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Latin NameBerberis aristata DC. (Berberidaceae)
English NamesIndian barberry, Tree turmeric
Sanskrit NamesDaru haridra, Darvi, Darurajani
Local NameDarhald
Found in Nepal. Habit:
It is an erect, glabrous, spinescent shrub with obovate to elliptic, subacute to obtuse, entire or toothed leaves. The flowers are yellow and in corymbose racemes. The fruits are oblong-ovoid or ovoid, bright red berries. Phytochemistry:
The alkaloids in the bark and root bark of Berberis aristata are berberine, berbamine, aromoline, karachine, palmatine, oxyacanthine and oxyberberine (Chakravarti et al, sci indurst Res, 1950, 9B, 161; Atta-ur-& Banerjee, ibid, 1953, 30, 705; 13Chatterjee, ibid, 1940 Rahman & Ansari, J chem Soc Pakist, 1983, 5, 282). Pharmacology:
Berberone hydrochloride, an alkaloid isolated from Berberis aristata, was found to have significant anti-inflammatory activity on acute, subacute and chronic types of inflammations produced by immunological and non-immunological methods. (Halder et al. Ind. J. Pharmac., 1970, 2,26.) Chronic oral (20 mg./kg.) and intramuscular (2 mg./kg.) administration of Berberine sulphate to rats increased the duration of pentobarbitone-induced sleeping time and decreased serum cholesterol levels (Vad et al.,Ind. J. Pharm.,1970, 32, 179.) The preventive and curative effects of Berberis aristata fruit extract on paracetamol- and CCl4-induced hepatotoxicity was studied. Pre-treatment of mice with the (Berberis aristata fruits), crude extract ofBerberis aristata fruits (500 mg/kg), reduced the death rate to 10 percent. Pre-treatment of rats with the fruit extract (500 mg/kg, orally twice daily for 2 days) prevented (p less than 0.05) the paracetamol-(640 mg/kg) as well as CCl4-(1.5 mL/kg)-induced rise in serum transaminases (GOT and GPT). Post-treatment with three successive doses of the extract (500 mg/kg, 6h) restricted the hepatic damage induced by acetaminophen (p less than 0.01) but CCl4-induced hepatotoxicity was not altered. The plant extract (500 mg/kg) caused significant prolongation in pentobarbital (75 mg/kg)-induced sleep as well as increased strychnine-induced lethality in mice suggestive of inhibitory effect on microsomal drug metabolizing enzymes (MDME). Hepatoprotective action of the crude extract of Berberis aristata fruits partly through MDME inhibotory action has been indicated (Gilani, A.H and Janbaz, K.H., Phytotherapy Research, 1995, v. 9(7), 489-494). Clinical studies:
Clinical studies with berberine were conducted in 356 patients of Cholera and compared with 264 patients treated with chloramphenicol. Berberine was found to be effective in both bacteriologically positive and negative patients. It reduced the mortality rate, volume and duration of diarrhea, the intake of intravenous fluid and the convalescence period. Berberine was found to be better than chloramphenicol in this respect (Lahiri, S.C.and Dutta,N.K, J.Indian Med. Assoc., 1967, 48, 1).Twenty five patients of giardiasis were treated with berberine in a dose of 5 mg./kg./day for six days, and the results compared with those of metronidazole given in a dose of 10 mg./kg/day for six days in 9 patients. Twenty patients receiving vitamin B complex syrup for 6 days served as controls. Twelve patients receiving berberine, 3 receiving metronidazole and 3 receiving vitamin B complex showed relief of clinical symptoms. The stools became free of giardia in 17 patients receiving metronidazole and 5 receiving B complex (Choudhury et al., Indian Pediatrics, I972, 9, 143). Berberine was found to be effective in controlling gastroenteritis in 50 children. It is a good antidiarrheal agent and could be easily administered in children in the form of a palatable suspension. The drug was free from any serious toxicity (Sharada, D.C., J. Indian. Med. Asscon., 1970, 54, 22). Toxicity:
LD50 value of berberine sulphate in mice, intraperitonially, was found to be 24.3 mg./kg. Indications:
The roots form a reputed drug in Ayurvedic medicine and possess antibacterial and anti-inflammatory activities. The drug is regarded as a bitter tonic and is reported to be used as a cholagogue, stomachic, laxative, diaphoretic, antipyretic and antiseptic. It is administered externally in painful eye affections, indolent ulcers and hemorrhoids. The rootbark is very useful in periodic neuralgia and menorrhagia. Product range:
Diabecon, Geriforte, Pilex, Rumalaya, Muscle & Joint Rub.

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