Barberry, scientific name Berberis vulgaris, is an ornamental garden shrub whose red berries, stem, bark and roots are used in herbal remedies 2. The fruits are also used to make juices, jellies and jams. Barberry is native to parts of Europe and North America 2. It is also called berberry, jaundice berry, pepperidge bush and mountain grape. Barberry has been used for thousands of years to treat ailments such as diarrhea and upset stomach 2. Talk to your physician before taking barberry, as there are some side effects associated with its use 2.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
About Barberry and Berberine
Barberry is a perennial shrub that grows in sandy soil up to a height of ten feet 2. It has thorny stems and produces small yellow flowers in the spring and dark red berries in the fall. Berberry contains the plant alkaloid berberine, a compound that appears to have some anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activity. Berberine is responsible for most of the effects and side effects produced by barberry 2. This compound, berberine, is the focus of scientific studiy of late, according to atlMD, as it appears to inhibit some microorganisms and stimulate immune system function. The University of Maryland Medical Center states test-tube studies have shown berberine may be beneficial for high blood pressure, rapid heartbeat and convulsions.
Uses of Barberry
Herbal Treatment for Chlamydia
Barberry has been used for more than 3,000 years to reduce fever, digestive upsets and diarrhea and promote overall well-being 2. Currently, barberry is used to treat certain infections, including respiratory tract infection, urinary tract infection, malaria, chronic yeast infection and giardia, an intestinal parasite 2. In addition, barberry does not appear to eradicate the helpful bacterial in the intestines, according to altMD 2. Ointments containing barberry can be used for skin conditions, such as psoriasis and minor burns 2.
When taken as directed, barberry is considered to be safe for use, producing few side effects 2. However, when taken in large doses, or for more than two weeks, it can produce upset stomach, vomiting and nosebleeds. It may cause you to be more sensitive to sunlight, so wear sunscreen while taking it. Barberry can also cause headaches and an allergic reaction, especially when used as a topical agent 2. Allergy symptoms to barberry include redness, itching and burning 2. Barberry may also cause eye inflammation in some patients 2. According to "Prescription for Herbal Healing," barberry may also increase production of bile and, in men, interfere with sperm production 23.
Precautions and Interactions
Side Effects of Echinacea & Goldenseal
Barberry can become toxic in high doses 2. Drugs.com states the symptoms of toxicity are stupor, lethargy, extreme vomiting, diarrhea and nephritis, an inflammation of the kidneys 2. Barberry should not be given to infants, because it can interfere with the production of bilirubin, causing jaundice 2. Do not take barberry if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, because barberry can stimulate the uterus to contract 2. Barberry may interfere with some medications including tetracycline, antihistamines, blood thinners, diuretics and blood pressure medication 2. You should only take barberry under guidance from your physician, especially if you are diabetic 2. Barberry may lower blood sugar, which can change the effectiveness of diabetes medication 2.
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- University of Michigan Health System: Barberry
- Drugs.com: Barberry
- "Prescription for Herbal Healing"; Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C.; 2002
- Nasri H, Bahmani M, Shahinfard N, Moradi Nafchi A, Saberianpour S, Rafieian Kopaei M. Medicinal Plants for the Treatment of Acne Vulgaris: A Review of Recent Evidences. Jundishapur J Microbiol. 2015;8(11):e25580. doi:10.5812/jjm.25580
- Imenshahidi M, Hosseinzadeh H. Berberine and barberry (Berberis vulgaris): A clinical review. Phytother Res. 2019;33(3):504-523. doi:10.1002/ptr.6252
- Head KA. Natural approaches to prevention and treatment of infections of the lower urinary tract. Altern Med Rev. 2008;13(3):227-244.
- Hsu PP. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. J Med Libr Assoc. 2002;90(1):114.
- DeFilipps RA, Krupnick GA. The medicinal plants of Myanmar. PhytoKeys. 2018;(102):1-341. doi:10.3897/phytokeys.102.24380
- Yin J, Xing H, Ye J. Efficacy of berberine in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Metab Clin Exp. 2008;57(5):712-717. doi:10.1016/j.metabol.2008.01.013
- Feng X, Sureda A, Jafari S, et al. Berberine in Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases: From Mechanisms to Therapeutics. Theranostics. 2019;9(7):1923-1951. doi:10.7150/thno.30787
- Kong WJ, Wei J, Zuo ZY, et al. Combination of simvastatin with berberine improves the lipid-lowering efficacy. Metab Clin Exp. 2008;57(8):1029-37. doi:10.1016/j.metabol.2008.01.037
- Doggrell SA. Berberine--a novel approach to cholesterol lowering. Expert Opin Investig Drugs. 2005;14(5):683-685. doi:10.1517/135437220.127.116.113
- Xie L, Zhang D, Ma H, et al. The Effect of Berberine on Reproduction and Metabolism in Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Control Trials. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2019;2019:7918631. doi:10.1155/2019/7918631
- Li L, Li C, Pan P, et al. A Single Arm Pilot Study of Effects of Berberine on the Menstrual Pattern, Ovulation Rate, Hormonal and Metabolic Profiles in Anovulatory Chinese Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. PLoS ONE. 2015;10(12):e0144072. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0144072
- An Y, Sun Z, Zhang Y, Liu B, Guan Y, Lu M. The use of berberine for women with polycystic ovary syndrome undergoing IVF treatment. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2014;80(3):425-431. doi:10.1111/cen.12294
- Rabbani GH, Butler T, Knight J, Sanyal SC, Alam K. Randomized controlled trial of berberine sulfate therapy for diarrhea due to enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli and Vibrio cholerae. J Infect Dis. 1987;155(5):979-984. doi:10.1093/infdis/155.5.979
- Zhu B, Ahrens FA. Effect of berberine on intestinal secretion mediated by Escherichia coli heat-stable enterotoxin in jejunum of pigs. Am J Vet Res. 1982;43(9):1594-1598.
- Olas B. Berry Phenolic Antioxidants - Implications for Human Health? Front Pharmacol. 2018;9:78. doi:10.3389/fphar.2018.00078
- Ronis MJJ, Pedersen KB, Watt J. Adverse Effects of Nutraceuticals and Dietary Supplements. Annu Rev Pharmacol Toxicol. 2018;58:583-601. doi:10.1146/annurev-pharmtox-010617-052844
- Wu X, Li Q, Xin H, Yu A, Zhong M. Effects of berberine on the blood concentration of cyclosporin A in renal transplanted recipients: clinical and pharmacokinetic study. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2005;61(8):567-572. doi:10.1007/s00228-005-0952-3
- Rad SZK, Rameshrad M, Hosseinzadeh H. Toxicology effects of Berberis vulgaris (barberry) and its active constituent, berberine: a review. Iran J Basic Med Sci. 2017;20(5):516-529. doi:10.22038/IJBMS.2017.8676
- An Y, Sun Z, Zhang Y, Liu B, Guan Y, Lu M. The use of berberine for women with polycystic ovary syndrome undergoing IVF treatment. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2014 Mar;80(3):425-31. doi:10.1111/cen.12294
- Head Kathleen A. Natural Approaches to Prevention and Treatment of Infections of the Lower Urinary Tract. Alternative Medicine Review Volume 13, Number 3 2008. PMID: 18950249
- Kong WJ, Wei J, Zuo ZY, Wang YM, Song DQ, You XF, et al. Combination of simvastatin with berberine improves the lipid-lowering efficacy. Metabolism., 2008; 57, 1029–1037. doi:10.1016/j.metabol.2008.01.037
- Yin J, Zhang H, Ye J. Traditional chinese medicine in treatment of metabolic syndrome. Endocr Metab Immune Disord Drug Targets. 2008;8(2):99–111. doi:10.2174/187153008784534330
Kathryn Meininger began writing and publishing poetry in 1967. She was co-founder and editor of the professional magazine "Footsteps" and began writing articles online in 2010. She earned a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine from Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine and a Bachelor of Arts in biology from William Paterson University.