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What is barberry

The barberry with the botanical name Berbris vulgaris belongs to the barberry family (Berberidaceae). There are about 15 different species of the plant. Originally only the common sour thorn (Berberis vulgaris) was native to Germany. The plant, which is also called sea buckthorn, is a deciduous shrub with sharp thorns. The shrub produces very acidic berries that are edible and high in vitamin C. Thanks to the sharp thorns, the bushes are very suitable as hedges to keep burglars away. The birds like to build their nests in the hedges, as the sitting thorns keep their predators away.

The sour fruits are very easy to process into jam and, thanks to their high vitamin C content, promote our health. The leaves and bark of the sea buckthorn are valuable for homeopathy because they have excellent healing properties that differ from those of the fruit.

It is believed that the barberry was already used as a medicinal plant in ancient times, its bark and leaves were used as a natural remedy for gall bladder diseases.

The barberry is still used today in homeopathy to treat various diseases.

field of use

When to take barberry

As a homeopathic preparation, the sea buckthorn can help relieve rheumatic pain. The sourthorn also plays a role in homeopathic treatment for urinary tract infections. A combination of sea buckthorn, Spanish fly and bittersweet nightshade has proven its worth here. Since the symptoms of bladder diseases are often diverse, they can be alleviated with several plant substances.

Berberine, an ingredient in barberry, stimulates biliary activity and aids digestion. Therefore, the medicinal plant is used in the treatment of diseases and ailments with the biliary system.


What is the effect of barberry?

The medicinal plant has been known for a very long time. It used to be used against fever and for stomach, liver or heart problems. The individual parts of the plant and the fruits have different active ingredients that can have a healing effect on the human body.

The American Indians used the sea buckthorn as a remedy for general weakness of the body. They also knew that the plant had an appetizing effect. The immigrants were familiar with the plant in the form of a bitter-tasting vegetable extract that stimulated digestion. They also brought their knowledge with them from Europe, so the medicinal plant was used against ulcers, heartburn and stomach problems.

The main active ingredients in the medicinal plant are alkaloids, especially berberine, berbamine and oxyakanthin. These substances kill bacteria and small amoebas in the body. The berberine relaxes, soothes and stimulates the uterus. In addition, berbamine lowers blood pressure.

The bark of the medicinal plant contains substances that have an anti-inflammatory effect. However, this effect is not very pronounced.

Because of the slightly yellowish color of the wood of the sea buckthorn, it was previously assumed that the plant was effective against jaundice. Jaundice is a liver disease in which the skin turns slightly yellow in color. This effect has not been confirmed in the laboratory.

A substance called tannin in the bark and the berberine help eliminate diarrhea and help the body with other digestive problems as well.

Berberine is now also used in chemically manufactured drugs used to treat diseases of the eyes. In the past, the bark and roots of the sea buckthorn were used against bloodshot eyes.

In ancient Egypt, a syrup made from sea buckthorn and fennel seeds was an effective remedy for the plague. In our times a mixture of sour thorn and fennel seeds is used to ward off infectious diseases. Finished drugs with these active ingredients are also used in modern medicine.

The ingredients of the sea buckthorn give the human brain the feeling that the person feels good. They promote vitality and help the heart and circulation. The plant is effective for high blood pressure because of its vasodilatory effect. It has a positive effect on heartburn, improves appetite, helps with digestion and soothes stomach upset. The fruits are used in inflammatory fevers, such as typhus.

Water, which contains active ingredients from the root and bark, is used for gargling and has a positive effect on the mouth and throat area and strengthens the gums.

The sourthorn also has a positive effect on the gall bladder. The medicinal plant stimulates the production of bile juices and reduces pain in this area. It inhibits the formation of gallstones.

The sea buckthorn has a strong antiseptic effect, which helps against diseases such as dysentery or diseases transmitted by dirty water. These include, for example, cholera and infections in the stomach and intestines that can be traced back to bacteria.

In naturopathy, sea buckthorn was also used for liver problems and hepatitis.

The barberry bark works against diarrhea and has an astringent effect, so that damaged intestinal walls can heal faster. In addition, the medicinal plant has a positive effect on the entire digestive process.

Skin problems such as ulcers or psoriasis can be improved by topical application with diluted sea buckthorn extracts. A tea diluted 1:20 with water can be used to rinse sore or tired eyes.

The edible berries of the barberry bush are rich in vitamin C. They also contain B vitamins and minerals such as zinc.

If your sinuses are inflamed or your nose is blocked, combing saudorns will also help.

The effect against diarrhea has been proven in some studies.

Sea buckthorn has a beneficial effect on irregular menstruation. It helps with anemia and inflammation of the vagina.

If cancer has been treated with chemical agents or radiation, the sea buckthorn can help the organism to produce new white blood cells.

Effect of the fruits

The fruits fight bacteria, loosen phlegm, make the body sweat, invigorate and give the body strength and support better breathing.

The bark

The root bark has an astringent effect, relieves flatulence, stimulates circulation, fights bacteria, alleviates menstrual discomfort, stimulates bile, prevents congestion in the liver, removes constipation, stimulates appetite, lowers high blood pressure and has a diuretic effect.

Side effects

What are the side effects of taking barberry?

There are no side effects whatsoever with the fruits of the sea buckthorn.

The following side effects can occur when using the root bark:

Side effects: In the event of an overdose (doses over 4 g corresponding to 0.5 g berberine) there is a risk of drowsiness, nosebleeds, vomiting, diarrhea, kidney irritation and possibly nephritis.

There are also no contraindications for the fruits of the sea buckthorn, while febrile kidney infections can occur when the root bark is taken.

Duration of use

How long is the duration of use of barberry before the first results appear?

No precise information can be given about the duration of use. However, since it is a natural product and the fruits have no side effects, jam or juice made from the fruit can be incorporated into the daily diet without hesitation. This benefits digestion and, thanks to the high vitamin C content, the immune system.

When using extracts from the bark and roots, the doctor's instructions should be followed closely, as overdosing can be dangerous.


Where does barberry come from?

The plant is found in southern, western and central Europe up to altitudes of around 2500 m. The sourthorn grows on the edges of forests and together with other shrub-like plants in bushes on dry, sunny locations with calcareous soil.

The barberry can also be found in Asia. The common barberry is a deciduous shrub with sharp thorns. The shrub can be found in many of our gardens as an ornamental shrub. It prefers moderately moist locations and can thrive in partial shade as well as in full sun.

Starting product

What does the raw material of barberry look like?

The medicinal plant grows in a bush or shrub. The wood, the inside of the bark and the pulp are yellow. The leaves have an inverted oval shape, a short stem and are sawed at the edges. The leaves can sometimes turn into thorns.

In May to June the shrub develops a pendulous inflorescence with many pale yellow flowers arranged like grapes. This produces red berries with a cylindrical shape in August and September, which can be easily distinguished from other berries.

Common names

What other names is barberry known by?

The barberry has the botanical name Berberis vulgaris. It is said to have got the name from the Romans who found the shrub in the Berber area. The english name of the plant is barberry.

The plant is also known by the following names: Sauerdorn, Bubenlaub, Dreidorn, Ernich, vinegar berry, common barberry, vinegar scarf, goat leaves, hare bread, cuckoo bread, red berry, kebab, buckthorn, raspberry, vine scarlet, citrus bush and lemonberry.


What are the ingredients in barberry?

The fruits of the plant have the following ingredients:

  • Anthocyanins
  • Chlorogenic acid
  • Malic acid
  • Triterpenic Acids (Urslosic Acid)
  • vitamin C
  • Berberine (traces in unripe fruits)
  • Bioflavonoids, including Flavones, anthocyanins
  • Minerals, especially potassium
  • The bark and root contain the following ingredients:
  • Benzylisoquinoline
  • Alkaloids (up to 13%)
  • Protoberberine (5-6%) with berberine, jateorhizin and palmatine
  • Bisbenzylisoquinolines (4.8-5.4%) with berbamine, oxyacanthin, aporphine base magnoflorine

The fruits of the sea buckthorn are rich in healthy vitamins and vegetable juices and they were previously said to be able to help with loss of appetite and liver or gallbladder problems, although this has not yet been scientifically proven.

However, healing powers that are used for homeopathic purposes are found in the bark and leaves of the barberry. They contain the so-called alkaloids, such as berberine and berbamine, which can inhibit the growth of pathogens.

Similar medicinal plants

Are there similar medicinal plants that work like barberry?

Plants that are also high in vitamin C are: oranges, strawberries, kale, Brussels sprouts, kiwi, broccoli, red peppers, black currants, sea buckthorn berries and rose hips.

The following medicinal plants are said to have an effect against rheumatism: nettles, dandelions, willow, grouse and goldenrod.

The following plants are used for urinary tract infections: stinging nettle, goldenrod, restraint, field horsetail, birch leaves and Canadian fleabane.

Artichoke, flea seeds, garlic, fenugreek and dandelion have a beneficial effect on the bile.

The following medicinal plants promise more vitality for more vitality: grape seed extract, maca, milk thistle, frankincense extract, wild yam, African black bean, garlic, soy and cannabis.

Forms of administration

In which form can barberries be bought on the market?

The berries, the bark and the roots have very different ingredients and therefore different effects, so that they could almost be viewed as two different medicinal plants.

Root bark: The root bark contains, among other things, berberine, an alkaloid. Berberine is available in capsule form. It has a stimulating effect on the bile and digestion. Therefore, this part of the plant can be used for digestive difficulties and problems with the liver and bile.

The active ingredients of the root bark of the barberry have a vasodilating effect and therefore lower blood pressure. The function of the kidneys is strengthened. However, if there is an inflammation of the kidneys, sea buckthorn should be avoided as it is very irritating to the kidneys.

Root bark tea: For the tea made from the root bark of the barberry, boil half a teaspoon to a full teaspoon of the dried root bark and let the infusion steep for five minutes. Then the liquid is strained and drunk in small sips. You should drink one or two cups of this tea a day.

Root bark tincture: A tincture can also be made from the root bark. This tincture can be used for the same problems as tea. It also has a positive effect on fever and lumbago.

Fruits: The ripe fruits of the barberry do not contain any alkaloids. They contain the substances typical of fruits such as fruit acids and vitamin C. When dried, the berries serve as a vitamin donor in winter. You can make it on jam or puree. The barberry berries can also be used to make syrup. In addition to vitamin deficiency symptoms such as springtime tiredness or bleeding gums, preparations made from the barberry fruits can also be used against colds. The fresh juice of barberries can be rubbed into the gums to strengthen them and stop them from bleeding.

Examples of preparations containing barberry:


  • Aranicyn liver-biliary mixture for liver-biliary disorders
  • Weleda cold cream for acute or chronic colds and crust formation on the nasal mucous membranes.


  • Syxyl uric acid drops F (with Berberis 6X) for gout and rheumatism
  • Madaus Berberis N Oligoplex mixture (with Berberis D2) for rheumatism
  • Araniforce arthro mixture (with Berberis ∅) for chronic joint diseases
  • Cysto-Gastreu S R18 drops (with Berberis D4) for inflammation of the bladder and the urinary tract

Recommended intake

What is the recommended consumption of barberry as a nutritional ingredient?

A tincture from the fruits is used for deacidification, gout, liver diseases, lung strengthening, gastrointestinal complaints, spleen ailments and rheumatism. If necessary, 15-20 drops are taken three times a day.

Barberry vinegar acts as a mild laxative for constipation. If necessary, a tablespoon is put in a glass of water and drunk.

Is there anything to consider when buying barberry?

The finished products from homeopathy can be bought without hesitation, but should only be used strictly according to the package insert.

Otherwise, with products made from the sour thorn, it is important to note that the plant parts used come from controlled organic cultivation. The fruits and tea should have been dried gently and should not contain any fungal or mold spores. In order to obtain safe and healthy products, you should only buy products made in Europe or Germany, as these are subject to special quality controls.