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Berberine, a dietary supplement dubbed “natural Ozempic”, is all the rage on TikTok for its weight-loss effects. But is it really effective? Does it carry any health risks?

The TikTok social network is full of tips and tricks, sometimes unusual, such as coating your skin with pickle juice or eating kaolin, for example. Be careful, not all advice is good to take! Some can be dangerous to health. This is the case of a food supplement used to losing weight And avoid cravings.

On the same subject

withdrawal of food supplements

The hashtag #berberine already counts 64.8 million views on the TikTok app. Many users praise its merits and recommend it for weight loss. Nicknamed “Natural Ozempic“because derived from plants, it would have similar effects to semaglutide.

As a reminder, Ozempic is a drug prescribed for people affected by type 2 diabetes, the use of which has been hijacked in recent months by influencers in order to lose weight. Because of this, stocks of the drug suffered supply shortages. However, the National Medicines Safety Agency (ANSM) recalls that this medicine involves serious adverse effects (gastrointestinal disorders, pancreatitis) and above all that it must be reserved for diabetics.

Some have thus fallen back on berberine, perceived as an alternative to Ozempic, easily accessible And does not require a prescription.

What is berberine?

Berberine is an active substance extracted from plants such asbarberry. It is mainly used for lower blood sugar And THE cholesterol level but these claims are not allowed in European regulations. Studies (mostly carried out on mice) have however shown an action on insulin sensitivity, but there are too few data for the moment.

Already in 2019, the National Health Security Agency (ANSES) warned against food supplements based on berberine, including “the safety of use of these food supplements cannot be guaranteed to date“according to the ANSES report.

Why is its consumption worried?

While consuming the berries is not a concern, root or bark extracts pose health risks for some people. Berberine acts like a drug in doses above about 400 mg per day and can cause side effects:

There may also be drug interactions, particularly with hypoglycemic treatments prescribed for diabetes. To note that berberine does not replace drug treatment for diabetes. Any downtime can be dangerous to health.

Regulations vary by country. Its sale as food is not allowed in Hungary and Croatia. In France, on the other hand, berberine is available online or in stores, but it is recommended to talk about it with your doctor before consuming it as a dietary supplement.

Is it really effective for weight loss?

Impressive before/after photos claiming weight loss of up to 8kg in just 1 month have been shared on social media. But unlike Ozempic, berberine is not a drug and therefore its effects have not been demonstrated. Additionally, there is no evidence that berberine acts as an appetite suppressant.

This is not a dramatic average weight loss for berberine“said Fatima Cody Stanford, doctor specializing in obesity and director of the endocrine division of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston (USA), to our colleagues at NBC. Studies show that weight loss is “between a quarter pointBMI and a BMI pointwhich is far from being what is observed on average with semaglutideshe said (referring to the drug in Ozempic).

Products containing berberine are contraindicated for children, pregnant or breastfeeding women, people with diabetes or suffering from liver or heart disorders.

Sources:

  • What is berberine, the supplement dubbed ‘nature’s Ozempic’ on social media?NBC News, June 2023
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