar and refined carbs, it can lead to insulin resistance.

Research shows that berberine can help regulate blood sugar by activating the enzyme AMPK. This enzyme helps cells take in glucose for energy, which can improve insulin sensitivity and production.3

Berberine may also support healthy blood sugar through the promotion of Glycolysis, which is the breakdown of glucose into energy.4

Supports weight loss

Berberine is not a miracle weight loss pill. Rather, it is a dietary supplement. When taken with exercise and a healthy diet, berberine may help reduce body fat by blocking genes that create fat.5 This gene blocking prevents the accumulation of deep belly fat near your organs. This buildup can cause serious health issues such as diabetes.

More research is needed to fully understand how berberine affects body weight. More research is needed to understand how berberine affects body weight. A review in 2020 suggested that this compound could help reduce BMI. However, more studies are necessary to confirm its impact.

Is Berberine nature’s Ozempic?

Supplementing with berberine can lead to significant health improvements that relate to weight, including visceral fat loss which can curb your risk of future chronic conditions, like heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. However, there are no current studies that prove that berberine alone initiates weight loss like Ozempic, Mounjaro, or other semaglutide and tirzepatide medications.

Simply put, videos on your For You Page titled “Berberine: Nature’s Ozempic” are not giving you all the facts. Berberine may help with weight loss processes, but it doesn’t cause weight loss like FDA-approved medications.

Ozempic was initially approved as a diabetes medication, and researchers subsequently noticed that this diabetes drug also led to notable weight loss.  This GLP-1 drug works by mimicking the GLP-1 hormone which is produced in the intestines following food intake.6 GLP-1 receptions in the brain, pancreas, and gut affect how we crave food, digest food, and manage blood sugar after eating food.

  • GLP-1 brain receptors: help to regulate appetite by increasing satiety. More research shows that GLP-1 can help control cravings for food and substances by regulating dopamine levels in the brain.
  • GLP1-gut receptors slow the movement of food in the GI tract and increase satiety, or the feeling of fullness after eating a meal.
  • GLP-1 pancreas receptors stimulate insulin secretion.

Originally developed as a medication for people with diabetes to manage blood sugar, Ozempic is a breakthrough medication, helping patients lose up to 15% of body weight.

While berberine can support weight loss, there are no studies indicating that it operates on GLP-1 receptors throughout the body in the same way Ozempic does—any claim that the two are one and the same is just another internet fallacy.

Berberine vs. Ozempic

Determining the best medication and/or supplement for you depends entirely on your goals. If you’re looking for help with managing blood sugar, lowering cholesterol, and supporting diet and exercise-based weight loss, berberine may be a good option. (Although not all berberine supplements are created equal, Dihydroberberine, a derivative of berberine is more easily absorbed by the body.)

If you want to boost your metabolism and lose weight fast, Ozempic injections can help. You can start seeing weight loss results in just a few weeks with Ozempic injections.

While diet and exercise are still the hallmarks of weight management, data-backed supplements and medications can help you reach (and maintain) your goals, while also supporting your whole-body health.

Additional considerations

It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement or medication regimen, especially if you have pre-existing health conditions or are taking other medications.

Keep in mind that supplements are not direct Ozempic alternatives. While they may offer metabolic health and weight management support, they are not formulated to springboard your weight loss journey in the same fashion as a prescribed GLP-1 medication. Additionally, supplements are also not direct substitutes for a balanced diet and regular exercise.

Managing weight, for both lifestyle and longevity purposes is a daily effort. While medications can accelerate the process and supplements can support your overall health, enacting positive lifestyle changes is what yields long-term results.

Which is right for you?

Questions about which weight loss medications and supplements are right for you? Book a complimentary consultation with our nutritionist to learn more about our personalized weight loss program, including medication, clinical consultations, and advanced body composition scans.


1 Neag MA, Mocan A, Echeverría J, Pop RM, Bocsan CI, Crişan G, Buzoianu AD. Berberine: Botanical Occurrence, Traditional Uses, Extraction Methods, and Relevance in Cardiovascular, Metabolic, Hepatic, and Renal Disorders. Front Pharmacol. 2018 Aug 21;9:557. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2018.00557. PMID: 30186157; PMCID: PMC6111450.


3. Jun Yin, Jianping Ye, Weiping Jia, Effects and mechanisms of berberine in diabetes treatment, Acta Pharmaceutica Sinica B, Volume 2, Issue 4, 2012, Pages 327-334, ISSN 2211-3835,

4. Yin J, Gao Z, Liu D, Liu Z, Ye J. Berberine improves glucose metabolism through induction of glycolysis. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Jan;294(1):E148-56. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00211.2007. Epub 2007 Oct 30. PMID: 17971514; PMCID: PMC2464622.

5. Yueshan Hu, Erik A. Ehli, Julie Kittelsrud, Patrick J. Ronan, Karen Munger, Terry Downey, Krista Bohlen, Leah Callahan, Vicki Munson, Mike Jahnke, Lindsey L. Marshall, Kelly Nelson, Patricia Huizenga, Ryan Hansen, Timothy J. Soundy, Gareth E. Davies, Lipid-lowering effect of berberine in human subjects and rats, Phytomedicine, Volume 19, Issue 10, 2012,

Pages 861-867, ISSN 0944-7113,
6. Chang, Lee-Shing. “Role of GLP-1 Receptor Agonists for Weight Loss.” YouTube, Harvard Medical School of Continuing Education, 5 May 2022,