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Berberine for Weight Management and Supporting Overall Health

Updated on July 27, 2023

Article Summary

  • Most people know that they should manage their weight to protect their health, but they often struggle to do so
  • Research suggests that berberine supplementation can help with weight management and even offer additional health benefits for individuals with existing health issues*
  • Working with a health-care practitioner to create a safe and effective weight management strategy that includes a high-quality berberine supplement could enable individuals to achieve their health goals

Individuals who carry excess weight already understand that it has health consequences, including increased risk of diabetes, coronary heart disease, and even depression. At the same time, overweight people often struggle with lower self-esteem if they have been stigmatized because of their weight, which can further exacerbate some comorbidities. Unfortunately, many individuals have difficulty implementing an effective weight management plan and often feel alone in their efforts because of limited participation by their health-care practitioner. Indeed, although health-care practitioners have long advised their patients to keep their weight under control, most remain powerless outside of offering advice, particularly because few clinicians are willing to prescribe the existing pharmaceutical weight management offerings. 

For individuals who need an extra edge in their weight management effort, adding a nutritional supplement that supports a weight management program might be the answer.* Historically, supplements that claim to aid weight management have overwhelmingly been ineffective or unsafe—and sometimes both. Now, however, research suggests there might be a safe and effective nutritional supplement that can give patients real benefits: berberine. In conjunction with dieting and exercise, berberine could help patients achieve safe rates of weight management.* 

Exploring How Berberine Supports Weight Management*

Berberine is derived from many common plants, including the barberry shrub (Berberis vulgaris) after which the substance takes its name. Historically, berberine has been used as a pigment and as a curative in Chinese traditional medicine. More recently, however, scientific interest into berberine has revealed a handful of potential clinical applications, including support for weight management.* 

Berberine’s primary appeal for being included in a weight management program stems from its ability to make the production of cellular energy less efficient.* 

Lay readers might assume that a reduction in this efficiency is unwise or unhealthy but in reality, the opposite might be the case. When cells can produce their cellular energy in a highly efficient way, a higher percentage of nutrients are converted into energy. This can provide the cells with more chemical energy than they might need to perform their physiological function. Cells then consolidate this excess energy into adipocytes, also known as fat cells. 

Reducing the efficiency of the production of cellular energy thus leads to a smaller balance of energy beyond that which the cell needs.* In other words, there is less excess cellular energy which gets converted into fat.* When used in conjunction with dieting and exercise, the inefficiency induced by berberine might be a powerful aid to weight management by reducing the threshold of other actions needed for cells to run a negative balance of energy.* When cells have a negative balance of cellular energy, the body releases stored energy within fat cells so the cells can continue to function. 

Although calorie reduction and exercise both contribute to negative energy balance, the way berberine lowers the efficiency of cellular energy production is unique.* Within cells, the organelle known as the mitochondria is responsible for synthesizing cellular energy from nutrients. But when berberine infiltrates the mitochondria it inhibits the chain of chemical reactions responsible for generating cellular energy.*

Notably, berberine doesn’t inhibit these reactions permanently or heavily, which would be harmful. Instead, berberine only slightly inhibits the energy production process, allowing it to continue while slowing the maximum rate of nutrient conversion into energy.* Because the cell must work longer to synthesize the same amount of energy, the resulting effect can lead to weight management when it is continued at an energy deficit for a long enough period of time.* As such, berberine can be used safely while still maintaining efficacy.

How Effective is Berberine for Weight Management Assistance?

Berberine has already passed a handful of important demonstrations of efficacy. In 2012, for example, one study showed that the trial’s obese human subjects lost an average of five pounds during the 12-week study. Although these results might seem modest, there’s more to the story. Significantly, the subjects in the trial also experienced measurable benefits in their triglyceride levels and in their cholesterol levels beyond what would be expected from weight management alone.* This means that berberine provided assistance with weight management while simultaneously benefiting healthy triglyceride and cholesterol levels, which are associated with many of the negative health outcomes of being overweight.* As such, berberine provided valuable protection of overall health.* 

Another 2012 study investigating the impact of berberine on weight management in obese patients with metabolic syndromes produced similarly promising results. In this study, the participants in the berberine cohort achieved better weight loss than the participants who consumed the placebo.*  Like in the other clinical trial of berberine, over the study’s 12-week berberine administration period, participants reported no major side effects.

Using Berberine Safely

Although berberine is known to be well-tolerated, consumers should still exercise caution when using it as part of a weight management program, particularly if a person has liver issues. This is because, as noted above, berberine will inhibit the mitochondria’s production of energy, which might lead to cells needing more energy than they have on hand. For most cells, the additional breakdown of fat will make up the difference and allow the cells to continue with their normal activities; fat cells convert their stored energy into a usable format and ensure that other cells have access. However, some types of cells have restricted access to nearby energy reserves. 

In particular, liver cells are kept without any fatty deposits nearby because these deposits can interfere with cellular functioning. This means that when berberine reduces the mitochondria’s ability to produce energy, liver cells might not be able to obtain the energy they need via fat liquidation. Although these liver cells can still obtain sufficient energy to survive via the bloodstream, their function might be inhibited. Because liver cells are responsible for detoxifying toxins from the blood, they might become overwhelmed if they face a higher load of toxins than they can detoxify in their newly-inhibited state. 

More importantly, berberine can directly inhibit certain liver cell enzymes responsible for metabolizing many pharmaceutical drugs. If these liver enzymes are inhibited, then the presence of an impacted drug in the patient’s system might be perpetuated. While many drugs have similar impacts on liver enzymes, this means that an individual who has liver issues might want to approach adding berberine to a weight management plan with caution. Regular blood testing of liver enzymes can help ensure that the individual remains in good health. Currently, data suggests that berberine is completely safe to supplement for up to 12 weeks. 

Benefiting from Berberine Today

Researchers are in the process of exploring which demographics will benefit the most from using berberine to include in a weight management plan. However, in most cases, it is believed that berberine will likely benefit those who are looking to lose weight and stay healthy.

Of course, consumers who are interested in using berberine should be aware that it is not a unitary weight management solution. The human studies into the efficacy of berberine did not use berberine in isolation, but rather as one element of a holistic weight management program that included dietary adjustments and exercise. Indeed, consumers are unlikely to see any weight management results if they take berberine alone without adjusting any of their daily lifestyle habits; berberine can help create a calorie deficit, but it cannot create one alone. But berberine will likely provide an additional benefit to individuals who are already engaged in a weight management program.
For individuals who are interested in using berberine as part of their weight management program, it is important to consult with their clinician who can help them implement a healthy weight management plan. By combining a high-quality berberine supplement with positive lifestyle changes, it is possible to achieve the weight management results being sought, enhance physical and emotional health, and improve overall quality of life.

The power of Tesseract supplements lies in enhancing palatability, maximizing bioavailability and absorption, and micro-dosing of multiple nutrients in a single, highly effective capsule. Visit our website for more information about how Tesseract’s products can help support your endocrine health.*

Works Cited

  1. Imanshahidi M, Hosseinzadeh H. 2008. Phytotherapy. 22(8)
  2. Lee YS, Kim WS, Kim KH, et al. 2006. Diabetes. 55(8):2256-2264
  3. Turner N, Li JY, Gosby A, et al. 2008. Diabetes. 57(5):1414-1418
  4. Hu Y, Ehli EA, Kittelsrud J, et al. 2012. Phytomedicine. 19(10):861-867
  5. Yang J, Yin J, Gao H, et al. 2012. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Al Czap, Founder | Tesseract

Al Czap has more than four decades of professional experience in preventative medicine. He founded Thorne Research in 1984 (sold in 2010) and he published Alternative Medicine Review for 17 years beginning in 1996. AMR was a highly acclaimed, peer-reviewed, and indexed medical journal. Al was the first to recognize the need for hypoallergenic ingredients and to devise methods of manufacture for and delivery of hypoallergenic products to underserved patient populations. His work has greatly impacted those with impaired immune and digestive systems and compromised health due to environmental exposures.

The advanced formulations based on our revolutionary, patented, and patent-pending technology are only available through Tesseract. No other medical, pharmaceutical, or supplement company is licensed to utilize our proprietary technology.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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