Barberry is a very interesting bush: commonly grown as a garden plant for its bright red decorative fruit, which is edible and very rich in vitamin C, although it is extremely sour. The fruit is sometimes pressed as juice or processed into jams.
Medicinally it is the bitter bark that is used. One of its main principal constituents is berberine, which is also present in Golden Seal and both plants can be used for many of the same conditions. Barberry is considered a specific for liver and gallbladder problems, congestion, stones and biliousness. It promotes the flow of bile and aids in problems associated with sluggish liver function. But it is more than a liver tonic, although more research is needed to ascertain some of its other applications. Barberry is said to be effective in the treatment of malaria and leishmansiasis. It is also reported to reduce an enlarged spleen and to be effective in the treatment of certain cancers and tumours. Barberry can be used as a cleansing tonic in chronic conditions, general debility or during convalescence.
Barberry, sewn into an amulet, acts as a protective charm for children and is believed to ease teething. Ritually collected and consecrated Barberry can be used as counter magic and protection against evil witchcraft and curses that are transferred by magically prepared thorns.
Not all herbs are suitable in pregnancy, breastfeeding or for young children, or if you are unwell, or taking any medication. If in doubt, please ask a medical herbalist or healthcare practitioner.