Berberine has been getting a lot of press these days and has been referred to as “nature’s metformin” for its use in managing elevated blood sugar, PCOS, and weight loss. More recently it has even been touted on social media as “nature’s ozempic!” Ozempic is a medication designed to treat elevated blood sugar levels in folks with type 2 diabetes, but has recently become a popular medication to use for promoting weight loss. Berberine is an active constituent in herbs like Barberry (*Berberis vulgaris*), Goldenseal (*Hydrastis canadensis*) & Oregon Grape (*Mahonia aquifolium*).
Despite the social media craze, herbs rarely have a single action (like pharmaceutical drugs might) – in fact, in response to all the buzz a warning was recently issued cautioning doctors NOT to utilize berberine-containing herbs for weight loss without due diligence in research (yikes)! This would be a great example of “green allopathy” gone awry. Doctors who aren’t trained in herbal medicine might think of using medicinal herbs as a one-to-one substitution for pharmaceutical drugs. But as functional medicine providers, we know that herbs work synergistically with the body and will have a myriad of unique effects that need to be discussed on an individualized basis.
Although berberine can be effective for weight management by lowering blood sugar; and may even have some mechanisms of action similar to those of the pharmaceutical drug metformin, in naturopathic medicine we always use herbs to treat the WHOLE person – not just a specific diagnosis.
From our herbal medicine training we know that berberine can impact the gut microbiome in a beneficial way. It is likely that THIS impact is really why berberine helps with weight management. As we all know most dysfunction STARTS IN THE GUT so it is no surprise that weight management requires a healthy balance in the gut microbiome.
If you are curious if berberine might be beneficial for you, schedule a call with one of our naturopathic doctors to learn more about how to use this herb holistically.
If you know your digestion needs support – our whole team of providers has been trained in advanced functional medicine for GI health and we are excited to work with you!