Could berberine be a cheaper, organic alternative to Ozempic?

Could berberine be a cheaper, organic alternative to Ozempic?

Ozempic has skyrocketed to popularity due to its effectiveness as a weight loss drug.

But the increasing demand has driven price hikes and stricter requirements enforced by clinicians, making it harder for people to access.

Could there be a cheaper, non-synthetic alternative?

What is Ozempic? 

Ozempic (semaglutide) is typically prescribed to reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events in adults with type 2 diabetes with known heart disease.

What is Berberine? 

Berberine is an alkaloid found in plants such as Barberry Root, Chinese Goldthread, Goldenseal Root, Tree Turmeric, and Oregon Grape.

Commonly used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda to treat infections, digestive conditions, and inflammatory disorders, as a supplement, it is marketed to support healthy blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.

Differing mechanisms of action: 

Ozempic mimics the role of digestive hormone GLP-1, responsible for triggering the feeling of being full or satiated, therefore decreasing caloric intake and aiding in weight loss.

Berberine, on the other hand, triggers activated protein kinase (AMPK), an enzyme that regulates metabolism and helps control how the body breaks down and uses energy. AMPK may also influence body fat composition and appetite.

What the (limited) research says:

A randomized, double-blind clinical controlled trial of 1,961 adults published in the New England Journal of Medicine, revealed that a once-weekly dose of Ozempic (semaglutide) versus placebo, plus lifestyle intervention of a calorie-controlled diet and exercise, yielded an average weight loss of 14.9% (roughly 33 pounds) compared to placebo at 2.4%

Although clinical studies of Berberine are sparce, one 2020 review of clinical control trials found that berberine supplementation reduced body weight by on average 2.07 kilograms or 4.5 pounds.

Berberine supplementation also modestly reduced waist circumference and body mass index (BMI). And a 2022 review of 18 studies found significant decreases in both weight and BMI in people who took berberine in doses of more than 1 gram per day and for more than 8 weeks.


Ozempic has more conclusive data pointing to significant weight loss than berberine. While berberine may lower cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood sugar levels, other improvements in diet and activity levels are also likely needed to yield a desired outcome of significant weight loss. The upside? A bottle of berberine supplement capsules will run you around $25, while a single month of Ozempic can run you ~$400-800. So if you’re looking to try an organic method to lose a few pounds, berberine could deliver moderate results without breaking the bank.

As always, consult your physician before taking anything new.  

The Good Journal