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Supplements

blackberry

What Is It?
Health Benefits
Forms

Dosage Information

Guidelines for Use

General Interaction

Possible Side Effects

Cautions

References

Evidence Based Rating Scale

 

What Is It?

The prickly stemmed, flowering blackberry bushes that grow wild across parts of Europe and North America yield plump, blue-black berries for eating as well as for healing. Ancient Greeks called the plant "goutberry" because it was relied upon to lessen gout-related joint pain. Traveling salesmen of yore were known to tuck a flask of blackberry brandy into their bags to treat the loose stools that often occurred after eating unfamiliar foods. Today, blackberry is probably best known for this very use—as a soothing remedy for diarrhea. A reputed text on herbal therapy lists blackberry leaf as a medicinal tea for nonspecific mild, transient forms of diarrhea. (1) However, there are no studies supporting its efficacy as a diarrhea remedy.

The key to blackberry's potential diarrhea-dampening ability is tannin, an astringent substance present in particularly high concentrations in the plant's leaves and roots. Tannin tightens mucous membrane tissue along the intestinal tract, minimizing the risk for watery stools that can cause such discomfort and pain. Sipping blackberry tea during a bout of diarrhea also helps to prevent dehydration by replenishing lost fluids.

There are many kinds of instant blackberry tea on the market. Always check the label carefully because some are simply flavored with blackberry and contain none of the plant's therapeutic tannins. If a good-quality blackberry tea is not readily available raspberry tea (also high in tannins) probably works just as well.

There are several species of blackberry; Rubus canadensis is probably the most popular for herbal remedies in North America, while Europeans tend to use Rubus fruticosus.

The berries of the plant are a fine source of antioxidants. (2) Eating them regularly can help to scavenge the dangerous free-radical molecules associated with the development of a variety of ailments.

Health Benefits

The antioxidant properties of blackberry may benefit lung inflammation. In one animal study, blackberry extracts had a protective effect on acute lung inflammation in rats. (3) Another study indicated the antioxidant properties of blackberry extracts protect against vascular failure and blood vessel dysfunction. (4)

Specifically, blackberry may help to:

Prevent cancer. Blackberry is naturally rich in compounds commonly known to have the potential to prevent cancer. In a preliminary laboratory study, fresh blackberry extract effectively scavenged free radicals and inhibited the growth of a human lung cancer cell line. The cancer-preventive effect of blackberry is probably due to its antioxidant properties. (5)

Treat ulcers. In one study, blackberry extracts were tested for their efficacy in treating H. pylori—the bacteria responsible for duodenal ulcers. The extracts were found to have an antimicrobial and antioxidant effect on one strain of H. pylori. (6)

Forms

  • extract

  • fresh fruit

  • dried herb/tea

Dosage Information

There is no typical dosage for blackberry consumption. Blackberry extracts have been tested in animal studies but not in humans.

Guidelines for Use

Blackberries may be used safely in amounts commonly found in foods.

General Interaction

There are no known drug or nutrient interactions associated with blackberry.

Possible Side Effects

There are no known side effects associated with blackberry consumption.

Cautions

Diarrhea can cause serious problems if it persists for more than three or four days, so be sure to consult a doctor if this happens. 

References 

1. Schulz V, Hansel R, Blumenthal M, Tyler VE, Rational Phytotherapy: A Reference Guide for Physicians and Pharmacists, 5th edition, Springer, 2003.
2. Wada L, Ou B. Antioxidant activity and phenolic content of Oregon caneberries. J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Jun 5;50(12):3495-500.
3. Rossi A, Serraino I, Dugo P, Di Paola R, Mondello L, Genovese T, Morabito D, Dugo G, Sautebin L, Caputi AP, Cuzzocrea S. Protective effects of anthocyanins from blackberry in a rat model of acute lung inflammation. Free Radic Res. 2003 Aug;37(8):891-900.
4. Serraino I, Dugo L, Dugo P, Mondello L, Mazzon E, Dugo G, Caputi AP, Cuzzocrea S. Protective effects of cyanidin-3-O-glucoside from blackberry extract against peroxynitrite-induced endothelial dysfunction and vascular failure. Life Sci. 2003 Jul 18;73(9):1097-114.
5. Feng R, Bowman LL, Lu Y, Leonard SS, Shi X, Jiang BH, Castranova V, Vallyathan V, Ding M. Blackberry extracts inhibit activating protein 1 activation and cell transformation by perturbing the mitogenic signaling pathway. Nutr Cancer. 2004;50(1):80-9.
6. Martini S, D'Addario C, Colacevich A, Focardi S, Borghini F, Santucci A, Figura N, Rossi C. Antimicrobial activity against Helicobacter pylori strains and antioxidant properties of blackberry leaves (Rubus ulmifolius) and isolated compounds. Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2009 Jul;34(1):50-9.

Evidence Based Rating Scale

The Evidence Based Rating Scale is a tool that helps consumers translate the findings of medical research studies and what our clinical advisors have found to be efficacious in their personal practice into a visual and easy to interpret format. This tool is meant to simplify the information on supplements and therapies that demonstrate promise in the treatment of certain conditions.

 

Condition

Rating

Explanation

 

Cancer

   

Preliminary laboratory study indicates fresh extract inhibited growth of human lung cancer cells; more studies needed. (4)

Diarrhea  
Commonly used for this condition; however, no studies indicating efficacy.
Ulcers & GERD  
Preliminary laboratory studies indicate inhibition of the growth of one strain of H. pylori bacteria in the laboratory. (6)
 

 


Date Published: 04/18/2005
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