June 16, 2024

12 medically proven health benefits of Berberis vulgaris

Berberis vulgaris

Medicinal plants have a long history of use as a medicine to cure various health illness of both human and animal. One of those medicinal plants is a berberis Vulgaris [or, berberry and daruharidra in the Ayurveda]. This plant is a thorny shrub with 3 to 8 feet height, with spine usually divided into three branches. It is a flowering plant with yellowish flowers and foul in the smell. The fruit of this plant is a scarlet bay with 10 to 12 mm in length and 6 mm thick. Its berries are mostly reddish with rare blue color. Its green seeds are useful for hot sauces and grilled meats. The flowering period of this plant is between April and June. Europe and Northwestern Asia farmers majority cultivate it. We prepare berberis Vulgaris extract from its roots.

1. Rasuant preparation and its use:

Rasuant also was known as rasanjana is made from this plant. For the development of rasuant, first, we boil the berberry plant’s bark lower parts of the stem in water. After this, strain the solution and evaporate until we obtain semi-solid mass. This semi-solid mass is known as rasuant.

Rasuant use:

  • It is mixed with either butter or alum or with opium or lime juice. Rasuant is applied externally to eyelids to cure ophthalmia and other eye diseases.
  • It is a mild laxative and useful in healing ulcer and fevers.
  • Rasanjana known as rasuant if mixed with rose water can be instilled into the eyes in the inflammatory conditions.
  • Rasanjana mixed with honey is a useful application to aphthous sores, abrasion, and ulceration of the skin.
  • The decoction of the root bark if combined with an equal quantity of milk is beaten until it becomes a solid substance. This is useful in unifecation like otitis media for which instill its solution into the eyes.
  • The gargle of Rafsanjani with water is beneficial in the ailment of mouth and throat. Its enema is useful in leucorrhea.

2. A helpful compound found in Berberis Vulgaris:

  • The root bark contains 2-3% of the alkaloid berberine and minor amounts of other alkaloids palmatine(C21H24NO4+), berberine, and columbamine (helpful in treating chronic inflammation) [1]. According to various studies, it is proven that this alkaloid stops the cellular damages done by free radicals. Thus, these alkaloids prevent us from life-threatening diseases like cancer, heart stroke, etc.
  • Its Oxycontin alkaloid is an opioid pain relief medication which is useful for the treatment of moderate to severe, long-lasting pain. It can treat pain due to injury, arthritis, and cancer. We can also use it for gastrostitial pain.
  • According to some primary studies, it is concluded that berberine present in these berries helps in reducing blood sugar and cholesterol level [4]. But more research is needed before clinical use it.
  • Its Palmatine content makes it useful for the treatment of jaundice, hypertension, inflammation, and liver-related diseases. Since it is available in Abroma Augusta, we can cure the above problems by herbal methods, not an artificially prepared palmatine.

3. Nutritional value of Berberis Vulgaris:

Berberis Vulgaris has high nutritional value because it is rich in fiber, carbs, minerals, and vitamins.

It is rich in vitamin C, which is anti-oxidant. As an excellent oxidant, it helps in repairing cellular damage done by free radicals and also prevent it. In this way, Berberis vulgaris enables you to stay healthy from diseases like cancer and some heart diseases [2].

A 1/4 cup (2 gram) full 0f berberis berries contain:

The percent value is based on the daily intake of 2000 calorie.

Fat1 gram
Protein1 gram
Carbs18 gram
Fiber3 gram
Vitamin A2%
Vitamin C213%
copper33.7 mg/kg
manganese58.6 mg/kg
Zinc27.5 mg/kg

The Berry anthocyanins, which give red color to it has powerful antioxidant properties which boost your brain’s neuron and cognitive health [3].

4. Makes skin fair and help fight acne:

It is used for people who have a primarily dark color and have a sunken eye. It will also be used to remove dark circle and wrinkle on your face. We all know that melanin pigment is the cause of dull skin. By removing all oily substance, lines, and dark circle, it will make your skin fairer. It reduces the melanin pigment and thus makes our skin look fair. 

We have heard of ancient Indian and Chinese medicine mostly, but we know less about Japanese medications. Even modern scientific studies support it as its juice clears acne problem in the study. According to the survey, the Berberis vulgaris group successfully cured 45% in the number of zits. But its only concern is that it is not safe at the time of pregnancy due to its uterine stimulant property that may cause uterine contraction and trigger miscarriage.

In one study, Adolescents aged 12-17 years having moderate to severe acne problem have given 600 mg of dried berberry extract for four weeks. After four weeks of research, there was a significant reduction in acne seen in this subject as compared to the subject who were given placebo [5].  The study concluded that it is safer to use berberries vulgaris for children having moderate to severe acne problem.

5.  Reduces uric acid:

Uric acid forms in our body when we eat anything. Various digestive enzymes break food into smaller pieces. During this process, it also breaks purine from which uric acid forms. Uric acid is also known as gout, which is transported through the blood to different organs of the body. It contains heavy crystal which is deposit at blockage/ hindrance to the blood flow. Generally, these are accumulated at the joints. At whatever position it gets deposited, it starts damaging that organ/tissue/ joint which causes arthritis. If blood has a high uric acid level, then it reduces the pH level of blood and urine, which causes pain the joints. Generally, a patient with arthritis is asked to avoid citric fruits like lemon, orange, and curd, etc. Due to this problem, sometimes calculi or stone also forms in the kidney because our kidney can’t filter the crystal of the uric acid.

Uric acid of women must lies between 2.5 to 7.5 mg/dl, and for men, it must be between 4.5 to 8.5 mg/dl.

Berberis vulgaris Q helps in the treatment of arthritis, joint pain, and high uric acid because of its oxycontin content. It will also assist in removing uric acids crystal from the body. It is also helpful in curing burning type pain in the joint [6].

6. Immune booster:

As we know that most of the diseases come due to the weaker immune system. As we say, prevention is better than cure, so we need to do something to make our immune system stronger. Due to the presence of berberine in it, its use will strengthen our immune system, thus makes our body healthy by protecting it from various diseases. In animals study, berberine found to act as a neuroprotective [7].

7. Help manage Diabetes:

Berberry’s glucose-lowering effect was first noted when used to treat diarrhea in diabetic patients. There is no lack of studies concerning berberry.

The vast majority are concordant with barberry’s has anti-hyperglycemic properties. Chinese uses Berberine to treat diarrhea, diabetes, and as an antibiotic drug for hundreds of years. Only recently, its features have been studied as an anti-hyperglycemic and anti-dyslipidemic. In one study from the shanghai clinical center for Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases, Berberine was found to reduce hyperglycemia and dyslipidemia significantly.

Berberine also reduces obesity and cause a significant improvement in glucose intolerance. Berberine increase glucose-stimulated insulin secretion and increase the proliferation of the Min6 cells. It also improves the sensitivity of cells towards insulin, thus better absorption of blood sugar [8].

In one study, 500 mg of berberine three times each day for three months was given. Berberine has shown to be as effective as metformin in lowering blood sugar level. In the study, hemoglobin A1C was reduced from 9.5% to 7.5%, and fasting blood sugar reduced from 10.6 to 6.9. Also, postprandial blood glucose decreased from 19.8 to 11.1 mmol/L, and plasma triglycerides decreased from 1.13 to 0.89 mmol/L.

In another study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology Metabolism, one hundred and sixteen patient with T2 diabetes and dyslipidemia were randomly divided into two groups: one received one gram of berberine every day for three months; the other group received a placebo. For a berberry group, fasting plasma glucose decreased from 7.0 to 5.6 mm/L, postprandial glucose derived from 12.0 to 8.9 mm/L, and HB A1C decreased from 7.5% to 6.6%.  But they observed mild to moderate constipation in 5 participants in the berberine group.

Even though there are plenty of recent studies showing the positive effects of berberine; more research still needed.

8. Can treat diarrhea:

Berberis vulgaris has been known for its use in traditional medicine for the treatment of diarrhea. Due to probably high concentration, it slows the flow of undigested solid material from the solid, thus help you in preventing diarrhea [9].

In another study, 165 subjects were taken who have acute diarrhea due to E. coli. They were given 400 mg of berberine three times after every 8 hours. After 24 hours, there was a remarkable improvement in diarrhea caused by E. Coli in all the subjects [10].

While some studies prove that berberis vulgaris help cures diarrhea problem, but need more research to know how it helps in case of diarrhea problem.

9. May protect you against metabolic syndrome:

A metabolic syndrome is a group of five main risk factors:

  • Abdominal obesity or enlarged waistline
  • Increased blood sugar
  • Hypertension and raised blood pressure
  • High triglycerides
  • Low HDL or low good cholesterol

We need three out of five risk factor to diagnosed with metabolic syndrome. This syndrome increases patient cardiovascular risk or risk of heart attacks. As we already know that berberine, an alkaloid present in berberis vulgaris, help us prevent various cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. Thus, berberine may prevent the onset of metabolic syndrome.

In an article published in 2018, it is proved that berberine present in berberis vulgaris helps in the treatment of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, etc. Thus, It may be an effective treatment option for the patient with metabolic syndrome, but more research is needed on it [11].

In another study published in 2018, 46 diabetes patients have been taken and divided into two groups. Half of which are put on 200 ml of berberis juice for eight weeks and the other half was put on placebo. There was a lot of reduction seen in blood sugar, cholesterol level, blood pressure, triglyceride in Berberry juice group than the placebo group after the study period [12].

High level of calcium causes limbus signs in the eye — hypercalcemia increases heart rate and increases in heart contractability. If there is too high contractability of the heart, it may result in heart failure. Berbamine present in Berberis vulgaris regulates the concentration of calcium-free radicals which lead in an average contraction of the heart. It is also suitable for the patient with high blood pressure. Along with it, many studies show that berberis vulgaris decrease the oxidative stress caused by free radical, which cause cardiovascular diseases.

10. Antibacterial and anti-fungal:

Barberry treats both bacterial diarrhea and parasitic infections of the intestines. And it prevents infection by reducing bacteria ability to combine with cells. It contains berberine, which is useful as a remedy for yeast infections. It is due to these reasons; Berberry is using antibiotics. There is a prevalent type of gut flora in the body which does not spread behind the body, i.e., Candida albicans. According to various studies, berberine can kill it [13]. Berberis vulgaris is also quite valuable for curing ulcer and inflammation of the stomach.

11. As a toothpaste:

There are many problems related to tooth-like dental plaque, bleeding gums, payriya, etc. If you brush your teeth with barberry powder or liquid extract, then it might treat gingivitis, reduce dental plaque(small layer on a tooth that contains bacteria) similarly to commercial toothpaste [15]. Hence, it can also be useful to increase the lifespan of the tooth by removing the tooth plaque. Along with Berberis vulgaris, Abroma Augusta also used for toothpaste. Many of the green toothpaste companies use it as an ingredient in the mixture of toothpaste gel.

A study was conducted on 45 children aged 11 and 12 which was divided into three groups: One group having 25 children asked to apply berberry gel, the second group having ten children casked to use antiplaque Colgate and the third group having ten subjects asked to apply placebo gel. After 21 days of study, berberry gel hs reduced plaque by 56%, placebo gel by 18.5%, and Colgate gel by 44% [16].

12. Berberis Vulgaris as an anti-cancer agent:

All of us know that free radical damages our body organs and cells and causes cancers. It is antioxidant present in the body which prevent our body organ from the attack of free radicals. Berberis Vulgaris exert an anti-cancer effect, much due to its berberine content.

Since it has antioxidant properties, it prevents the cancer cells growth, reduces the damage done by cancer cells to surrounding cells, and also limits the oxidative stress [17].

But there is a lack of proper research on it. And analysis upto now limits itself to only in test tubes. Therefore, need more research to fully know its potential to use as a treatment option for cancer.

13. Other benefits of Berberis Vulgaris:

Externally, wounds are dressed with it along with yarrow to stop the flow of the blood. The paste applied on swollen and painful parts effectively mitigates the symptoms. It is also helpful in curing pruritus. Externally, a decoction of its root bark is a useful wash for unhealthy ulcers to improve their appearance and cicatrization.

The plant activates the bowels movement, which increases the flows of urine. We highly recommend to use it for the gallbladder stone. It is the first remedy for the treatment of renal colic and kidney stone. Although it is an effective remedy for the renal colic, Berberis vulgaris is more active on the left side kidney and urinary tract. 

When a patient isn’t able to digest whatever they eat and causes a gas problem in the stomach, Berberis vulgaris is an effective medicine to cure this problem. It increases the production of natural digestive tonic called bile in the liver, which helps in the digestion. While it helps the digestion process, which increases the healthy life of the liver, it also pure our blood.

If it can be mixed in tea, jelly, or syrup, then we can effectively treat respiratory tract infection, fever, infections, cold, and flu which was quite a popular remedy among masses in ancient Austrian medicines.

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Side effects of berberis Vulgaris:

Berberis vulgaris or barberry is safe to use when consumed in food items. But its medicinal use may not be safe for some person who has some of the following problems:

  1. Barberry is safe to use for the children aged between 12-17 years when taken by mouth. But according to some studies, it may damage the brain of newborn infants, especially who has jaundice.
  2. Don’t use barberry by mouth if your breast-feeding. This is because berberine present in it passes from mother body to unborn child, who may damage his brain and stop the overall growth of the mind.
  3.  As for berberine lower blood sugar level, you need to consult with your doctor before using berberis Vulgaris or barberry as combined effects of medication and barberry may lower your blood sugar. This will cause weakness, headache, dizziness, irritability, and sweating, etc.
  4. When we are going for organ transplantation, then our immune system treats that organ as an external invader and keep on rejecting it. For this, doctors mostly recommend Cyclosporine, which weakens our immune system and prevent the immune system from organ rejection after transplantation. So we always advise not to use barberry as it might interact with Cyclosporine.
  5. It is not advisable to take barberry before and after two weeks of scheduled surgery as it might increase the time or blood clotting or causes hemophilia.
  6. Some medicine makes you sleepiness, so taking barberry with them make it worse for you. So, always consult with your doctor before using it.


From the above discussion, we have learnt that berberis vulgaris has great potential to cure some of the diseases which artificial chemical can’t cure without side effects. But some of the commercially available products have not enough quality as they have not either enough extract of berberis vulgaris or have not gone through quality testing procedures. Although it is safe to use, always consult with your doctor before taking it or any of its supplements as it may interact with your medicines.