Barberry - Berberis vulgaris
- Created: 20 August 2014
Common Name – Barberry
Botanical Name - Berberis vulgaris
Family - Berberidaceae
Other Names - European barberry, jaundice berry, pepperidge, pepperidge bush, sowberry, Barberry, berberis, Daruharidra, Daruhaldi, Kingor, Barberry
Bark of root or stem. Gather the root in spring or fall. Use only ripe berries.
History - Barberry has played a prominent role in herbal healing for more than 2,500 years. The ancient Egyptians used it to prevent plagues. India's Ayurvedia healers used it for dysentry. During the early middle ages, European herbalists used it to treat liver and gallbladder ailments. Russian healers used it for inflammations, high blood pressure, and for abnormal uterine bleeding. American Indians recognize barberry as similar to Oregon grape.
A common garden bush, native to Europe and the British Isles, naturalized in North America, flowering in April and May. It is a deciduous shrub that grows in hard, gravely soil in the north-eastern states and sometimes in rich soils in the western states. The root is yellow on the outside and its bark has a bitter taste. The stems, growing from 3 to 8 feet high, are reddish when young but turn dirty gray when older. The leaves are obovate to oval and have a soft, bristly point The small, yellow flowers appear from April to June and hang from the branches in clusters. The bright red, oblong berries, ripening in August and September, have an agreeable acid taste and should be eaten only when ripe.
Active Constituents - Alkaloids of the isoquinoline type, mainly berberine, berbamine and derivatives, berberrubine, bervulcine, columbamine, isotetrandrine, jatrorrhizine, magnoflorine, oxycanthine and vulvracine. Miscellaneous, including chelidonic acid, resin, tannin etc.
Used for the treatment as an antibiotic, immune stimulant, for treating pinkeye, high blood pressure.
One study showed that the herb may shrink some tumours. Another study shoed that it has anti-inflammatory properties, useful for treating arthritis. More work is needed in this case.
Barberry is one of the best remedies for correcting liver function and promoting the flow of bile. It is indicated when there is an inflammation of the gall-bladder or in the presence of gall stones. When jaundice occurs due to a congested state of the liver, Barberry is also indicated. As a bitter tonic with mild laxative effects, it is used with weak or debilitated people to strengthen and cleanse the system The herb is believed to have the ability to reduce an enlarged spleen. It acts against malaria. As a stimulating tonic hepatic: influences the mucosa generally, removing mucous accumulations and controlling excess secretion. Improves appetite, digestion and assimilation. Indicated for gouty constitutions.
To dilate the blood vessels, thereby lowering blood pressure. A teaspoon of the root will purge the bowels, or use an infusion of the berries with wine for the same purpose. A decoction of either berries or root bark makes a good mouthwash or gargle for mouth and throat irritations. The fresh juice of the fruit is also said to strengthen the gums and relieve pyorrhoea when brushed on or applied directly to the gums.
For bile and urinary conditions, Pitta detoxification, and congestion of abdomen and pelvic, cavities; rheumatism, scarlet fever, brain disorders, heat, thirst, nausea; small amounts- tonic; large doses-purgative; excellent herb for jaundice, during pregnancy, mild laxative, periodic neuralgia, fevers, skin diseases, vomiting in pregnancy; fruit-mild laxative/purgative for children, fevers, blood purifier, malaria, gastric and duodenal ulcers; sores, jaundice, enlarged liver and spleen, and regulates liver functioning.
Combinations - In gall-bladder diseases it combines well with Fringe Tree Bark and Black Root.
Dosage - Decoction: put l teaspoonful of the bark into a cup of cold water and bring to the boil. Leave for l0-l5 minutes. tds
Tincture: 1:10 (60%) 2-4 ml tds.
Fluid Ext. (25%) 2-3 ml tds
Avoid during pregnancy; barberry may stimulate the uterus.
In high doses, barberry can cause nausea, vomiting, convulsions, hazardous drops in blood pressure, and depression of the heart rate and breathing. Large doses are contra indicated in heart disease or chronic respiratory system. If the herb causes dizziness or faintness, stop using immediately.
Do not give to children under 2 years old. For older children and those older than 65, start with a lower strength than recommended above.