Named scientifically as “Berberis Vulgaris”, barberry is a thorny shrub with yellow flowers, small red fruits and leaves which are narrow at the base and narrow and serrated on the edges; it grows along with other shrubs at the edge of fields or the outskirts of forests. It’s a decorative herb through its nicely colored flowers and fruits which last throughout the year including winter time and through its leaves that change color during the autumn season. Barberry is often cultivated as a hedge in parks and gardens.
It is also planted around houses where because of its thorny aspect that keeps away any unwanted guests. However, barberry is a propitious host for “Puccinia graminis” (stem rust of wheat), and for that reason it’s forbidden for the barberry to be cultivated in certain areas like the agricultural ones.
The herb has been used throughout the time for its medicineal characteristics. In the traditional Chinese medicine, barberry was mentioned more than 3000 years ago.
Proprieties of Barberry
In the chemical composition of the herb there are a considerable number of active substances. The bark contains a large number of alkaloids (berberine, berbamine, oxyacantha) and tanines. Barberry fruits contain glucose, fructose, malic acid, pectine, vitamin C. The active substances from the herb bring about the following effects: haemostatic, diuretic, vasodilator, hypertensive, antibacterial (kills bacteria and parasites), and anti-inflammatory. Berberine, the potent agent has numerous usages in controlling different illnesses (stimulates digestion and reduces the gastrointestinal pains) and at the same time it toughens the immune system.
Among the most recommended usages of barberry are those against diarrhea (and in its more serious forms – cholera), against fever, anemia and also against hangovers. It’s also efficient against a considerable number of infections – malaria or the lung infections, while controlling the secretions of the mucous membrane. It has a strong sedative effect, decreases the blood pressure and is also a uterine stimulant. Barberry can be administrated to help correct the growth of the spleen.
Barberry can be ingested as an aliment due to its generous supply of vitamin C. Its fruits are used for making juice, syrup and jam.
Only the dry crust from the roots and stem is being used in medicinal purposes. Barbarry can be found on the market under the forms of tea, tincture, pills and ointment. Usually the percentage of berberine from those products is between 8 and 12%.
Following is the shortened version on how to prepare the barberry decoct: 1/2 of powdered barberry crust is boiled in a cup of water for 5 minutes, after which it is let to cool down and then is strained. The final mixture gets poured in a cup (2 a day at the most), almost half an hour before dinner. For gargling (against sore throats) the decoct is prepared from one spoon of powdered barberry crust mixed with 0.5 liters of water.
As for the tincture, it should be consumed three times a day in doses of 1.2ml.
As a remedy against kidney problems it’s recommended that the next recipe based on barberry crust to be put into use: Finely cut bits of barberry get added in a bottle half filled with plum brandy at 35-40 degrees Celsius until the bottle is filled to the brim. It gets covered with a cork and is let to sit for about 20-30 minutes in a heated place, after which it gets strained. This mixture lasts for five years and is considered a true miracle in fighting the kidney illnesses. It is administrated 2-3 times a day by using a spoon.
Against conjunctivitis the use of cataplasms with powdered barberry crust is recommended.
Exceeding the recommended doses leads to the occurrence of side effects (nausea, vomit, dizziness, convulsions) and can also lead to nosebleeds, kidney failure, swells of skin and eyes, blood sugar decrease. The mixtures made from crust of barberry are forbidden to children, pregnant women or women in lactation period. In cases of interaction between this herb with other medicines to avoid side effects, the advice of the physician should be asked for.