Also known as: Berberi, wood sour, pepperidge bush.

Latin description: Berberis vulgaris.

Parts to use: Bark, root bark, and berries.

Chemical constituents of Barberry : Berbamine, berberine, berberrubine, columbamine, hydrastine, atorrhizine, manganese, oxycanthine, palmatine.

Barberry - Medicinal Uses and Benefits

  • Bitter tonic, alterative, anti-diarrheal, astringent, laxative, sedative tonic, anti-hemorrhagic, antifungal, antibiotic (effective against a variety of pathogens); hepatic - stimulates liver, spleen and uterus; lowers fever and blood pressure (alkaloid activity); anti-inflammatory, vermifuge. Possible antispasmodic properties. Antimicrobial activity is greater in the alkaline environment of the colon. Stimulates white blood cells. Regulates digestion. Root bark is hepatic and laxative and also used as a febrifuge and blood purifier. May help to fight damage from free radicals and stimulate the immune system. Berries are laxative and refrigerant.
  • Berberine (a primary alkaloid) is antibiotic, astringent and antifungal. In Chinese medicine, berberine is used as a broad spectrum antibiotic for bacteria and protozoa. In Chinese studies, local anaesthesia and hyperpigmentation has been noted following injections of berberine.
  • Findings in the laboratory report that in small doses the respiratory system is stimulated, but large doses lead to severe dyspnea and spasms resulting in lethal primary paralysis of the respiratory system (inhibition of heart action was also observed). Large doses can also cause hemorrhagic nephritis. These results have been noted with the use of the purified alkaloid berberine.
  • Berberine is also used to help prevent and treat ventricular arrhythmias. In Chinese studies berberine reduced ventricular arrhythmias by more than 50% in over half the study participants.
  • It is also effective against Candida albicans.
  • Used for infectious diarrhea, poor appetite, fever, and hemorrhage. Used in cases of typhus to stop the bloody flux.
  • Calms nerves, constricts capillary blood blow, reduces muscle spasms.
  • Affects digestive and circulatory systems. Increases production of digestive enzymes.
    Used in the form of liquid extract; given as a decoction, infusion or tincture; also a salt of Berberine.
  • Used for bleeding, cancer, dysentary, malaria, leishmaniasis (parasitic protozoa transmitted by sandfly), hepatitis, tumor (liver), gall bladder (stones).
  • It has been used for cancerous tumors and lumps of the liver, neck and stomach. Some test results have shown anti-cancer activity.
  • Used for ailments of the kidney and urinary tract, liver diseases, bronchial problems, ailments of the spleen, spasms and as a stimulant for the circulatory system. Used as a liver tonic for jaundice, hepatitis, and diabetes.
  • Used historically in folk medicine for gastrointestinal ailments, lympthatics, urinary tract problems and respiratory infections. It has been combined with equal parts Rowan berries and Club moss for difficult urination and burning or painful urination. 1 tsp was steeped in 1/2 cup of boiling hot water for 10 minutes and taken 1/2 to 1 cup daily in mouthful doses spread out over the day.
  • Often combined with Fringe Tree or Culver's root for gall bladder problems.
    Used as a liver tonic and detoxicant.
  • Used in eye washes to relieve redness and control infection.
  • In Ayurvedic medicine it is often combined with turmeric for liver problems and for diabetes. Useful in liver and gallbladder cleansing formulas and has a mild laxative effect. Also used for general debility and biliousness. Used for chronic ills of the stomach and the early stages of tuberculosis, for general debility, liver and spleen problems. Historically it acquired the name as an 'old woman's medicine' due to its general use in infusion form as a stomach and liver agent. It was also used as a tonic for convalescent patients.
  • In New England a tincture was made by steeping the bark in hard cider in the following manner: 4 oz each of barberry, white poplar and wild cherry barks were crushed and steeped one week in a gallon of cider, then strained. The dose was 1 tbsp taken 3 times daily. It was taken as a digestive tonic and for cases of debilitation and convalesence.
  • Used for loss of appetite.
  • At one time, jaundice was treated by taking the bark of the stem and infusing it in beer. The dose was from 1 to 2 oz twice daily.
  • Also used for cholera, scabies, itch, 'tetters', ringworm, bile, catarrhal conditions of the bronchial tubes.
  • Berberine sulphate has shown activity in B1, KB and PS sysems, and oxyacanthine, activity in the KB system.The LD50 for berberine sulfate in mice is 24.3 mg/kg in introperitoneal application. (Commission E Monographs). Deaths due to respiratory paralysis occurred in anesthisized cats and dogs at 25 mg/kg; in addition a noticible inhibition of the heart action was observed.
  • Laboratory studies have shown it to be a heart stimulant in low doses, but a heart depressant in high doses. High doses will also depress breathing, stimulate the smooth muscle of the intestine and decrease bronchial constriction.
  • The crushed berries mixed in water is used as a gargle for sore throat. Berries also used in a drink for diarrhea and fevers.
  • Used for arthritis and rheumatism.
  • Used as a vermifuge for some internal parasites.
  • The following recipe is used for the treatment of bad nerves and scurvy.
  • Used in debilitated conditions marked by poor digestive function and a history of excessive exposure to drugs, chemicals or industrial pollutants
  • BARBERRY CONSERVE: Put freshly picked and fully ripe berries through a Squeezo equipped with a berry strainer to remove the skins and seeds (or a similar device). To 1 lb of the puree and juice add 3 oz of raw cane sugar and stir well. When sugar is dissolved, add 7 oz. of honey, then 7 to 8 oz of thick grape sugar syrup. Stir till all is well blended. If too thin, add more raw sugar. Put into sterile jars as you would jam.
  • The jelly of the berries was also used for catarrhal infections; are also anti-scorbutic and astringent. Berries were also chewed to promote good health and said to be useful for itch and other skin ailments.
  • The Catawbas boiled the stems and roots in tea for ulcerated stomach.
  • Was used by the Catawbas who boiled the stems and roots in a tea for stomach ulcerations.
  • Has been used by Native Americans for ulcers, sores, consumption, heartburn, rheumatism. The root was chewed and the liquid placed on injuries and wounds. Cuts and bruises were washed in with a decoction of the root. The root tea was prepared for use as a blood tonic, a cough medicine and for kidney ailments.
  • The Penobscots pounded the roots or bark into a mash and applied it to ulcerated gums or sore throats.
  • The liquid from the chewed root was placed on injuries and wounds. Cuts and bruises were washed with a root decotion.
  • A preparation of the bark or berries was used as a gargle for sore mouth and for chronic ophthalmia. The fresh juice of the berries was applied to gums to relieve pyorrhea (it was brushed on or applied directly to the gums.)
  • The bark of the stem was once infused in beer for jaundice, dose being 1 to 2 oz twice daily.
  • In New England a tincture was once made by steeping bark in hard cider: 4 oz ea of Barberry, White poplar, and Whild cherry barks were crushed and steeped for 1 week in a gallon of cider, then strained; dose = 1 tbsp or more taken 3 times daily. Was used as a tonic for the digestive system, biliousness, debility, and during convalescence.
  • In Mongolia this species is used to stop bleeding and treat diseases of the mucous membranes.
  • Official in the Russian Pharmacopeia, it is used in extract form for female gential organs, inflammation of the gallbladder, to increase bile and to help reduce blood pressure.
    Was used in Russian folk medicine for inflammations, excess menses, for gallbladder conditions and to staunch bleeding. Official in the Russian Pharmacopeia since 1950 along with Amur Barberry and used in extract form for problems of the female genital organs, inflammation of the gall bladder, and to increase the flow of bile; also used to reduce high blood pressure.
  • An infusion of the berries made with wine was used to purge the bowels.
    Depending on the condition being treated, it has been combined with Golden Seal, Burdock, Yellow dock, Fringe tree, and Wild Cherry.
  • In In Egypt, an infusion of the berries was sweetneed and combined with syrup of roses for fevers.

Capsules: 2-4 “0” capsules 3x daily max.
Decoction: 1 cup 3x daily before meals.


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Medicinal Uses and Benefits of Barberry