Barberry | Berberis Vulgaris | Herbal Remedies

Barberry herb has remarkable disease and infection fighting properties. Berberis vulgaris contain alkaloids which also possess anti cancer properties. Barberry is an important ingredient of most herbal remedies for the treatment of various ailments. Benefits of barberry include its anti-infammatory and anti bacterial properties. Barberry herb is used by herbalists for the treatment of liver problems, gastritis, peptic ulcers, gall stones and high blood pressure.

Berberry, Berberis vulgaris, Barberry herb, herbal remedies, benefits of Barberry

Berberis vulgaris Berberidaceae.

This thorny deciduous shrub is seen throughout Europe in gardens) hedgerows and on scrubland. The ancient Egyptians used barberry as a cure for fevers. It grows to a height if about 3m and has grooved yellow-grey bark) yellow wood and a yellow root. It bears bright yellow flowers in spring followed by elongated berries in shades of pink or red.

Parts used

Leaves, berries, root and stem bark . The leaves are collected in May and June and the ripe berries in August or September.

The root and stem bark are collected in spring or autumn and dried for use in powders, tinctures, decoctions and other extracts.


The whole plant contains alkaloids, which are believed to possess anticancer properties. Some of the alkaloids are yellow, hence the plant's brightly coloured wood. The alkaloids berbamine and berberine are both antibacterial; the root bark contains up to 3 per cent berberine.

Medicinal uses

Berberine accounts for several of the plant's properties. Animal studies have shown that the alkaloid reduces muscle spasms, which may explain why bitter-tasting barberry can help to aid digestion.Because berberine is also a highly effective antibacterial, barberry is used to combat infections such as Helicobacter pylori, which is associated with gastritis and peptic ulcers, and to treat yeast infections, such as thrush (Candida albicans).

Berberine also acts on the gall bladder to stimulate the secretion of bile, which carries waste products away from the liver. This supports the traditional use of barberry to combat liver disorders such as jaundice and gallstones.

Externally, barberry's antiinflammatory properties make it a useful treatment for sore, swollen eyes, eczema, psoriasis, rheumatism, hepatitis and other inflammatory disorders. Recent laboratory studies in Bulgaria have confirmed the antiinflammatory effect of berberine extracted from the barberry root.


Barberry should only be taken internally on the advice of a medical herbalist.

For external use

TO TREAT swollen eyes, skin inflammation
TINCTURE (1:3 in 25% alcohol) Add 20 drops to a glass of water. Soak a cloth in this and squeeze out the excess. Apply to the closed eye for 15 minutes two or three times a day.



Barberry prefers neutral or alkaline soil and can be grown in direct sunlight or light shade. It can be grown from seeds or from cuttings taken in summer. However, it is not advisable to cultivate it for use in homemade herbal preparations.


  • Barberry should never be taken except under supervision and for no longer than a period of 4-6 weeks.
  • Barberry should not be taken during pregnancy.
  • Do not take barberry to treat food poisoning or chronic heartburn.
  • If using as an antibacterial, avoid vitamin B6 and the amino acid L-histidine as they suppress barberry's efficacy.
  • Berbamine and berberine have an anaesthetising effect, which can cause low blood pressure.


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