Berberis; Uses, Dosage, Site Effects, Interactions

Berberis; Uses, Dosage, Site Effects, Interactions

Berberis is particularly important in traditional medicine and the food basket of Iranians. Given various plants from genus Berberis and their economic, nutritional, and medicinal status in Iran, this study seeks to investigate the findings of recent studies on the phytochemical characteristics, specifications, and uses of Berberis vulgaris. Introducing Berberidaceae family, different species of Berberis, pharmaceutical organs, B. vulgaris nutrition facts and minerals, the antioxidants and alkaloids compounds in fruit and other organs, action mechanisms of preventing and treating diseases, traditional uses of B. vulgaris, and its properties reported by recent studies. The results briefly indicate that B. Vulgaris contains a large number of phytochemical materials including ascorbic acid, vitamin K, several triterpenoids, more than 10 phenolic compounds, and more than 30 alkaloids. Therefore B. vulgaris may have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antidiabetic, antibacterial, analgesic and anti-nociceptive and hepatoprotective effects. Regarding the use of different organs of B. vulgaris in traditional medicine and their confirmed effects in the recent studies, it is possible to use different organs of B. vulgaris, especially fruit, to develop new drugs.

Uses / Benefits of Berberis

  • Acne – Early research shows that taking European barberry capsules for 4 weeks seems to reduce acne in adolescents.
  • Diarrhea – Research studies indicate that the alkaloid berberine may fight bacterial, viral, fungal and parasitic infections. Another alkaloid in barberry, called berberine, is believed to help fight infections by stimulating white blood cells called macrophages. In alternative medicine, barberry is used mainly for bacterial diarrhea, traveler’s diarrhea, intestinal parasitic infections and chronic candidiasis. Barberry capsules are usually recommended, especially those standardized to contain 5 to 12% isoquinoline alkaloids.
  • Indigestion – When using barberry for indigestion, alternative practitioner s recommend a liquid form, such as a liquid extract or tea, because the bitter taste is thought to help its medicinal action. It’s usually taken 15 to 20 minutes before a meal.
  • Liver and Gallbladder Conditions – Barberry is thought to promote the secretion and flow of bile and be a mild laxative. Although it’s sometimes promoted as a herbal remedy for gallstones, it shouldn’t be used for this condition unless under the supervision of a qualified healthcare professional.
  • Urinary Tract Infections – One study suggested that berberine may be active against Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Some sources say that the berry portion of barberry is more effective at combatting urinary tract infections than the root.
  • The vaginal infection called bacterial vaginosis – Using a cream with European barberry and metronidazole seems to stop bacterial vaginosis infection from happening again.
  • Dental plaque – Early research suggests that brushing teeth with a European barberry extract gel for 3 weeks reduces dental plaque. The effects appear to be similar to a commercial toothpaste (Colgate).
  • Diabetes – Early research suggests that taking European barberry by mouth for 8 weeks does not improve blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes.
  • Gum swelling (gingivitis) – Early research suggests that brushing teeth with a European barberry extract gel for 3 weeks reduces gingivitis.
  • Salishan elders have used M. aquifolium to treat acne and native American Indians utilized barberries to treat scurvy. A decoction of the plant has been used to treat gastrointestinal ailments and coughs.
  • The edible fruits have been used to prepare jams, jellies, and juices. The use of the plant in traditional medicine has been limited by the bitter taste of the bark and root. However, numerous folk medicinal uses for barberry exist. Other reported uses of M. aquifolium include the treatment of fever, gout, renal and biliary diseases, rheumatic symptoms, diarrhea, gastric indigestion, and dermatosis.
  • Berberine, the active ingredient in barberry, inhibits the growth of bacteria and has antioxidant properties in vitro. Berberry extract may also improve the symptoms of certain skin conditions, although more research is needed to confirm these findings.
  • Berberry fruits have been used in the traditional Austrian medicine internally as tea, jelly, or syrup for treatment of disorders of the respiratory tract, fever, infections, cold, and flu.
  • Arthritis
  • Bladder problems
  • Constipation
  • Fever
  • Gout
  • Heart and circulation problems
  • Heartburn
  • Kidney problems
  • Liver problems
  • Lung problems
  • Spleen problems
  • Stomach cramps
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Disease Title of article Berberis species Part of plant Results Reference
Acne Aqueous extract of dried fruit of Berberis Fruit Oral aqueous extract of dried barberry is a ()
vulgaris Berberis vulgaris L. in acne vulgaris, a clinical trial vulgaris safe, well-tolerated, and effective choice in teenagers with moderate to severe acne vulgaris.
Cardio The Effect of Berberis Vulgaris extract B.vulgaris Fruit Mean systolic and diastolic blood pressure ()
vascular / on blood pressure and weight of the was significant compared to control group.
Hypertention patients suffered from Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
Cardio Effect of processed Berberis vulgaris B.vulgaris Fruit Of findings had shown processed B.vulgaris had ()
vascular / in apple vinegar on blood pressure B.vulgaris no effect on systolic- and diastolic blood
Hypertention and inflammatory markers in type 2 diabetic patients in apple vinegar pressure but apple vinegar had positive effect on interleukin-6. Nevertheless, further investigations about B.vulgaris effect on blood pressure and inflammatory markers are necessary.
Diabetes Clinical trial ( patients with diabetes type 2) Berberis Fruit The fruit had a significant reducing effect on serum glucose and decreased HbA1c levels during the 8 weeks of study. ()
Diabetes Clinical trial (type 2 diabetic patients ) B.vulgaris Fruit Mean nutritional intake, anthropometric indices, hs CRP concentration, and systolic and diastolic blood pressure did not change in processed B. vulgaris. Also, interleukin-6 concentration did not change in processed B. vulgaris and control groups. ()
Diabetes The effects of Berberis vulgaris fruit extract on serum lipoproteins, apoB, apoA-I, homocysteine, glycemic control and total antioxidant capacity in type 2 diabetic patients Berberis vulgaris Fruit The intake of 3 g/d B. vulgaris fruit extract for 3 months may have benefical effects on lipoproteins, apoproteins, glycemic control and total antioxidant capacity in type 2 diabetic patients. ()
Lipid profile Clinical trial (dyslipidemic patients) Berberis aristata Fruit B. aristata reduced total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol and increased HDL cholesterol after three months.
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Dosage of Berberis

  • Dosage: Mix 10-15 drops in ¼ cup of water and sip slowly. Repeat every 2 hours until symptoms subside and 3 times daily for 3 days thereafter.


  • Adults: 4 drops into a tsp. of water 3 times a day.
  • Children: 1/2 dose. Repeat at greater intervals as condition subsides. Or as a directed byalic practitioner.
  • Adults and children: Dissolve 5 pellets in the mouth 3 times a day until relieved or as directed by a doctor.




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