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Barberry root


Gardeners recognize barberry (Berberis vulgaris, or common barberry) as a thorny, highly invasive shrub with clusters of tiny yellow flowers that produce red berries in the fall. But this Asian transplant is known for more than just driving homeowners crazy. All parts of the plant—flowers, fruit, leaves, bark, and roots—have medicinal value. Long Island’s Shinnecock Indians reportedly boiled the leaves into a tea to treat jaundice, and barberry has also been used traditionally to relieve inflammation, reduce high blood pressure, lower fevers, soothe an upset stomach, and treat diarrhea, malaria, ulcers, heartburn, and liver and gallbladder problems. Today, barberry is available in lots of different forms—as a tea, tincture, capsule, extract, dried herb, in tablets, or as a topical cream—and the berries even make a tangy, tart jam. Barberry really packs a medicinal punch, but the true star is the root, which is rich in a healing alkaloid called berberine, also found in the root of goldenseal and Oregon grape. Berberine, used on its own or with other remedies, can help improve many health conditions, including diabetes, GI inflammation, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, PCOS, bacterial infections (especially Lyme), and canker sores.

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