Berberis vulgaris L.
Growing, Cultivation, and Harvest
Barberry bushes are a low maintenance ornamental shrub that can add color to your landscape. Widely available at plant nurseries.
It is generally propagated by suckers, which are put out in plenty from the roots, but these plants are subject to send out suckers in greater plenty than those which are propagated by layers, therefore the latter method should be preferred.
The best time for laying down the branches is in autumn (October), and the young shoots of the same year are the best- these will be well rooted by the next autumn, when they may be taken off and planted where they are designed to remain.
Barberry may also be propagated by ripened cuttings, taken also in autumn and planted in sandy soil, in a cold frame, or by seeds, sown in spring, or preferably in autumn, 1 inch deep in a sheltered border when, if fresh from the pulp, or berry, they will germinate in the open in the following spring.
The Science of the Active Ingredients
The chief constituent of Barberry bark is Berberine, a yellow crystalline, bitter alkaloid, one of the few that occurs in plants belonging to several different natural orders. Other constituents are oxyacanthine, berbamine, other alkaloidal matter, a little tannin, also wax, resin, fat, albumin, gum and starch.
How to Take
Liquid root extract is the most convenient way to use barberry. Must be used long term to see benefits. Follow dosage directions on bottle. Barberry root bark can be used in teas, tinctures, or incorporated in creams and lotions for external use.
Powdered bark, 1/4 teaspoonful several times daily. Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Solid extract, 5 to 10 grains.
It possesses febrifuge powers and is used as a remedy for intermittent fevers. It also forms an excellent gargle for a sore mouth.
A good lotion for application to cutaneous eruptions has also been made from it.
The berries contain citric and malic acids, and possess astringent and anti-scorbutic properties. They are useful in inflammatory fevers, especially typhus, also in bilious disorders and scurvy, and in the form of a jelly are very refreshing in irritable sore throat, for which also a syrup of Barberries made with water, proves an excellent astringent gargle.
The Egyptians are said still to employ a diluted juice of the berries in pestilential fevers, and Simon Paulli relates that he was cured of a malignant fever by drinking an infusion of the berries sweetened with sugar and syrup of roses.
It’s not recommended for long periods of time (more than a week) without the supervision of your doctor.
- Fights Infection
Barberry is used to ease a large variety of inflammation and infection in the body. It helps with bladder, urinary tract and gastrointestinal infections. It also helps relieve common respiratory tract ailments, including sore throat, nasal congestion, sinusitis and bronchitis. Candida infections can also be improved through the use of this herb.
- Aids the GI Tract
A few studies have suggested that it improves gastrointestinal problems faster than antibiotics, most likely due to its astringent properties. Studies like the one published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases showed that berberine relieves bacterial diarrhea without any negative side effects.
- Prevents and Treats Diabetes
Additional studies have also indicated that berberine improves glucose and lipid metabolism disorders. A study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine showed that berberine can improve insulin sensitivity by adjusting adipokine (cell-signaling proteins) secretion. Adipokines have been shown to mediate inflammation and insulin resistance.
- Improves Heart Health
Atrial fibrillation is an irregular, often rapid heart rate that commonly causes poor blood flow. Alternative medicine, including yoga, acupuncture, biofeedback and supplementation with herbs like barberry have been shown to be very effective at treating atrial fibrillation.
A study conducted in 2015 reported that barberry’s active alkaloid berberine produces a biochemical action in the heart that prolongs the effective refractory period, which improves atrial fibrillation. The study concludes that the berberine acts as a class IA or III anti-arrhythmic agent, but the benefits of berberine in atrial fibrillation/atrial flutter have not been systematically studied in human clinical trials — therefore its mainstream acceptance in the treatment of atrial fibrillation remains limited.
Barberry has also been shown to reduce the density of serum cholesterol and triglycerides, which is excellent for heart health and overall wellbeing.
- Combats Metabolic Syndrome
A 2014 study in Iran aimed to explore the impact of supplementation with barberry, a fruit rich in antioxidants, on pro-oxidant-antioxidant balance (PAB) in patients with metabolic syndrome. PAB is a measure of factors that promote and control oxidative stress, and PAB may also be associated with the risk factors of coronary heart disease. Oxidative stress is essentially an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the ability of the body to counteract or detoxify their harmful effects through neutralization by antioxidants so the less oxidative stress (lower PAB) the better!
For this particular study, a total of 106 patients diagnosed with metabolic syndrome were randomized in two groups: case and control. The case group received three capsules of barberry, and the control group received three capsules of placebo for six weeks. A significant decrease in PAB was observed in the barberry group while there was no significant change in the control group.
The findings indicated that supplementation with barberry (600 milligrams per day for six weeks) is associated with the suppression of systemic oxidative stress (as assessed by PAB). For people suffering from metabolic syndrome, supplementation with this herb can reduce oxidative burden, which is a key way to fight metabolic syndrome and all of its possible complications.
- Cleanses the Liver and Gallbladder
Berberine’s ability to aid in the secretion of bile is key since cholesterol is excreted from the body almost exclusively via bile. Waste products also leave the body via bile secretion. However, this secretion can be impaired by a variety of factors, including a poor diet. By increasing the secretion of bile, barberry is excellent for improving the health of both the liver and gallbladder.
The Barberry used to be cultivated for the sake of the fruit, which was pickled and used for garnishing dishes. The ripe berries can be made into an agreeable, refreshing jelly by boiling them with an equal weight of fine sugar to a proper consistence and then straining it. They were formerly used as a sweetmeat, and in sugar-plums, or comfits. It is from these berries that the delicious confitures d'epine vinette, for which Rouen is famous, are commonly prepared.
The roots boiled in Iye, will dye wool yellow, and in Poland they dye leather of a beautiful yellow colour with the bark of the root. The inner bark of the stems will also dye linen of a fine yellow, with the assistance of alum.
Provincially, the plant is also termed Pipperidge Bush, from 'pepon,' a pip, and 'rouge,' red, as descriptive of the scarlet, juiceless fruit.
Berberis is the Arabic name of the fruit, signifying a shell, and many authors believe the name is derived from this word, because the leaves are glossy, like the inside of an oyster-shell.
Among the Italians, the Barberry bears the name of Holy Thorn, because it is thought to have formed part of the crown of thorns made for our Saviour.
Planetary Association: Mars
History and Folklore: Barberry is a very interesting bush: commonly grown as a garden plant for its bright red decorative fruit, which is edible and very rich in vitamin C, although it is extremely sour. The fruit is sometimes pressed as juice or processed into jams.
Spiritual Uses: Cleansing, sorcery, atonement, freeing oneself from the power or control of another.
Also Called: Witches Sweets. Barberry, sewn into an amulet, acts as a protective charm for children and is believed to ease teething. Ritually collected and consecrated Barberry can be used as counter magic and protection against evil witchcraft and curses that are transferred by magically prepared thorns.
Folks are likely to lay BARBERRY across the path of one they hate, to bar their enemy’s progress. Lay out 3 BARBERRY branches, or 3 lines of the cut-and-sifted herb, one 3-feet long and the other two 1-foot long. Lay the first branch or line from the person’s house to the street. Place the two short branches or lines cross-wise to this, an equal distance from each other, to make a “double cross” shape. As you lay them down, say, “Now you will be barred, by Faith (first line), Hope (second line), and Charity (third line).”
Used for hexing. Brings bitterness, sourness. Sprinkled around the premises to bring bad vibes and quarrels. On the flip side, it is used with vetivert and Bay leaves to protect against bitterness - but that’s risky. Said to work for good grudgingly and delights in hexing.
If you want to protect your home or business from enemies, to keep away evil and negativity, scatter this grain on the ground outside around your home or business.
Cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune) interacts with EUROPEAN BARBERRY
The body breaks down cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune) to get rid of it. European barberry might decrease how fast the body breaks down cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune). This might cause there to be too much cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune) in the body and potentially cause side effects.
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates) interacts with EUROPEAN BARBERRY
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver.
European barberry might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking European barberry along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking European barberry, talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking any medications that are changed by the liver.
Some medications changed by the liver include cyclosporin (Neoral, Sandimmune), lovastatin (Mevacor), clarithromycin (Biaxin), indinavir (Crixivan), sildenafil (Viagra), triazolam (Halcion), and many others.
Berberine is not recommended for very young children. In infants, it can interfere with liver function and might worsen jaundice. Pregnant women should not take it because it may cause uterine contractions and trigger miscarriage. Barberry is also not recommended for nursing mothers since the berberine can be passed to the infant this way.
The black tops must be cut off; then roast the fruit before the fire till soft enough to pulp with a silver spoon through a sieve into a china basin; then set the basin in a sauce pan of water, the top of which will just fit it, or on a hot hearth, and stir it till it grows thick. When cold, put to every pint 1 1/2 lb. of sugar, the finest double-refined, pounded and sifted through a lawn sieve, which must be covered with a fine linen to prevent its wasting while sifting. Beat the sugar and juice together 3 1/2 hours if a large quantity, but 2 1/2 for less; then drop it on sheets of white, thick paper, the size of the drops sold in the shops. Some fruit is not so sour and then less sugar is necessary. To know if there be enough, mix till well incorporated and then drop; if it runs, there is not enough sugar, and if there is too much it will be rough. A dry room will suffice to dry them. No metal must touch the juice but the point of a knife, just to take the drop off the end of the wooden spoon, and then as little as possible.
To prepare Barberries for Tartlets
Pick Barberries that have no stones, from the stalks, and to every pound weigh 3/4 lb. of lump sugar; put the fruit into a stone jar, and either set it on a hot hearth or in a saucepan of water, and let them simmer very slowly till soft; put them and the sugar into a preserving-pan, and boil them gently 15 minutes. Use no metal but silver.
Barberries in Bunches
Have ready bits of flat white wood, 3 inches long and 1/4 inch wide. Tie the stalks of the fruit on the stick from within an inch of one end to beyond the other, so as to make them look handsome. Simmer them in some syrup two successive days, covering them each time with it when cold. When they look clear they are simmered enough. The third day do them like other candy fruit.
As a tea: Whole or crushed berries that are steeped in 2/3 cups of boiling water for 10-15 minutes is the preferred method of administration. 2 to 4 grams of dried root or 1 to 2 tsp can also be used.
As a tincture: ½ to 1-1/2 tsp. or 250 to 500 milligrams of dry extract three times daily.
As an ointment: 10% barberry extract applied to the skin three times a day.
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