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What is Barberry?

This plant is a perennial thorny shrub growing up to 12 feet high and native to central and southern Europe, northwest Africa and central Asia. The fruits are edible though have a very sharp taste and are sources of vitamin C. The fruits have been used historically to make jam. Many small birds eat the fruit and disperse the seeds in their droppings. There is a very popular Russian candy made from the fruit as well called; Barberis. The root contains the medicinal properties and has been used in several traditional systems in addition to the berries. The plant has been used in these systems for at least 2000 years.

What is Barberry Used For?

The alkaloid chemical Berberine is found in the root of this plant as well as the roots of Oregon Grape, Coptis, Goldenseal and Turmeric. Berberine has been researched for its properties relating to the immune system. In addition to these functions, the extract of barberry can promote healthy bile flow and is use to support the immune system, lungs, gall bladder and liver. Barberry has been used to help promote the natural detoxification process as well.

Uses and Benefits of Barberry


This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.

Active Constituents of Barberry

Berberine, thiamine, vitamin C, the carotenoids beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, chromium, cobalt, and zinc.

Parts Used

  • Root

Important Precautions

Not for use during pregnancy. If you have a medical condition or take pharmaceutical drugs please consult your doctor prior to use.

Additional Resources

Bibi, Y., Nisa, S., Chaudhary, F.M., Zia, M.;
BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011; 11: 52.
Piyanuch, R., Sukhthankar, M.,Baek, S.J.Cancer Lett.; Cancer Lett. 2007 December 18; 258(2): 230–240.

*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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