Barberry (Berberis spp.)

Barberry Overview:

Barberry is a member of the Berberis genus. This genus contains a group of similar plants containing the active constituent, "berberine".

Berberine is a potent antibacterial, but has low oral bioavailability. This makes it especailly useful for gastrointestinal infections, and topically for sin infections. The bitter tasting, yellow pigmented extract of Barberry is one of the most popular antibacterial herbs in Western herbal medicine. Its reliability, and strong research base has made it a staple in herbal pharmacies.

This herb is very bitter tasting, which makes it useful as a bitter tonic for liver or gallbladder dysfunctions (see cautions to see stay clear of contraindications associated with this!).


Main Herbal Actions:

  • Antimicrobial
  • Antiemetic
  • Bitter Tonic
  • Cholagogue
  • Choleretic
  • Antipsoriatic
  • Alterative
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Hepatoprotective
  • Laxitive (mild)

Main Uses:

Barbery is used for topical bacterial, fungal, and parasitic skin infections, gastrointestinal infections, poor digestion, liver or gallbladder insufficiencies, elevated blood lipid levels, fatty liver disease, and high cholesterol.


Daily Dosage

Liquid Extract

Ratio: 1:2

3-6 mL

Weekly Dosage

Liquid Extract

Ratio: 1:2

20-40 mL


Part Used

Root/Rhizome, Bark

Family Name



North America (East Coast)

Follow Us On Social Media

Constituents of Interest

  • Berberine
  • Lambertine
  • Oxycanthine

Common Names

  • Barberry
  • Mahonia
  • Oregon Grape
  • Mountain Grape

Botanical Info:

There are over 500 species in the Berberis genus, the most common one in Europe is Berberis vulgaris, which is commonly referred to as Barberry. In North America, however, the most common species is Berberis aquifolia (Mahonia). Both are used or the same applications and have a very similar phytochemical profile.


Level Of Research:


Clinical Applications Of Barberry:

Barberry is best used clinically for bacterial, fungal, and most parasitisc infections o the gastrointestinal tract or topically on the skin. It is also useful for treating liver disease including fatty liver disease, highcholesterol levels (high HDL signifying liver damage), and metabolic syndromes.



Do not use barberry if pregnant, or experiencing gallbladder stones.


Recommended Products Containing Barberry:

Card image cap

Full Spectrum Barberry Capsules


Made from Berberis vulgaris root

Shop Now
Card image cap

Dried Barberry

Cyrus Saffron

Zareshk Barberry

Shop Now
Card image cap

Oregon Grape Extract

Herb Pharm

Made from Mahonia aquifolium

Shop Now

Recent Blog Posts:


For a list of references, see the full Barberry monograph.