The Science Behind Berberine and Weight Management

Found in barberry, goldenseal, goldthread and tree turmeric, a bright yellow plant extract has taken the wellness world by storm. Enter berberine – with roots in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine, this powerful compound has been used for centuries to treat everything from diarrhoea to high blood sugar1, now weaving its way into today’s conversations surrounding the topic of weight management.

But how does this ancient remedy translate into modern day wellness, especially when it comes to supporting a healthy metabolism and weight balance beyond the “quick fix” mentality?

Read on as we dive into the science behind berberine and its potential benefits in supporting a healthy metabolic system, exploring how it might influence weight management in a holistic way.

What is Berberine? 

Berberine is a naturally occurring alkaloid with bioactive properties that influence the body's metabolic processes. It works by interacting with certain enzymes and cellular pathways, helping to turn on a “switch” in the cells that helps the body use sugar and fat more efficiently2 – potentially impacting blood sugar control, fat metabolism and gut health.

Berberine’s impact on weight management

While the Internet may refer to berberine as “nature’s Ozempic”, it's crucial to remember that it's not a ‘miracle’ pill for weight loss. Ongoing research has explored several mechanisms by which berberine might influence weight management, including: 

  • Metabolic health + fat metabolism: Scientific studies have begun to shed light on how Berberine works within our bodies to affect our metabolic processes. One important discovery is its ability to activate the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), an enzyme often referred to as a "metabolic master switch." Activation of AMPK by berberine can increase fat burning and decrease fat storage, contributing to weight loss and improved weight management over time3.
  • Insulin sensitivity: A key factor in managing blood sugar levels, insulin sensitivity describes how effectively our bodies use the hormone insulin to absorb glucose from the bloodstream. Berberine steps in to improve our ability to use insulin, helps to regulate blood sugar levels, helping to reduce the risk of spikes and crashes that may lead to increased hunger pangs and weight gain. A study published in the Metabolism Journal highlighted berberine's effectiveness in reducing body mass index (BMI) and improving lipid profiles among participants2.
  • Gut health: The millions of microorganisms in our intestines known as our gut microbiome are key players in our metabolic health. Studies have shown that berberine's anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties may positively impact the gut microbiome, potentially promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria and reducing the presence of harmful ones. This shift in gut microbiota composition may influence nutrient absorption, energy metabolism and appetite regulation4

While more research is needed to fully understand its long-term effects and optimal dosages, the current evidence suggests that berberine may play a supportive role in a holistic approach to weight management, alongside the strong foundation of a healthy, balanced diet and regular movement.



  1. Zhang, Y., Li, X., Zou, D., Liu, W., Yang, J., Zhu, N., Huo, L., Wang, M., Hong, J., Wu, P., Ren, G. and Ning, G. (2008). Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes and Dyslipidemia with the Natural Plant Alkaloid Berberine. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 93(7), pp.2559–2565. doi:
  2. Zhang, H., Wei, J., Xue, R., Wu, J.-D., Zhao, W., Wang, Z.-Z., Wang, S.-K., Zhou, Z.-X., Song, D.-Q., Wang, Y.-M., Pan, H.-N., Kong, W.-J. and Jiang, J.-D. (2010). Berberine lowers blood glucose in type 2 diabetes mellitus patients through increasing insulin receptor expression. Metabolism, 59(2), pp.285–292. doi:
  3. Cicero, A.F.G. and Baggioni, A. (2016). Berberine and Its Role in Chronic Disease. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, [online] 928, pp.27–45. doi:
  4. Yin, J., Xing, H. and Ye, J. (2008). Efficacy of Berberine in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Metabolism, 57(5), pp.712–717.