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What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

Barberry Side Effects and Warnings

Written by maria_rn, FoundHealth.

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Safety Issues

One study suggests that topical use of berberine could cause photosensitivity (an increased tendency to react to sun exposure. 1 Berberine-containing herbs should not be used by pregnant women because berberine may increase levels of bilirubin, 2 potentially damaging the fetus, and might also cause genetic damage. 3 Individuals who already have elevated levels of bilirubin (jaundice), or any other form of liver disease, should also avoid berberine-containing herbs.

Safety in young children and nursing women has not been established.

One study hints that berberine may decrease the efficacy of the drug tetracycline. 4

Interactions You Should Know About

If you are using antibiotics in the tetracycline family, barberry might decrease their effectiveness.


  1. Inbaraj JJ, Kukielczak BM, Bilski P, et al. Photochemistry and photocytotoxicity of alkaloids from goldenseal ( Hydrastis canadensis L.) 1. Berberine. Chem Res Toxicol. 2001;14:1529–1534.
  2. Chan E. Displacement of bilirubin from albumin by berberine. Biol Neonate. 63(4):201-8.
  3. Pasqual MS, Lauer CP, Moyna P, Henriques JA. Genotoxicity of the isoquinoline alkaloid berberine in prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms. Mutat Res. 286(2):243-52.
  4. Khin-Maung-U, Myo-Khin, Nyunt-Nyunt-Wai, et al. Clinical trial of berberine in acute watery diarrhoea. BrMed J. 1985;291:1601–5.


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