Source, Etc

Berberis is the dried stem of Berberis aristata, de Candolle (N.O. Berberideoe) a shrub indigenous to India and Ceylon.


The drug occurs in slightly undulating pieces, from 2.5 to 5 cm. in diameter, yellowish brown and striated externally, bright yellow internally. The transverse section exhibits a narrow brown cork, a broader yellowish-brown bast, a large yellow wood and small pith. The bast is traversed by conspicuous, yellow medullary rays, and is laminated. The wood exhibits numerous distinct medullary rays and small vessels. It has a bitter taste.


The chief constituents of berberis are the alkaloid berberine (see p. 235) and other substances of alkaloidal nature not yet fully investigated, tannin, and resin.


It is used in India as a bitter tonic in intermittent fevers.