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Health benefits of Chinese bayberry



Chinese Bayberry (Myrica Rubra) is a subtropical evergreen tree originating in China [1], where it has been cultivated and consumed for more than 7,000 years, becoming part of Chinese traditional medicine as part of herbal remedies for some ailments and illnesses. Image: See credits under ref. [16] below. 


Family: Myricaceae

Genus: Myrica

Common name: Chinese Bayberry, Japanese Bayberry, Red Bayberry, Yumberry, Waxberry, or Chinese strawberry tree [9]



It is primarily cultivated in southern China for several thousand years [1], in high altitude lands and mountains, having a total annual production of over 1.1 million tons.

The best-known cultivars are Biqi and Dongkui, both from the Zhejiang province [1]. There are four species within the genus Myrica in China, namely Myrica Rubra, esculenta, nana, and adenophora.

Due to its delicious taste and a number of health benefits exerted by Chinese bayberry, the areas in which it is cultivated has considerably extended in the last year, becoming considerably bigger in China and being introduced also in Australia [1].



SELLING YUMBERRIESThe Chinese bayberry has indeed many health benefits and properties. It is well known as a rich source of tannins [14]. The leaves, bark and fruits of the Chinese bayberry tree have been used as an astringent, antidote, and anti-diarrhoeic in traditional Chinese medicine [1,3,4]. The Chinese bayberry leaves are also and more specifically used as analgesics in folk medicine in China [12].

In several pharmacological studies of this natural medicine, it has been reported that the extract of Chinese bayberry bark exerts hepatoprotection [5,6], inhibits melanin biosynthesis activities [7] and could prevent carcinogenesis [8], in spite the hepatoprotective effects of Myrica Rubra fruits are not well investigated [1].

The proanthocyanidin gallate found in Chinese bayberry has been reported to exhibit antioxidant and antiviral activity [14]. Image: Selling Yumberries by Carsten Ullrich under Creative Commons License (CC BY-SA 2.0).



Among the different types of Chinese bayberries we can mention:

  • Black bayberry (Biji / Hunan)
  • Pink bayberry (Fenhong)
  • Yellow bayberry (Shuijing)



Flavonoids is polyphenol antioxidants that can be found in plants, herbs, and food. They function as powerful antioxidants having a very important role in our metabolism and believed to have certain anti-cancer properties.

Flavonoids are ingested by the general population as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents. One of these flavonoids found in Chinese bayberry leaf, namely myricitrin, inhibited pro-inflammatory TNFα production, showing that myricitrin may be of potential interest in the management of inflammatory conditions [10].



As we mentioned before, the Chinese bayberry leaves are also and more specifically used as analgesics in folk medicine in China. Some studies have demonstrated that the analgesic effect of bayberry leaves is exerted by an active constituent found in its leaves, namely myricetin, a chemical that showed a significant inhibition in chemical nociceptive models, to be clear, the stimuli that are transmitted by our neurons when they react to a potential damage coming [12].



Some of the active constituents found in Chinese bayberry have proven free radical scavenging properties, the so-called antioxidant activity. Among these active constituents, Chinese bayberry is known to contain at least:

  • one anthocyanin,
  • three major flavonols
  • cyanidin-3-O-glucoside and
  • two of three flavonols, myricetin and quercetin-3-O-rutinoside.

The black varieties (Biji and Hunan) demonstrated much higher radical scavenging activities than the pink (Fenhong) and yellow (Shuijing) varieties which may be attributed to much higher levels of anthocyanins, flavonoids, and total phenolics in the black varieties [13].



In human breast adenocarcinoma MCF-7 cells, a chemical extracted from the bark showed anti-proliferative activity, causing the apoptosis of these cancer cells or natural cell death [14].

Disclaimer: The information presented on this website is not intended to prescribe or give in any way or form medical advice, recommend or diagnose. Please read the disclaimer at the bottom of this page for more info.



[1] Development of simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers from a genome survey of Chinese bayberry (Myrica rubra) Yun Jiao,1 Hui-min Jia,1 Xiong-wei Li,1 Ming-liang Chai,1 Hui-juan Jia,1 Zhe Chen,2 Guo-yun Wang,3 Chun-yan Chai,4 Eric van de Weg,5 and Zhong-shan Gao1
[2] Myrica rubra Extracts Protect the Liver from CCl4-Induced Damage Lizhi Xu, 1 Jing Gao, 2 ,* Yucai Wang, 1, 3 , Wen Yu, 1 Xiaoning Zhao, 1 Xiaohe Yang, 1 Zengtao Zhong, 4 and Zhong- Ming Qian 5 ,*
[3] Matsuda H, Morikawa T, Tao J, Ueda K, Yoshikawa M. Bioactive constituents of Chinese natural medicine VII: inhibitors of degranulation in RBL-2H3 cells and absolute sterostructures of three new diarylheptanoid glycosides from the bark of Myrica rubra. Chemical & Pharmaceutical Bulletin. 2002;50:208–215. [PubMed]
[4] Yoshikawa M, Shimada H, Nishida N, et al. Antidiabetic principles of natural medicines. lI. Aldose reductase and a-glucosidase inhibitors from brazilian natural medicine, the leaves of Myrcia multiflora DC. (Myrtaceae): structures of myrciacitrins I and II and myrciaphenones A and B. Chemical and Pharmaceutical Bulletin. 1998;46(1):113–119.
[5] Hase K, Ohsugi M, Xiong QB, Basnet P, Kadota S, Namba T. Hepatoprotective effect of Hovernia duleis Thunb. On experimental liver injuries induces by carbon tetrachloride or D-galactosamine/lipopolysaccharide. Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin. 1997;20:381–385. [PubMed]
[6] Ohta S, Sakurai N, Kamogawa A, Yaguchi Y, Inoue T, Shinoda M. Protective effects of the bark of Myrica rubra Sieb. et Zucc. on experimental liver injuries. Yakugaku Zasshi. 1992;112(4):244–252. [PubMed]
[7] inhibitory effect of Myrica rubra on melanin biosynthsis. Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin. 1995;18:1148–1150. [PubMed]
[8] Kuo P-L, Hsu Y-L, Lin T-C, Lin L-T, Lin C-C. Induction of apoptosis in human breast adenocarcinoma MCF-7 cells by prodelphinidin B-2 3,3'-di-O-gallate from Myrica rubra via Fas-mediated pathway. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. 2004;56(11):1399–1406.
[9] Wikipedia article on Myrica rubra under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License;
[10] Anti-allergic effect of the flavonoid myricitrin from Myrica rubra leaf extracts in vitro and in vivo. Shimosaki S, Tsurunaga Y, Itamura H, Nakamura M. Department of Cooperative Medical Research, Collaboration Center, Shimane University, Izumo, Japan.
[11] Myrica rubra Extracts Protect the Liver from CCl(4)-Induced Damage. Xu L, Gao J, Wang Y, Yu W, Zhao X, Yang X, Zhong Z, Qian ZM. Jiangsu Key Laboratory of Molecular Medicine, School of Medicine, Nanjing University, Nanjing, China.
[12] Analgesic activity of myricetin isolated from Myrica rubra Sieb. et Zucc. leaves. Tong Y, Zhou XM, Wang SJ, Yang Y, Cao YL. Department of Pharmacology, Shenyang Pharmaceutical University, Shenyang, PR China.
[13] Anthocyanins, flavonols, and free radical scavenging activity of Chinese bayberry (Myrica rubra) extracts and their color properties and stability. Bao J, Cai Y, Sun M, Wang G, Corke H. Institute of Nuclear Agricultural Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hua Jiachi Campus, Hangzhou 310029, People's Republic of China.
[14] Induction of apoptosis in human breast adenocarcinoma MCF-7 cells by prodelphinidin B-2 3,3'-di-O-gallate from Myrica rubra via Fas-mediated pathway. Kuo PL, Hsu YL, Lin TC, Lin LT, Lin CC. Department of Biotechnology, Chia-Nan University of Pharmacy and Science, Tainan, Taiwan.
[15] In vitro antiviral activity of prodelphinidin B-2 3,3'-di-O-gallate from Myrica rubra. Cheng HY, Lin TC, Ishimaru K, Yang CM, Wang KC, Lin CC. Graduate Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, R.O.C.
[16] Pixabay image under Public Domain License CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0).