Berberis vulgaris (Barberry) medicinal uses, benefits and side effects

Berberis vulgaris or Barberry is a tall evergreen shrub which has gray, thorny branches, and spiked, oval leaves. It grows up to 4 metres in height. Barberry has red berries and yellow flowers. In this article, we will talk about Berberis vulgaris benefits.

It has berries that are rich in Vitamin C and edible. The bark of the stem and the root find use in making medicines. The active ingredients in this plant come from the root. They are berberine and berbamine. The plant is poisonous and used for medicinal proposes.

Berberis vulgaris (Barberry) – Information about the plant

Berberis vulgaris (Barberry) medicinal uses and health benefits

Common names

Its common name is Ambarbaris. It also has the name common grape, mountain grape, European barberry, berberry, and Pepperidge. It is called Holy Thorn as it was used in the crown of thorns used for Jesus.

Botanical name and family

The botanical name is Berberis vulgaris. It belongs to the Berberidaceae family.

Geographical places where Berberis vulgaris plant grows

It has its habitat in Europe and Asia. People introduced it in North America where it grows wild in places such as Pennsylvania and Canada.

Barberry medicinal uses and health benefits

Barberry flowers, fruit and leaves
Barberry flowers, fruit and leaves

The medicinal properties are due to the isoquinolone alkaloids. The other chemicals are berbamine and berberine.

  • Immune system stimulant: Berberine is the alkaloid that has the prominent anticonvulsant, sedative, hypotensive, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial effect. It helps stimulate the immune system. You find it in the stem bark and in the plant rhizome.
  • Remove the spots on your face: You can cure acne if you use the decoction to wash your face regularly with the herbal preparation.
  • Good for curing scurvy: Scurvy has typical symptoms such as bulging eyes, loose teeth, scaly, and dry skin. You can treat it with Vitamin C supplements. You can get a full recovery within two weeks. Have a tea brewed from the extract of the plant daily for two weeks.
  • Treat gastrointestinal tract ailments: Ailments such as abdominal pain syndrome, indigestion, heart burn, flatulence, and bloating are some of the common GI ailments. The barberry helps remove left over food and disease-causing bacteria from the intestine and makes you healthy again. The Ayurvedic practitioners used it as a cure for dysentery.
  • Treatment of coughs: You can cure upper respiratory tract infections with the decoction prepared from the plant. The antimicrobial, antibiotic, and anti-inflammatory property helps you get rid of the germs that cause the infection fast. It opens the airways and helps cure respiratory tract diseases fast. The action of the alkaloids is fast and effective. So, you can get relief from flu at once.
  • Plague protection: In the olden days, this medicinal herb was used a preventative against plague. This is because of the strong action of the berries and the plant extract against the action of pathogens.
  • Fights infections: Berbamine is the alkaloid that helps stimulate the production of the white blood cells to help fight infections. This is the second dominant alkaloid and helps to keep the body system safe from infections.
  • Treatment of eczema: Applying the paste on the skin will cure eczema. You can treat skin lesions and infections with the help of berberis vulgaris. If you have patches of infection on the skin, you can use the poultice made from the leaves of the barberry plant.
  • Helps people with Candida infection: When women have yeast infection of the vagina, the tissues at the vagina and opening of the uterus remain affected. You have swelling, discharge, irritation, and itching. To stop the yeast from growing out of control, you can use the decoction made from the stem bark and the roots to wash the vagina. This will bring the infection under control.
  • Uterine stimulant: You give a woman uterine stimulant to increase the contractions during pregnancy. This helps her to conceive faster, without any trouble. It has beneficial effect in the treatment of urinary tract infections and abnormal uterine bleeding.
  • Good for the Nervous system: It promotes the health of the cardiovascular system and promotes the health of the neural system. So, the patients suffering from convulsions and epilepsy use it for bettering their condition. It is one of the widely used alternative therapy for tachycardia. You can lower hypertension by using the extracts of the plant.
  • Improves digestion: People who do not have good appetite can have the supplement made using the extracts of the plant. Having the decoction once daily will improve the metabolic activity to a satisfactory level. It will remove acid retention in the stomach and thus prevent acid reflux. This will increase your appetite and your health will appreciate considerably.
  • Improves blood flow: It stimulates the flow of blood and improves he liver function. This helps you flush the toxins from the body fast. It will revitalize your body functions and help you become revitalized. Increased blood flow is also helpful for improving your sexual stamina and enervates you.

Make your barberry preparation

  • Make a tea: Used crushed berries steeped in two to three cups of boiling water for ten minutes. 2-4 grams of the root or the 1-2 grams of the powder can be used too.
  • Use as an ointment: Use the herb and oil, heat to 95 degrees Fahrenheit and simmer for about 8-10 hours. Strain the herb and return the oil to the fire and bring to 150 degrees. Grate beeswax and add it to the oil.
  • Use as a syrup: Take 1 kg of sugar and add ½ liter of water. Stir over low heat and add the herb. Filter and store in bottle with cork stoppers.
  • Use as a tincture: Add ½ cup of powdered root to 2 cups of alcohol. Allow the mix to stand for 2 weeks in a warm place. Shake daily and strain the mixture at the end of two weeks. Use a dark color bottle to store the tincture.

Barberry Side Effects

If you are pregnant or lactating, you must be cautious about using the medications prepared from the Barberry plant. Also, one must stop using it if one observes any adverse reactions. You must not use the barberry extract for children as the effects have not be studied.


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Anoop Sharma

About Anoop Sharma

Anoop Sharma is an IT professional, freelance health writer and creator of He is passionate about helping others learn about health issues and their natural remedies, yoga and healthy food.

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