Phellodendron is a plant. The bark is used to make medicine. Be careful not to confuse phellodendron with the houseplant called philodendron. The names are similar but the plants are unrelated.
Phellodendron is used for osteoarthritis, weight loss and obesity, diarrhea, ulcers in the stomach or upper part of the small intestine (peptic ulcers), diabetes, meningitis, pneumonia, eye infections, tuberculosis, and cirrhosis of the liver.
Some people apply phellodendron to the skin for psoriasis, to kill germs, and to reduce redness and swelling.
How it works
Some chemicals in phellodendron might reduce redness and swelling (inflammation). Another chemical, berberine, might be able to lower blood sugar and “bad” LDL cholesterol as well as protect the liver against toxic materials. Berberine might also be active against tumors. However, berberine can be harmful as well.
Not ProvenWeight loss
Some research suggests that overweight women who take a specific product containing a combination of extracts of phellodendron plus magnolia (Relora, Next Pharmaceuticals) for 6 weeks have less weight gain than other women who did not receive the product. Women taking this product also seem to eat fewer calories than the control group. One possible explanation is that this product reduced stress and stress-related eating. But that theory doesn't stand up, because so far there is no evidence that this product reduces the stress hormone called cortisol.
There is a report that an ointment containing phellodendron plus isatis and Baikal skullcap improved psoriasis in an 8-year-old boy with psoriasis that responded poorly to other treatments.
Phellodendron appears to be safe in adults when used short-term. The safety of phellodendron use for more than 6 weeks is unknown. In one study, one person experienced heartburn, shaking hands, sexual dysfunction, and thyroid dysfunction. Another person experienced fatigue and headache. But it is not known if these side effects were caused by phellodendron or some other factor.
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: It'sUNSAFEto use phellodendron if you arepregnant. Phellodendron contains a chemical called berberine, which can cross theplacentaand might harm thefetus. It's alsoUNSAFEto use phellodendron if you arebreast-feeding. Berberine can be transferred to theinfantthroughbreast milkand can causebraindamage in newborns, especially in premature newborns withjaundice. Jaundice is a yellowing of the eyes and skin due tobilepigments in theblood.Are there any interactions with medications?
Children: Phellodendron is UNSAFE in newborn infants. It can cause brain damage, especially in premature infants with jaundice.
ModerateCyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune)
The body breaks down cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune) to get rid of it. Phellodendron might decrease how fast the body breaks down cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune). Taking phellodendron along with cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune) might increase the chance of side effects.Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates)
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Phellodendron might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking phellodendron along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking phellodendron, talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking any medications that are changed by the liver.Some medications changed by the liver include cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune), lovastatin (Mevacor), clarithromycin (Biaxin), indinavir (Crixivan), sildenafil (Viagra), triazolam (Halcion), and many others.