Berberis aristata, also known as Indian barberry, "chutro" or tree turmeric, is a shrub belonging to the family Berberidaceae and the genus Berberis. The genus comprises approximately 450-500 species of deciduous evergreen shrubs and is found in the temperate and sub-tropical regions of Asia, Europe, and America. B. aristata is native to the Himalayas in India and in Nepal. It is also naturally found in the wet zone of Sri Lanka.
Chemical structure of berberine, an alkaloid found in B. aristata
In India, B. aristata is used in traditional herbal medicine. Its stem, roots, and fruits are used in Ayurveda.
A preparation called rasaunt is prepared by boiling the bark of the root and of the lower part of the stem in water. The solution is then strained and evaporated until a semi-solid mass, rasaunt, is obtained. It is mixed with either butter and alum, or with opium and lime-juice.
The root bark contains the bitter alkaloid berberine, which has been studied for its potential pharmacological properties