Barberry, in the Latin name “Berberis vulgaris”, is native to Europe, where it’s commonly used as an ornamental shrub. It’s also commonly grown in North America. It is close relative, Berberis aquifolium, is a native of North America & is also known as Oregon grape. Native Americans formerly taught settlers its value as a medicinal herb. 2 other species of the plant, Nepalese & Indian barberry, are native to those areas & possess similar qualities.
Barberry is a permanent herb that is usually around eight ft (2.4 m) tall, but can grow up to ten ft (3 m) high. It bears yellow flowers, red or black berries & small rounded plump leaves. It trimmings in dry sandy soil & prefers a sunny location. Research has found that the active alkaloids in barberry belong to the isoquinoline family. They are berbamine, berberine, oxyacanthine, columbamine, bervulcine, isotetrandrine, magnoflorine, jatrorrhizine & vulvracine. Other components include resin, tannin & chelidonic acid, among others.
The berries of the barberry plant are usually used to make jams & jellies and the plant is used to make a dye. However, its cooking use is only minor compared to its importance as a member of the herbal Materia Medica. The medicinal events of barberry are usually classified as being cholagogue, antiemetic, hepatic, bitter & laxative. It is main active element; berberine has recently been the subject of much research & has been proven effective against a variety of ailments.
Barberry is mainly valued as an efficient liver cleanser, due to its aptitude to correct liver function & promote the flow of bile. Barberry is good quality for heartburn; stomach upsets including ulcers, gastritis & ulcerative bowel conditions and is an effective appetite stimulant. Barberry has also been suggested for renal colic &; the treatment of renal calculi, where it’s claimed to allay burning and soreness.
The herb has important antibacterial, antiviral & antifungal properties and has even verified antiprotozoal properties, so Barberry an extremely valuable weapon against infection & fever. It’s recommended for use against diarrhea, whether of non-specific kind, such as gastroenteritis or from a known source such as cholera. It’s also able of inhibiting the growth of Giardia lamblia, Trichomonas vaginalis & Entamoeba histolytica. In fact, barberry is able of similar action to Metronidazole, a common antiprotozoal medicine, but has the advantage of no side effects. Berberine, the active part of barberry, inhibits Candida & other fungal growth, but doesn’t affect beneficial bacteria such as Acidophilus & Bifidus. Barberry is mostly useful for skin infections, for which it’s often taken internally and has even been found effective against psoriasis.
It’s often used against bronchial infections, as Barberry capable of breaking down & dispersing mucous accumulations & controlling further secretions. It’s an effective calming, is capable of lowering blood pressure & is an effective uterine stimulant. Barberry is also taken for gallstones & inflammation of the gallbladder. It also has the ability to correct an enlarged spleen.
Barberry is useful for correcting anemia, correcting menstrual irregularities, as a treatment for vaginitis & even as a tonic for a hangover. It’s a suitable medication for gouty constitutions. Barberry recommended for strengthening the patient during convalescence, as it acts as a resistant stimulant.