Medicinal use of barberry dates back more than 2,500 years. Barberry has been traditionally used for gastrointestinal aliments, lymphatics, urinary tract and respiratory infection, and to bring down fever. Berberine, the primary alkaloid is a potent antibiotic, astringent and anti fungal. It imparts a yellow color to the bark and root. The alkaloids in barberry bark also reduce fever, calm the nerves, constrict capillary flow, reduce muscle spasms and lower blood pressure. Today, it is widely used for medicinal purposes in Iran, including for biliary disorders (such as gallbladder disease) and heartburn. It also acts as an antioxidant.
Berberine is the primary alkaloid found in barberry. It has been shown to inhibit the growth of bacteria in test tubes, and may help immune function. Barberry has been used to reduce inflammation and infection. In the GI tract, it has been used to treat bacterial diarrhea and food poisoning. In some cases, it out performs drugs, possibly because of its astringent properties. In the respiratory tract, it has been used to treat sore throat , sinusitis, nasal congestion and bronchitis. It has also been used for bladder and urinary tract infections. Candida (yeast) infections of the vagina, GI tract and skin have responded to Berberine.
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.
Pregnant women should not take barberry because it may cause uterine contractions and trigger miscarriage. In infants, berberine may interfere with liver function and might worsen jaundice. Taking barberry with antibiotics may decrease the effectiveness of the antibiotics. Talk to your doctor about taking barberry in conjunction with antibiotic therapy. Barberry may also affect the effectiveness of blood-thinning (anticoagulant) medication. DO NOT take barberry if you take anticoagulants. Barberry may actually increase the efficacy of antihistamines. Barberry may increase the effects of blood pressure medication. DO NOT take barberry if you take blood pressure medication. Barberry may interact with Celebrex. Talk to your doctor before combining the two. Barberry may increase the effects of diuretics. Talk to your doctor before combing the two. Barberry may lower blood sugar, making the effects of diabetes drugs stronger. DO NOT take barberry if you take medications for diabetes.