Close this search box.

Can Berberine Cause Weight Gain?

Berberine is unlikely to cause weight gain. Instead, it may promote weight loss through various mechanisms.

Berberine, a compound found in plants like barberry and goldenseal, has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. Recently, it has gained attention for its potential health benefits, including weight loss and blood sugar regulation. This article explores whether berberine can cause weight gain, based on scientific research and expert opinions.

Mechanisms of Action

Berberine activates AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), a key regulator of cellular energy. AMPK influences glucose uptake and fatty acid oxidation. Activation of AMPK by berberine increases energy expenditure and reduces energy storage. This process promotes weight loss rather than weight gain, as stated by a study.

Insulin Sensitivity and Blood Sugar Regulation

Berberine improves insulin sensitivity and regulates blood sugar levels. Better insulin sensitivity leads to improved glucose utilization and reduced fat storage. Studies show berberine lowers fasting blood glucose levels and improves insulin resistance. This makes it a promising supplement for individuals with type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

Gut Microbiota Modulation

Berberine affects the gut microbiota, which plays a significant role in metabolic health. Research indicates berberine increases the number and diversity of beneficial gut bacteria while inhibiting harmful bacteria. This modulation improves metabolic functions and contributes to weight loss.

Clinical Evidence

Several studies have investigated berberine’s effects on weight loss. A 2020 meta-analysis of 12 studies found berberine supplementation led to significant reductions in body weight, body mass index (BMI), and waist circumference. Participants who took berberine for three months experienced an average weight loss of five pounds and a 3.6% reduction in body fat.

Another study in 2012 reported that taking 500 milligrams of berberine three times per day resulted in an average weight loss of five pounds and a 3.6% reduction in body fat over 12 weeks.

Expert Opinions

Experts generally agree berberine is more likely to promote weight loss than weight gain. Dr. Melinda Ring, an integrative medicine specialist, stated that while berberine has some great evidence behind it, the online hype around its weight loss effects is overstated. She emphasized berberine should not be seen as a quick-fix solution for weight loss.

Potential Side Effects and Safety Concerns

Berberine is generally well-tolerated, but some individuals may experience gastrointestinal side effects like upset stomach, diarrhea, and constipation. These side effects are usually mild and can be minimized by starting with a lower dose and gradually increasing it.

Drug Interactions

Berberine can interact with various medications, including oral contraceptives, immunosuppressants, beta-blockers, and anti-depressants. These interactions can alter medication levels in the body, potentially leading to adverse effects. Consulting a healthcare provider before starting berberine is essential, especially if you are taking other medications.


Berberine should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women, as it can cause kernicterus, a rare type of brain damage in newborns with extreme jaundice. Additionally, berberine can inhibit the liver’s ability to remove bilirubin, which can lead to brain problems, particularly in infants.

Key Takeaways

  • Berberine activates AMPK, promoting weight loss.
  • Improves insulin sensitivity and regulates blood sugar.
  • Modulates gut microbiota, enhancing metabolic health.
  • Studies show significant weight loss with berberine.
  • Experts caution against seeing it as a quick fix.
  • Potential side effects include gastrointestinal issues.
  • Can interact with various medications.
  • Not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women.


Berberine is unlikely to cause weight gain. Instead, it promotes weight loss through mechanisms like AMPK activation, improved insulin sensitivity, and gut microbiota modulation. Clinical studies and expert opinions support its efficacy in reducing body weight, BMI, and waist circumference.

However, caution is necessary when considering berberine supplementation. Potential side effects, drug interactions, and contraindications should be carefully considered. Consulting a healthcare provider before starting berberine is crucial to ensure its safe and effective use.

In summary, while berberine is not a magical weight-loss solution, it offers promising benefits for weight management and overall metabolic health. Further research, particularly large-scale human studies, is needed to fully understand its long-term safety and efficacy.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *