Barberry

Medicinal use of barberry dates back more than 2,500 years. It has been used in Indian folk medicine to treat diarrhea, reduce fever, improve appetite, relieve upset stomach, and promote vigor, as well as a sense of well being. Today, it is widely used for medicinal purposes in Iran, including for biliary disorders (such as gallbladder disease) and heartburn.

Barberry and goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) are often used for similar medicinal purposes because both herbs contain the chemical berberine. Berberine has been shown to inhibit the growth of bacteria in test tubes, and may help the immune system function better. The aqueous extract of barberry has beneficial effects on both the cardiovascular and neural system. As such, it may be useful in the treatment of hypertension, tachycardia (rapid heartbeat), and some neuronal disorders, such as epilepsy and convulsions. Recent studies suggest that barberry also has antioxidant properties, and may help prevent certain types of cancer.

Infection and skin disorders

Barberry is used to ease inflammation and infection of the urinary (bladder and urinary tract infections), gastrointestinal, and respiratory tracts (sore throat, nasal congestion, sinusitis, bronchitis), as well as candida (yeast) infections of the skin or vagina. Barberry extract may also improve symptoms of certain skin conditions including psoriasis and acne. More research is needed to confirm these findings.

Diarrhea

Barberry may be an effective treatment for diarrhea (including traveler's diarrhea and diarrhea caused by food poisoning). A few studies have suggested that barberry improves symptoms faster than antibiotics, perhaps because it has astringent properties, but that antibiotics may be more effective at killing bacteria in the intestines. Because of the serious consequences associated with bacterial diarrhea, if barberry is used to ease symptoms, it is best to take the herb along with standard antibiotic therapy. However, taking barberry with antibiotics may reduce the effectiveness of antibiotics. Talk to your doctor before combining the two.

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Uses of this Herb

Bronchitis Candidiasis Diarrhea Food poisoning Gallbladder disease Gastritis High blood pressure Pharyngitis Psoriasis Sinusitis Tuberculosis Urinary tract infection in women

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Herbal medicine

Review Date: 6/22/2015  

Reviewed By: Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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