Bayberry

Scientific Name(s): Myrica cerifera L. Family: Myricaceae

Common Name(s): Bayberry , wax myrtle plant , candleberry 1

Uses

Bayberry tea has been used as a tonic, stimulant, and diarrhea treatment. Plant parts are also used to heal wounds. Bayberry has been used as a gargle. Bayberry wax is used to make fragrant candles. There is little evidence to support its use for the treatment of any disease.

Dosing

There is no recent clinical evidence to guide dosage of bayberry. Classical use of bayberry bark and bark extract involved dosage of 0.5 g daily.

Contraindications

Contraindications have not yet been identified.

Pregnancy/Lactation

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Bayberry should not be taken internally. Ingestion may cause GI distress. Bayberry pollen has been documented to cause allergic respiratory symptoms.

Toxicology

Large doses may cause typical mineralocorticoid side effects and may interfere with steroid therapy. Long-term injection produced malignancies in rats.

Botany

The bayberry grows as a large evergreen shrub or small tree that is widely distributed throughout the southern and eastern US. It is known for its small bluish-white berries. 2

History

The bayberry is best known for its berries, from which a wax is derived to make fragrant bayberry candles. In folk medicine, bayberry has been used internally as a tea for its tonic and stimulant properties and in the treatment of diarrhea. The dried root bark is often used medicinally. The plant is astringent, which may account for this latter use, as well as its topical use for wound healing. 2

Chemistry

A number of compounds have been identified in bayberry. Tannins account for the plant's astringency. The triterpenes myricadiol, taraxerol, and taraxerone are present, along with the flavonoid glycoside myricitrin. 2

Uses and Pharmacology

Myricadiol has been reported to have mineralocorticoid activity. Myricitrin has choleretic activity, stimulating the flow of bile, and also exhibits antibacterial activity. 2 The dried root is reported to have antipyretic properties. 3 Bayberry has also been prepared as a gargle for treatment of sore throats. 4

There is little evidence to support its use for the treatment of any disease.

Dosage

There is no recent clinical evidence to guide dosage of bayberry. Classical use of bayberry bark and bark extract involved dosage of 0.5 g daily. 5

Pregnancy/Lactation

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Ingestion of the plant may cause gastric irritation and vomiting. 6 The plant is said to be an irritant and sensitizer. 6 , 7 Use of bayberry gargle is contraindicated for dry and raw tissue such as dry sore throat. 8 Bayberry pollen has been documented as an aeroallergen. 9 , 10

Toxicology

The elevated tannin concentration of the plant precludes its general internal use. The percutaneous injection of bark extracts in rats produced a number of malignant tumors following long-term (78-week) administration. 2 , 3

Large doses may cause typical mineralocorticoid side effects and may interfere with steroid therapy. 4

Bibliography

1. http://www.alternative-medicines.com/herbdesc/1bayberr.htm
2. Tyler V. The New Honest Herbal . Philadelphia, PA: G.F. Stickley Co., 1987:30-31.
3. Leung A. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics . New York, NY: J. Wiley and Sons, 1980:57.
4. Newall C, et al. Herbal Medicines . London: The Pharmaceutical Press, 1996:41.
5. PDR for Herbal Medicines . 2nd ed. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Co; 2000: 706.
6. Spoerke D Jr. Herbal Medications . Santa Barbara, CA: Woodbridge Press, 1980:29-30.
7. Duke J. Handbook of Medicinal Herbs . Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1985:317-18.
8. http://vitalityworks.com/vitality/Productinfo/B/Bayberry.htm
9. Jacinto C, et al. Nasal and bronchial provocation challenges with bayberry ( Myrica cerifera ) pollen extract. J Allergy Clin Immunol 1992;90(3 Pt 1):312-8.
10. Bucholtz G, et al. A three-year aerobiologic pollen survey of the Tampa Bay area, Florida. Ann Allergy 1991;67(5):534-40.

Copyright © 2009 Wolters Kluwer Health

Hide
(web5)