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Bayberry (Myrica spp.)

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Also listed as: Myrica
Related terms
Background
Evidencetable
Tradition
Dosing
Safety
Interactions
Attribution
Bibliography

Related Terms
  • Anthocyanins, antioxidant, arbre ŕ cire (French), arbre ŕ suif (French), arrayán (Spanish), arrayán brabántico (Spanish), Asian bayberry, bay-rum tree, bog-myrtle, bois-sent-bon (French), box berry, box myrtle, Brabantimirtusz (Hungarian), C-methylated dihydrochalcone, candleberry, cera vegetal (Spanish), chalcone, Chinese-arbutus, Chinese bayberry, Chinese strawberry tree, cirier (French), Elvepost (Norwegian), Fenyérmirtusz (Hungarian), flavanone, flavonoid, flavonol, Gagel (Dutch, German), Gagelstrauch (German), galé odorant (French), glashout (Afrikaans), Harilik porss (Estonian), ilethi (Zulu), Illatos viaszbogyó (Hungarian), Japanese bayberry, kaphal (Nepali), Kynning (Norwegian), Lopperis (Norwegian), louro-bravo (Portuguese), Lusgras (Norwegian), meadow-fern, Mjađarlyng (Icelandic), Moor-Gagelstrauch (German), Mose Pors (Danish), Morella (alternate genus), Morella cerifera L. Small, Morella cordifolia (L.) Killick, Morella esculenta (Buch.-Ham. ex D. Don) I. M. Turner, Morella nana (A. Chev.) J. Herb.), Morella rubra Lour., mountain peach, Myrica cerifera, Myrica cordifolia, Myrica esculenta, Myrica gale, Myrica integrifolia, Myrica nagi, Myrica nana, Myrica quercifolia, Myrica rubra, Myrica salicifolia, Myrica sapida, Myrica serrata, myricetin, myrique (French), myrique baumier (French), Nageia nagi (Thunb.) Kuntze, piment royal (French), Pors (Danish, nagi (Japanese), Norwegian, Swedish), Porsch (German), Přrse (Norwegian), Porst (German), Poss (Norwegian), Post (Norwegian), Postris (Norwegian), quercetin, red bayberry, Rosmarin (Norwegian), southern bayberry, southern wax-myrtle, Sumpfmyrte (German), Suomyrtit (Finnish), Suomyrtti (Finnish), sweet gale, tallow shrub, tannin, Vahaporss (Estonian), Viaszbogyó (Hungarian), Viaszcserje (Hungarian), Voks-Pors (Danish), Vokspors (Norwegian), Voskovník japonský (Czech), Voskovník obecný (Czech), Voskovník pensylvánský (Czech), Wachsbeerbaum (German), Wachsgagle (German), Wachsmyrte (German), wasbessie (Afrikaans), wasbessiebos (Afrikaans), wasbossie (Afrikaans), Wasgagel (Dutch), wax, wax myrtle, wax-myrtle, wax shrub, waxberry, Woskownica (Polish), yamamomo (Japanese), yangmei (Cantonese, Chinese), yun nan yang mei (Chinese).
  • Note: Due to the lack of primary research and the extensive and often interchangeable use of different varieties of bayberry, this monograph addresses the available data on a number of commonly used species of the genus Myrica.

Background
  • Myrica is a genus of about 35-50 species of small trees and shrubs in the family Myricaceae, order Fagales, found throughout most of the world. Occasionally, the genus is divided into two genera, Myrica and Morella, with the former restricted to only a few species and the remainder appearing under Morella. Common names include bayberry, bay-rum tree, bog-myrtle, candleberry, sweet gale, and wax-myrtle.
  • Several species of Myrica have been used in folk medicine in Asian, Native American, European, and African cultures. According to Daniel Moerman's Medicinal plants of Native America, the branches of sweet gale (Myrica gale) were used by the Bella Coola Indians of British Columbia to prepare decoctions for use as a diuretic or as a treatment for gonorrhea. Other Native American peoples have used bayberry for dysentery, diarrhea, fevers, gynecological conditions, bleeding in the uterus, and as a toothache remedy. Myrica cordifolia, native to South Africa, has been traditionally used as an astringent, food source, and for tanning hides. Another species indigneous to Africa, Myrica quercifolia, has also been prescribed by native herbalists to cure stomachaches.
  • The early American colonists did not initially use the herb medicinally, but rather made candles, soaps and cosmetics from the bayberry fruit.
  • Today, bayberry remains popular in Asian herbalist traditions. In Taiwan, bayberry is often recommended for stomach disorders and diarrhea, and in China, it is used as an astringent and pain reliever.
  • Human data on the therapeutic use of bayberry for any condition are currently lacking. However, a number of early studies suggest that Myrica may have beneficial effects, including anticancer, antioxidant, blood pressure-lowering, antifungal, and antibacterial activities.
  • Bayberry is not listed in the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list.

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 *
* 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.

  • Analgesic (pain reliever), anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction), antibacterial, anticoagulant, antifungal, antihelmintic (treatment for parasitic worms), antihypertensive (blood pressure-lowering), anti-malarial, antineoplastic, antioxidant, antipyretic, antiviral, anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), arthritis, asthma, astringent, bleeding gums, blood purifier, bronchitis, cholera, colds, colic, colitis, cosmetic, dental pain, dermatoses, diaphoretic, diarrhea, digestive tonic, diuretic, dysentery, emetic, epilepsy, expectorant, flavoring, flu, fragrance (detergents, perfumes, soaps), glaucoma, hepatoprotection (liver protection), gonorrhea, headaches, hemorrhage (uterine), high cholesterol, hormone regulation (antiandrogen), hysteria, insect repellant, insecticidal, jaundice, laxative, leukorrhea (abnormal vaginal discharge), menstrual problems, nausea, pruritus, rheumatic disorders, salivary stimulant, scurvy, vitiligo (loss of skin pigment), sore throat, spermicide, stimulant, stomach disorders, syphilis, thrush, tonic, tuberculosis, varicose veins, wound healing.

Dosing

Adults (18 years and older)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for bayberry in adults.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for bayberry in children.

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 known allergy/hypersensitivity to bayberry, bayberry pollen, plants of the genus Myrica, and/or constituents thereof.
  • Bayberry is listed as an allergenic in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Vaccines, Blood & Biologics Database. Substances labeled as such are regulated by the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research and include patch tests used to diagnose the causes of allergic skin reactions (called contact dermatitis) or extracts used to diagnose and treat rhinitis, allergic sinusitis and pinkeye, and bee stings.
  • A diagnosis of hay fever from southern wax-myrtle (Myrica cerifera) has been noted.
  • In human study, 15% of 400 subjects evaluated for allergic respiratory symptoms had a positive reaction to bayberry pollen extract skin tests.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Scientific safety evidence is lacking, although the bark, leaves, and fruits of several species of Myrica have been traditionally used and consumed without reports of adverse effects. Bayberry is not listed in the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list.
  • Use cautiously, as secondary sources report cancer-causing properties.
  • Use cautiously in large doses, as secondary sources report that bayberry may cause nausea and gastrointestinal disturbances.
  • Use cautiously in patients with heart or kidney disease, as secondary sources suggest that bayberry may alter the body's processing of sodium and potassium.
  • Use cautiously in patients taking blood pressure-lowering agents, as bayberry may lower blood pressure levels.
  • Bayberry may increase the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in patients with bleeding disorders or taking agents that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.
  • Use cautiously in patients using bronchodilators, as the stem bark of Myrica sapida may have bronchodilative effects and improve airflow.
  • Use cautiously in patients using hormonal agents, as Myrica rubra extract may have 5-alpha-reductase inhibitory anti-androgenic activity.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Bayberry is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence.

Interactions

Interactions with Drugs

  • Bayberry may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants ("blood thinners") such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, anti-platelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).
  • Bayberry may lower blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking agents that lower blood pressure.
  • Bayberry may also interact with pain relievers, antianxiety drugs, antibiotics, antifungals, cholesterol-lowering agents, antimalarial agents, antiviral agents, bronchodilators, heart drugs, and hormonal agents.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Bayberry may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with herbs or supplements that increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Bayberry may lower blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking herbs or supplements that lower blood pressure.
  • Bayberry may also interact with pain relievers, antianxiety herbs or supplements, antibacterials, antifungals, cholesterol-lowering herbs or supplements, antimalarial herbs or supplements, antivirals, bronchodilators, heart agents, and hormonal 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. Bao, J, Cai, Y, Sun, M, et al. Anthocyanins, flavonols, and free radical scavenging activity of Chinese bayberry (Myrica rubra) extracts and their color properties and stability. J Agric Food Chem 3-23-2005;53(6):2327-2332.
  2. Chistokhodova, N, Nguyen, C, Calvino, T, et al. Antithrombin activity of medicinal plants from central Florida. J Ethnopharmacol 2002;81(2):277-280.
  3. Fang, Z, Zhang, M, Tao, G, et al. Chemical composition of clarified bayberry (Myrica rubra Sieb. et Zucc.) juice sediment. J Agric Food Chem 10-4-2006;54(20):7710-7716.
  4. Jacinto, CM, Nelson, RP, Bucholtz, GA, et al. Nasal and bronchial provocation challenges with bayberry (Myrica cerifera) pollen extract. J Allergy Clin Immunol 1992;90(3 Pt 1):312-318.
  5. Kobayashi, K, Ihara, S, Kobata, A, et al. Inhibitory effect of Myrica bark on lipase activity in mouse plasma and gastrointestinal tract. J Med Food 2008;11(2):289-293.
  6. Kuo, PL, Hsu, YL, Lin, TC, et al. Prodelphinidin B-2 3,3'-di-O-gallate from Myrica rubra inhibits proliferation of A549 carcinoma cells via blocking cell cycle progression and inducing apoptosis. Eur J Pharmacol 10-6-2004;501(1-3):41-48.
  7. Liao, X, Lu, Z, Du, X, et al. Collagen fiber immobilized Myrica rubra tannin and its adsorption to UO2(2+). Environ Sci Technol 1-1-2004;38(1):324-328.
  8. Matsuda, H, Yamazaki, M, Matsuo, K, et al. Anti-androgenic activity of Myricae Cortex--isolation of active constituents from bark of Myrica rubra. Biol Pharm Bull 2001;24(3):259-263.
  9. Patel, KG, Bhalodia, PN, Patel, AD, et al. Evaluation of bronchodilator and anti-anaphylactic activity of Myrica sapida. Iran Biomed J 2008;12(3):191-196.
  10. Patel, KG, Patel, KV, Shah, JH, et al. Evaluation of the effect of Myrica sapida on bronchoconstriction and bronchial hyperreactivity. Pharmazie 2008;63(4):312-316.
  11. Popovici, J, Bertrand, C, Bagnarol, E, et al. Chemical composition of essential oil and headspace-solid microextracts from fruits of Myrica gale L. and antifungal activity. Nat Prod.Res 2008;22(12):1024-1032.
  12. Prince, HE and Meyer, GH. Hay fever from Southern Wax-Myrtle (Myrica cerifera): a case report. Ann Allergy 1977;38(4):252-254.
  13. Sylvestre, M, Legault, J, Dufour, D, et al. Chemical composition and anticancer activity of leaf essential oil of Myrica gale L. Phytomedicine 2005;12(4):299-304.
  14. Tong, Y, Zhou, XM, Wang, SJ, et al. Analgesic activity of myricetin isolated from Myrica rubra Sieb. et Zucc. leaves. Arch Pharm Res 2009;32(4):527-533.
  15. Wang, DY and Liu, EG. A new diaryheptanoid from the bark of Myrica rubra. Nat Prod Res 3-10-2008;22(4):292-295.

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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