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Scientific Name(s): Myrica cerifera L., Myrica rubra (Lour.) Siebold and Zucc.
Common Name(s): Bayberry, Candleberry, Chinese bayberry, Red bayberry, Wax myrtle plant, Waxberry, Yang-mei

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Oct 22, 2021.

Clinical Overview


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 1 small clinical trial and animal data only, respectively, as well as some protective effects on the liver in 1 small study and in animal models of diabetes.


Clinical trials are lacking to guide dosage of bayberry.


Contraindications have not yet been identified.


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


Case reports are lacking; however, inhibition of cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) and CYP2C9 has been reported. Antithrombotic activity has been described.

Adverse Reactions

Plant allergy, including anaphylaxis, has been documented. Cross-sensitivity with other fruits was reported.


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

Scientific Family

  • Myricaceae (bayberry)


Bayberry or wax myrtle 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. Chinese or red bayberry is native to China and other Asian countries. 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. A synonym is Morella cerifera (L.) Small.Khan 2009, Sun 2013, USDA 2014


Bayberry is best known for its berries, from which a wax is derived to make fragrant candles. In folk medicine, bayberry has been consumed as a tea for its tonic and stimulant properties, and for treating diarrhea. Chinese traditional medicine texts have recorded bayberry’s use for more than 2,000 years. Among Native American tribes, the leaves were used as a vermifuge, 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 is often used medicinally and as a dyeing/tanning agent.Chistokhodova 2002, Fu 2014, Khan 2009, Sun 2013


A number of compounds have been identified in bayberry. In the bark, tannins, triterpenes (myricadiol, taraxerol, and taraxerone), flavonoid glycosides, astringent resin, and gum have been described. The leaves and fruit contain anthocyanins (eg, cyanidin-3-O-glucoside) and phenolic acids (ferulic, caffeic, sinapic, and salicylic). Spectroscopic and chromatographic methods for identification of myricetin, myricitrin, quercetin, and gallic acid have been listed. The kernel contains proteins, unsaturated fatty acids, tannins, magnesium, potassium, and calcium.Fu 2014, Kang 2012, Khan 2009, Li 2011, Sun 2013, Wang 2012, Xu 2014

Uses and Pharmacology


Animal data

In vitro studies of M. rubra leaf extracts implicate flavonoids, specifically myricitrin, as having anti-inflammatory properties, including inhibition of nitric oxide synthase and cyclooxygenase-2.Kim 2014, Sun 2013 Serum immunoglobulin E levels were down-regulated in a mouse allergy model, and inhibition of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) was demonstrated in macrophage cells.Kim 2013, Shimosaki 2011

Clinical data

A small, 4-week, randomized crossover study evaluated the effect of 250 mL of bayberry juice twice daily on nonalcoholic fatty liver disease outcomes. Improvements in antioxidant status were observed as well as decreases in markers of inflammation, including TNF and interleukin-8.Guo 2014


Animal data

In vitro and chemical studies have identified several chemical constituents of bayberry leaf, bark, and fruit with antioxidant capacity, including anthocyanin, phenolic, and flavonoid content, and specifically myricetin and myricitrin and others.Fu 2014, Sun 2013 Protective effects against apoptosis and cell necrosis have been shown in endothelial, pancreatic, hepatic, colonic, and neuronal tissues.Liu 2014, Sun 2013, Sun 2013

Clinical data

Research reveals no clinical data regarding the use of bayberry as an antioxidant.


Animal data

Cyanidin-3-O-glucoside from Chinese bayberry fruit administered to mice with induced diabetes decreased blood glucose and improved glucose tolerance. A protective effect on pancreatic tissue was also observed in microscopic analysis.Sun 2012

Clinical data

No effect on plasma glucose, insulin parameters, or lipid profile was observed in a study conducted in adults with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.Guo 2014

Other uses

Antithrombotic activity has been described for the root bark of bayberry in vitro.Chistokhodova 2002 and myricanone alone have been shown to induce apoptosis and suppress cell proliferation in human cancer cell lines.Paul 2013, Sun 2013

Antibacterial and antiviral activity of Chinese bayberry, including against Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Eschericia coli, Bacillus subtilis, Vibrio cholerae, and other human pathogens, has been demonstrated in vitro.Li 2012, Sun 2013

Protective effects on hepatic and neuronal mitochondria have been described.Gou 2013, Wang 2014, Xu 2011


Clinical trials are lacking to guide dosage of bayberry. Bayberry juice was used at 250 mL twice daily for 4 weeks in 1 small clinical trial.Guo 2014

Pregnancy / Lactation

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


Case reports are lacking; however, inhibition of CYP3A4 (midazolam-like) and CYP2C9 (tolbutamide-like) has been reported.Guo 2014 Antithrombotic activity has been described for the root bark of bayberry in vitro.Chistokhodova 2002

Adverse Reactions

Plant allergy, including anaphylaxis, has been documented. Cross-sensitivity with other fruits was reported.Wang 2012


The elevated tannin concentration of the plant bark was carcinogenic in rats and precludes its general internal use in humans. The triterpene myricadiol has been shown to be spermatocidal, and antiandrogenic activity of the bark extract of M. rubra has been reported.Khan 2009, Sun 2013

Index Terms

  • Morella cerifera (L.) Small.


Chistokhodova N, Nguyen C, Calvino T, Kachirskaia I, Cunningham G, Howard Miles D. Antithrombin activity of medicinal plants from central Florida. J Ethnopharmacol. 2002;81(2):277-280.12065163
Fu Y, Qiao L, Cao Y, Zhou X, Liu Y, Ye X. Structural elucidation and antioxidant activities of proanthocyanidins from Chinese bayberry (Myrica rubra Sieb. et Zucc.) leaves. PLoS One. 2014;9(5):e96162.24805126
Guo H, Zhong R, Liu Y, et al. Effects of bayberry juice on inflammatory and apoptotic markers in young adults with features of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Nutrition. 2014;30(2):198-203.24377455
Gou W, Xu L, Wang Y, et al. Mitochondrial protective effects of Myrica rubra extract against acetaminophen-induced toxicity. Am J Chin Med. 2013;41(5):1053-1064.24117068
Guo YJ, Zheng SL. Effect of myricetin on cytochrome P450 isoforms CYP1A2, CYP2C9 and CYP3A4 in rats. Pharmazie. 2014;69(4):306-310.24791597
Kang W, Li Y, Xu Y, Jiang W, Tao Y. Characterization of aroma compounds in Chinese bayberry (Myrica rubra Sieb. et Zucc.) by gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and olfactometry (GC-O). J Food Sci. 2012;77(10):C1030-C1035.23009608
Khan IA, Abourashed EA. Leung’s Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics. 3rd ed. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley; 2009.
Kim HH, Kim DH, Kim MH, et al. Flavonoid constituents in the leaves of Myrica rubra Sieb. et Zucc. with anti-inflammatory activity. Arch Pharm Res. 2013;36(12):1533-1540.23695865
Kim HH, Oh MH, Park KJ, Heo JH, Lee MW. Anti-inflammatory activity of sulfate-containing phenolic compounds isolated from the leaves of Myrica rubra. Fitoterapia. 2014;92:188-193.24144798
Li G, Wang D, Xu S. Two new compounds from the roots of Myrica rubra. Nat Prod Res. 2011;25(2):136-140.21246440
Li J, Han Q, Chen W, Ye L. Antimicrobial activity of Chinese bayberry extract for the preservation of surimi. J Sci Food Agric. 2012;92(11):2358-2365.22419228
Liu H, Qi X, Cao S, Li P. Protective effect of flavonoid extract from Chinese bayberry (Myrica rubra Sieb. et Zucc.) fruit on alcoholic liver oxidative injury in mice. J Nat Med. 2014;68(3):521-529.247415263
Myrica cerifera L. USDA, NRCS. 2014. The PLANTS Database (, 2014). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA. Accessed September 24, 2014.
Paul A, Das S, Das J, et al. Diarylheptanoid-myricanone isolated from ethanolic extract of Myrica cerifera shows anticancer effects on HeLa and PC3 cell lines: signalling pathway and drug-DNA interaction. J Integr Med. 2013;11(6):405-415.24299604
Shimosaki S, Tsurunaga Y, Itamura H, Nakamura M. Anti-allergic effect of the flavonoid myricitrin from Myrica rubra leaf extracts in vitro and in vivo. Nat Prod Res. 2011;25(4):374-380.21328132
Sun C, Huang H, Xu C, Li X, Chen K. Biological activities of extracts from Chinese bayberry (Myrica rubra Sieb. et Zucc.): a review. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2013;68(2):97-106.23605674
Sun CD, Zhang B, Zhang JK, et al. Cyanidin-3-glucoside-rich extract from Chinese bayberry fruit protects pancreatic beta cells and ameliorates hyperglycemia in streptozotocin-induced diabetic mice. J Med Food. 2012;15(3):288-298.22181073
Sun GB, Qin M, Ye JX, et al. Inhibitory effects of myricitrin on oxidative stress-induced endothelial damage and early atherosclerosis in ApoE-/- mice. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2013;271(1):114-126.23639522
Wang C, Zhao J, Chen F, Cheng Y, Guo A. Separation, identification, and quantitation of phenolic acids in Chinese waxberry (Myrica rubra) juice by HPLC-PDA-ESI-MS. J Food Sci. 2012;77(2):C272-C277.22309143
Wang HY, Gao ZS, Yang ZW, et al. Anaphylaxis and generalized urticaria from eating Chinese bayberry fruit. J Zhejiang Univ Sci B. 2012;13(10):851-854.23024053
Wang YH, Yu HT, Pu XP, Du GH. Myricitrin alleviates methylglyoxal-induced mitochondrial dysfunction and AGEs/RAGE/NF-kappaB pathway activation in SH-SY5Y cells. J Mol Neurosci. 2014;53(4):562-570.24510749
Xu L, Gao J, Wang Y, et al. Myrica rubra extracts protect the liver from CCl(4)-induced damage. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011:518302.20019074
Xu YX, Zhang M, Fang ZX, Sun JC, Wang YQ. How to improve bayberry (Myrica rubra Sieb. et Zucc.) juice flavour quality: effect of juice processing and storage on volatile compounds. Food Chem. 2014;151:40-46.24423499


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