By Barbara Krooss –
Ozempic may be hot, in demand and in short supply when it comes to drastic weight-loss options, but it has frightening side effects that could be dangerous. There may be an alternative in Berberine, a compound found in many plants that is used to treat infections and sores. Interest has certainly surged, but warnings persist even with this emerging option.
The potential risks of taking Ozempic, a drug used to treat diabetes, have been well documented. WellWell a few months back warned of several gastrointestinal issues, including bloating, constipation and diarrhea, that have been associated with the drug. More recently Sharon Osborne shared the sickening impact Ozempic had on her while she lost 42 pounds and then issued a direct warning.
“At first, I mean, you feel nauseous,” she said in a CNN interview. “You don’t throw up physically, but you’ve got that feeling.” Beyond this, she was often thirsty but had no desire to eat or do much of anything else.
“I keep saying you’ve got to keep this stuff away from younger people because they will go berserk on it and it’s not right,” she warned.
It is unlikely that Berberine will become the new Ozempic, but some see it as a safer, cheaper and perhaps more accessible alternative, which is why they are turning to it. Various studies confirm that like Ozempic, Berberine can lower blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure and help regularize heartbeat. Unfortunately, they also share cost inflation and unpleasant side effects.
What is likely more important is that since Berberine helps control insulin and other hormones, it could help with weight loss, according to WebMd.com. It is, however, not a magic weight-loss pill. Yet, it may help people with a body mass index (BMI) over 30 lose weight. In fact, studies have indicated that a Berberine supplement taken over the course of several months can lead to significant weight loss. Unfortunately, often the weight loss returns quickly upon stopping the supplements.
The research into Berberine’s impact and side effects are not nearly as developed as those for Ozempic, which makes judging Berberine’s ultimate benefits and risks more difficult. Side effects are undoubtedly common and unpleasant although perhaps not as pronounced as with Ozempic. They usually involve bloating, cramps, nausea, gas diarrhea and constipation.
Much like Ozempic, there are lots of Berberine skeptics, especially when it comes to weight loss. It is “a complete misnomer” to think of Berberine as the new Ozempic, Dr. Pieter Cohen of Harvard Medical School told Today. “It is not a game changer,” he stressed. “I would discourage my patients from using Berberine for weight loss.”
There is another important distinction between Berberine and Ozempic no matter the targeted use.
“It is important to understand that Berberine dietary supplements are not meant to cure or treat any medical condition and should not be used as a substitute for prescription drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy,” added Jeff Ventura, a spokesperson for the Council for Responsible Nutrition.
These warnings and clarifications obviously beg the question as to whether Berberine is safe in any form for whatever use. Most adults can, in fact, safely consume up to 1.5 grams of Berberine daily for up to six months. It could help with controlling various issues. But these supplements should only be taken after consulting a doctor. It should not be taken during pregnancy or while breastfeeding young children.