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Is Barberry Extract Good For Skin? What Are Its Other Benefits?


Berberis vulgaris, commonly known as Barberry, is a shrub native to Europe, Asia, and Northwestern parts of Africa. You can also find it growing in the wild in many parts of North America.

It is pretty common in the form of edible berries with richness in Vitamin C. However, its flavor is very sour. These berries have been traditionally used in the form of medicine for many centuries for treating digestion problems, infections, skin conditions, etc. Due to its vast history of consumption, which extends to even 3000 years in Chinese medicine, people use its extract to reap its various benefits.

You can find barberries in the form of extracts, tinctures, supplements, and many more to help with various health issues. Many of its extract forms are popular due to the versatility it provides to the user. Let's get into the details of its benefits and understand whether it is really good for the skin or not.

What Is Barberry Extract & Tincture?

Barberry extract is a common form of barberry product, another being barberry tincture. In fact, many of the tinctures are created using the berry's extract. These Barberry extract tinctures usually contain a pure form of Barberry, making them harmless and more effective than its other products.

Is It Good For Skin?

You may not know this, but Barberry can be a good option to improve skin texture and overall shine. Wondering how it does that and whether you can use Barberry for skin improvement? The answer is that it contains berberine which is popular for its cleansing properties. This component allows unclogging of pores and thus helps in getting clear skin.

You can use it to protect your skin from a stressful environment, and it can even help in skin tightening with its Vitamin C richness.

Apart from improving skin texture, it can also help in the treatment of skin conditions such as acne. It does so by fighting the infection and inflammation that comes along with the skin condition. There was even a study where the number of lesions in adolescents was reduced. They had to take 600 mg of dried barberry extract daily for a month. The acne level in the participants was moderate to severe.

The conclusion of this study was that Barberry might be an effective and safe option for treating acne in youngsters.

Apart from being beneficial for the skin, barberry extract has various other benefits.

Other Benefits Of Barberry Extract

There are several other benefits of berry that we can associate with berberine as well as its association with traditional medicines. Let's have a look at the barberry extract benefits.

High Nutritional Value

We already know that Barberry is rich in vitamin C, but did you know that there are many other nutrients that you can find in it? In fact, it is very nutritious, attributing these properties of fiber and carb richness, and contains minerals & vitamins as well.

Since they are highly rich in Vitamin C, the extract also gains antioxidant properties, providing cellular damage protection and preventing cancer and several heart diseases.

To give you an overview of the quantitative data on the nutritional value, we will take an example of about 30 grams of dried Barberry. It contains

  • 1g of protein

  • 1g of fat

  • 18g of carbohydrates

  • 3g of fiber

  • 213% of the Daily Value (DV)** of Vitamin C

  • 15% of the DV of Iron

**Daily Value (DV) is the required dose of nutrients that is recommended for daily consumption.

You can also find traces of immunity-boosting components such as manganese, zinc, and copper in the extract.

Diabetes Management

Berberine in Barberries can also work in managing high levels of blood sugar. There are studies indicating the impact of this component on the Insulin hormone, which is responsible for regulating the blood sugar level. It means that barberry extract can be a good way to lower the level of blood sugar.

There was a 3-month study involving 36 adults suffering from type 2 diabetes. In that period, 1.5 grams of berberine daily reduced hemoglobin A1c** by a significant 2%. The results were similar to the effects of metformin which is a traditional drug for diabetes.

Another 8-week-long study involving 30 people found similar results where the dosage was slightly higher.

**Hemoglobin A1c is a measure of blood sugar level over three months.

One thing to note is the common usage of barberry extract in these studies. So, you can undoubtedly rely on the berry's extract to manage your diabetes.

Treatment Of Diarrhea

The traditional use of Barberry for the treatment of diarrhea is nothing new. Much has changed over the years, and it also applies to the effect of barberry extract. It can prevent diarrhea by inhibiting certain gut receptors.

One of the oldest human studies on the effects of berberine led to the conclusion that it can treat diarrhea caused by certain infectious bacteria. There is another study with 196 adults having irritable bowel syndrome, which was diarrhea predominant. In that study, 800 mg of berberine hydrochloride was given to the participants. The result was a reduction in the frequency of diarrhea. Also, the urgency of defecation was reduced significantly.

These studies show that there is definitely scope for using barberry extract in the treatment of diarrhea. However, more conclusive human studies on the impact of barberry extract or berberine would help.

Improvement In Dental Health

We have already seen the effects of Barberry in fighting inflammation due to berberine's anti-inflammatory properties. That is why it may also be of help in treating dental diseases such as gingivitis which is inflammatory.

Toothpaste that makes use of barberry extract can help with that. There was even a study involving barberry extract toothpaste among 45 boys between 11 and 12 years of age. The study period was 21 days, in which there was a significant reduction in plaque and gingivitis.

The results of that study were in favor of the barberry toothpaste and indicated that it was more effective than traditional toothpaste with anti-plaque properties. That is why there is a higher demand for research on its anti-inflammatory effects.

Possible Anti-Cancer Properties

You should know that berberine is not the only alkaloid in Barberry extract; there are 21 other alkaloids inside it. It also relates to the anti-cancer properties Barberries may have. The antioxidant property we talked about can also be helpful in fighting the damage from oxidation that comes with the development of cancer cells.

Berberine may also kill many cancer cells, preventing the replication of cancer cells while inhibiting the enzymes which are in relation to the cancer cells' life cycle.

Low Cholesterol And Blood Pressure

500 mg of Barberry extract, two times a day for a period of 3 months, can reduce the overall cholesterol, as per an early study evidence. It can certainly be helpful for managing cholesterol in people with higher levels of cholesterol. The reduced cholesterol includes LDL (bad cholesterol) and levels of triglyceride.

A study including 63 patients with high cholesterol levels was conducted. The patients were divided into three groups with differing prescriptions. The first one was consuming 1000 mg of berberine extract every day; the second one had 20 mg of simvastatin. The third group was given a combination of both. The LDL levels were significantly lower in the first and third groups, where the common factor was berberine.

There is also evidence that consuming 0.9 grams of berberine daily can reduce blood pressure. The effect is in alignment with the low levels of cholesterol. Thus, we can say that barberry extract can have similar effects on patients with high cholesterol and blood pressure.

Helps Gastrointestinal Tract

Barberry extract is also helpful in relieving gastrointestinal pain. It does so using berberine, which acts on the intestinal muscles and improves the overall digestion capabilities.

We already saw how effective it can be in the treatment of diarrhea.

According to some of the studies that tested the gastrointestinal effects of berberine, it can work more efficiently than antibiotics. The cause is likely to be its astringent** properties.

**Astringent implies the contracting of skin cells and other tissues in the body.

Side Effects

We can see that barberry extracts hold a lot of potential in their medical benefits. However, lacking human study leads to inconclusive research on its effects.

While the berry extract has benefits, excessive dosage can also cause some side effects. Some of the common side effects due to an overdose of barberry extract include

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Dizziness

  • Nosebleeds

  • Reduced breathing or heart rate

You should note that these side effects are only in the case of an overdose. There are no reports that indicate these side effects on the average dose of the extract. But, it is still wise to exercise caution before consuming.

Pregnant women are also advised not to take the berry in any form as it can cause uterine contractions and may even lead to a miscarriage. Breastfeeding mothers should also not take it due to the possibility of passing the berry component to the infant.

An overdose can also lead to irritation in the kidney leading to problems like blood and pain in urination.

Barberry Extract Uses And Dosage

You can find a lot of evidence on the uses of barberry extract even in historical times. The Native Americans knew the value of Barberry in healing and taught that value to those who were moving into America. In Ancient Egypt, the people used the berry with fennel seeds to keep plagues away from their land. Indians used it to treat dysentery, and herbalists in Europe used the berry for the treatment of liver problems.

There is much similar evidence that we can hear about in different civilizations. However, the uses are not limited to those civilizations as even the modern uses are plenty. Another common use of Barberry is in making jams which can extend to further applications in cooking as well.

However, keeping in mind the side effects the berry can cause, it's better to know the right amount of intake.

While there is not much evidence or the proper amount of dosage, the recommendations for the safe dose range from 2 to 6 grams of the extract. The standard extracts contain about 8-12% of alkaloids, including berberine. Going for a product that is not certified and tested for its quality can cause complications. That is why; even if there are not many studies, certified products can at least ensure the safety and quality of the extract.

Interactions With Other Medicines

The berry extract can sometimes interact negatively with other drugs. So, if you are on medication, it would be best to take caution and consult a medical expert.

Patients consuming cyclosporine should never consume Barberry extract at the same time. Some other drugs that it can negatively interact with include lovastatin, indinavir, sildenafil, clarithromycin, and triazolam.

Barberry can also interact with drugs for hypertension, diabetes, coagulation, sedation, and drying. Also, consuming it with drugs containing tetracycline can reduce its effectiveness.

Variation In Barberry Based On Regions

We know that barberries can be found in different parts of the world. Due to its variety in habitats, we can observe variations in the berry as well. These variations include

Japanese Barberry

Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii) is an exotic shrub used for its ornamental appeal. The appeal comes from the cluster arrangement of its alternate, simple leaves. Its leaves come in different shapes, sizes, and colors and are native to Japan and China. Apart from its appeal to landscape designers, there is no health benefit of these berries as such.

Wintergreen Barberry

Chinese Barberry or the Wintergreen Barberry (Berberis Julianae) is an evergreen bush. Even though it is native to China, many parts of the United States are also naturalizing its growth. It also does not have any health benefits, and its ornamental appeal is its only use.

Darwin's Barberry

Darwin's Barberry (Berberis darwinii) is a native plant in Chile and Argentina. It belongs to the family Berberidaceae and is an invasive plant species in New Zealand, which means that it is not native to this region. It can also cause severe issues to the existing ecosystem, making it invasive.


Barberry extract may not be recognized for its medical benefits. Still, it is certainly a safe-to-use option, given adequate dosage. Also, even though it is not getting recognition, it has a lot of potential for its antioxidant and other beneficial properties. The need for more in-depth human research is a need.

We hope that in the future, we will get more conclusive studies which will only strengthen its reputation. Meanwhile, Barberry is still a good supplement to add to your daily life. But you should also ensure that the product you use is from a reliable and certified manufacturer.

Luckily, Shea's Apothecary is among those reliable herbal product manufacturers. Our Barberry extract contains the highest quality barberries. Also, it goes through a variety of quality checks in the manufacturing process before reaching your hands. Yes, we manufacture every product in our store to ensure the best quality.

You can visit our website and make a purchase. In case of any queries, you can contact us by sending us a mail at or calling us at 916 208-9096.

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