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Blackberry (Rubus fructicosus)

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Also listed as: Rubus villosus, Rubus fructicosus
Related terms
Background
Evidencetable
Tradition
Dosing
Safety
Interactions
Attribution
Bibliography

Related Terms
  • Anthocyanins, chickasaw blackberry, marionberry, olallieberry, Rosaceae (family), Rubus, Rubus fructicosus, Rubus villosus, wild blackberry.

Background
  • Blackberry is a rambling vine with thumb-sized black composite "berries." The plant grows easily in temperate climates, and is often found in recently cleared areas. Laboratory studies have found blackberries to be high in antioxidants, although no benefits were observed in one clinical trial. More research is needed in this area before a potential therapeutic recommendation can be made.
  • Because of the tannins in the blackberry plant's root bark and leaves, blackberry has been used as an astringent and tonic, and for dysentery (severe diarrhea) and diarrhea. A tea of the root bark has also been used for whooping cough.

Evidence Table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. GRADE *


Several laboratory studies indicate that blackberry fruit is high in antioxidants, which may be due to the berries' anthocyanin content. However, more research is needed in this area to determine its effects on antioxidant levels in humans.

C
* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)


Tradition / Theory

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

  • Astringent, boils, cancer, diarrhea, dysentery (severe diarrhea), gout (foot inflammation), skin conditions (scaldhead), tonic, whooping cough.

Dosing

Adults (18 years and older)

  • There is no proven effective dose for blackberry.

Children (younger than 18 years)

  • There is no proven effective dose for blackberry.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to blackberry (Rubus fructicosus) or its constituents. There is a case report of a severe food-precipitated anaphylaxis associated with antiphospholipid syndrome in a patient allergic to blackberry.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Blackberry is likely safe when used in food amounts in healthy patients. There are few reports in the available literature of adverse effects related to blackberries. There is a case report of sporotrichosis (a chronic fungal infection of the skin and lymph nodes) possibly due to picking blackberries, and one study found that fresh, incubated blackberries were contaminated with mold.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Based on traditional use, blackberry is likely safe in food amounts in pregnant or breastfeeding women. However, other uses are not recommended due to a lack of sufficient data.

Interactions

Interactions with Drugs

  • Blackberry fruit is high in antioxidants, although early evidence does not suggest that ingestion of blackberry affects antioxidant levels in humans.
  • Although not well studied in humans, blackberry may have anticancer activity. Caution is advised when combining blackberry with other anticancer agents.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Blackberry fruit is high in antioxidants, although early evidence does not suggest that ingestion of blackberry affects antioxidant levels in humans.
  • Although not well studied in humans, blackberry may have anticancer activity. Caution is advised when combining blackberry with other anticancer herbs or supplements.

Attribution
  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

Bibliography
  1. Armentia A, Barber D, Lombardero M, et al. Anaphylaxis associated with antiphospholipid syndrome. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 2001;87(1):54-59.
  2. Blomhoff R. [Antioxidants and oxidative stress]. Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen 6-17-2004;124(12):1643-1645.
  3. Carmen Ramirez-Tortosa M, Garcia-Alonso J, Luisa Vidal-Guevara M, et al. Oxidative stress status in an institutionalised elderly group after the intake of a phenolic-rich dessert. Br J Nutr 2004;91(6):943-950.
  4. Ding M, Feng R, Wang SY, et al. Cyanidin-3-glucoside, a natural product derived from blackberry, exhibits chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic activity. J Biol Chem 6-23-2006;281(25):17359-17368.
  5. Felgines C, Talavera S, Texier O, et al. Blackberry anthocyanins are mainly recovered from urine as methylated and glucuronidated conjugates in humans. J Agric.Food Chem 10-5-2005;53(20):7721-7727.
  6. Feng R, Bowman LL, Lu Y, et al. Blackberry extracts inhibit activating protein 1 activation and cell transformation by perturbing the mitogenic signaling pathway. Nutr Cancer 2004;50(1):80-89.
  7. Halvorsen BL, Holte K, Myhrstad MC, et al. A systematic screening of total antioxidants in dietary plants. J Nutr 2002;132(3):461-471.
  8. Netzel M, Strass G, Janssen M, et al. Bioactive anthocyanins detected in human urine after ingestion of blackcurrant juice. J Environ.Pathol Toxicol Oncol 2001;20(2):89-95.
  9. Pellegrini N, Serafini M, Colombi B, et al. Total antioxidant capacity of plant foods, beverages and oils consumed in Italy assessed by three different in vitro assays. J Nutr 2003;133(9):2812-2819.
  10. Serraino I, Dugo L, Dugo P, et al. Protective effects of cyanidin-3-O-glucoside from blackberry extract against peroxynitrite-induced endothelial dysfunction and vascular failure. Life Sci. 7-18-2003;73(9):1097-1114.
  11. Tournas VH, Katsoudas E. Mould and yeast flora in fresh berries, grapes and citrus fruits. Int J Food Microbiol. 11-15-2005;105(1):11-17.
  12. Wang Y, Finn C, Qian MC. Impact of growing environment on chickasaw blackberry (Rubus L.) aroma evaluated by gas chromatography olfactometry dilution analysis. J Agric.Food Chem 5-4-2005;53(9):3563-3571.
  13. Yang DJ, Krishnan RS, Guillen DR, et al. Disseminated sporotrichosis mimicking sarcoidosis. Int J Dermatol 2006;45(4):450-453.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)


The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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