Berberis is the root of Berberis aquifolium, the Oregon grape, a plant of the nat. ord. Berberidaceae, indigenous to the Pacific slope. Its activity is due to its alkaloid, Berberine, which is found in several other plants, viz.— Hydrastis, Coptis, Podophyllum, Menispermum, Calumba, Xanthoxylum, etc.
Preparations. Those found in the shops are the—
- *Extractum Berberidis Fluidum, Fluid Extract of Berberis,—Dose, ♏v-xxx.
- *Tinctura Berberidis, Tincture of Berberis,—1 to 5. Dose, ♏x-ʒj.
- *Berberina, Berberine, the alkaloid,—usually occurs in commerce as a Hydrochlorate, prepared from Hydrastis, and called "Hydrastin." Dose, gr. j-x.
Physiological Action and Therapeutics. Berberis is an astringent bitter, in small doses a tonic and stomachic, but in large ones it is cathartic, producing watery discharges with much abdominal pain. It is generally considered to have a high degree of alterative power. The alkaloid is astringent and antiseptic, in full doses is a gastro- intestinal irritant, and has some value as an antiperiodic.
Berberis has been used as an internal remedy for typhoid and malarial fevers, diarrhoea, dyspepsia, and the uric acid diathesis, with tendency to formation of calculi. It has given better satisfaction, however, as an alterative tonic in strumous and syphilitic affections, and locally as an application in conjunctivitis. The Muriate (Hydrochlorate) of Berberine is a favorite application to the urethral mucous membrane, as an antiseptic and astringent injection in gonorrhoea.
A Compend of Materia Medica, Therapeutics, and Prescription Writing, 1902, by Sam'l O. L. Potter, M.D., M.R.C.P.L.