Also known as
Berberis vulgaris, European Barberry, trailing mahonia, berberis
The barberry is a tall shrub with gray, thorny branches. Bright yellow flowers bloom in the late spring become dark, drooping bunches of red berries in the fall. Puckery but less bitter than cranberries, ripe barberries can be used to make jam. Both the berries and the bark are used in healing. Medicinal use of barberry dates back at least to the time of ancient Egypt, when it was combined with fennel seed to prevent plague. In Europe and the US, Barberry has been used as a bitter tonic, antipyretic, and antihemorrhagic. It has also been used in China in the same fashion, but also for its antimalarial qualities.
The barberry contains its namesake chemical berberine, also found in coptis, goldenseal, Oregon grape root, and turmeric. The herb also contains the B-vitamin thiamine, vitamin C, the carotenoids beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, chromium, cobalt, and zinc.
The whole root, root bark, aerial parts and sometimes the fruiting body.
The whole herb barberry is available in capsules, fluid extracts, tinctures, and ointments. Dried roots of barberry can also be used in tea.
Adults should limit use of barberry to seven consecutive days at a time, waiting at least a week before using barberry again. This gives the natural, helpful bacteria of the intestine a chance to recover. Taking vitamin B6 supplements can give infectious bacteria resistance to the antibacterial toxins in the herb.
Barberry is often given to children with success, but should be used with caution, no more than three consecutive doses followed by a day without the herb. Not recommended while pregnant or nursing.
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.