A prickly plant with a long history of medicinal use
Berberis aristata, the Himalayan Berberis, is popular not only for its medicinal values but also preferred by gardeners for its beautiful yellow flowers and dark purple berries. Among 21 species of Berberis in Nepal, two species B. aristata and B. asiatica are mainly used for their medicinal values. This species is well known in Ayurveda as Daruharidra for its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties.
The inner part of its bark and root is dark yellow, therefore sometimes it is also called as tree turmeric. It has been used as ayurvedic medicine since ancient time to treat hepatic and cardiac problems.
The main constituent of the plant is Berberine. The extract from its stem and root is used to treat eye diseases, jaundice, fever, and diarrhoea. Its ripe fruits are eaten fresh and also used to make alcohol by local people. A popular ayurvedic preparation ‘Rashut’ is made from this plant. A few researches in India and Nepal show that it has a potential to treat cancer and type 2 diabetes.
The root and bark of this plant is in trade. In natural habitats it is common in forest clearings and along forest edges and roadsides.