Zvichayny barberry – common barberry

Name: Zvichayny barberry – common barberry

Common barberry (Berberis vulgaris); soursop, sorrel, sorrel, sorrel-berry, sorrel; family of Berberis (Berberidaceae); common barberry 

Common barberry is a deciduous shrub up to 2.5 m tall. Its young shoots and branches are densely covered with thorns. The leaves of the plant are leathery, toothed at the edges, single or collected in bundles of 2-8. Flowers are yellow, bisexual, in axillary tassels or bunches, at the ends of shortened shoots; pollen is yellow. They bloom in May-June, pollinated by insects. The fruits are bright red oblong elliptical berries that ripen usually in September. Barberry is widespread in the European part of Russia, except for its northern and eastern regions. It grows more often in the undergrowth of coniferous and broad-leaved forests, thickets, on forest edges and mountain slopes. In Ukraine, it grows throughout the territory in similar places. It is grown as an ornamental plant in parks and in private plots.

Medicinal properties of barberry were known as far back as Ancient Babylon. This is evidenced by clay tablets from the library of the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal, in which it is said that barberry berries “purify the blood well.”

In scientific and traditional medicine, roots (up to 6 cm thick), bark, leaves and fruits of barberry are used. The roots are harvested in the spring, before the buds open, or in the fall, after the fruits have ripened. After digging, they are shaken off the ground (do not wash!), blackened and rotten parts are removed, cut into pieces 10-20 cm long, split lengthwise and dried in a well-ventilated room or in the air under shelter. The bark is harvested in the spring, and the leaves are harvested after the plants have finished blooming. They are spread out in a thin layer (3-5 cm) and dried, turning from time to time. The finished raw materials are stored in a cool, ventilated room. The shelf life is 3 years.

During the study of the chemical composition of the plant, it was established that all its organs contain tannins, essential oil, alkaloids (the main one is berberine), organic acids (malic, tartaric, citric and some others), sugars (up to 7.7%). vitamin C (ascorbic acid) (20-55 mg%). In addition to the above, the plant also contains other equally important substances, for example, the leaves and fruits contain lutein and vitamin K.

Barberry preparations have anti-inflammatory, sedative (calming), choleretic and diuretic effects. they are often used for hepatitis, hepatocholecystitis, cholecystitis (not complicated by mechanical jaundice). They are effective in diseases of the urinary tract (pyelonephritis, hemorrhagic cystitis). In gynecology, tincture of barberry leaves and roots is used for atonic uterine bleeding in the postpartum period, endometritis, and bleeding during menopause.

Folk medicine uses barberry more widely: bark and root decoctions are drunk for malaria, pleurisy, pulmonary tuberculosis, urolithiasis, edema, gout, rheumatism, arthralgia and neuralgia. Tincture of leaves is used for liver diseases and enlargement of the spleen (with malaria); heart diseases and malaria are treated with a decoction of flowers. Fruit juice is drunk as a diuretic and antipyretic. It is believed that it also improves blood circulation, stimulates the appetite, helps with fever and febrile conditions.

Barberry is famous not only for its medicinal and vitamin properties, but also for its nutritional properties. The fruits of the plant have a pleasant sour taste, they are used fresh and dried to prepare fillings for pies, kvass, jelly, and are added to assorted compotes. Barberry gives special piquancy to stewed meat and pilaf. In the confectionery industry, fruit extracts are added to caramel. And barberry tincture will satisfy the most sophisticated tastes.

Barberry fruits and products are not recommended for people with increased blood clotting.

Barberry is often grown in front gardens and in private plots. As it grows, it forms a decorative but very prickly hedge.

The useful properties of the plant are not limited to this: barberry fruits are the source of red and purple dyes, which are used in the artisanal production of carpets. A stable straw-yellow dye is obtained from the bark and roots – the main alkaloid of barberry – berberine – has coloring properties.

Bees, collecting nectar and pollen from the flowers of the plant, noticeably replenish the hives with honey and perga. Barberry honey productivity exceeds 100 kg from 1 hectare. Barberry honey is golden-yellow, aromatic and delicate in taste.

There are about 20 types of barberry in Russia and neighboring territories. Most of them have similar medicinal, nutritional and other useful properties.

Tincture of leaves. The leaves are infused in a ratio of 1:5 on 40% alcohol (vodka). Take 30-40 drops 2-3 times a day for 2-3 weeks.

Infusion of leaves. 1 tablespoon per 200 ml of boiling water. Insist for 15 minutes, filter. Take 30-40 drops 2-3 times a day after meals for diseases of the liver and urinary tract.

Fresh fruit juice. Take 1-2 tablespoons per day.

The preparations of the plant are contraindicated during pregnancy and in the postpartum period when the membranes or parts of the placenta are retained in the uterus.

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