<Home> <Science> <Medicinal Plants> <Pharmacological Evaluation of Antiheparin and Antitrachoma Actions of Berberis Aristata>

M. Sabir,

The plant Berberis aristata has been claimed to be effective in bleeding disorders and in eye diseases. Experiments were, therefore, planned to study the anitheparin and antirachoma actions of berberine -an alkaloid which is abundantly present in this plant.

It was observed that, in the dose range of 1-3 mg. berberine neutralized, in vitro, the anticoagulant action of 50 I.U. heparin per ml of blood and had no effect on blood samples rendered incoagulable by potassium oxalate, sodium citrate and EDTA. Parodoxically, large dose (10mg/ml) of berberine itself produced anticoagulant effect. These effects resembled those produced by protamine sulphate and toluidine blue.

Berberine protected 50 -75 per cent chick embryos from the lethal effect of trachoma organisms inoculated into the yolk sac. It also completely inhibited development of the elementary bodies on the yold sac membrane. In control experiments, 1 mg. per egg dose of sulphadiazine produced similar effect. Further, berberine was found encouragingly effective in controlling experimentally - induced trachoma in monkey eyes.

These actions of berberine strongly support the clinical efficacy of Berberis aristata in bleeding disorders and in eye diseases as claimed by Bu-Ali-Sina (1) and Nafisi (2).


The compilation 3 of the works and writings of Arab Physicians indicates that the plant Berberis aristata (Arabic-Ambarbaris; Aargis) has been extensively used in Unani Medicine as emmenagogue, blood purifier, antispasmodic, stomachic, choleretic, sedative, refrigerent, counterirritant and as a depressant of uterine musculature. Its efficacy in bleeding disroders and in eye diseases has been mentioned by Bu-Ali-Sina (1) and Nafisi (2). The value and popularity of this plant have persisted upto the twentieth century since several formulations developed for menstrual disorders and eye diseases contain its extract as one of their important ingredients.

Berberine (C2oHI9OsN) is the chief alkaloid of Berberis aristata. Indeed, in its pure form, berberine was clinically tried in patients of chronic trachoma by Varma 4 who found its intra-conjunctival injections highly effective. Incidentally, however, no experimental work has been reported to scientifically vindicate the claim of its usefulness as styptic or in eye diseases. The present work was, therefore, planned to study the antiheparin and antitrachoma actions of the pure alkaloid berberine.