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The discovery of Phellodendron

Phellodendron, also known as the yellow cork tree, is a plant from East Asia that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. The plant belongs to the Rutaceae family and was first mentioned in ancient times. The first records of its medicinal use date back to 100 BC in Chinese pharmacopoeias, where it was valued for its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

Dosage forms and dosage

Phellodendron can be taken in various dosage forms:

  • Capsules: This is the most common dosage form as it is easy to dose and take.
  • Tea: The dried bark can be infused and drunk as a tea.
  • Tinctures: Liquid extracts from the bark are often offered as tinctures.
  • Powder: The bark can be dried and pulverized so that it can be easily stirred into food or drinks.

The usual dosage for adults is 500 to 1500 mg of Phellodendron extract per day, divided into two to three doses. It is important to discuss the exact dosage with a doctor or alternative practitioner, especially if you have existing health problems or are taking other medication at the same time.

Medical use of phellodendron

It is traditionally used for a variety of conditions:

Inflammation and infections

Phellodendron’s anti-inflammatory properties make it effective in the treatment of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. It contains berberine, a compound with strong antimicrobial properties that is effective against various bacteria, viruses and fungi. This is why it is also used to treat urinary tract, intestinal and skin infections.

Digestive problems

It can help with various gastrointestinal complaints, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and gastritis. Its soothing properties relieve inflammation in the digestive tract and promote healing.

Skin diseases

Due to its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, phellodendron is also used in ointments and creams to treat acne, eczema and psoriasis. It helps to cleanse the skin and reduce inflammation.

Regulation of blood sugar levels

Studies have shown that it can help regulate blood sugar levels. This makes it particularly useful for people with diabetes or those at risk of developing diabetes.

How it works in the body

The active ingredient berberine contained in phellodendron affects the body in various ways:

  • Anti-inflammatory: berberine inhibits the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and enzymes, thereby reducing inflammation.
  • Antimicrobial effect: Berberine destroys the cell walls of bacteria and fungi, effectively combating infections.
  • Regulation of blood sugar levels: Berberine improves insulin sensitivity and reduces glucose production in the liver, which helps to lower blood sugar levels.
  • Cholesterol reduction: Berberine can lower blood cholesterol levels by promoting the breakdown of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol).
    When should Phellodendron be taken?

It should be taken for:

  • Inflammatory conditions such as arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease are present.
  • Infections, especially those that are resistant to standard treatments.
  • Blood sugar problems, especially diabetes or prediabetes.
  • Skin problems such as acne or eczema need to be treated.

Who should avoid phellodendron?

Not everyone should take it. Pregnant and breastfeeding women are advised not to take it, as the safety for these groups of people has not been sufficiently investigated. People with liver disease should also be careful, as it can put a strain on the liver. People taking medication to regulate blood sugar levels or to thin the blood should also consult a doctor before using phellodendron to avoid interactions.

Food supplements and medicinal plants

To support the effect of Phellodendron, the following dietary supplements and medicinal plants can also be taken:

  • Probiotics: Support intestinal health and can improve the effects of digestive problems.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Have anti-inflammatory properties and can enhance the effect of inflammatory diseases.
  • Vitamin D: Supports the immune system and, in combination with phellodendron, can help fight infections.
  • Turmeric root: also has an anti-inflammatory effect and can work synergistically with phellodendron.

Foods with a high berberine content

Although phellodendron is one of the richest sources of berberine, other foods and plants also contain this compound:

These plants can be used as a supplement to phellodendron to increase berberine uptake.

Possible side effects

Although phellodendron has many health-promoting effects, side effects can also occur:

  • Stomach discomfort: Some people report nausea, diarrhea or stomach cramps.
  • Allergic reactions: Sensitive individuals may experience skin rashes or itching.
  • Liver problems: In rare cases, liver damage may occur, especially at high doses.

Overdose and risks

An overdose of phellodendron can lead to serious health problems. Symptoms of an overdose may include:

  • Severe gastrointestinal discomfort
  • Low blood pressure
  • Jaundice (signs of liver damage)

It is therefore important not to exceed the recommended dosage and only take it under medical supervision.

Phellodendron in natural medicine

In traditional Chinese medicine, phellodendron is often used in combination with other herbs to enhance its effects. It is administered in the form of decoctions, powders and tinctures, often in combination with Coptis chinensis and Scutellaria baicalensis. These combinations are used for inflammatory diseases, infections and gastrointestinal problems.


Phellodendron is a remarkable natural remedy with a wide range of applications. Its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and blood sugar regulating properties can be helpful for a variety of health problems. However, caution is advised and consultation with a doctor or alternative practitioner is recommended to ensure correct dosage and use.

Published on: 17. May 2024


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