Chemical Components

Isoquinoline alkaloids, including hydrastine (1.5-5%), berberine (0.5-6%) and canadine (tetrahydroberberine, 0.5-1.0%). Other related alkaloids include canadaline, hydrastidine, corypalmine and isohydrastidine.

Clinical note — Isoquinoline alkaloids

Isoquinoline alkaloids are derived from phenylalanine or tyrosine and are most frequently found in the Ranunculaceae, Berberidaceae and Papaveraceae families (Pengelly 2004). This is a very large class of medicinally active compounds that include the morphinane alkaloids (morphine, thebaine and codeine), the ipecac alkaloids (emetine and cephaeline), the atropine alkaloid (boldine), and the protoberberines (berberine and hydrastine). Many other plants contain berberine, including Berberis vulgaris (barberry), Mahonia aquifolium/Berberis aquifolium

(Oregon mountain grape), Berberís arístata (Indian barberry), Coptis chinensis (Chinese goldthread), Coptis japónica (Japanese goldthread) and Thalictrum minus.

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