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Botanical Name:Berberis vulgaris
Species: B. vulgaris
Common Names/Synonyms :- Oregon Grape Root, Rocky Mountain Grape, Mahonia, Pepperidge, Pepperidge Bush, Holy Thorn, Sowberry, Oregon Grape, Berberry, Jaundice Berry, and Daruharidra.
Pepperidge, Pepperidge bush, Pipperidge bush, Sowberry
Habitat : Barberry is native to central and southern Europe, northwest Africa and western Asia; it is also naturalised in northern Europe, including the British Isles and Scandinavia, and North America. In the United States and Canada, it has become established in the wild over an area from Nova Scotia to Nebraska, with additional populations in Colorado, Idaho, Washington State, Montana, and British Columbia. Although not naturalised, in rural New Zealand it has been widely cultivated as a hedge on farms. It is cultivated for its fruits in many countries. It grows in hard, gravelly soil in the northeastern states, and sometimes in rich soils in the western states.Hard, gravelly soil in the northeastern states, and sometimes in rich soils in the western state.
Berberis is a deciduous shrub growing up to 4 m high. The leaves are small oval, 2–5 cm long and 1–2 cm broad, with a serrated margin; they are borne in clusters of 2-5 together, subtended by a three-branched spine 3–8 mm long. The flowers are yellow, 4–6 mm across, produced on 3–6 cm long panicles in late spring. The fruit is an oblong red berry 7–10 mm long and 3–5 mm broad, ripening in late summer or autumn; they are edible but very sour, and rich in Vitamin C.
Flowers: The flowers are small, pale yellow, arranged in pendulous racemes, 10 to 20 per raceme, towards the ends of the branches. Petals are not notched. Flowers: April – June
Berries: About 1/2 inch long, the bright red, oblong and slightly curved berries ripen in August and September. Bark: Has a slight odor and a bitter taste; colors the saliva yellow when chewed.
Leaves: Alternate or in rosettes
from previous year’s leaf axils; spatula shaped, with numerous spiny teeth; veins on the underside are prominent.
Root Bark: Yellow.
Parts Used: Bark of root or stem.
Harvest: Gather the Barberry root and stem bark in spring or fall, around March and November.
History: Barberry has been used in herbal healing for more than 2,500 years. The ancient Egyptians used it to prevent plagues. India‘s Ayurveda healers used it for dysentery.
During the middle ages, European herbalists used Barberry to treat liver and gallbladder ailments, infections, stomach problems and skin conditions. Russian healers used it for inflammations, high blood pressure, and for abnormal uterine bleeding.
Native American Indians made a bitter brew from the yellow root. Used in small doses, Barberry tonic was used as an effective treatment for heartburn, stomach upset and ulcers. It was also used to stimulate appetite.
The berries are edible and rich in vitamin C, though with a very sharp flavor; the thorny shrubs make harvesting them difficult, so in most places, they are not widely consumed. They are an important food for many small birds, which disperse the seeds in their droppings.
A widely available Russian candy called Barberis is made using extract from the berries, which are pictured on the wrapper.
In Europe, the berries have been traditionally used as an ingredient in making jam. The berries are high in pectin which makes the jam congeal as it cools after having been boiled. In southwestern Asia, especially Iran, the berries are used for cooking, as well as for jam-making. In Iran, barberries are commonly used as a currant in rice pilaf.
Constituents: Berberine (a yellow crystalline, bitter alkaloid), oxyacanthine, berbamine (another bitter alkaloid), tannin, wax, resin, fat, albumin, gum, and starch.
Medicinal Properties and Uses :- Barberry is believed to be an excellent remedy for correcting liver function and promoting the flow of bile. Indicated for inflammation of the gall bladder, gall stones and jaundice (when due to a congested state of the liver). As a bitter tonic with mild laxative effects, it is believed to strengthen and cleanse the system. Also said to be effective in reducing an enlarged spleen The root-bark 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 regulate the digestive processes. The antibacterial properties of the alkaloid berbamine have shown activity against Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Salmonella, Shigella and Eschorichia Coli. It has anti-microbial properties that are especially beneficial for the skin and intestinal tract. Barberry has a beneficial effect on the blood pressure by causing a dilatation of the blood vessels. This herb is also good for hepatitis, colic, diabetes and consumption. Historically, Barberry was used as a bitter tonic to stimulate digestion, and in the treatment of inflammatory arthritic, sciatica, and rheumatic complaints. Use of this botanical decreases heart rate, depresses the breathing, stimulates intestinal movement, reduces bronchial constriction, and kills bacteria on the skin. External applications have included use for sores, burns, ulcers, acne, itch, tetters, ringworm, cuts, bruises. Berberine is highly bactericidal, amoeboidal and trypanocidal. Bitter tonic, cholagogue, hepatic, laxative, antibilious, anti-emetic.
Barberry acts on the gallbladder to improve bile flow and ameliorate conditions such as gallbladder pain, gallstones, and jaundice. Barberry’s strongly antiseptic property is of value in cases of amebic dysentery, cholera and other similar gastrointestinal infections. Barberry is one of the mildest and best liver tonics known, good for jaundice, hepatitis and diabetes.
The berberine in barberry has remarkable infection-fighting properties. Studies around the world show it kills microorganisms that cause wound infections (Staphylococci, Streptococci), diarrhea (Salmonella, Shigella), dysentery (Endamoeba histolytica), cholera (Vibrio cholerae), giardiasis Giardia lamblia), urinary tract infections (Escherichia coli) and vaginal yeast infections (Candida albicans). Berberine may also fight infection by stimulating the immune system. Studies show that it activates the macrophages, white blood cells that devour harmful microorganisms. In Germany, a berberine preparation, Ophthiole, is used to treat sensitive eyes, inflamed lids, and pinkeye (conjunctivitis). Barberry contains chemicals that may help reduce elevated blood pressure by enlarging blood vessels.
The bark is astringent, antidiarrheal, and healing to the intestinal wall—in short, barberry has a strong, highly beneficial effect on the digestive system as a whole. It helps in the treatment of chronic skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. The decoction makes a gentle and effective wash for the eyes, although it must be diluted sufficiently before use. Liquid of the chewed root was placed on injuries and on wounds, while cuts and bruises were washed with a root decoction. A preparation of the bark or berries will be useful as a gargle for sore mouth and chronic opthalmia. It has been successfully used to treat Leishmaniasis (infections transmitted by sandflies). It has the ability to reduce an enlarged spleen and acts against malaria.
Main Uses: Barberry is mainly used today as a tonic to improve the flow of bile in such conditions as gallbladder pain, gallstones and jaundice. Barberry tinctures are used as a treatment for liver problems such as hepatitis and jaundice. It is also considered effective in lowering blood pressure, reducing heart rate and respiration, reducing bronchial constriction, and for menstrual irregularities.
Berberine has strong anti-microbial and fungicidal properties. It is also astringent and anti-inflammatory. It is said to make a good eyewash. Inflamed eyelids or conjunctivitis can benefit from the application of a compress.
Barberry is one of the best remedies for correcting liver function and promoting the flow of bile. It is indicated when there is an inflammation of the gall bladder or in the presence of gallstones. Barberry is also used when jaundice occurs due to a congested state of the liver.
Barberry tea is used as a gargle to soothe sore throats.
Preparation And Dosages:
Tincture: [1:5, 50% alcohol] 3 to 7 drops, 3 to 4 times a day.
Decoction: Use 1/2 to 1 teaspoon root bark with 1 cup water. Boil briefly, then steep for 5 minutes. Take 1/2 to 1 cup during the day, a mouthful at a time.
Ointment: An ointment made from a 10% extract of Barberry can be applied to the skin three times a day.
Combinations: In gall-bladder diseases Barberry combines well with Fringe Tree Bark and Culver’s Root.
Caution! Avoid during pregnancy; Barberry may stimulate the uterus. In high doses, it can cause nausea, vomiting, convulsions, drop in blood pressure, and lowered heart rate and breathing. If you suffer from heart disease or chronic respiratory problems, do not take large doses of this herb and use only with the approval of your physician.
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.