Barberry – (Berberis vulgaris)
Barberry is a tall shrub with thorny branches and bright yellow flowers that bloom from April through June. By fall, they form into dark red berries. The berries are full of vitamin C and sharply flavored. In countries such as Iran, the Ukraine and Kazakhstan the berries are used as a food seasoner. This plant likes cool climates and grows well producing a very colorful display of fruit. The fruit is especially popular with certain varieties of birds and so it is certainly one for the garden.
Key Medicinal Uses
Internally – Barberry is taken as a herbal remedy to relieve diarrhea. It may also fight viral, bacterial, fungal and parasitic infections. An alkaloid called berberamine in the herb can stimulate white blood cells and make the immune system respond better. It is also used to treat chronic candidiasis (yeast infection). It is also recommended for indigestion and is taken before a meal as it has been found to help the flow of bile and also help the liver and gallbladder function well. Studies suggest that it may also be helpful against E. coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa for urinary tract infections.
Externally – Not used externally
Other Uses – Barberry makes a yellow dye from the stems, roots and bark to dye wool and leather. It is also used in some cuisines in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Most people use the plant as an ornamental shrub in their yard. Because of their thorns, they make a good barrier to discourage burglars.
Do not take barberry for longer than a week at a time without guidance from your care provider. Excessive doses of the herb can result in nosebleeds, diarrhea or vomiting. It may lower blood pressure. Overdose symptoms include confusion and kidney irritation, bloody urine, painful urination, stomach and low back pain and fever. See your doctor right away if you experience any of these symptoms. Do not use this herb on infants as it may worsen jaundice.Pregnant women should not take it due to possible miscarriage. Barberry may interact with antibiotics, anticoagulants, blood pressure medications, diuretics, diabetic medicines and Celebrex, so use with caution.
Preparation and Dosage
Barberry preparations can be found commercially as capsules, tinctures, extracts and ointments. It can also be made into a tea.
For tea, steep 2 to 4 grams of dried root or 1 to 2 teaspoons of crushed or whole berries in 2.3 cup of boiling water for 1- to 15 minutes up to three times per day. For tincture, take 3 to 6 ml up to three times per day. For dry extracts, the dose is 250 to 500 mg three times per day and for skin disorders barberry ointment can be applied up to three times a day.