What are the Know Side Effects of GLP-1 and GIP Agonist Medications and Specific Health Considerations?

Part 3 of a 3-part Series on GLP-1 Hormone & Medications Like Ozempic®

Are the promising results of GLP-1 and GIP agonist medications worth risking the side effects? For many, the answer is yes. But even so, we shouldn’t ignore the side effects. They give us important insights into where your body needs additional health support. Addressing side effects is essential to achieving better health outcomes from the medication and for your optimal health in general. 

It’s BNP’s opinion that the side effects of GLP-1 and GIP agonist medications are preventable and addressable with the proper truly personalized assessments before and while on these medications.

Side effects can occur immediately with taking medication and over time as the body experiences more exposure to the  medication and its impact on different functions.  It’s worth noting at the time of writing that these are both newer medications and newer uses of the medications so we don’t know much about longer term side effects. We also know very little about side effects in “off label” use.

Reported side effects of GLP-1 and GIP agonist medications & considerations** (based on usage): 

  • Allergic reactions—skin rash, itching, hives, swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat
  • Change(s) in vision
  • Dehydration—increased thirst, dry mouth, feeling faint or lightheaded, headache, dark yellow or brown urine
  • Gallbladder problems—severe stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, fever
  • Heart palpitations—rapid, pounding, or irregular heartbeat
  • Kidney injury—decrease in the amount of urine, swelling of the ankles, hands, or feet
  • Pancreatitis—severe stomach pain that spreads to your back or gets worse after eating or when touched, fever, nausea, vomiting
  • Thyroid cancer—new mass or lump in the neck, pain or trouble swallowing, trouble breathing, hoarseness
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting
  • Injection site irritation/ infection
  • Loss of lean body mass**
  • Changes in gut motility**
  • Sagging skin ( “Ozempic butt” “Ozempic neck” “Ozempic face”)**
  • Severe reactions to alcohol consumption**
  • Disordered eating**
  • Nutrient insufficiencies / deficiencies**
  • Low stomach acid (and side effects)** 
  • Decline in sexual interest/ performance**

Side effects of GLP-1 and GIP agonist medications for specific health considerations:

  1. Digestive health. As we learned in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, GLP-1 and GIP hormones are naturally produced in the lining of the digestive tract. This means that if you experience digestive issues already or if you’ve had them historically, you are more likely to experience side effects of GLP-1 and GIP agonist medications. Because digestive health is foundational to overall health, it needs to be addressed ideally before or as soon as possible when taking these medications.

If you’re interested in optimizing your digestion, check out BNP’s Digestive Tune Up™.

  1. Thyroid health. Because many people with thyroid health concerns cite inability to lose body fat or experiencing weight gain regardless of healthy eating and activity, individuals are exploring the use of GLP-1 and GIP medications as part of their thyroid healing efforts. Research is evolving with some early concerns, but overall the key takeaway is that your thyroid needs A LOT of nourishment to function optimally. This is doable but harder if side effects from GLP-1 and GIP agonist medications include minimal appetite. We recommend ptimizing thyroid health  — like we do in BNP’s Thyroid Tune Up™  — in collaboration with the medication and evaluating impact regularly with a complete thyroid panel.

If you’re interested in optimizing your thyroid function, check out BNP’s Thyroid Tune Up™.

  1. Heart health. There is some evidence that because these hormone-like substances can connect at receptor sites outside of the pancreas  — including in the heart  — that it can play a role in reduction of heart disease by improving blood pressure and vascular health.  This is exciting and makes sense. However, some of the side effects of GLP-1 and GIP agonist medications can challenge heart health if not addressed. Of particular concern is the ability to get in all the essential nutrients at optimal levels that your heart needs. We recommend a truly personalized comprehensive health plan to improve heart health whether taking these medications or not.

    If you are interested in optimizing your heart health, check out BNP’s Comprehensive Health Plan™ with a LipoMap lab add-on
  1. Risk of chronic diseases like cancer. Simply put, there is no data here. But we do know that Type 2 Diabetes and obesity are real adverse health conditions. Type 2 Diabetes has roots in chronic inflammation and metabolic dysfunction and these factors increase risk for other diseases, as well. Optimizing insulin response, reducing excess fat mass and addressing other aspects of metabolic dysfunction is a smart disease prevention strategy. 

    If you’re interested in optimizing your thyroid now, check out BNP’s Blood Sugar Optimizer™.
  2. Children. The physical and emotional impact of disease in children is profound and can persist throughout life. If tools such as these medications can resolve these diseases  — and in doing so also reduce the likelihood of carrying them forward to future generations  — we should consider them in our toolkit. As a foundation, we should also ensure we’re optimizing nutrients, supporting psychosocial development, and optimizing digestion to support the natural formation of GLP-1 and GIP.
  3. Surgery. For anyone on a GLP-1 and GIP agonist medication, you will want to discuss with your surgeon and nurse the appropriate timing at least one week prior to any surgery that includes anesthesia. The impact that the medications have on gastric emptying may impact the anesthesiologists ability to have a clear gut for your surgery. Several have already noted the increase in having to reschedule procedures due to this issue.

Check out our GLP-1 Optimizer™ for Metabolic Health & Weight Loss Wins to ensure that whether you are interested in taking a GLP-1 medication, currently taking one, or looking to increase production naturally, you are on the right track.

For our full perspective and guidance on all of these health considerations, get the Better Nutrition Guide to GLP-1 Hormone & Medications Like Ozempic®

Read Part 1 of the Series: Help, Hype, or Hope? How do Medications Like Ozempic® Work and Why Are So Many People Taking Them? 

Read Part 2 of the Series: What are GLP-1 and GIP Hormones and What Do They Have to Do with Body Weight?