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Bayberry

Medically reviewed on June 7, 2018

What is Bayberry?

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. Plant parts used include the fruits, leaves, bark, and roots. Geographical location and differing methods of harvesting, processing, and storage result in varying constituents in the juice and extract.

Scientific Name(s)

Myrica cerifera and Myrica rubra

Common Name(s)

Bayberry also is known as wax myrtle plant, candleberry, Chinese bayberry, red bayberry, waxberry, and yang-mei.

What is it used for?

Traditional/Ethnobotanical uses

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 as a tea for its tonic and stimulant properties, and for treating diarrhea. Among Native Americans, the leaves were used to destroy parasitic worms, the leaves and stems were used for treating fever, and the roots were applied as a poultice. It is also reported to have been used as a charm medicine to exorcise spirits of the dead and to prevent diseases. The dried root bark often is used medicinally and as a dyeing/tanning agent.

General uses

Bayberry has been used traditionally for many conditions; however, clinical trials are lacking to validate these claims. Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities have been demonstrated in only 1 small clinical trial and animal data. Some protective effects on the liver were seen in 1 small study.

What is the recommended dosage?

Clinical trials do not provide dosage recommendations of bayberry.

Contraindications

Contraindications have not yet been identified.

Pregnancy/Lactation

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

Interactions

Reduction of blood clot formation has been described.

Side Effects

Plant allergy, including severe, whole-body allergic reaction, has been documented. Cross-sensitivity with other fruits was reported.

Toxicology

Carcinogenicity of the root bark has been reported. Myricadiol has been shown to be spermatocidal.

References

1. Bayberry. Review of Natural Products. Facts & Comparisons [database online]. St. Louis, MO: Wolters Kluwers Health Inc; January 2015.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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