top of page



Berberis vulgaris root.


Vitaklenz: 100mg

Vitaklenz for Kidz: not present.

The leaves of barberry are spatula shaped with numerous spiny teeth arising from axils of thorns on short bushy shoots. Barberry has yellow, unpleasant smelling flowers that form hanging clusters, which form into long scarlet-colored berries with a sour taste.1 2

European barberry root bark has been used for liver dysfunction, gallbladder disease, diarrhea, indigestion and urinary tract diseases,3 4 5 malaria, and leishmaniasis, where it appears to induce an apoptosis effect.4 5 6 7 Methanolic extracts of Barberry have shown effectiveness in killing the protoscoleces (heads) of tapeworm (hydatid) cysts.7 American Indians used barberry to improve appetite. It was also reportedly used for treating ulcers and heartburn,3 and is listed in the American Medical Ethnobotany Reference Dictionary as being effective in reducing fever.8 Duke’s Handbook of Medicinal Herbs lists barberry as being anti-helicobacter, fungicidal and anti-parasitic. It reports indications of barberry against staphylococcus, streptococcus and yeast, and claims that it is superior in bactericidal properties to chloramphenicol.9


The German Commission E Monographs list barberry as useful for treating liver diseases and as a stimulant for the circulatory and respiratory systems.10 Barberry is claimed also to have anti-viral activities, and as a treatment for chronic candidiasis, indigestion and parasites,11 with berberine showing antifungal activity against C. albicans, and B. vulgaris bark extract showing stronger antifungal activity against B. cinera than pure berberine alone.7


Berberine, columbamine, and oxyacanthine show evidence of antibacterial activity, with some suggestion that berberine sulfate might be amebicidal and trypanocidal.3 12 Research indicates that berberine is specifically effective against cholera, giardia, shigella and salmonella, and directly inhibits some E. coli and V. cholera enterotoxins.13 14 Studies have shown that the antioxidant effect of berberine exerts a beneficial effect on organ toxicity in the splenic, hepatic, renal and testicular tissues of mice infected by Schistosoma mansoni.15 7 Berberine also has shown anti-viral properties against Herpes simplex 1 and 2, and H1N1 strains of the influenza A virus, with reduced mortality results in mice studies, also suppressing the replication of RSV in epithelial cells.7


Berberine extracts have demonstrated significant activity against protozoan parasites, including Entamoeba histolytica, Giardia lamblia, Trichomonas vaginalis, Leishmania donovani and Plasmodium falciparum. In comparison to metronidazole, berberine was nearly as effective in eliminating Giardia as metronidazole at half the dose.16 14


Laboratory studies have shown that berberine has some activity against E. histolytica in mice.6 Barberry is generally considered safe when consumed orally and appropriately, but due to moderate toxic properties cannot be recommended in quantities over 500 mg. Barberry is classified unsafe to take during pregnancy due to its uterine stimulant properties. Due to the lack of studies it is not recommended for use while breastfeeding.4 Poor bioavailability of berberine (less than 1%) limits is use, and the search is on for ways to improve the absorption rate of this important natural constituent.7

Back to ingredients page...




  1. Dorfler HP, Roselt G. The Dictionary of Healing Plants. New York, NY: Blandford Press. 1989.

  2. “Barberry, Berberis vulgaris.” Indian Spring Herbal Encyclopedia. (Accessed May 30, 2003)

  3. Foster S, Tyler VE. Tyler’s Honest Herbal: A Sensible Guide to the Use of Herbs and Related Remedies. Fourth Edition. New York: The Haworth Herbal Press, 1999.

  4. Jellin JM, Batz F, Hitchens K. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Third Edition. Stockton, California: Therapeutic Research Faculty, 2000.

  5. Gruenwald J, PDR for Herbal Medicines. First Edition. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Company, Inc., 1998.

  6. Hostettmann, K, Marston A, Maillard M, Hamburger M. ed. Phytochemistry of Plants Used in Traditional Medicine. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995.

  7. Imenshahidi M, Hosseinzadeh H. Berberis Vulgaris and Berberine: An Update Review. Phytother Res. 2016 Nov;30(11):1745-1764. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5693. Epub 2016 Aug 16. PMID: 27528198

  8. Moerman, DE. American Medical Ethnobotany: A Reference Dictionary. New York, NY: Garland Publishing. 1977.

  9. Duke JA, et. al. Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. Second Edition. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. 2002.

  10. Blumenthal M, et. al. ed. The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council, 1998.

  11. “Barberry, Berberis vulgaris.” United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Medicinal Plant Database. Beltsville Agricultural Research Center. (Accessed May 30, 2003).

  12. Lueng AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs and Cosmetics. Second Edition. New York, NY: Wiley & Sons, 1996.

  13. Chevallier A. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Revised Edition. Sydney, Australia: Dorling Kindersley. 2001.

  14. Berberine. Altern Med Rev 2000;5(2):175–7.

  15. Dkhil MA. Role of berberine in ameliorating Schistosoma mansoni-induced hepatic injury in mice. Biol Res. 2014 Apr 1;47(1):8. doi: 10.1186/0717-6287-47-8. PMID: 25027521; PMCID: PMC4103990.

  16. Oates, L 2012, ‘Complementary Medicines for Intestinal Parasites’, Australian Pharmacist, vol. 31, no. 2 pp. 132-135


Copyright 2003 Genesis Health Products, Inc. All rights reserved.

bottom of page