Is Berberine Really a Natural Substitute for Ozempic?

As interest in weight loss from Ozempic soared in 2023, the internet sought out other “more natural” ways to achieve the same lifestyle results—without the injection. 

Enter berberine. (To be clear, berberine was not discovered in 2023, that is just when it gained cult internet status.) This compound quickly earned the moniker “nature’s ozempic” even though that’s not exactly an accurate description.

So, What is Berberine?

Berberine is a plant-based compound that has been studied for its effectiveness 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

In Western culture, berberine is increasingly valued for its studied ability to support metabolism regulation and blood sugar management.

How Does Berberine Influence Metabolic Health?

Regulates blood sugar

Insulin plays a critical role in managing your blood sugar by helping sugar enter cells to be metabolized for energy and alerting the liver to store blood sugar for future use. But if there is too much sugar in your bloodstream, the pancreas will try to overcompensate by producing more insulin until cells become resistant and unresponsive to it. Insulin resistance is often an indicator of pre-diabetes and diabetes. 

Studies have shown that berberine helps to regulate blood sugar by activating the enzyme AMPK, which promotes glucose uptake in cells to enhance energy utilization, thus increasing insulin sensitivity and production.2

Berberine may also support healthy blood sugar through the promotion of Glycolysis, which is the breakdown of glucose into energy.3

Supports weight loss

Berberine is not a magic weight loss pill, but when consumed to supplement regular exercise and a heart-healty, low-inflammatory diet, berberine may prompt a reduction in body fat by inhibiting genes associated with the formation of fat.4 This gene inhibition is especially notable for its prevention of visceral fat—a deep belly fat that surrounds your organs and is linked to serious chronic conditions, like diabetes.

While more long-term research is still needed to adequately convey berberine’s impact on body weight, a 2020 review concluded that the plant-based compound may play an indirect role in contributing to signification reductions in BMI.

Is Berberine Really Nature’s Ozempic?

Supplementing with berberine can lead to significant health improvements that relate to weight, like blood sugar regulation and visceral fat prevention. But no current studies indicate that berberine alone stimulates weight loss in the same way that Ozempic has proven in numerous studies.

Ozempic works by mimicking the GLP-1 hormone which is produced in the intestines following food intake.5 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. (Further research also indicates that GLP-1’s dopamine-regulating effects may also curb cravings and compulsions for food and substances.)
  • GLP1-gut receptors slow the movement of food in the G! tract and increases satiety.
  • GLP-1 pancreas receptors stimulate insulin secretion.

Originally developed as a medication for people with diabetes to manage blood sugar, Ozempic has proved to be 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. And claims that the two are one and the same are 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. Look for supplements with Dihydroberberine, a derivative of berberine that is more easily absorbed by the body.)

However, if you’re looking to overhaul your metabolic health and jumpstart weight loss, Ozempic injections can stimulate weight loss within a few weeks.

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.

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.

2 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,

3 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.

4 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,
5 Chang, Lee-Shing. “Role of GLP-1 Receptor Agonists for Weight Loss.” YouTube, Harvard Medical School of Continuing Education, 5 May 2022,