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erbal Medicine Materia Medica


© David L. Hoffmann BSc (Hons), MNIMH

Berberis vulgaris

Part Used : Bark of root or stem

Constituents :

  • Alkaloids of the isoquinoline type, mainly berberine, berbamine and derivatives, berberrubine, bervulcine, columbamine, isotetrandrine, jatrorrhizine, magnoflorine, oxycanthine and vulvracine
  • Miscellaneous, including chelidonic acid, resin, tannin etc.
Actions : Cholagogue, hepatic, anti-emetic, bitter, laxative

Indications : Barberry is one of the best remedies for correcting liver function and promoting the flow of bile. It is indicated when there is aninflammation of the gall-bladder or in the presence of gallstones. When jaundice occurs due to a congested state of the liver, Barberry is also indicated. As a bitter tonic with mild laxative effects, it is used with weak or debilitated people to strengthen and cleanse the system. An interesting action is its ability to reduce an enlarged spleen. It acts againstmalaria and is also effective in the treatment of protozoal infection due to Leishmania spp.

Priest & Priest tell us that it is a "stimulating tonichepatic: influences the mucosa generally, removing mucoid accumulations and controlling excess secretion. Improves appetite, digestion and assimilation. Indicated for `gouty' constitutions" They give the following specific indications : Biliary catarrh with constipation andjaundice. Gastritis, biliousness, debility duringconvalescence, ulcerative stomatitis, eczema of the hands.

Felter considered it "much like Hydrastis and could be employed for many of the uses of that scarce and high-priced drug. Used forchronic catarrhal ophthalmias as a decoction, also in aphtousulcers. It is tonic, and if pushed purgative. It is of value innon-obstructive jaundice and in gastric and intestinaldyspepsias. In renal catarrh, occasioned by the presence of calculi, small doses may be given when there is burning and soreness and excess mucousin the urinary tract."

Combinations : In gall-bladder diseases it combines well with Fringe tree Bark and Black Root. CAUTION: Avoid during pregnancy.

Preparations & Dosage : Decoction: put l teaspoonful of the bark into a cup of cold water and bring to the boil. Leave for l0-l5 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day. Tincture: take 1-2ml of the tincture three times a day.

About The Author
Whilst working in conservation and lecturing in ecology and the eco-crisis for the University of Wales, David Hoffman became convinced that to heal the world, to embrace planetary......more
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