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What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

Barberry Usage

Written by FoundHealth, ritasharma.

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The reported uses of barberry include the treatment of the following conditions:

  • cholera
  • hypertension
  • fever
  • gout
  • renal and biliary diseases
  • rheumatic symptoms
  • diarrhea
  • gastric indigestion
  • dermatosis
  • diarrhea
  • intestinal parasitic infections
  • chronic candidiasis.


Effect of Barberry on Heartburn/GERD

Barberry's root and bark contain alkaloids, the most prominent of which is called berberine. Some laboratory studies suggest that berberine has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, hypotensive, sedative,...

Read more about Heartburn/GERD and Barberry.

What is Barberry Used for Today?

There are no medically established uses of barberry. Only double-blind placebo-controlled studies , can establish a treatment effective, and none have been performed on barberry. (For information on why this type of study is essential, see Why Does This Database Rely on Double-Blind Studies? )

Very weak evidence (too weak to be relied upon at all) hints that barberry root extracts may have anti-inflammatory, fever-reducing, and analgesic (pain-reducing) effects. 1 Similarly weak evidence hints that barberry fruit may have antihypertensive and antihistaminic effects. 2 Barberry, like goldenseal and Oregon grape , contains the chemical berberine. There has been some studies of purified berberine that might apply to barberry, as well. Berberine inhibits the growth of many microorganisms, including fungi, protozoa, and bacteria. 3 In one placebo-controlled study, berberine effectively reduced lung injury among lung cancer patients receiving radiation therapy. 4 On this basis, berberine has been proposed as a topical antiseptic for use in minor wounds and vaginal infections . Berberine has also shown potential as a treatment for various heart-related conditions, including reducing high cholesterol and high blood pressure and preventing heart arrythmias . 5 6 However, it is not clear that barberry provides enough berberine to produce any of these potential benefits.

Topical formulations of the related plant Oregon grape have shown some promise for psoriasis , 7 8 and barberry has been marketed for this condition as well. However, there is no direct evidence that it works.


  1. Kupeli E, Kosar M, Yesilada E, et al. A comparative study on the anti-inflammatory, antinociceptive and antipyretic effects of isoquinoline alkaloids from the roots of Turkish Berberis species. Life Sci. 2002;72:645–57.
  2. Shamsa F, Ahmadiani A, Khosrokhavar R. Antihistaminic and anticholinergic activity of barberry fruit ( Berberisvulgaris ) in the guinea-pig ileum. J Ethnopharmacol. 1999;64:161–6.
  3. Hahn FE, Ciak J. Berberine. Antibiotics. 1976;3:577–584
  4. Liu Y, Yu H, Zhang C, Cheng Y, Hu L, Meng X, Zhao Y. Protective effects of berberine on radiation-induced lung injury via intercellular adhesion molecular-1 and transforming growth factor-beta-1 in patients with lung cancer. Eur J Cancer. 44(16):2425-32.
  5. Doggrell SA. Berberine--a novel approach to cholesterol lowering. Expert Opin Investig Drugs. 14(5):683-5.
  6. Lau CW, Yao XQ, Chen ZY, Ko WH, Huang Y. Cardiovascular actions of berberine. Cardiovasc Drug Rev. 19(3):234-44.
  7. Wiesenauer M, Ldtke R. Mahonia aquifolium in patients with psoriasis vulgaris—an intraindividual study. Phytomedicine. 1996;3:231–235.
  8. Gieler U, von der Weth A, Heger M. Mahonia aquifolium —a new type of topical treatment for psoriasis. J Dermatol Treat. 1995;6:31–34.


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