Antidiarrheal activity, chemical and toxicity profile of Berberis aristata

Pharm Biol. 2011 Jan;49(1):94-100. doi: 10.3109/13880209.2010.500295. Epub 2010 Aug 25.


Context: This study evaluated the in vitro and in vivo antidiarrheal activity, oral acute toxicological profile, and developed a chemical fingerprint of Berberis aristata Linn. (Berberidaceae).

Materials and methods: The ethanol (by maceration) and aqueous (by Soxhlet) extracts of Berberis aristata bark were used for the study. The study involved the antimicrobial (minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) and minimum bactericidal concentration (MBC) by micro dilution) and antidiarrheal (castor oil induced diarrhea, charcoal motility) tests. The active principle, berberine was characterized by different spectroscopic and chromatographic techniques.

Results: The MIC and MBC (of both extracts) against all strains of Shigella were recorded between 125 to 500 µg/mL and 300 to 600 µg/mL, respectively. The MIC and MBC values of berberine are almost comparable to standard ciprofloxacin. UV and IR spectroscopy along with HPTLC and HPLC studies showed presence of berberine in the extracts. The onset of castor oil induced diarrhea was delayed and number of diarrheal episodes was reduced by both the extracts in a dose dependent manner. Similarly, the length of intestine traveled by the feed was also significantly reduced in the charcoal motility test by both the extracts. LD(50) of >5000 mg/kg body weight was observed for both extracts in the acute oral toxicity studies with Swiss albino mice.

Conclusion: The results validate in vivo and in vitro antidiarrheal activity of Berberis aristata extracts and provide its chemical fingerprint.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / toxicity
  • Antidiarrheals / administration & dosage
  • Antidiarrheals / pharmacology*
  • Antidiarrheals / toxicity
  • Berberine / isolation & purification
  • Berberine / pharmacology
  • Berberis / chemistry*
  • Ciprofloxacin / pharmacology
  • Diarrhea / drug therapy
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Lethal Dose 50
  • Mice
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Plant Bark
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / toxicity
  • Shigella / drug effects
  • Toxicity Tests, Acute


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Antidiarrheals
  • Plant Extracts
  • Berberine
  • Ciprofloxacin