European barberry
European barberry

Background

European barberry (Berberis vulgaris) is a tall shrub. It's bark, leaf, and fruit have been used in traditional Chinese and Native American medicines.

European barberry contains chemicals that might cause stronger heartbeat. It also might decrease swelling and acid in the stomach.

People use European barberry for acne, diabetes, high cholesterol, breast cancer, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.

Don't confuse European barberry with Oregon grape. These are not the same.
When taken by mouth: European barberry fruit is likely safe when eaten as food. There isn't enough reliable information to know if European barberry is safe to use as medicine or what the side effects might be.

When applied to the skin: There isn't enough reliable information to know if European barberry is safe or what the side effects might be.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: European barberry is likely unsafe when taken by mouth while pregnant or breast-feeding. The berberine in European barberry might harm the fetus if taken during pregnancy and can pass from breast-milk to a nursing infant. The chemicals in European barberry might cause brain damage.

Children: European barberry is likely unsafe for newborn infants when taken by mouth. It contains a chemical called berberine, which can cause brain damage. Don't expose infants to European barberry. There isn't enough reliable information to know if European barberry is safe to use in older children.

Bleeding disorder: European barberry contains a chemical called berberine. Berberine might slow blood clotting and increase the risk of bleeding. European barberry might make bleeding disorders worse.

Surgery: European barberry contains a chemical called berberine. Berberine from European barberry might prolong bleeding or slow down the nervous system during and after surgery. It might also interfere with blood sugar control during and after surgery. Stop taking European barberry at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Effectiveness

There is interest in using European barberry for a number of purposes, but there isn't enough reliable information to say whether it might be helpful.
Likely effective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly effective Effectiveness definitions
Likely ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Insufficient evidence Effectiveness definitions

Dosing & administration

European barberry has been taken by mouth by adults at varying doses. Speak with a healthcare provider to find out what type of product and dose might be best for a specific condition.

Interactions with pharmaceuticals

Cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune)

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

The body breaks down cyclosporine to get rid of it. European barberry might decrease how fast the body breaks down cyclosporine. This might increase levels of cyclosporine in the body and increase the risk of side effects.

Drying medications (Anticholinergic drugs)

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

European barberry can block a chemical in the body called acetylcholine, which has many important functions. Some medications, called anticholinergic drugs, also block acetylcholine. There is some concern that taking them together might increase the risk for confusion, blurred vision, increased sweating, and increased heart rate.

Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates)

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. European barberry might change how quickly the liver breaks down these medications. This could change the effects and side effects of these medications.

Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs)

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

European barberry might lower blood sugar levels. Taking European barberry along with diabetes medications might cause blood sugar to drop too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely.

Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs)

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

European barberry might lower blood pressure. Taking European barberry along with medications that lower blood pressure might cause blood pressure to go too low. Monitor your blood pressure closely.

Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs)

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

European barberry might slow blood clotting. Taking European barberry along with medications that also slow blood clotting might increase the risk of bruising and bleeding.

Sedative medications (CNS depressants)

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

European barberry might cause sleepiness and slowed breathing. Some medications, called sedatives, can also cause sleepiness and slowed breathing. Taking European barberry with sedative medications might cause breathing problems and/or too much sleepiness.

Various medications used for glaucoma, Alzheimer disease, and other conditions (Cholinergic drugs)

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

Some medications that are used for glaucoma, Alzheimer disease, and other conditions increase acetylcholine levels. But European barberry can block acetylcholine. Taking European barberry with these medications might decrease the effects of these drugs.

Interactions with herbs & supplements

Herbs and supplements that might lower blood pressure: European barberry might lower blood pressure. Taking it with other supplements that have the same effect might cause blood pressure to drop too much. Examples of supplements with this effect include andrographis, casein peptides, L-arginine, niacin, and stinging nettle.
Herbs and supplements that might lower blood sugar: European barberry might lower blood sugar. Taking it with other supplements with similar effects might lower blood sugar too much. Examples of supplements with this effect include aloe, bitter melon, cassia cinnamon, chromium, and prickly pear cactus.
Herbs and supplements that might slow blood clotting: European barberry might slow blood clotting and increase the risk of bleeding. Taking it with other supplements with similar effects might increase the risk of bleeding in some people. Examples of supplements with this effect include garlic, ginger, ginkgo, nattokinase, and Panax ginseng.
Herbs and supplements with sedative properties: European barberry might cause sleepiness and slowed breathing. Taking it along with other supplements with similar effects might cause too much sleepiness and/or slowed breathing in some people. Examples of supplements with this effect include hops, kava, L-tryptophan, melatonin, and valerian.

Interactions with foods

There are no known interactions with foods.
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This monograph was last reviewed on 29/06/2023 10:00:00 and last updated on 15/09/2022 01:48:22. Monographs are reviewed and/or updated multiple times per month and at least once per year.
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