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Scientific Name: Berberis aquifolium/vulgaris

Constituents:

  • Isoquinoline alkaloids (berberine, berbamine, palmatine, and others)
  • Flavonoids
  • Tannins
  • Phytosterols
  • Resins & Lignan
  • Volatile oil

Medicinal actions:

  • Alterative
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antimicrobial
  • Anti-neoplastic
  • Astringent
  • Bitter
  • Hepatic stimulant (cholagogue & choleretic) & Hepatoprotective
  • Laxative (mild)

Mechanism of Action & Pharmacology:

  • Alkaloids are regarded as the major constituents and perhaps responsible for most of the properties, with berberine being the most widely distributed.
  • Isoquinoline alkaloids (berberine & berbamine) are antimicrobial, inhibit platelet aggregation and adhesion, stimulate intestinal contraction, cholagogue, hepatoprotective, immuno-stimulant and cytotoxic.
  • Berberine displaces albumin from bilirubin, thus this herb may be harmful during later stages of pregnancy.

Pharmacy:

  • Decoction
  • Tincture
  • Dried bark
  • Topical as cream, lotion or compress

Safety & Toxicity Concerns:

  • Theoretically could cause intestinal or vaginal dysbiosis by using extreme doses of standardized extracts.
  • Avoid during pregnancy and lactation.
  • Limit long-term use (absolute max. 2 months consecutive).

Interactions:

  • Increases gut motility, thus may decrease absorption of many drugs if taken simultaneously (theoretical).
  • May potentiate effect of drugs on displacing bilirubin (theoretical)

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