Herbal Supplements

Peer Reviewed

Barberry is an herb from a shrub that produces dark red berries in the fall. These berries are similar to cranberries. The bark and stems may also be used medicinally to decrease heart rate, lower blood pressure, slow breathing, reduce bronchial congestion (mucus), reduce fever and swelling, and treat arthritis and psoriasis (ointment form).
 Closeup of barberry leaves covered with morning frostThe bark of a barberry plant contains alkaloids considered to have antibiotic properties by some herbalists and may be used to stimulate the body's immune system. Due to increasing resistance to antibiotics and the effects of prolonged use (ie, destruction of friendly intestinal bacteria), barberry may be given as a break from conventional antibiotic treatment.

Sources of Barberry
Barberry is available in the following forms: tea, capsules (powder), fluid extracts, tinctures, and topical ointment.

Guidelines and Cautions
Depending upon the type of barberry taken (ie, tea, extract), follow package directions. Do not take barberry for more than seven days.

Do not substitute barberry for your doctor's prescription for antibiotics. Some infections are life-threatening and require conventional antibiotic treatment.

Barberry may irritate the stomach. In some cases, barberry may interfere with the absorption of the B Vitamins.

This herb should not be taken during pregnancy or while nursing.

Disclaimer: Many people report feeling improvement in their condition and/or general well-being taking dietary, vitamin, mineral, and/or herbal supplements. The Editorial Board of, however, cannot endorse such products since most lack peer-reviewed scientific validation of their claims. In most cases an appropriate diet and a "multiple vitamin" will provide the necessary dietary supplements for most individuals. Prior to taking additional dietary, vitamin, mineral, and/or herbal supplements it is recommended that patients consult with their personal physician to discuss their specific supplement requirements.

Updated on: 01/22/19
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Alternative Treatments Center
George D. Picetti, III, MD
In reviewing the above supplements several observations were noted. First of all there are no scientific papers that review the efficacy of these supplements in refereed journals. Therefore we are not able to comment on how effective they are on a scientific level. These supplements are not held to the same standards as other medications, and thus the dose and concentration may differ among different brands or companies. Although many people claim to have good results from taking these and other supplements, it is always best to discuss this with your doctor before taking these supplements. If you are taking any supplement and are scheduled for surgery, it is imperative that you tell your surgeon and anesthesiologist. Some of these supplements can cause significant changes in your body’s chemical functions, such as slowing blood clot formation, which can be a serious problem during surgery.
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