Indian Barberry is a large thorny shrub with yellow wood and whitish or pale grey branches. The dried roots of the plant constitute the drug. The chief constituent of the drug is berberine, a bitter alkaloid. Two alkaloid chlorides, namely palmatine chloride and a mixture of palmatine and berberine chlorides have also been isolated from the plant.
Indian barberry has been made official in the Pharmacopoeia of India. Mohideen Sheriff, a well-known authority on herbs considers it an important indigenous medicine and brought it to the notice of the medical profession.
The herb is useful in restoring the disordered processes of nutrition and restores the normal function of the system. It helps open the natural ducts or pores of the body, arrests bleeding and induces copious perspiration despite its astringent properties. Anti-tubercular activity has also been attributed to this drug.
Indian barberry is as valuable as quinine in malarial fevers. It is particularly useful in relieving pyrexia and checking the return of paroxysms of intermittent fevers. The bark and the root-bark are given as a decoction or infusion. Infusion is given in doses of 25 to 75 grams twice or thrice a day. Decoction is given in doses of 150 grams between paroxysms of fever.
Indian barberry is useful in stomach disorders. It is also effective in the treatment of cholera. It is a popular remedy for diarrhoea and dysentery in many parts of North India.
Indian barberry is useful in bleeding piles. It is given in doses of 33 to 100 centigrams with butter. A dilute solution can also be used externally for treating piles.
Indian barberry arrests any excessive blood loss during the monthly period, administered in doses of 13 to 25 centigrams.
In skin diseases, it is generally given in doses of 13 to 25 centigrams. The decoction of the bark and the root-bark is efficacious as a cleanser for ulcers and sores, as it helps cicatrization or formation of scar over the wound.
The drug is highly beneficial in the treatment of eye diseases. It is mixed with butter and alum or with opium or lime juice and applied externally on eyelids to cure ophthalmia and other eye diseases. Mixed with milk, it can be used effectively as a lotion in conjunctivitis.
Method of Preparation: Root bark, roots and lower stems are boiled in water, strained and evaporated till a semi-solid mass is obtained. This is called rasaut which is fairly soluble in water.