Barberry is the common name for the plant Berberis vulgaris L. Barberry is a spiny shrub, which can reach up to 8 feet tall and produces many ovoid, orange-red berries.
Usually available as a crude, dry extract; barberry is often included in anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and immune stimulating formulas.
Barberry preparations are considered "Unapproved" by the German Commission E.
While the berries make a great jam, it is the root that is best known medicinally. Barberry roots are rich in isoquinoline alkaloids (often called berberine alkaloids). These include berberine, berbamine, oxyacanthine and others.
Listed in the Merck index as a bitter stomachic, antibacterial, antimalarial and an antipyretic; berberine is the best studied of the compounds from the yellow roots of barberry.
Pregnant women should consult their healthcare professional prior to using.