(NewsNation) — A supplement called berberine is going viral on TikTok for being a natural alternative to Ozempic, but health experts are cautioning against claims by users that it helped them lose up to 18 pounds.
Dr. Dave Montgomery says that while berberine has some merit in helping patients lower cholesterol, there’s “no chance” it will help people lose weight the same way Ozempic does.
“Unfortunately, this is just sort of the hype that comes around (as a result of) not being able, for example, to get Ozempic or Wegovy and people trying to just grasp for other things as opposed to … focusing on that lifestyle stuff and really focusing on the problem at hand,” Montgomery said.
Berberine is a chemical found in plants that that is commonly used for diabetes or high levels of cholesterol, according to WebMD. The dietary supplement can easily be found on Amazon and other retailers.
Montgomery noted it’s been shown in a few small studies to help people reduce their weight, but he said it is “in no way, shape or form” comparable to drugs such as Ozempic, Wegovy or Mounjaro.
Dr. Simon Cork, a senior lecturer in physiology at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, echoed that sentiment, telling the Daily Mail: ‘I have found no evidence for almost any of the claims spoken about in these (TikTok) videos.”
Wegovy is the only of the three that has received FDA approval as a weight loss drug. Ozempic and Mounjaro are diabetes drugs that suppress appetite and impact how the body processes food.
All three drugs have soared in popularity among people seeking to lose weight, leading to shortages in some cases.
Montgomery warned that people should always beware of new fads on social media and consult their doctor before taking any new medication.
“I always tell people just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s for you, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have side effects,” he said, noting berberine has been known to worsen irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
“There are a number of other cases where we really should be careful with this stuff.”