barberry berberis vulgaris what you need to know

General Information

Other varieties include Nepalese Barberry (Berberis aristata), Indian Barberry (Berberis asiatica), Mountain Grape Oregon Grape (Berberis aquifolium).

Botanical Name: Berberis vulgaris

Common Name: Berbery, European Barberry, Holy Thorn, Jaundice Berry, Pepperidge Bush, Sowberry

Plant Family: Berberidaceae

History: Berberis is the Arabic name of the fruit meaning ‘a shell’.

Plant Constituents of Barberry


The stem, root bark, and fruit of barberry contain chemicals called isoquinoline alkaloids (berberine is a type of isoquinoline alkaloid), which are the main active ingredients of barberry.

Laboratory studies suggest that these substances have antimicrobial (for example, antibacterial and antiparasitic), anti-inflammatory, immune-stimulant, fever reducing, hypotensive (causing a reduction in blood pressure), sedative, anticonvulsant, and smooth muscle effects. Smooth muscles line the gastrointestinal tract; therefore, this last effect may help improve digestion and reduce stomach pain. Barberry extracts are standardized to contain 8% to 12% isoquinoline alkaloids.