Barberry (Fu Niu)
Botanical Name: Berberis vulgaris
Barberry is a wonderful herb that supports a healthy heart and can help cleanse the liver, gallbladder, and digestive system. Barberry contains the constituent berberine which is known to be a powerful anti-aging, antibacterial, cardiotonic, and antioxidant. The herb is also used to treat convulsions and epilepsy.
Watch a short video, from Ann Christensen, Founder and Creator of White Rabbit Institute of Healing™ – Barberry or Oregon Grape, What’s the Difference?
Below is an overview of barberry, combining the best of Western Science, Oriental Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore, and a wide range of healing modalities. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of barberry.
How to take FULL advantage of Barberry's healing powers...
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Western Name: Barberry
Also Known As: Mountain Grape, Pepperidge, Berberry, Common Grape, European Barberry, Common Barberry, Holy Thorn
Organs/Systems: Cardiovascular, Respiratory, Liver, Bladder, Skin
Key Actions: Antioxidant, Antibacterial, Cardiotonic, Anti-inflammatory, Stomachic, Antifungal, Antiprotozoal, Bitter, Anticonvulsant, Antimicrobial, Hypotensive, Sedative, Mild Laxative
Medicinal Uses: Respiratory infections, colds, bronchitis, sinusitis, nasal congestion, urinary tract infections (UTIs), diabetes, candida, diarrhea (including diarrhea caused by food poisoning), dysentery, abdominal bloating, high blood pressure, blood sugar regulation, heart rate regulation, liver cleanse, gallbladder flush, sores, burns, psoriasis, jaundice, gallstones, hepatitis, colic, consumption, ringworm, malaria, eye infections.
Also Known As: N/A
Meridians: Liver, Spleen, Stomach, Large Intestines
Key Actions: Restores the Liver, Tonifies the Spleen, Removes Stagnation, Promotes Urination, Clears Liver Heat, Clears Toxins
Medicinal Uses: Poor appetite, bloating, diarrhea, poor digestion, constipation, anemia, constipation, diarrhea, jaundice, scanty urine, gout, arthritis, stuck menses, mouth sores, bleeding gums, irritability, headache, dysentery, blood in the stools, vaginal yellow discharge.
Basic Habitat / Botany:
Barberry is a thorny evergreen or deciduous shrub of the genus Berberis and the family Berberidaceae. There are almost 500 different species of plants in the genus Berberis. It can grow to be 3-15 feet tall and 4-7 feet wide. It has gray, thorny branches with bright yellow flowers that bloom between April and June. The flowers turn into drooping, dark red berries in the fall. Its leaves are similar to a Holly bush.
Barberry is native to Europe and Asia and is now found in North Africa, the Middle East, and North America. It is now mostly grown in Iran.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Root, Bark, Stem, Berry, Fruit
Flavors/Temps: Bitter, Cold, Astringent
Caution: Considered safe. Not recommended for pregnant women as it can cause uterine contractions. It is also not recommended for children.
Key Constituents: Isoquinolone alkaloids (most especially: Berberine), Vitamin C, Thiamine, Beta-carotene, Lutein, Zeaxanthin, Chromium, Cobalt, Zinc, Manganese, Copper, Iron
History/Folklore: Barberry is highly effective at lowering blood sugar levels, making it an herb of choice for diabetics. It helps heal respiratory and bladder infections and aids digestion. It can help control the overgrowth of Candida albicans as well as prescribed antibiotics without the side effects.
It is said to help lower blood pressure by causing dilation of the blood vessels. The University of Maryland Medical Center has shown that barberry is beneficial to both the cardiovascular and neural systems. A constituent found in barberry called berbamine is also thought to help protect your heart from ischemia/reperfusion injury as it also helps strengthen the heart itself. Berberine is known to be a powerful anti-aging, antibacterial, cardiotonic, and antioxidant compound. A powerful healing compound, it is also known for its ability to lower blood sugar, improve cholesterol, and reduce testosterone levels. It is one of the few compounds known to be as effective as a pharmaceutical drug. Barberry is known to have the highest levels of berberine of all the plants known to contain this important healing compound.
Barberry (Berberis vulgaris) is closely related to Oregon grape (Berberis nervosa/Mahonia). Both contain berberine. Like Oregon grape, barberry stimulates blood flow to the liver helping to improve overall liver function and stimulating the flow of bile. Between Oregon grape and barberry, Oregon grape is considered the stronger of the two species, but contains less of the constituent berberine found in both plants. Barberry on the other hand, is gentle enough to be used by the weak or debilitated in order to strengthen and cleanse their systems. It is also thought to reduce an enlarged spleen. Barberry is often included in liver, gallbladder, colon, and kidney flush formulas.
Barberry is known to have antibacterial properties that include an ability to fight Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Salmonella, Shigella, and Escherichia Coli (E. Coli). Some studies indicate that barberry may ease the symptoms of diarrhea better and more quickly than antibiotics and without the side effects.
The berries are edible. They are quite sour, with a sharp flavor, and very high in vitamin C. The berries are popularly used in Middle Eastern dishes, especially as an addition to cooked rice, vegetable, and chicken dishes. They are also used to make jams and jellies. In Russia and Ukraine, an extract from the berries is often used in preparing traditional meals.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, barberry is considered a strongly downward moving herb. It helps stimulate all digestive secretions helping to break up and remove toxic intestinal obstructions. It is excellent for chronic conditions that have turned to Stagnation. It is also good for moving Blood Stagnation, especially in the Lower Jiao (belly, intestines, uterus, and low back.)
In Italy, the herb is commonly called “Holy Thorn” as it was believed to have formed a part of the crown of thorns Jesus wore.
Native Americans taught the early settlers how to use barberry as a medicine. They used the berries to help treat scurvy, gastrointestinal disorders, and coughs.
The berries are quite popular with birds who help spread the plant’s seed naturally.
Jams, Jellies, & Juices
How to use Barberry (Fu Niu) and take FULL advantage of it's healing powers!
Find out how to safely use this powerful herb and get specific recipes you can make use of immediately. Dive deep into Eastern and Western perspectives about HOW and WHY this herb works. Includes uses, benefits, essential oils, gardening tips, and much, much more.
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