Botanical name: Berberis vulgaris
Barberry is a common garden shrub from Europe and North America. The most common part of the plant used is the dried yellow root, which contains berberine – a bitter alkaloid that aids in the secretion of bile and is good for liver problems, acts as a mild purgative, and helps stimulate digestion. Berberine also has antibiotic actions, so barberry can be useful in infections of the respiratory tract, throat, genitourinary tract and persistent skin infections.
Traditionally used for correcting liver function and promoting the flow of bile. It is helpful in gallbladder inflammation, gallstones and jaundice. It is useful as a bitter digestive tonic and mild laxative. It is used to purge parasite infections, to tonify and cleanse the bowels.
Barberry is a good alternative to other berberine containing plants such as Goldenseal (which is under threat from over-harvesting).
Preparation: The most active preparation is a herbal tincture, however the powdered or boiled root is also effective. Usually effective at quite small doses.
Reference: David Hoffman (2003), Medical Herbalism, pp.533-34.
Barberry Common Uses
Should be avoided in pregnancy and lactation, due to theoretical potential for harm to the foetus/ neonate. Use with caution in unconjugated hyperbilirubinaemia, severe hepatocellular disease, septic cholecystitis, or liver cancer. Do not take with phenylbutazone.
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