Barberry Extract Benefits, Side Effects & Dosage

What is Barberry?

Native to Europe, the barberry bush is a small shrub that produces small, red berries. The berries are often used to make jellies, jams and certain varieties of wine.

A traditional herb in folk medicine, barberry is gaining traction in the supplement world for its multiple health benefits. In Medieval Europe, people used it to treat simple ailments like a cough or stomach pain. Today, studies suggest it could benefit heart health, relieve diabetes, support digestion, and more (x).

Barberry Extract Benefits

Natural Antibacterial

Barberry contains berberine, an alkaloid found in many plants. Berberine has natural antibacterial properties, and studies show that it combats many different kinds of infections (x).

It may also relieve urinary tract infections and respiratory infection symptoms like coughing, congestion and sore throat (x).

Relieves Diarrhea

The berberine in barberry extract naturally relieves inflammation, especially in your gastrointestinal tract. Research supports barberry’s use in folk medicine as a treatment for diarrhea. In fact, studies show that barberry effectively and safely stops diarrhea without any negative side effects (x).

Promotes Healthy Skin

Because it kills bacteria, barberry could eliminate bacterial infections that cause acne. One study suggests that when applied topically, barberry clears up acne symptoms including oiliness, inflammation, and itchiness (x). Plus, the study didn’t note any side effects associated with using barberry for acne relief.


Barberry is incredibly healthy for your heart. Once again, you can thank its berberine content: studies suggest berberine acts as a calcium channel blocker. This means barberry controls the concentration of calcium inside your cells. This, in turn, helps prevent the activation and production of calpain, a protein that may contribute to heart failure (x).

Barberry could also reduce the risk of heart conditions, and it may lower cholesterol and high blood pressure in adults (x).

Barberry Benefits

Barberry Extract Side Effects

You should always talk to your doctor before taking any supplements. As long as you stick to the recommended dosage, barberry is safe for healthy adults.

Some barberry side effects may include increased sensitivity to sunlight, low blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and stomach upset. Talk to your doctor before taking barberry if you have diabetes, a bleeding disorder, or a history of liver problems (x, x). Ask your doctor if it’s safe for you to take barberry if you’re nursing or pregnant.

Barberry Extract Powder Dosage

You can find barberry as a supplement in capsule or powder form, and often as part of a complex for heart or skin health.

Barberry extract powder contains a high concentration of beneficial compounds like berberine. If you opt for the powder, take 500 mg (scant 1/4 tsp) 1-2 times daily, or as directed by your physician.

The Bottom Line

Rich in heart-healthy berberine, barberries can clear up infections, improve the appearance of your skin, and relieve diarrhea and GI tract problems. Science now supports what folk medicine has asserted for centuries: barberries may be small, but they pack a serious health punch.

Author: James D