Ozempic is a newer medication to treat type 2 diabetes, a branded generic medication called Semaglutide.
It is a non-insulin injectable medication for type 2 diabetes.
Ozempic may promote weight loss because it helps reduce hunger and promotes fullness by slowing stomach emptying (2).
Slowed stomach emptying can also reduce spikes in blood sugar levels.
But for those who can’t take this prescription medication for one reason or another, it’s best to start looking for cheaper alternatives and natural remedies.
Reasons for Natural Alternatives to Semaglutide
The typical starting dose of Ozempic (Semaglutide) is 0.25 milligrams once weekly for four weeks, then 0.5 milligrams weekly for at least four weeks. If blood sugar targets aren’t being met with 0.5 milligrams weekly, the dose can gradually be increased to a maximum of 2 milligrams weekly.
What are the side effects of Ozempic (Semaglutide)?
Some of the most common Ozempic side effects include:
- Gastrointestinal symptoms like upset stomach (nausea or vomiting), stomach pain, loss of appetite, heartburn, burping, gas, and bloating
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Ozempic-related tiredness (fatigue)
- Injection site pain
- Low blood sugar (especially if you’re taking another diabetes medication like insulin or sulfonylureas)
More rarely, Ozempic might cause thyroid cancer, pancreatitis, and kidney problems.
Natural Sources of Ozempic (Semaglutide)
Berberine is a compound we can find in some plants like European barberry, goldenseal, goldthread, Oregon grape, Phellodendron, and tree turmeric. Berberine is a natural alternative for treating insulin resistance and high blood sugar, so some may considered as an natural and cheaper alternative to Ozempic.
According to a small study on people with metabolic syndrome (a condition that can lead to type 2 diabetes), berberine improved insulin sensitivity and reduced participants’ waist circumference (5).
Waist circumference is associated with insulin resistance. Therefore, reducing waist size can indicate improving insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels.
A pilot study directly compared berberine and metformin (a popular pill used to treat diabetes) for their ability to help treat symptoms of type 2 diabetes (6).
The researchers found that berberine produced identical results as metformin in improving blood glucose metabolism. Berberine may help promote weight loss by improving insulin resistance.
You can take berberine in supplement form at a dose of up to 1.5 grams daily. However, the studies on berberine tend to be six months or less, so it’s not as clear how safe it is to take the maximum dose indefinitely.
Magnesium is a well-studied mineral in terms of blood sugar metabolism. Many people can benefit from magnesium supplementation, not just those with diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes stems from insulin resistance, which is when your body doesn’t use insulin effectively. Magnesium supplementation can help improve insulin sensitivity, which means it can help lower blood sugar levels (7).
People with diabetes tend to have lower levels of magnesium in their blood compared to people without diabetes, which suggests that magnesium may play a role in the development of diabetes.
According to a study, magnesium helps improve insulin sensitivity and boosts insulin secretion. Ozempic also promotes insulin secretion, so they have that in common (8).
3) Aloe vera
Aloe vera has been studied for its potential ability to help lower blood glucose levels. Bear in mind that some of the studies were done on animal subjects like mice and rats.
You can take aloe vera in capsule form to gain the potential benefits.
- According to a 2015 review of studies (9), aloe vera gel complex may help lower blood sugar, promote healthy cholesterol levels, reduce body fat and weight, and reduce insulin resistance in obese subjects with prediabetes (borderline diabetes).
- One study used aloe vera on diabetic mice to see if it could improve blood sugar and cholesterol levels. The mice received aloe vera gel extract at a dose of 300 milligrams per kilogram of body weight for 21 days. The result was a significant reduction in fasting blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides (10).
Pharmaceutical alternatives to ozempic
GLP-1 receptor agonists
If you’re looking for alternatives, there are other types of GLP-1 receptor agonist medications besides Ozempic. All drugs have their drug name (ending in -tide for GLP-1 receptor agonists) and common brand names.
Other GLP-1 receptor agonists (brand names in parentheses) include:
- Dulaglutide (Trulicity)
- Exenatide (Byetta)
- Extended-release exenatide (Bydureon BCise)
- Liraglutide (Victoza)
- Lixisenatide (Adlyxin)
- Semaglutide (Rybelsus)
It’s also useful to consider wegovy vs ozempic. Wegovy is another brand name for semaglutide, but the FDA does not approve it for treating type 2 diabetes. Therefore, Wegovy isn’t an alternative to Ozempic. Wegovy is approved as a weight loss medication.
The DPP-4 inhibitor class of diabetes medications acts similarly to GLP-1 receptor agonists. DPP-4 inhibitors are oral medications that help to increase GLP-1 levels (remember that GLP-1 receptors help lower blood sugar levels), similar to how GLP-1 receptor agonists boost GLP-1 activity.
According to studies, GLP-1 receptor agonists are more effective at lowering blood sugar than DPP-4 inhibitors (3). The pros of DPP-4 inhibitors are their oral administration and less nausea compared to GLP-1 receptor agonists.
Examples of DPP-4 inhibitors include:
Sulfonylureas are a type of oral medication that stimulates insulin secretion. Unlike Ozempic, sulfonylureas have a greater risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
Some popular sulfonylureas include glipizide, glyburide, and glimepiride. Sulfonylureas can be used with insulin, but it increases the risk of hypoglycemia. One of the benefits of sulfonylureas is that it doesn’t require any shots.
SGLT2 inhibitors are a class of drugs that include empagliflozin, canagliflozin, dapagliflozin, and ertugliflozin. These drugs help reduce glucose absorption into the bloodstream by removing them in your urine.
One of the potential benefits of SGLT2 drugs is that they can promote better cardiovascular outcomes among people with heart failure. Like sulfonylureas, they aren’t injectable (4).
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Is there a generic for Ozempic?
There aren’t any generic forms of Ozempic at this time. Brand-name medications can be more expensive than generic forms, so that can play into factors determining if Ozempic is a good choice for some patients.
Cash prices for Ozempic are quite high, so it’s ideal if you can get your health insurance company to cover part or all of the cost. The current GoodRx estimate for the cash price of Ozempic is $893 per 2-milligram prefilled pen.
Is there an oral alternative to Ozempic?
The FDA approved the first oral GLP-1 receptor agonist in 2019 called Rybelsus. Rybelsus is an oral form of semaglutide and comes in 7 milligram- and 14 milligram-tablets. What separates rybelsus vs Ozempic is that Rybelsus is taken daily, whereas Ozempic is weekly.
The risks for Rybelsus are the same as with Ozempic regarding the black box warning about thyroid cancer. The possible side effects of Rybelsus are also similar to Ozempic and include nausea, vomiting, and other types of stomach upset.
Gradually switching from Ozempic safely
If you’re stopping Ozempic, you should make sure you and your diabetes care team are on the same page regarding your treatment plan. Your healthcare provider will be able to provide specific guidance for you on how to stop taking Ozempic safely.
If your provider recommends that you start taking another medication to treat your type 2 diabetes, you should ideally have that lined up before stopping Ozempic. A lapse in taking diabetes medications can cause increases in your blood sugar levels.
Ozempic is the brand name for a GLP-1 receptor agonist called semaglutide. There are other types of GLP-1 receptor agonists medications, but no other brand for semaglutide besides Ozempic at this time.
For Ozempic alternatives, you can try other GLP-1 drugs or consider different classes of medications like sulfonylureas, DPP-4 inhibitors, or SGLT2 inhibitors. Natural ozempic alternatives that might help lower blood sugar levels include berberine, magnesium, and aloe vera.