Bayberry bark root is the generic name for all plants in the genus Myricia with the most common subspecies being Myricia cerifera. Bayberry is also known as waxberry, candleberry and tallow shrub. 1,6
Originally native to Asia and the Mediterranean, Bayberry is now found in gardens across the warmer climates of North America. It’s a mainstay decorative shrub with distinctive white bark, evergreen leathery leaves and bluish berries. Bayberry is a popular medicinal herb. As well, wax from the berries is routinely used for candle making. 1,2,3
The medicinal parts of the Bayberry plant are its roots and the bark near the roots. The original inhabitants of North America passed along bayberry bark root benefits to the European settlers, praising the bayberry bark and root for its wide range of uses for health. Today, we know bayberry for anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anticonvulsant, sedative and hypotensive effects. 2,5,6
Although bayberry berries are edible, they have a harsh, acrid taste and have little health benefits. The primary healing ingredient found in bayberry bark root is berberine that is a plant alkaloid known for having positive effects on the immune, respiratory and digestive systems. 1,2
Bayberry bark root is normally processed in the fall when the bayberry plant is entering dormancy. The outer bark and upper root are cut away, dried, pulverized and stored in a dark, airtight container. Bayberry bark root is usually used in powder form for teas or as capsule supplements. Topical ointments are also available. Bayberry bark root stores well and has an indefinite shelf life. 4
Bayberry Bark Root Health Uses and Health Benefits
Bayberry bark root also contains active amounts of triterpenes (myrikadoil, taraxeron and taraexol), flavonoids (myricitrin), phenols and tannins. Bayberry bark root is well known as an internal stimulant suitable for treating gastrointestinal problems and for having strong astringent qualities that soothe skin disorders. It’s also a powerful decongestant, making bayberry bark root for sinus relief highly effective. 2,4,5
Bayberry bark root uses for health are well known for having antifungal, antibacterial and antiprotozoal abilities. Some of the common bayberry bark root benefits include treatment for:
- Sinusitis (Sinus Infection) - Sinusitis is caused by bacterial infection in the sinuses. Berberine found in bayberry bark root is a powerful antibacterial and anti-inflammatory agent making it a proven remedy for sinusitis.
- Baldness (Hair Loss) - Although most cases of baldness are hereditary, premature hair loss can sometimes be attributed to skin conditions. High concentrations of tannins found bayberry bark root are shown to be a natural treatment for baldness. Topical application is recommended.
- Bronchitis - Bronchitis is inflammation of the bronchial tubes in the respiratory system. It can be an acute condition caused by a viral infection or a long-term disease associated with COPD. Barberry bark root eases inflammation caused by bronchitis and treats bronchial infection.
- Dandruff - Dandruff is a condition where dried flakes form on the outer dermis. Barberry bark root topically applied as a cream to areas affected by dandruff allow natural tannins in barberry to moisturize the skin and help treat dandruff outbreaks.
- Diarrhea - Barberry bark root is a highly effective treatment for inflammation and infection disorders in the gastrointestinal tract. Taken internally, barberry bark root is an excellent control for diarrhea cases.
- Gastritis - Gastritis is an inflammation of the stomach lining. Berberine, found in barberry bark root, is a natural anti-inflammatory that’s effective for treating gastritis.
Bayberry Bark Root Side Effects and Precautions
Bayberry bark root side effects are virtually non-existent provided it’s taken in limited quantities. Excessive doses of bayberry bark root are reported to cause stomach irritation, vomiting and nosebleeds. 2,4
Large amounts of bayberry bark root may lower potassium levels and increase the demand for sodium. This may cause hypertension and fluid retention. People with high blood pressure, cardiovascular conditions or renal complications should avoid bayberry bark root. 4
Pregnant and nursing mother should also avoid bayberry bark root as the high concentration of tannins may be passed on to an infant. 2,4