“Berberine: The Latest Health Trend on TikTok for Weight Loss, but Is It Safe and Effective?”

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The latest health trend on TikTok is the use of berberine, which has been dubbed “nature’s own Ozempic.” Influencers claim that berberine, an herbal preparation, has helped them lose weight, attracting millions of views. Berberine is a bitter chemical extracted from plant roots, such as goldenseal and barberry, belonging to the class of isoquinoline alkaloids. It has been traditionally used in medicine for gut disorders and infections.

However, it’s important to note that berberine is not the same as Ozempic, a prescription diabetes drug known for its weight loss effects. Ozempic mimics the hormone glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), promoting insulin production and reducing hunger. Berberine, on the other hand, works through multiple mechanisms, including influencing GLP-1 levels, reducing blood sugar, stimulating insulin release, affecting cholesterol absorption, and altering fat processing.

Studies suggest that berberine may lead to modest weight loss in obese individuals. Meta-analyses indicate that taking 300-3,000mg of berberine orally per day is associated with modest reductions in body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and body weight (around 3kg). Significant results were observed in women with a BMI greater than 30, taking at least 1,000mg daily for three months or more. However, these findings are based on small and varying-quality studies, and it’s unclear if berberine has the same effects on non-overweight individuals or what happens when its use is discontinued.

While berberine is available over the counter, it can have side effects such as diarrhea, constipation, gas, and upset stomach. Fatalities have occurred with large quantities. Pregnant women, as well as those who are breastfeeding, should avoid berberine due to potential harm to the fetus and stimulation of uterine contractions. Moreover, berberine can interact with various drugs and supplements, including ciclosporin, dextromethorphan, and medications for blood pressure, blood sugar, blood clotting, relaxation, and sleep.

If you’re struggling to lose weight through diet and exercise alone, berberine may offer some assistance. However, it’s crucial to consult with a doctor or pharmacist before using berberine to ensure its safety and explore other suitable options.

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