This shrub is indigenous to Great Britain, but is now thoroughly naturalized here, especially in the Eastern States.
It is a well-known medicine to to ancients, who steeped it in beer and gave it to patients suffering from jaundice.
In more modern times, barberry bark and cider was used in all forms of abdominal inflammation, especially when accompanied by hepatic derangements and jaundice, but in 12882 it was dismissed from the U. S. Phar (from Millspaugh).
The berberis flower, which is yellow and ill-smell in produces red elongated berries of pleasant acid flavor. The fresh bar of the root, which is used to prepare our tincture, has an extremely bitter taste.
Berberis was first proved by Dr. Hesse, of Germany, who published his report in 1834, and Allen says: “The most numerous and decided effects are the shooting pains in almost every part of the body. The pains in the region of the kidneys are most marked and have been frequently verified clinically. It also exerts a marked action on the liver.”.
Berberis is of value in various forms of liver troubles, with sticking pains, or stitches, under the border of to false ribs on the r. side. These pains are apt “to come on suddenly, are severe and may cause the patient to hold his breath” Lilienthal), but they are not relieved by pressure.
Associated with these pains we have many of the symptoms classed under the general term of indigestion, and noticed especially after eating (177), including eructations, without bad taste or smell, salivation (163), heartburn (114) and even vomiting of food. In so called bilious colic and in colic from gall-stones (82), Berberis is frequently indicated. The pains are confined to a small spot, are spasmodic, coming on so suddenly as to cause the patient bend over, but rather aggravated by pressure, and are associated with jaundice (82).
Diarrhoea is apt to be an accompaniment of liver troubles calling for Berberis, the stools clay-colored (58) an painless, but with burning (61) and starting in anus, especially perhaps, after stool (61) and with pains extending from liver across abdomen and around back.
In the urine we find a copious sediment of uric acid (123 and there are cutting pains in the bladder and urethra before, during, and after maturation (194).
The characteristic pain of Berberis, the symptom which every body remembers so well that we forget that other remedies have a similar one, is a plain which starts in, or in. The region of, one or both kidneys, travels along the ureter into the bladder and thence through the urethra (125), with burning in the bladder and urethra. This pain is frequently found in renal colic and from the passage of calculi (123).
In the male berberis is of great value in neuralgia of the spermatic cords (171) an testicles (188), giving in many instances almost instant relief.
In the female it is to be thought of thin dysmenorrhoea, with scanty menstruation and pains radiating into the abdomen and down the thighs (139).
The pathogenetic symptoms give many pains in the lumbar region, such as sticking in region of kidneys, which extends around to the abdomen or down to the region of the hips; pain install of back, as if bruised or crushed, with stiffness, making it difficult to rise from a seat, so that the hand must assist in rising; pain in small of back, at times extending into posterior part of pelvis or to thighs, with stiffens and lameness.
These symptoms lead us to use a Berberis in lumbago, Allen calling it “one of our most valuable remedies,” when the pains extended from the back around the body and down the thighs (128), associated with red and mucous sediment in the urine.