Health Guide


What is it?

Barberry is an herbal medicine that is used in kidney and liver disease, diarrhea, malaria, fever, cough, atherosclerosis, cancer, heart disease, and urinary tract infection. It has also been used for colds and flues and to prevent yeast overgrowth with antibiotic use.

Other names for Barberry include: Berberis Vulgaris, Jaundice Berry, Pepperidge Brush, and Sowberry.

Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if you need more information about this medicine or if any information in this leaflet concerns you.

Before Using:

Tell your doctor if you

  • are taking medicine or are allergic to any medicine (prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) or dietary supplement)
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medicine
  • are breastfeeding
  • have any other health problems, such as high blood pressure or heart or blood vessel disease


Talk with your caregiver about how much Barberry you should take. The amount depends on the strength of the medicine and the reason you are taking Barberry. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the medicine bottle. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to.

To store this medicine:

Keep all medicine locked up and away from children. Store medicine away from heat and direct light. Do not store your medicine in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or in other damp places. Heat or moisture may cause the medicine to break down and not work the way it should work. Throw away medicine that is out of date or that you do not need. Never share your medicine with others.


  • Before taking Barberry, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Possible poisoning and death have been associated with taking large amounts of Barberry (berberine) (1)

Side Effects:

Stop taking your medicine right away and talk to your doctor if you have any of the following side effects. Your medicine may be causing these symptoms which may mean you are allergic to it.

  • Breathing problems or tightness in your throat or chest
  • Chest pain
  • Skin hives, rash, or itchy or swollen skin

Other Side Effects:

You may have the following side effects, but this medicine may also cause other side effects. Tell your doctor if you have side effects that you think are caused by this medicine.

  • Confusion, diarrhea (1)
  • Miscarriage in pregnant women (1)


1. Fetrow C & Avila J: Professional's Handbook of Complementary and Alternative Medicines. Springhouse Corporation, Springhouse, PA; 1999.

2. Werbach MR & Murray MT: Botanical influences on Illness: a sourcebook of clinical research. Third Line Press, Tarzana, CA; 1994.

3. Watanabe A, Obata T & Nagashima H: Berberine therapy of hypertyramineemia in patients with liver cirrhosis. Acta Med Okayama 1982;36:277-281.

4. Zhou J, Xuan B, Li DX: Effects of tetrahydroberberine on ischemic and reperfused myocardium in rats. Chung Kuo Yao Li Hsueh Pao 1993;14(2):130-133.

5. Huang Z, Chen S, Zhang G et al: Protective effects of berberine and phentolamine on myocardial reoxygenation damage. Chin Med Sci J 1992; 7(4):221-225.

6. Huang WM, Yan H, Jin JM et al: beneficial effects of berberine on hemodynamics during acute ischemic left ventricular failure in dogs. Chin Med J (Engl) 1992; 105(12):1014-1019.

7. Liu CX Xiao, PG & Liu GS: Studies on plant resources, pharmacology and clinical treatment with berbamine. Phytother Res 1991;5:228-230.

8. Rong-xun Z: Laboratory studies of berberine used alone and in combination with 1,3-bis(2-chloroethyl)-1-nitrosourea to treat malignant brain tumors. Chines Med J 1990;103(8):658-665.

9. Nishino H, Kitagawa K, Fujiki H et al: Berberine sulfate inhibits tumor-promoting activity of Telocidin in two-stage carcinogenesis on mouse skin. Oncology 1986;43:131-134.

10. Kumazawa Y, Itagaki A, Fukumoto M et al: Activation of peritoneal macrophages by berberine-type alkaloids in terms of induction of cytostatic activity. Int J Immunopharmacol 1984;6(6):587-592.

11. Zhou J, Xuan B, Li DX: Effect of tetrdroberberine on ischemic and reperfused myocardium in rats. Chung Kuo Yao Li Hsueh Pao 1993;14(2):130-133.

12. Amin AH, Subbaiah TV & Abbasi KM: Berberine sulfate: antimicrobial activity, bioassay, and mode of action. Can J Microbiol 1969;15:1067-1076.

13. Kaneda Y, Torrii M, Tanaka T et al: in vitro effects of berberine sulfate on the growth of Entamoeba histolytica, Giardia lamblia and Tricomonas vaginalis. Annals Trop Med Parasitol 1991;85:417-425.

14. Desai AB, Shah KM, Shah DM et al: Berberine in treatment of diarrhea. Indian Pediatr 1971; 8:462-465.

15. Sharma R, Joshi CK & Goyal RK: Berberine tannate in acute diarrhea. Indian Pediatr 1970;7:496-501.

16. Sun D, Courtney HS, Beachey EH: Berberine sulfate blocks adherence of Streptococcus pyogenes to epithelial cells, fibronectin, and hexadecane. Antimicrob Agents Chemother 1988;32:1370-1374.

17. Kaneda Y, Tanaka T & Saw T: Effect of berberine: A plant alkaloid on the growth of anaerobic protozoa in axenic culture. Tokai J Exp Clin Med 1990;15(6):417-423.

18. McCutcheon AR, Ellis SM, Hancock REW et al: Antifungal Screening of Medicinal plants of British Colombian native peoples. J Ethnopharmacol 1994;44:157-169.

19. Hoffman D: The New Holistic Herbal. Element Books, Longmead, UK; 1991.

Last Updated: 7/4/2018
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