Barberry (Berberis Vulgaris): The stems are woody, 8 to 10 feet high, upright and branched, smooth, slightly grooved, brittle, with a white pith and covered with an ash-coloured bark. Barberry is one of the oldest medicinees. Not too long ago thousands of lives were being saved with the help of mixtures prepared from barberry root. Those mixtures would diminish fever, control common cold and lung infections.
The berries are edible, and rich in vitamin C, with a very sharp flavour. The thorny shrubs make harvesting them difficult. Berries are often used in Asian and European rice pilaf recipies. They are an important food for many small birds, which disperse the seeds in their droppings.
Uses: The Barberry used to be cultivated for the sake of the fruit, which was pickled and used for garnishing dishes. The ripe berries can be made into an agreeable, refreshing jelly by boiling them with an equal weight of fine sugar to a proper consistence and then straining it. They were formerly used as a sweetmeat, and in sugar-plums, or comfits.
The roots boiled in Iye, will dye wool yellow, and in Poland they dye leather of a beautiful yellow colour with the bark of the root. The inner bark of the stems will also dye linen of a fine yellow, with the assistance of alum.
Parts Used: Stem-bark and root-bark.
Medicinal action and uses: Tonic, purgative, antiseptic. It is used in the form of a liquid extract, given as decoction, infusion or tincture, but generally a salt of the alkaloid Berberine is preferred.
Among the most recommended usages of barberry are those against diarrhea (and in its more serious forms – cholera), against fever, anemia and also against hangovers. It’s also efficient against a considerable number of infections – malaria or the lung infections, while controlling the secretions of the mucous membrane.
Medicinal use of barberry dates back more than 2,500 years, and it has been used in Indian folk medicine to treat diarrhea, reduce fever, improve appetite, relieve upset stomach, and promote vigor as well as a sense of well-being. Today, it is widely used for medicinal purposes in Iran, including for biliary disorders (such as gallbladder disease) and heartburn.