11 Health Benefits of Barberry, According to Science (+6 Delicious Recipes)

A herb capable of boosting your immune system, improving heart health, and reducing the risk of cancer, Barberry is here to stay! It consists of berberine, which is a powerful alkaloid to treat multiple digestive and anti-aging problems. Multiple studies on the effectiveness of barberry have shown that barberry extract has powerful and nutritious properties.

People have consumed barberry for its impressive health benefits. Some of which you already know while some still remain an enigma. Universally, barberry extracts have been used for medicinal purposes and as natural healers for treating high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes, high cholesterol, oxidative stress, and free radical-induced diseases.

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1. Berberine Present In Barberry Fights Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotic resistance is a common condition. It arises due to the intake of excessive antibiotics in the body. The role of antibiotics is to kill harmful bacteria in the body. But this leads to bacterial resistance which means the residual germs and bacteria left in the body act against the antibiotics while rapidly growing out of control.

This leads to numerous other problems that antibiotics are unable to treat or prevent. In fact, the more antibiotic you consume at this point, the worse it gets. This influences the DNA synthesis process while weakening your immune cells to fight and replace the harmful bacteria in the body. (1)

Antibiotic resistance can be controlled with the help of berberine compound. Berberine is found in the roots, stems, and the bark of barberry. It is powerful enough to target antibiotic resistance to have long-term health benefits. It reduces your chances of catching the flu or viral cold due to a bacterial infection.

Plus, antibiotic resistance is also associated with other diseases such as heart disease, cancer, gastrointestinal problems, and allergies. The consumption of berberine, present in barberry, is important for its anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties. (2)

Key Takeaway: Increased consumption of barberry for its berberine content is essential for preventing severe antibiotic resistance. Older adults who consume lots of antibiotics can reduce signs of inflammation and bacterial infection with barberry.

2. Barberry Treats Various Types Of Infection

Barberry is incredibly healthy, that you already know of, but what about its specifics? They’re especially rich in berberine sulfate, which is a strong alkaloid that helps prevent antibiotic resistance.

But this alkaloid has other antimicrobial properties too. It helps to prevent the development of different types of infections including urinary tract, bladder, sinusitis, respiratory, and gastrointestinal infections.

A study conducted on berberine sulfate showed that an increased intake of this compound can reduce effects of lipoteichoic acid-fibronectin complexes. This kills of host cells that are associated with various types of infections mentioned above. So higher doses of barberry extract can keep infections at bay and improve overall immune responses towards such harmful bacteria. (3)

Key Takeaway: A recent study has suggested that barberry plays an important role in the suppressing of certain host cells that could give rise to infections such as sinus, inflammatory diseases, sore throat, urinary tract infection, and so on.

3. Barberry Is A Powerful Anti-Cancer Herb

Most herbs are rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C which plays an important role in preventing cancer growth. Barberry is one of those herbs. Barberry contains good amounts of vitamin C that are effective in targeting and suppressing cancer stem cells in the body.

A study conducted on the metabolism of cancer stem cells proved that vitamin C is 10 times more effective than other methods. It helps suppress the growth of fatal tumors in the body. This is often fuelled by the rapid proliferation of damaged cells in the bloodstream. (4)

Vitamin C, once digested, breaks down into hydrogen peroxide. Cancer cells with very low or abnormal levels of catalase enzymes are unable to get rid of hydrogen peroxide. This leads to an increase in fatal tumor growth and cancer cells proliferation in the body. (5)

Lastly, vitamin C sensitizes harmful cancer cells that escalate due to radiation or chemotherapy. This means vitamin C not only plays a role in the killing of cancer cells, but it also helps reduce effects of chemotherapy and radiation for treating cancer.

A high dose of vitamin C during chemotherapy can help cancer patients cope with the possible side-effects that hinder the proper blood circulation of the body. Also, participants of this study also claimed that it had a positive effect on blood pressure and general immune response towards chemotherapy and radiation. (6)

Key Takeaway: Multiple studies verify that vitamin C, present in huge amounts in barberry, contributes to the inhibition of cancer cells and tumors in the body. A high dose of vitamin C during chemotherapy and radiation can have a positive effect on blood pressure and the immune system.

4. Barberry Helps Improve Liver And Gallbladder Health

Due to the exposure of numerous chemical compounds and toxins, the body needs a powerful detoxification agent to get rid of harmful bacteria and oxidants. This can be done through the proper regulation of the liver and gallbladder.

Barberry contains berberine alkaloid which plays an important role in cleansing the liver and gallbladder of bile. Bile, as you already know, keeps your digestion process healthy and consistent by digesting fatty foods. So an increased secretion of bile from the body can help alleviate liver and gallbladder problems while keeping other gastrointestinal problems at bay.

This study focused on the positive effects of barberry on the liver, gallbladder, and the digestive system. It showed that, due to lifestyle-related factors, bile secretion can be hindered. This leads to high cholesterol, inflammation, thyroid diseases, and diabetes.

Barberry acts as a powerfully mild laxative to flush away all toxins from the liver and gallbladder while regulating the digestive system with proper bile secretion. (7)

Key Takeaway: Barberries are good sources of laxatives and antioxidants that help cleanse the liver and gallbladder to increase bile secretion in the body. Low levels of bile secretion, due to an unhealthy diet, can cause weight gain, heart problems, and diabetes.

5. The Nutrients Present In Barberry Lower Heart Disease Risk

Barberry is a powerful herb containing antioxidant and blood pressure-reducing properties. Both of which play a great role in lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

The active compounds present in barberry, including berberine, helps lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a commonly growing phenomenon in the world today. Lots of people are suffering from severe heart problems due to stress, environment, and genes related factors.

Berberine reduces blood sugar levels, elevated blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, and excessive fat buildup in the body. It’s no surprise that most diabetic patients have a heart problem. But you can help alleviate that with the help of an increased barberry diet. (8)

People with metabolic syndrome also experience elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels. So a study proved that a higher concentration of barberry can reduce the oxidative stress associated with this disease. (9)

Lastly, the anti-atherogenic properties of barberry extract can help reduce the risk of heart disease in patients with a chronic diabetes problem. (10)

Key Takeaway: Barberry intervenes the proliferation of cardiovascular disease from all phases. It lowers blood pressure, treats LDL cholesterol levels, suppresses oxidative burden, and treats heart problems in diabetic and metabolic syndrome patients.

6. Barberry Helps Reduce Skin Inflammation And Treats Skin Disorders

Inflammation is one of the leading causes of skin disorders and skin infections in most humans. Thanks to its antibacterial properties, there are certain types of skin disorders that barberry can help alleviate.

According to a report, barberry reduces inflammation caused by genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. It prevents acne, signs of aging, and decreases certain skin conditions such as psoriasis. The medicinal use of barberry is extremely effective and so is its therapeutic properties.

Recent studies have managed to prove that people who eat barberry have an added advantage for dealing with lots of acne, yeast infections, and other skin conditions. (11)

It also helps decrease inflammation of certain types of skin ulcers and candida infections commonly found in the vagina for most women.

Key Takeaway: Barberry contains powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties. They help in preventing and treating many skin conditions such as acne, yeast infections, and other signs of skin inflammation.

7. Barberry Works As A Powerful Herb For Healthy Weight Loss

Another impressive health benefit of berberine, present in barberry, is its ability to lower lipid levels to aid weight loss in obese patients.

There aren’t many medicinal or therapeutic methods for treating obesity, especially those with metabolic problems. Barberry acts as a natural obesity-treating agent, thanks to its high berberine capacity. It helps in the regulation of certain active enzymes such as adenosine and protein kinase which are metabolic boosters.

These enzymes help burn fat faster while activating mitochondrial activity for better weight loss.

The study focused on increasing berberine dosage in obese human participants. Factors such as hormone levels, blood lipid levels, metabolic panel, and body weight were taken into consideration. The results showed that berberine supplementation leads to mild weight loss while drastically lower blood lipid levels in obese patients. (12)

The participants were fed 500 mg of berberine 3 times a day for 3 months. This was conducted on the oral supplementation of berberine.

Key Takeaway: In obese patients, blood lipid levels, weight, and hormone levels are always elevated. To treat the severe effects of obesity, you need something strong and effective, such as berberine, for lowering blood lipid levels.

8. Barberry Reduces Lung Inflammation Caused By Smoking

If you’re a chronic smoker, you need a higher dose of antioxidants, including berberine, to fight lung inflammation. Cigarette smoking-induced inflammation can lead to irreversible health problems such as cancer.

It can also cause permanent lung injury which could block airways for proper inhalation and exhalation. This could lead to severe age-related respiratory problems without solutions to look for.

That said, berberine is shown to have positive anti-inflammatory properties. It regulates fluid retention and cellular edema which is a contributive agent to lung inflammation. (13)

This study focused on cigarette smoke-induced mice. They were treated with a higher dose (50 mg) of berberine extract to test results of reduced inflammation in the lungs. The results proved positive in the favor of its powerful anti-inflammatory properties.

Key Takeaway: One study found that barberry extract can be a beneficial addition to the diet of people who smoke. It reduces inflammation in the lungs, thus inhibiting any risk of developing cancer or other respiratory diseases.

9. Barberry Aids The Treatment Of Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth

Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth, or SIBO, is characterized by excessive bacterial growth in the small intestine. The only medicinal treatment of this disease is an increase in antibiotics, which too is a contributive agent to antibiotic resistance in the body.

Another therapeutic and effective method for reducing SIBO is barberry. Barberry extract works as a healthier alternative to antibiotics. It has powerful antimicrobial properties which aid normal gastrointestinal health in unhealthy people. So it can definitely reduce the proliferation rate of SIBO as a natural, herbal remedy. (14)

Lots of factors contribute to the development of SIBO in the human body. But the most common of them all is alcohol consumption. This could lead to constipation, bloating, abdominal pain, and acidity.

The reports suggest that even a single drink per day can increase your chances of developing SIBO. (15)

Key Takeaway: Berberine has also been shown to have positive SIBO-preventing properties for people who drink alcohol on a daily basis. The studies indicate that supplementation of barberry is associated with a decrease in bacterial growth and regulation in the body.

10. Barberry Contains Berberine Which Might Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

According to multiple studies, berberine has neuroprotective properties against the development of Alzheimer’s disease. It reduces neuroinflammation in the skin cells which is directly associated with oxidative stress and free radical damage.

Alzheimer’s disease, being an irreversible neurodegenerative disorder, affects older adults. It leads to hindered communication skills, memory loss, restlessness, and other severe symptoms. However, with the help of berberine, memory loss and lack of communication skills can be reduced. (16)

One study has shown that berberine triggers the inhibition of amyloid peptide which plays a contributive agent in the development of AD. The results showed that berberine reduces cellular toxicity in the brain while acting as a natural therapeutic agent for the treatment and prevention of AD. (17)

Key Takeaway: Berberine accelerates neuronal growth in the presence of Alzheimer’s disease. It also helps inhibit the production of amyloid peptide in the brain cells.

11. Barberry Used In Zyflamend Supplements Promote Healthy Joints

Zyflamend is a herbal supplement that contains high amounts of barberry along with basil, turmeric, green tea, and oregano. It has anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory, and immune-enhancing properties. (18)

Along with all its impressive health benefits, zyflamend is known for its ability to treat and prevent joint inflammation and disorders. It reduces joint pain, inflammation, stiffness, and overall movements.

Osteoarthritis, which is a common degenerative disease, is characterized by stiff and aching joint. It is due to lack of cartilage support and maladaptive growth that causes excessive inflammation in the joints. Based on multiple clinical studies, it can be said that zyflamend, due to its high antioxidant capacity, can reduce effects of joint disease and inflammation in the body. (19,20)

People who consumed this showed higher levels of movement including more walking time, reduced pain, and increased flexibility.

Key Takeaway: Barberry is present in good amounts in zyflamend which is a herbal supplement used for treating unhealthy joints. It reduces the risk of several bone-related diseases including osteoporosis which is also an age-related chronic illness.

Some Delicious Barberry Recipes

These tiny red jewels can be quite easily stored in the kitchen cabinet. You can sprinkle them over rice or pot roast chicken to add a dash of color and tart flavor. Since barberries are mostly dried, they have the ability to keep well. All you need to do is lightly soak, fry, or simmer them. That is enough to activate their gorgeous color and delicious flavor.

So now it’s time to get our hands on the five most delectable barberry recipes!

1. Saffron and Barberry Hummus with Black Chickpea

When you combine two popular ingredients like chickpea and tahini (also known as ardeh) with barberry, the result is undeniably divine.


1/3 cup - olive oil (extra virgin)

3 cups - black chickpeas

1/4 tsp - chilli powder

1 tbsp - thick tahini

1/2 tsp - salt

1 lime zest or 2 limes juice

1 cup of chickpea water

For the sweet, sour sauce of saffron and barberry:

4 tbsp - water

2 tbsp - dry barberry

2 tbsp - brown sugar

A pinch of saffron

For the toppings:

Some dry mallow

Parsley, finely chopped

Walnuts, finely chopped


  1. The first step is to soak the black chickpeas for at least 8 hours before you start the procedure. Following which drain them properly. Then cook the chickpeas in water and wait for them to become soft. Then keep them aside and let them cool.

  2. In the meantime, you can prepare barberry sauce. Take a small-sized saucepan and add saffron, sugar, water, and barberries into it. Let it all boil on medium heat. Once the sugar melts, it’s time to blend all the barberries with the help of your hand blender. Then set it aside.

  3. Now you can use a blender or food processor to create a mixture of black chickpeas along with the cooking water, salt, chilli powder, lime juice or zest, and tahini. This is to prepare the hummus, so keep blending until you achieve the desired smoothness and thickness.

  4. After that, add olive oil to the hummus and blend again.

  5. At this point, you can choose to mix barberry sauce into the hummus or serve it separately on top of it. Finish it off by adding the chopped parsley, walnuts, and dry mallow.

2. Lebanese Fig and Freekeh Salad

The salad is not only highly nutritious but it also offers a unique flavor to satisfy your taste buds.


1 tbsp of sesame seeds, toasted

2 tbsp of dried barberries

2 black figs, sliced

4 tbsp of feta or goat cheese

1 tbsp of olive oil

1 tsp of dried mint

1 tbsp of parsley, chopped

1 tbsp of mint, chopped

1 coarsely chopped red onion

1/2 tsp of spice mix (Lebanese)

3/4 cup of sifted freekeh

Sorrel or rocket (optional)

Lemon squeeze (optional)


  1. Heat oil on medium flame before adding salt and onion. Cook this on a saucepan until the onion starts to smell sweet.

  2. Then bring in the spice mix and stir the whole thing. Now it’s time to add water and freekeh. Bring this to a boil before simmering it for at least 10 minutes. During this time, the water will get absorbed, which will make the freekeh tender. Once this happens, you know it’s time to turn the heat off.

  3. On the side, use medium flame to heat a pan for fig slices. Cook them for not more than two minutes on both the sides. Then set them aside.

  4. Then you can add dried barberries, parsley and mint to the freekeh and stir the blend. It’s better to fluff it with the fork. Bring in some cheese and seasoning too.

  5. You can divide this salad into two bowls before topping each one with sesame seeds, fig slices, and remaining cheese. Drizzle the olive oil on top and serve with sour leaves or lemon squeeze.

3. Barberry Chicken Rice (Zereshk Polow)

Learn to prepare the perfect Middle Eastern-style barberry rice.


1 tsp of sugar

4 tbsp of butter

3 tbsp of plain yoghurt

4 tbsp of milk

3 handfuls of rice, preferably basmati rice

500g of chicken breasts or thighs, cut into large pieces

1 tsp of turmeric

50g of dried barberries

3 red onions, finely sliced

A pinch of good saffron

Some rock salt


  1. Wash the rice thoroughly before boiling it. Cook it on low flame until all the water gets absorbed to soften the rice. Then you can place the rice in a medium-sized bowl.

  2. Before cooking the barberries, soak them in water for not more than 10 minutes. Then add them with butter and sugar in a cooking pan. Stir the barberries well to encourage the puffing up process. It’s important to keep moving them on the pan as they tend to burn easily.

  3. Then take a small-sized bowl to bring together saffron and milk. Stir the solution and let it rest. Once it turns yellow, add yoghurt and blend it thoroughly.

  4. Now it’s time to cook the onions with butter. Let the onions fry on a large-sized pan until they become bronze in color. Following which place them in another bowl.

  5. To prepare the chicken, add some turmeric to it and keep it aside in a different bowl. Then use the same onion pan to gently cook the chicken. Once it turns brown on both the sides, add water and let it simmer without the lid for at least 15-20 minutes. At the end of which transfer the chicken and its liquid with the remaining bits in two separate bowls.

  6. Finally, it’s time to do the layering. In the same cooking pan, first add some butter to cover the sides and bottom. The rice goes first soon followed by the chicken on top. Then another rice layer with barberries. Next come the onions with the saffron yoghurt milk. And the last layer is the juicy chicken liquid that you placed in a separate bowl after cooking the chicken. Then sprinkle some rock salt on top.

  7. Place this in your preheated oven. Set it at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for half an hour. Keep the lid of the pot on so that all the flavors blend together.

  8. And that’s about it. Once it’s done, serve the delicious main course nice and hot!

4. Barberry Dill Rice

Another delicious barberry rice recipe, but this one’s easy to prepare. You can pair it with your Thanksgiving leftovers or even as a tasty side dish.


3 tbsp of lemon juice, fresh

2 cups of basmati rice (don’t forget to rinse as well as drain it)

1 medium minced shallot

Sea salt and pepper

4 tbsp of softened butter, unsalted

1/2 cup of dried barberries

3/4 cup of chopped dill


  1. The first step is to boil the rice before you add salt. Stir it once and then cook it on low flame until all the water gets absorbed. Rice normally takes around 20 minutes to become tender.

  2. Then take a large-sized bowl in which you bring together the rice and butter. Now it’s time to fold in barberries, dill, shallot, and lemon juice. You can add seasoning over this. And there you go, your rice bowl is ready to be served.

5. Barberry Quinoa Salad with Nuts

An unusual Persian salad recipe that is nothing short of delightful and delicious with a nutty flavor.


30g of coriander, chopped

4 tbsp of slivered almonds

300g of quinoa

50g of barberries

1 tsp of salt

2 tbsp of slivered pistachios

2 tbsp of olive oil (it should not be extra virgin as that tends to overpower the other flavors)

1 and half litres of boiling water

Some chopped mint


  1. Place the quinoa in your sieve to rinse the whole thing using running water. Then pour boiling water over it on a medium-sized saucepan. You can add salt now and stir it well. Let it cook on medium heat until the quinoa is cooked through. Then you can drain it.

  2. Dry the barberries after rinsing them with the use of kitchen paper.

  3. Add a tbsp of olive oil to a saucepan to toast the slivers of almond over medium flame. Then you can bring in the slivered pistachios along with the remaining olive oil and barberries. Cook all of this till the barberries become shiny and puffed.

  4. Remember to keep aside a tbsp of barberry along with the chopped herbs and nut mix for the end. Mix the remaining ingredients with the quinoa. Set it on the pot over low heat. Cook the covered pot for not more than 10 minutes.At the end of which you will see steam rising. Once that happens, it’s time to transfer the dish onto a serving plate before fluffing it using the fork.

  5. You can sprinkle some olive oil and black pepper over this. And now is the time to bring in the chopped herbs, nut mix, and barberries. And next all you have to do is enjoy the dish!

6. Simple Barberry Easter Cake

When you have an ingredient as flavorful as barberries, you can think of many clever ways to use it for all kinds of foods. Including this sweet and simple barberry cake.


150g of butter

125g of hazelnuts

1/2 tsp of vanilla powder

100g of sugar

3 eggs

1 tsp of baking powder or tartar cream

25g of dried barberries

150g of wheat flour

Some salt

For glaze:

100g of dark chocolate


  1. Preheat your oven to 340 degrees Fahrenheit.

  2. Grease as well as flour a Bundt pan measuring 6 inches.

  3. Then you need to toast all the hazelnuts in the oven for not more than 10 minutes. Keep them aside to cool. From this batch, collect 10g of hazelnuts to grind them. The rest will be used later.

  4. Blend together vanilla, sugar, and butter until you get a light creamy paste. Then pour this into a mixer and add the eggs.

  5. In another bowl, bring together the baking powder or tartar cream, flour, and salt. Then add this to the batter you prepared in the mixer earlier. Blend it well before adding grounded hazelnuts along with dried barberries. Use a spatula to mix all the ingredients.

  6. Now is the time to pour the batter onto the pan. Make sure that the top layer is nice and smooth before you bake the sweet dish for 35-40 minutes. At the end of which remove it from the pan and transfer it to a wire rack.

  7. Meanwhile, prepare the toppings. You can now chop the remaining hazelnuts. Then use the potato peeler to create dark chocolate curls of a single bar of chocolate.

  8. Once the cake cools down on the wire rack, it’s time to place parchment paper under it.

  9. Melt some chocolate with hot water and spread it all on top of the cake. Make sure that some of it drizzles along the sides.

  10. Finally, garnish the cake with the dark chocolate curls, chopped hazelnuts, and barberries. Once the glaze becomes hard completely, it’s time to dig into the cake.

Wrapping It Up

Barberry is a powerful natural food that won’t work unless you consume it on a daily basis. It’s so effective and reliable that it helps reduce metabolic diseases, accelerates fat metabolism, and is good for maintaining normal blood pressure levels.

Berberine, present in barberry, is a nutritive bioactive compound with a wide range of health benefits. It’s considered good for improving insulin resistance, diabetes, high blood sugar levels, and autoimmune diseases. Other health markers such as infections, heart diseases, high LDL cholesterol, and such are all affected by a regular berberine intake.

So since it’s such a powerful substance with life-changing properties, why won’t you consume lots of it?