Berberis vulgaris


Botanical Name: Berberis vulgaris
Common name: Barberry (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 533)
Family: Berberidaceae (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 533)
Parts used: Bark of root or stem (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 533)


  • Isoquinoline alkaloids: berberine, berbamine
  • Chelidonic acid
  • Resin
  • Tannins

(Hoffmann, 2003, p. 533)



  • Antiemetic
  • Bitter
  • Cholagogue
  • Hepatic
  • Laxative

(Hoffmann, 2003, p. 533)


Indications (traditional)

  • Correcting liver function
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Jaundice
  • Spleen inflammation
  • Malaria

(Hoffmann, 2003, p. 533)

  • Metabolic disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Joint pain
  • Symptoms of menopause
  • Cystitis

(Bryan, Catapang, Conquer, Culwell, Isaac, Izuchi, Kim, McCarthy, McGarry, Rusie, Shukia, Sparks, Tangvay-Colucci, Ulbricht, Vora, Weissner, Windsor & Ziss, 2014, p. 1)


Indications (contemporary)

  • Arthritis
  • Dental plaque
  • Metabolic disorders

(Bryan et al., 2014, p. 2)

  • Dysentery
  • Liver disease

(Heinrich et al., 2012, p. 216)


Preparation & Dosage

  • Fluid extract: 1-3.5mL/tds
  • Tincture: (1:5 in 60%) 1-2mL/tds
  • Decoction: 1tsp herb/1 cup water/tds

(Hoffmann, 2003, p. 534)



May have a negative impact on individuals with gastrointestinal disorders, liver or kidney disease (Heinrich, Barnes, Gibbons, & Williamson, 2012, p. 216).



  • Known allergy (Heinrich et al., 2012, p. 216).
  • Avoid during pregnancy (Hoffmann, 2003, p. 534



  • May interact with anticolinergic agents, hypoglycemic agents, anti-platets/anti-coagulents, central nervous system depressents.
  • May interfere with anticancer drugs and cyclosporine

(Heinrich et al., 2012, p. 216).



Bryan, J., Catapang, M., Conquer, J., Culwell, S., Isaac, R., Izuchi, N., Kim, H., McCarthy, M., McGarry, M., Rusie, E., Shukia, Y., Sparks, S., Tangvay-Colucci, S., Ulbricht, C., Vora, M., Weissner, W., Windsor, R., and Ziss, C. (2014). Barberyy (Berberis vulgaris). Natural Standard Monograph. Retrieved from:

Heinrich, M., Barnes, J., Gibbons, S., and Williamson, E. (2012). Fundamentals of Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy (2nd ed.). Edinburugh: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.

Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Vermont: Healing Arts Press.

Image: Jardinage. (n.d.). Arbres fruitiers. Retrieved from:

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