Barberry or Berberis vulgaris is a deciduous and evergreen shrub that grows in temperate and subtropical regions of Europe, North Africa, central and west Asia and the Middle East. It is used for culinary as well as medicinal purposes.
It offers various health benefits by virtue of its isoquinolone alkaloids, especially berberine. Root, rhizome and stem bark of the barberry plant are the storehouses of these alkaloids. Barberry is available in various forms including tea, tincture, dried herb, capsule and tablets.
- Curbs stomach upset: Alkaloids berberine and berberamine present in barberry have antimicrobial and anti-parasitic properties. This makes barberry beneficial in curing bacterial diarrhea, prolonged candidiasis, traveler’s diarrhea and parasitic infections of the intestine.
- Relieves indigestion: To ease indigestion barberry tea or liquid extract needs to be taken 15 to 20 minutes prior to a meal.
- Effective liver cleaner: Barberry serves as bitter tonic promoting production and flow of bile and enhancing functioning of liver. It has been found that barberry extracts retard the liver toxicity causing Microsomal Drug Metabolizing Enzymes. It is also used in treating gall stones.
- Prevents bacterial and fungal infections: The root and stem extracts of barberry have been found to be effective in safeguarding us from disease causing bacteria like E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumonia. Harmful health effects of the fungus Aspergillus flavus can also be curbed by barberry.
- Skin benefits: As it is rich in antioxidant Vitamin C barberry tea prevents the skin from damage caused by oxygen free radicals thereby preventing premature aging and keeping the skin radiant. It destroys bacteria on the skin helping to prevent acne, eczema and psoriasis. Topical application soothes burns.
- Antipyretic properties: It is beneficial in treating fever and is commonly used by herbalists to cure malaria fever.
- Beneficial for our eyes: External application of Barberry rasaut on eyelids is said to be an effective therapy for conjunctivitis and opthalmia.
- Anti-inflammatory benefits: Barberry is beneficial in treating infections and relieving inflammation of our respiratory tract, urinary bladder and gastrointestinal tract. It is beneficial in curing sinusitis, throat and nose congestion, bronchitis and inflammatory conditions like gout, arthritis, lower back pain and sciatica.
- Good for heart health: Barberry helps in promoting blood circulation in the body, reduces palpitations, lowers blood pressure and eases bronchial constrictions. All these help in preventing atherosclerosis, heart attack and stroke. It has been found to be beneficial to people suffering from ventricular heart defects.
- Diabetes treatment: The hypoglycemic and anti-oxidant properties of root and stem bark extract of Indian barberry is beneficial in treating diabetes.
- Boosts immunity: Berberine present in barberry enhances our immunity by promoting synthesis of white blood cells that protects the body against infections and foreign materials. White blood cell deficiency occurs in the body from chemotherapy and radiation treatments. In that case also barberry is beneficial.
Caution: Over consumption of barberry is associated with nausea, vomiting, hypotension, breathlessness, fall in heart rate, nose bleeding and kidney damage. Barberry extract should not be given to children, pregnant and lactating women without consulting a physician.
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