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Berberis Vulgaris.

Botanical name:

Related entry: Berberis aquifolium

The bark of the root and the berries of Berberis vulgaris, Linné (Nat. Ord. Berberidaceae). Europe, Asia, and the United States.
Common Names: Barberry, Common Barberry.

Principal Constituents.—Berberine (see Hydrastis) is the active alkaloid; others are oxyacanthine and berbamine. The berries contain malic acid.
Preparation.—Tinctura Berberidis Vulgaris, Tincture of Berberis Vulgaris. (Barberry Bark, 8 ounces, Alcohol 76 per cent, 16 ounces.) Dose, 5 to 60 drops.

Action and Therapy.—Barberry may be used for purposes for which berberine medication is needed. It acts much like hydrastis and could be employed for many of the uses of that scarce and high-priced drug so far as the berberine effects are required. The fluid preparations are asserted to act more kindly and more efficiently than berberine itself. It was very early used in domestic medicine for sore eyes, and later by practitioners for chronic catarrhal ophthalmias. The decoction is employed for this purpose, and is equally efficient in aphthous sore mouth. It is decidedly tonic and if pushed, purgative. Used short of its cathartic action it is of value in non-obstructive jaundice and in gastric and intestinal dyspepsia. In renal catarrh, occasioned by the presence of calculi, small doses may be given when there is burning and soreness and excess of mucus in the urinary tract.


The Eclectic Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 1922, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D.



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