Plants contain various phytochemicals which are useful as medicine. In India, the medicinal plants are used for the treatment of various diseases since time immemorial.
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In Ayurveda, various parts of medicinal plants are used internally as well as externally to manage various medical conditions. The Himalayan plants are considered excellent in terms of properties. One such plant, found in great Himalaya is Daruhaldi or Berberis aristata. This plant is used in Ayurveda as well as Chinese medicine. In Homeopathy, the tincture of the root bark of Berberis vulgaris is used for hepatic and rheumatic affections, with urinary, haemorrhoidal and menstrual complaints.
Berberis aristata DC belongs to family Berberidaceae and genus Berberis. This genus has about 12 genera and 600 species worldwide and 77 species have been reported from India.
Berberi aristata can be seen in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. It is found in the sub-Himalayan tract at the altitude range of 850 to 2500 meter as well as at Nilgiri and Sri Lanka.
- Habitat: Found throughout the Himalayas, Nepal, Tibet, Afghanistan
- Energetics: Bitter, astringent-hot-pungent
- Tissues: Blood, fat, plasma
- Preparation: Decoction, powder, eyewash, medicated ghee, paste
Synonyms / Common Names
- Sanskrit: Daruhaldi, Daruharidra, Darvi, Kata, Katankati, Pitdaru, Suvarnavarna
- Shimla: Kammul, Kashmal, Kanmul
- Bhutia: Teema
- English: Barberry
- Garhwal: Kingora
- Hindi: Kingor, Chitra, Chotra, Darhald, Kashmal, Kashmar, Rasaut
- Janusar: Kashmi
- Malayalam: Maradarisina
Berberi aristata is a spinous shrub with hard, yellowish parts. The plant is also a source of dye and tannin which is used for dyeing clothes and for tanning leather.
A robust shrub 8-10 ft. high; basal spines tripartite, upper simple.
Leaves: obovate or elliptic, deciduous, rarely petiolate, entire or spiny-serrate, glabrous, green on both sides.
Racemes: simple, about as long as the leaves, spreading; pedicels stout.
Fruit blue, ovoid; style short, thick, capitate. Young fruits are whitish.
Main chemical constituents
Alkaloids like berberine, berbamine, aromoline, karachine, palmitine, oxyacanthine, and oxyberberine
Berberine is the main constituent of Berberis aristata and it is found in roots, rhizome and stem bark. Berberine has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiprotozoal, antidiarrheal and anti-trachoma activity. Berberine improves insulin sensitivity and promotes regeneration and functional recovery of β-cell.
In the root bark along with berberine other alkaloids such as aromoline, oxyberberine, oxyacanthine and berbamine are present.
Flowers contain polyphenols such as caffeic acid, quercetin, rutin, chlorogenic acid, and meratin.
- Bitter Tonic
What is Rasot or Rasaunt
Rasaunt, Rasot, Rasvanti or Rasanjan is a concentrated extract prepared from the root and lower stem wood of plant.
The roots of the barberries are dug up and washed to remove all earth and foreign matter. They are then cut up into small pieces, then 4 tolas of this are boiled in half a seer of water until reduced to a mass weighing 8 tolas. The boiling goes on for about six hours. As water evaporates fresh water is poured in so as to keep the chips aiwavs well covered. Then add to it eight tolas of goat’s milk, and boil again into a solid mass. This mass is Rasot.
Rasot is used in diseases of the mouth, swollen gums, skin diseases, and leprosy.
Daruhaldi Ayurvedic Uses
Daruhaldi mainly acts on the circulatory, digestive and excretory system. It reduces Kapha dosha due to its hot pungent nature but increases Vata Dosha. The bitter flavor reduces, dries and drains ama. It regulates the liver and clears high pitta from the system. It is an ingredient of Asvagandhadyarista, Bhrngaraja taila, Khadiradi gutika, Khadirarista, Jatyadi taila, and Triphala ghrita.
- Rasa (taste): Bitter, astringent
- Virya (energy): Hot
- Vipaka (post-digestive effect): Pungent
- Guna (quality): Light, dry
- Dosha effect: reduces Kapha and Pitta, Increases Vata in excess
- Dhatu (tissue): Plasma, blood, fat
- Srotas (channel): Excretory, circulatory, digestive
Indications of Daruharidra
Berberi aristata extract and decoctions are used traditionally against various diseases caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoans, helminthes and chlamydia due to significant antimicrobial action. It is useful in bacterial diarrhea, intestinal parasite infections as it inhibits the intestinal secretory response of Vibrio cholerae and Escherichia coli enterotoxins.
- Abdominal and pelvic congestion
- All skin problems with inflammation, redness and bleeding, eczema, psoriasis, fungal infections
- Bile and urinary conditions
- Blood purifier
- Brain disorders
- Congestion of abdomen
- Enlarged liver and
- G.i. stimulant
- Mild laxative
- Periodic neuralgia
- Pitta detoxification
- Regulating liver functioning
- Renal calculi
- Scarlet fever
- Sluggish Liver
How to Use Berberis aristata?
A paste of flower, leaves, and bark is applied to cure edema.
Soak overnight 5 grams of coarse powder of Daruharidra in 100 ml of water.
Boil the mixture till half of the water remains and filter it. Use the filtrate at room temperature to irrigate the inflamed eye.
2 ml of the filtered decoction mixed with an equal quantity of pure honey is used as an eyedrop. Put 1 to 2 drops in each affected eye 4 to 6 times a day at regular intervals.
Make a decoction of rasaut (1 cup), add honey and drink.
Boils, Ulcer, Skin diseases, wound
Grind leaves of Daruhaldi and apply on the affected areas.
Make a decoction of rasaut (1 cup), add amla powder ( ½ tbsp) and drink.
Make a decoction of Daruhaldi roots (5 gm), dried giloy (5 gm) and few basil leaves in water (400 ml). When the water reduces to one-fourth filter and drink. Take this decoction twice a day. Do this for a few days. This cures chronic fever due to any reason.
It also has a positive effect on liver function.
Or take rasaut (1/8 tbsp) in a cup of lukewarm water.
Piles (Bawasir), Ulcerative Colitis, Duodenal Ulcer, Infection in intestine
Take roots (5 gm) of Daruhaldi. Make a decoction by boiling in water (400 ml) and take twice a day. This is beneficial in both types of piles.
Rasaut can also be used for piles treatment. For this dilute rasaut in thirty times water and wash the affected areas. Also, take rasaut (1/8 tbsp) in butter (1 tbsp).
Stomach infection, Dysentery, Acute Diarrhea
Grind Rasaut and mix with honey. Make the child lick this to cure stomach infections.
Dosage of Berberis aristate
Decoction 50-100 ml.
Rasot or Rasajana 1-3 g.
Side effects of Berberis aristate
- The roots and barks have purgative properties. In large doses Berberis is purgative.
- Avoid in High Vata Dosha and tissue deficiency.
- It can aggravate disorders of vata and the nervous system.
- It can cause nausea or diarrhea if used at too high a dose.
- Berberine-containing plants are contraindicated during pregnancy.
- Decoction and eye drop solution must be prepared fresh daily and kept in a sterile vessel.
Higher doses may interfere with vitamin B metabolism.