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berberis vulgaris

Berberis vulgaris (Berberidaceae)

BARBERRY, PIPPERIDGE BUSH

Herbalists use tincture of barberry bark for liver ailments caused by alcohol or drug misuse. In Ayurvedic medicine, the herb is used against parasitic diseases and malaria, while Chinese physicians prescribe it for dysentery and diarrhoea.

Indigenous to Europe, barberry became unpopular with farmers when it was discovered to be a host plant for the wheat rust fungus that decimated crops in the 19th century. It used to be cultivated for its fruit, which make delicious pickles and sweetmeats. A deciduous shrub, it has clusters of oval leaves and small yellow flowers from spring to midsummer, followed by oblong red berries with an acid taste.

PARTS USED

Bark of stem and root.

 

ACTIVE INGREDIENTS

Alkaloids, including berberine and oxycanthine; chelidonic acid; resin; tannins.

 

ACTIONS

Anti-inflammatory; antimicrobial; increases the flow of bile; suppresses nausea and vomiting; a digestive tonic.

 

MEDICINAL USE

Given for jaundice, gallstones and digestive problems with liver involvement following drug or alcohol abuse. In Ayurvedic medicine, it is used against the parasitic diseases Leishmaniasis and malaria. In Chinese medicine, it is prescribed for dysentery and diarrhoea.

 

PREPARATIONS

Decoction, tincture.

 

CAUTION

Avoid in pregnancy.

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