Treating Acne with Barberries

Treating Acne with Barberries
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What happens when the most antioxidant-packed dried fruit available is put to the test in a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial for moderate to severe acne?

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We hear a lot about Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine, but less about the herbs used in Japan. There’s a root called Rhizoma coptidis, that appears to have similar anti-acne activities to a drug like Accutane, a drug infamous for its side effects, before it was pulled from the market.

 But there are side effects to the root, too. A poor fellow took it to clear up his skin and made things worse. The anti-acne active component of the root is thought to be berberine; any way to get the active ingredient in a safer plant?  Yes, apparently in barberries. You may remember barberries as perhaps the most antioxidant packed dried fruit available. You can find them cheap at Middle Eastern grocers, where they’re used to make a signature Persian rice dish. Their taste is described as pleasantly acidulous, which is just “doctor-speak” for sour. I love sprinkling them on my oatmeal just because they’re yummy, but evidently they have played a prominent role in herbal healing for thousands of years around the world, flamboyantly described in this pharmacology journal as an herbal remedy that has no match in serving the human race. And I just thought they were kind of tangy.

 The problem with the herbal medicine literature is that there is often a long impressive list of traditional uses, but little or no science to back it up. And what does exist is often either in vitro or animal data that has questionable clinical applicability. Like who cares if barberries induce menstruation in a guinea pig, except maybe the guinea pig. So, you end up with drug companies injecting herbs into the penises of rabbits in hopes of coming up with the next Viagra, but few, if any, human studies.

 I’ve seen petri dish studies like this over the years suggesting anti-cancer effects of barberries on human tumor cells in vitro, or the anti-acne effects on hamsters, but there weren’t any such human studies…until now.

 Evidently, there had been anecdotal reports of acne clearing up after barberry juice consumption; so, researchers decided to put it to the test: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial of fifty 12- to 17-year-olds with moderate to severe acne. Half got a sugar pill; the other half got the equivalent of about a teaspoon of dried barberries three times a day for a month.

 The results were remarkable. After four weeks on the placebo, no change, just as many pimples as before. But in the barberry group, a 43% drop in the number of zits, and about a 45% drop in inflamed zits. That’s extraordinary. And a spoonful costs about eight cents. No reported side effects; healthy for you anyway. The only potential concerns I could find were to not eat them during pregnancy, and we don’t have good data on barberry consumption during lactation; so, best to stay away from barberries during breastfeeding, as well.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Molisandor via Pixabay, vvoennyy via 123rf, and Avi Shmueli via Flickr.

We hear a lot about Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine, but less about the herbs used in Japan. There’s a root called Rhizoma coptidis, that appears to have similar anti-acne activities to a drug like Accutane, a drug infamous for its side effects, before it was pulled from the market.

 But there are side effects to the root, too. A poor fellow took it to clear up his skin and made things worse. The anti-acne active component of the root is thought to be berberine; any way to get the active ingredient in a safer plant?  Yes, apparently in barberries. You may remember barberries as perhaps the most antioxidant packed dried fruit available. You can find them cheap at Middle Eastern grocers, where they’re used to make a signature Persian rice dish. Their taste is described as pleasantly acidulous, which is just “doctor-speak” for sour. I love sprinkling them on my oatmeal just because they’re yummy, but evidently they have played a prominent role in herbal healing for thousands of years around the world, flamboyantly described in this pharmacology journal as an herbal remedy that has no match in serving the human race. And I just thought they were kind of tangy.

 The problem with the herbal medicine literature is that there is often a long impressive list of traditional uses, but little or no science to back it up. And what does exist is often either in vitro or animal data that has questionable clinical applicability. Like who cares if barberries induce menstruation in a guinea pig, except maybe the guinea pig. So, you end up with drug companies injecting herbs into the penises of rabbits in hopes of coming up with the next Viagra, but few, if any, human studies.

 I’ve seen petri dish studies like this over the years suggesting anti-cancer effects of barberries on human tumor cells in vitro, or the anti-acne effects on hamsters, but there weren’t any such human studies…until now.

 Evidently, there had been anecdotal reports of acne clearing up after barberry juice consumption; so, researchers decided to put it to the test: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial of fifty 12- to 17-year-olds with moderate to severe acne. Half got a sugar pill; the other half got the equivalent of about a teaspoon of dried barberries three times a day for a month.

 The results were remarkable. After four weeks on the placebo, no change, just as many pimples as before. But in the barberry group, a 43% drop in the number of zits, and about a 45% drop in inflamed zits. That’s extraordinary. And a spoonful costs about eight cents. No reported side effects; healthy for you anyway. The only potential concerns I could find were to not eat them during pregnancy, and we don’t have good data on barberry consumption during lactation; so, best to stay away from barberries during breastfeeding, as well.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Molisandor via Pixabay, vvoennyy via 123rf, and Avi Shmueli via Flickr.

Doctor's Note

The you-may-remember-them-from video was Better Than Goji Berries

Most of my previous videos on acne centered on what to not eat:

I always like doing what to eat videos better :)

If you haven't yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

120 responses to “Treating Acne with Barberries

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  1. In an earlier video, someone pointed out that goji berries can be grown successfully in a wide range of climates. I gave it a try last year and while the plants were just getting started, I did get some berries! Unlike Dr. Greger, I can’t say I like them. But they aren’t horrible the way that amla tastes to me. I’m hoping I’ll develop a taste for the fresh goji berries this year, assuming the plants survive.




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    1. I’ve only had dried goji berries. Perhaps they are just better dried, or perhaps the sugar content is lower for the ones you are growing because the climate is not optimal for cultivation where you are growing them.




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      1. Maybe. I’ve tried the dried ones too on a few occasions and I thought those tasted worse than the fresh. I’m thinking it’s just my taste buds. Though there is definitely a possibility my plants are not in ideal growing conditions. I’m not good at growing plants and know just enough to know that I don’t know enough about it.




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        1. I certainly didn’t like them well enough to pay the going rate. and I will fork out for a fruit that I like. That, and there are so many fresh berries available.




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        2. I cook the dried goji berries in my cereal in the morning. I use 1 cup of oats or any other cereal or mixture with 3 cups of either Rice Milk, Almond Milk or Oat Milk. I mix in other things as well such as Flax Meal, cocoa powder and even tumeric plus sesame seeds and chia seeds. Cooking softens them and releases the sweet flavour.




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      1. brad: I agree, it is a very fun project. A couple years ago, someone said that these plants grow like weeds on the sides of the freeway in the UK and that the plant is hardy and thrives on neglect. That was love at first hear for me.

        In order to avoid the plants taking over my yard, I’m growing them in large planters/containers on my patio. I don’t remember which zones the plant grows in, but I remember it was easy to find the answer on line. Then, all you have to do is find which zone you live in.

        You can buy the plants online when they are in season. But I found out that when they are in season, my local plant store sells them too. So, I bought them locally. It was better from the local store anyway, because I got a green/leafy plant instead of just the root, which is what I would have gotten if I had ordered online.

        The plants are supposed to produce fruit the 2nd or 3rd year after planting. Mine started the first year! Not many, but enough. It was really exciting. And it was fun watching my dog sniff the berries. I suspect that this year he may be helping himself.




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    2. Sounds great, Thea. Maybe the plants just need to get a little more mature for the berries to get larger and taste better. Let us know how they turn out this year.




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    3. Thea: The nutrient content of a plant, and even its taste, generally depends on what kind of a climate and soil it grows in. I wonder how American-grown goji compares to those grown in its native land, China, nutritionally.




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      1. guest: Good question. I do have to say, though, that the first time Dr. Greger did a video on goji berries, he talked about they are a fraction of the cost at Asian stores. So, I ran to my nearest Asian market and bought a bag. I would assume that bag came from China, but I don’t know. I don’t think the bag from China tasted any different from any of the other handfull of times I tried dried goji berries… But that’s just me.




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        1. I also went to several Asian stores asking for lycium berries. At only one store did they know what I was talking about. However they were anything but cheap, easily double the price of raisins. Maybe because I live in the raisin capital of the world.




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          1. Interesting.

            The store I went to didn’t know what I was talking about either. But I described what I was looking for and they led me right to it.




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          2. The Chinese store I shop at doesn’t have a product labeled lyceum berries but has goji labeled goji and, although not organic, it’s more expensive than the organic goji at amazon.




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          3. You live in California? Have you considered giving one of the many orthomolecular doctors in your state a call? There was a psychiatrist who treated 10,000 patients without a single improvement. Orthomolecular doctors make a big improvmenet. I think all your patients think they have HIV without having been tested, seems to be a universal fear. Victoria Batsian Hollywood Wellness Center David S. Minken, D.C. David S. Minken Chiropractic Elisa S. Lottor, Ph.D, N.D. Pacifica Women’s Health Terry V. Eagan, M.D. Shelia Solar, M.D. Anita Mary Pepi, DC Health Improvement Center Murray Susser, M.D. 2211 Corinth Avenue #204 Tod Thoring, N.D. Oasis Healing Center Karima Hirani, M.D. Hirani Wellness Medical Center Cathie Lippman, MD 291 S. La Cienega Blvd Suite 207 Gustavo H. Vintas, M.D. Healing Dialogue Jeff Schwartz Eating Disorder Center of CA – EDCCA Cynthia Watson, M.D. Laurel Binder Los Angeles Acupuncture and Wellness Joseph Sciabbarrasi, M.D. Stuart H. Garber, D.C. Ph.D. Veaney McIrvin Ken H. Smythe Being There 1-2-1 Chester B. Howard Chester Howard, L.C.S.W. Stuart Shipko, M.D. Lynn Ryan, N.D., Ph.D. DrNature.net Ilona Abraham, M.D. Advanced Medical Clinic Marge Hartwig, M.H., N.D. Herbal Education Research Foundation Gary E. Erkfritz, D.C. Laurie Monteleone, M. Hom. Melissa Metcalfe, B.S. N.D. Natural Solutions Marcy Sproull, L.Ac. Marilynn Snow Jones, D.C. Center for Wellness and Longevity Tonya Brooks, Licensed Midwife Dr. Swerdloff, Victoria Arcardi, D,C, Natural Birth & Women’s AssociatesNancy Mullan, M.D. Marla L. Scripter, RN, DC Aquire Wellness! Chiropractic Rehabilitation and Nutrition Craig Jace ND, DOM, LAc, PA-C Ram Prakash, MD Gary Sztanski Toluca Lake Medical Management Ronald Wempen, M.D. The Environmental Medical Center of Orange County David Linck, ND James Privitera, M.D. Nutriscreen David Getoff Eating Disorder Referral and Information Center David Shannahoff-Khalsa Gabrielle Traub Priscilla Anne Slagle, MD The Way Up Allan Sosin, M.D. Institute for Progressive Medicine Yee-Wing Tong, M.D. East-West Wellness and Pain Center Kenneth Connor Shannon Connor Nancy Savinelli, MA, ND New Health Solutionz Jeremy E. Kaslow, M.D., FACP, FACAAI Allen Green, M.D. Center for Optimum Health Marcus Ettinger Advanced Healing Arts Institute Robert Woodson, Ph.D. Louise Werner, M.A. OTT BIOLIGHT SYSTEMS, Inc. Jacob Bastomski, D.C., D.I.B.C.N State Street Chiropractic Luc Maes Maes Center for Natural Health Care Alice Hanlon, MS, BA, CNC Mariposa Healing Arts Harry Wong, D.C. Physicians Plus Medical Group Chris Asimos Comprehensive Health Consulting Services Richard A. Kunin, MD Mark Filidei, D.O. San Francisco Preventive Medical Group Alan Brauer, M.D. Totalcare Medical Center Mark Taube Optimal Health Center Astara Marcia, M.F.A. World Music, N.D. Homeopathy (India/U.S.) Jeremiah W. Anderson Organic Superfoods International Eleanor Hynote, M.D. Phoenix Medical Group Timothy J. Smith, M.D. Peter Fairfield, L.Ac., OMD Center for Conscioius Healing Wendi Jones Faeryshine Claudia O’Flynn Metabolic Nutritional Consulting Royale Shelton World of Alternative Health John L. Price. Ph. D. Stacy L. Foster Alternative Medical Consultation Terri Su, M.D. Radiant Health Medical Center Robert Jay Rowen, M.D. Robert Jay Rowen Terri B. Su Golden Gate Health Association Norman Zucker, M.D. Roger Barr You can Heal Yourself with Homeopathy Bessie J. Tillman, M.D. Lawrence H. Foster. M.D. The Tahoe Clinic




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      2. On the other hand, often its the active component that gives a food its distinctive taste. Eg, don’t like wasabi, horseradish, or mustard? Then perhaps allyl isothiocyanate is not for you. Berberine, the putative active ingredient in barberries, is so noted for its intense bitter sensory note that as the reference material in studies concerning the taste-masking of bitter drugs




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      1. Rebecca: By the time I got my containers and worked myself up to actually purchasing the plants, no one around town had the plants in. The plants apparently have a ‘season’. But several of the nurseries I called said that they do carry the plants when in season.

        So, it depends what time of year you are looking and may just depend on how “hip” your city is. ;-) I believe that the ‘season’ starts around March or April in my area of the world, but I can’t swear to it. (I really have no head for information about growing things. When I win the lottery, I plan on paying people to grow wonderfully practical and sustainable gardens on my property.)




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        1. Thanks for your reply. I think we live about 60 or so miles apart, so if you found them I probably can, too. I’ll call around town and see.




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      2. They are in stock now at a reputable place that ships. Try groworganic.com. Peaceful Valley Farm Supply has great videos on how to grow a variety of plants, including the goji berry. There’s also zone info. I’m considering getting a plant, too. P.S. I’m not affiliated with this company but have done business with them before.




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    4. About the amla taste. I did agree with you. But then being determined to get all the nutrition I could, I trried slicing the frozen ones and cooking in my morning beans, flax, greens and mushroom mix. Surprised hell out of me but I like it! I think the trick might be getting them into something savory and a little cooking. I find the sweetened amla acceptable but not something I would crave.
      But then again I might just be weird.




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      1. Stewart E. – Can I come over for dinner?

        Thanks so much for your post! Someone some time ago wrote that people in India use the fruit in a savory way. I’ve been curious about that idea ever since. It’s so interesting to hear your report.




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        1. Where do you get certified contaminate free triphala from & how do you know that it is uncontaminated – is it based on trust or is it certified in a lab – I would love to be able to add it to my dietary regime but the contamination problem blocks me doing so.




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        1. OK here it is. This recipe just sort of “grew” with nutrition more in mind than taste but I do like it. First I slow cook sliced mushrooms in a nonstick skillet for the time it takes me to run five miles. When I get back I add a mixture that I prepared the night before of 3/4 cup of cooked beans of choice, usually black eyed peas (I am originally from Arkansas) or black beans along with broth and 1/4 cup ground flaxseeds, chopped onions and a crushed clove or two of garlic. I also add one sliced amla fruit to this. So I add this to the skillet, still on very low heat, at take a shower. Out of the shower I have ready some chopped greens of choice. I like “power greens” which is a combination of baby spinach, baby kale and baby chard. Then I add the spices including turmeric, saffron, nutritional yeast, black pepper and whatever else strikes my fancy. I let the greens wilt while I get dressed and then I’m ready to eat. I also like to add some balsamic vinegar sometimes. I might also add some tofu based ranch dressing.

          The bottom line is that the only high calorie element in this is the flax seed. And this all gives me more phytonutrients in one meal that most Americans get in a month.




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            1. My local Indian grocer carries frozen whole and sometimes quartered. I’m a bit lazy so I prefer the quartered. If you have access to an Indian grocery store it is very likely they will have it in their frozen veggie section right along with bitter gourd and some other exotica I have yet to try.




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      2. I agree Stewart. I put it in my real sauerkraut along with bitter melon, red cabbage, and beets. The fermentation takes away the bitterness and it’s just mildly sour, like the rest of the sauerkraut, and you still get all of the enzymes and anti-oxidants that are killed in cooking.




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        1. John I think that is likely a good point on not hurting things by cooking. That’s why the bean, flax, amla mixture that I mentioned earlier is only cooked long enough to get them well heated. I’ve often wondered how much is destroyed by the drying process or by cooking. The studies done seem to suggest that whatever the damage what remains is still nutritionally powerful.




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    5. I’ve read a lot of the information on the website regarding the role of a wfpb diet on acne yet I haven’t come across anything on rosacea. I’ve been following a wfpb diet for many years and I’ve seen improvements in my symptoms but my question is if there is anything in the research that Dr. Greger had come across to incorporate or refrain from in my diet to further alleviate my rosacea symptoms? In addition to following a wfpb diet I have cut out the typical foods associated with inflammation (sugar, alcohol, gluten…) and have recently (about two months ago) also have cut out added oils to my diet. Thanks in advance for any information or advice !




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      1. LB: I don’t think you are the first person to ask about rosacea. I confirmed that NutritionFacts just doesn’t cover rosacea. Unfortunately, I don’t personally have any good info on that topic either. I’m going to forward your post/question to the volunteer medical moderator’s list. Not all of those questions get answered, because we don’t have enough volunteers. But at least your question is in the pile.

        The only personal comment I could make is that you sure seem to be going on the right track: WFPB diet, even including the detail of minimal oils. My thought is that while your diet may not be helping you with the rosacea, at least you are doing everything you can to lower the risk of developing problems in other areas. That’s a wise approach in my opinion.

        Best of luck to you.




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      2. LB: I just thought of something to try: I did a search of the NutritionFacts comments. Happily, I did find a post from one of our volunteer medical moderators in response to someone else. I was hoping the response would be helpful to you. The following is from “memcwilliams”:

        ” I am a volunteer for NutritionFacts and a nutrition student. However, I also have worked for a dermatologist for the last 3 years and see rosacea on a weekly basis. My employer is also plant-based, but for rosacea he recommends staying away from 3 things: caffeine, theobromine, and nicotine. We know what contains caffeine and nicotine, but theobromine is less widely known. Theobromine is in chocolate and tea, so avoiding those things can help with rosacea. Also, spicy foods, which you probably already know. I don’t know much about plant-based diets and rosacea, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they helped with all the anti-inflammatory effects! Hope this helps! :)”




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  2. Barberries, a.k.a. Zereshk. Oh goody. Something new to try in my morning porridge.
    There is a thriving Iranian community in So Cal so it should not be difficult to source.




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    1. Seems to me there are barberry hedges all over my neighborhood. We even have a few young plants. I just never knew they were edible. I’ll have to check with the neighbors to see if they sprayed them and, if not, would they mind if I picked a few as a trial. I don’t think our plants are big enough yet to make berries.




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        1. You do have to be careful with eating plants, but barberries are pretty easy to identify.

          I even trust my husband’s knowledge of yummy wild mushrooms, which he spots from time to time.




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    1. What is a good mail order source? In the video, he mentioned the berries cost 8 cents per teaspoon dose. That would calculated to be about $10.70 per pound. That is twice as cheap as any internet source I am able to find.




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        1. Once I bought olive oil on eBay. (Before I knew not to eat oils). After I got it, it seemed fine but it occurred to me that EBay might not be the best place to buy food since it doesn’t have the oversight most manufacturers and stores have. How did I know it was even olive oil much less whether it had been “watered down” with canola oil?




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          1. I got the Barberries yesterday for the distributor I mentioned in my previous post.
            They are amazing! 10 pounds of aciduous small red dried berries (like mini cranberries but a bit more tart).
            My son likes them and it is easy to get him to take the required dose on one teaspoon 3 times daily! We’ll see the outcome of this experiment!




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  3. No surprise active compound berberine, an AMPK activator, might inhibit nutrient-signalling driven acne. I delved into the many preventative benefits of berberine (which is inexpensive as a relatively pure extract) before deciding it wasn’t for me. Some issues with berberine include potential bradycardia (1), genotoxicity (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7), and neurotoxicity (8).




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    1. Is it possible the whole berry provides benefits not seen with the extract? (I’m thinking of persons taking certain vitamins in isolation which cause cancer rather than prevent it, for example, but when taken in the whole food, help prevent cancer–just an example….)




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      1. Anything’s possible, and berberine might not be the most important active component for acne treatment. The case of those trials which found β-carotene supplementation increased cancer in smokers is telling. In the general population, β-carotene is decent marker of vegetable intake, and all the other chemopreventive compounds. The SUVIMAX researchers claim, “Tell me what your blood β-carotene level is, I will tell you what your health risk is!” but that’s not the case in β-carotene supplementation. β-carotene competes for absorption with other carotenoids, and high-dose supplementation plausibly interferes with absorption of the actual chemopreventative compounds.




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  4. I had no idea Accutane was discontinued. I took it twice in m life (at 16 and at 24). Both times I felt horrible. I wish I knew of barberries back then.




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  5. I had read somewhere that I should post a question here, instead of contacting NF directly? Anyway, hopefully I can get an answer…. I just finished reading How Not To Die and I loved every page of it. I do have one question though. On page 299 where you are talking about watermelons, You say “Watermelon seeds, have pretty respectable antioxidant levels, so I try to avoid seedless varieties. A spoonful of watermelon seeds may have as many antioxidants as a whole cup of melon balls.” You are surely NOT saying you eat the seeds, but are merely selecting the seeded varieties because of the antioxidant levels? We probable ate 100 seedless watermelons this last fall, and would have certainly chosen seeded varieties, if that is the case….but not if I am going to be eating seeds too…thanks for your clarification…JOE




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    1. Hi Joe – I did not read the book, but i do know that watermelon seeds are edible and suppose to be good for you. The same with winter squash seeds. The winter squash seeds are best roasted in the oven. The watermelon seeds are good to blend up with the watermelon or just chew the seeds along with the watermelon while eating it. Add a little rind to it if organic. the rind has lots of minerals.




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      1. Alan: I did not know that people actually ate watermelon seeds. I mean the hard black ones.

        I really appreciate you mentioning the information about the rind. I remember researching watermelon rind jelly once. Before that, I had never heard of the stuff. But more importantly, my dog and I split watermelon this way: I eat the red. He eats the rind. He LOVES it. But I often wondered if it was providing any nutrition and sometimes worried it might be harmful. Good to hear that you haven’t heard of any problems with consuming the rind. Now, if only I could get myself to eat as healthy as my dog…




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        1. When i eat watermelon i do not always eat some of the seeds or rind. It tastes better when just eating the red part – the meat of the matter. But sometimes while eating the melon i do eat some of the seeds along with it. And when i cut the meat away from the rind i try to get some of the inner rind with it. And occasionally i blend the watermelon and put seeds and rind with the meat.
          Another thing i do at times is to blend the seeds and inner surroundings of the seeds of cantaloupe and drink that. It is not love, but not bad either. And i may add some of the actual melon. I do not ever eat the rind of the cantaloupe.
          It is good to take care of your dog but remember to eat as good as him so you can keep taking care of him – smile!




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  6. I have 4 different types of Goji berries that I grow in Central Iowa and they grow like weeds. They also multiply like weeds. Very prolific bushes that spread, and I picked them probably three different times, first year and 2nd year plants. But, right off the bush, they are not that tasty, certainly not great…but if you dry them and put them on salads and such, they are very good. Much better dried, than fresh, in my opinion.




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  7. I had acne for more than forty years. It didn’t go away when I went vegan or WFPB. It didn’t respond to anything several dermatologists suggested. I never used Isotretinoin because it’s mechanism was never known and I reasoned all those side effects had to be metabolic or physiological bad news. Then last year to placate my GP I started supplementing more vitamin D, from 3500 IU per week from a multivitamin to 7500 IU per week total with added supplement pills. No more acne. (Though I remain WFPB vegan.)




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      1. That is not true. We just came back from Vietnam and Cambodia. We were so surprised to see many of the teenagers and young adults suffer with cystic acne.




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    1. When I was a kid they used to tell us that sun exposure would help because the sun would kill lots of the bacteria. I always suspected the vitamin D might be a better explanation.




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    2. I am 27 years old, WFBP, and still suffering from acne, although it has improved over the past several years. It is interesting that you were able to rid yourself of it using a vitamin D supplement, but I refrain from such supplements since it is not clear whether they are effective and safe. I live in a sunny country and am exposed to the sun often.




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    1. jbull88: This is totally my fault. When Dr. Greger said the sentence, “You may remember barberries as perhaps the most antioxidant packed dried fruit available.”, he flashed the picture of an older video where the title mentioned goji berries. I did not read that title closely and thought that Dr. Greger had been referring to a previous video which highlighted the power of goji berries and thought that goji and barberries were two different names for the same thing. So, I started everything by sharing my relationship with goji berries.

      I apologize for the confusion. Also, thank you for the question and thank Darryl for his answer or I might have remained confused for all eternity and beyond. (It’s the end of my day and I’m feeling punchy.)




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  8. When I became a senior (over 70) over 10 years– I have had 3 bouts with different types of Acne.
    I use dried organic Barberries in a multi fruit smoothie every morning.
    All 3 cases of Acne cleared quite quickly.
    Difficult berry to find




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  9. Thank you Dr Greger for sharing your knowledge on barberry and acne, I will be recommending it as the cost of prescription treatment goes up but fails to impress me. Regarding Accutane, it was never pulled from the market and hopefully never will be as it is the only cure for severe and unretractable acne vulgaris. It is more difficult to prescribe, but Isotretinoin is available under several generic brands, though more expensive than ever. No surprise there.




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  10. I am a breastfeeding plant based vegan no oil no junk mother with terrible acne, this sounded promising till I heard you can’t take them if you’re lactating. Any other tips I can try?




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  11. For anyone who lives in the UK, I bought two very healthy-looking goji berry plants last spring from http://www.crocus.co.uk for £30.00.
    They’re planted on a south facing wall in my back garden in normal soil, and grew prolifically last summer, to the point where I had to trim them back in the autumn!
    No fruits yet in the first year, but given the incredibly mild (but extremely wet!) winter we are having along with the normally very mild climate here in the far south-west England, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for something this coming summer.
    I can’t say I have ever seen them growing on the side of the roads here in the UK as someone earlier mentioned, but maybe I haven’t looked closely enough at the hedges on my daily country walks with the dog. Hedgerows here are usually several hundred years old with established species, so newcomers tend to be crowded out very quickly: “Blackberrying” is a very common pastime in the autumn along our country roads along with collecting rose hips.




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  12. “Has no match in serving the human race.”

    Wait – I thought that was black seeds? I mean turmeric? I mean cruciferous veggies? I mean blueberries? I mean. . .
    Oh what the heck, I’ll just eat them ALL.




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  13. Barberries are a common landscape plant around here (Eastern WA). They make a nice standalone plant with four-season appeal, and nobody tries trespassing through a hedge of it. Can I eat the berries of them?




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  14. Barberry (probably thunbergia) grows around here as a nice landscape plant and its thorns dissuade trespassers. It only took a minute to find a Wikipedia site saying their fruits are edible. Score one for my budget!




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  15. Wow! I thought I had a complex mix. Then I realized that on occasion I have used all those with the exception of the pumpkin. I’m still trying to figure a good way to get sweet potatoes in with the right complementarity. I have used oat bran in the past when trying to further reduce my cholesterol but it became simply too big a plate. (I finally had to eliminate my favorite dark chocolate. I don’t miss no dead flesh it’s my chocolate that is the deprivation).

    Oh yeah I do sometimes use mustard powder for the myrosinase. I just have to remember to add it after it’s in my plate. Course I have the same issue with sprouts when I’m in a hurry. By themselves I’m not that crazy about broccoli sprouts but they complement savory dishes very positively. Just a few minutes ago I came across the following review of some use of dried broccoli sprout powder (who thought of that?) and it works very well to help with the sulforaphane formation. http://www.naturalmedicinejournal.com/journal/2011-10/broccoli-alternatives-eating-it-raw

    My next addition might be zereshk after I get by the Mid Eastern deli.




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  16. Huh, I got my butt beat as a kid when I got caught eating these from the hedges in front of our house! I guess it’s a little late to protest, eh?




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  17. Haskaps grow up to and including climate zone 2 (north, cold,windy … think Siberia or northern Canada). I’ve got 6 different varieties growing in my back yard developed by the university of Saskatchewan. These plants are great and I’m waiting for the tests on them. Dark purple, rugby or football shaped and a variety of tastes.

    I’ll have to check into barberries to see if I can grow them where I live (middle Canada, not totally north, we still have trees).




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  18. Does anyone have any comparisons between Barberries, Goji and white mulberries, all in unsweetened dried form. I have seen the Barberries to Goji, but do not see Mulberries on this site.




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  19. Does anyone have any idea how many grams of dried barberries this would translate to each day? I can’t seem to work out a dose needed to improve my acne, and I don’t want to overdo it. They’re so sour




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  20. I’ve just got myself some Barberries and followed some video on youtube of sorting through the berries, then rinsing and soaking them till the water ran clean (took 5 goes).. I’ve done the rinsing and soaking on 50g of the 200g that I brought as I figured they may not keep as well once they’re no longer dried.

    It seems to have left them quite soft, but they are delicious and very sour. I wondered what other people were doing with their handling of the berries as its quite a laborious task and my hope of adding them to a little pot of nuts i take to work is unlikely to work out now they’re soaked as they’re too fragile i think.

    Cheers




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    1. jimbobuk: After seeing this video and the resulting conversation that made it clear I shouldn’t let my bias against goji berries prevent me from trying the different fruit, barberries, I ordered some. I’ve had some dried barberries for a couple of days now, and I’ve been eating them like raisins. I just eat them. They are very tart, but I surprised myself by liking their flavor. I’m going to try them in my oatmeal at some point. And I think they would make a truly excellent addition to any baked good where you want a very strong berry flavor.

      I don’t think it makes sense to rinse and soak first. Doing so creates the problems you have mentioned: added hassle, loss of nutrients by throwing out the soaking water, increased risk of spoilage, and reduced usage options. I’m presuming that the youtube creator suggested the soaking to remove any dirt/grit??? If so, I don’t think it’s worth it. I have sometimes felt what might be dirt when I bite down on some of the barberries, but not that often and for all I know, I’m feeling tiny seeds. That’s just my take.




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  21. hi i would like to know more about soy (soy milk/tofu) and acne if they have a link etc? i hear so many contradictory opinions in regards to this,i think even dr.mcdougall does not promote their consumption, he cites acne and breast cancer as side effects i think… but i love soy milk with my muesli with berries on top (adding barberries now!) n tofu with my soba noodles with veggie stir fry and tamarind paste/pulp, tamari, lemon juice peanut sauce




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    1. sue v: I have Dr. McDougall’s book, The Starch Solution. After seeing your post, I started flipping through the recipes in the back of the book and almost immediately found a recipe titled “Hoisin-Tofu Lettuce Wraps”. On page 141, Dr. McDougall makes the distinction between fake meat type of soy products and traditional soy products. It doesn’t seem like Dr. McDougall is against soy, just highly processed soy.
      .
      I don’t know of a link or lack there of between soy an acne, but as NutritionFacts shows, traditional soy products are a healthy – including both preventing breast cancer and helping prevent recurrence. In Dr. Greger’s new book, How Not To Die, he points out that soy is so healthy, you can lose half the nutrients (like say for tofu or soy milk) and still have a very healthy product. Based on my understanding of the science (and I think Dr. Greger and Dr. McDougall would agree), I would say to enjoy your tofu and soy milk dishes! Maybe someday you may upgrade your tofu to tempeh (less processed), but I wouldn’t stress over it now.




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    2. Peanuts and oil make me break out, just to mention regarding your stir fry. I am also wondering about soy, might have to try eliminating it to see what happens.




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  22. Is it okay for the dried barberries to be black? On google images all photos show them red, in poland I found only one place to buy them online, and they are black. I bought 1kg there are like pieces of twig and stuff, should I wash them before eating? I know they supposed to be very sour, they need a while to chew them they also I think have hard seeds, is that okay to my teeth?




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  23. Hi, can you please advise what is the best dosage and how to eat barberry for clearing up adult acne? Would prefer to take barberry pills if possible. Thanks a lot.




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  24. I don’t know where to write this question, so I’m posting it here, because it’s about berries’ properties. This question is for Dr. Greger and his team.
    In your opinion, what is the reason why, in some studies, whole berrries don’t have the beneficial effect of extracted and purified berries’ antioxidants?
    I’d like, in particular, a comment on this interesting study:

    http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/jf071993o

    Thank you so much for your possible explanation.




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  25. This is a really awesome finding..but what about female adult acne (age 22-25 and maybe even onward)? I will def give this a shot in addition to other diet modifications but even since becoming vegan I still have acne and strange random cysts occur on my body. I react incredibly quickly to when I eat at vegan restaurants, or restaurants in general and get a vegan meal..they seem to use a TON of oils or something. I have had some of the worst acne of my life while being vegan and I just don’t understand, and I feel like I am doing everything right, but one time out at a restaurant will destroy my skin it seems. I can’t tell if maybe it’s bread related in addition to oils. So many things to take into consideration…I guess I just need to live on plain fruits and veggies with nothing added but it just sucks. I just don’t understand why everyone else around me eats complete garbage and has amazing skin and I am the only one I know suffering through eating as clean as possible and am embarrassed to show my face at work and afraid to wear tank tops for fear of scaring people with my back. Now the cysts have spread to one underarm and on my stomach. I am so frustrated because I eat healthier than any person I know. and I feel it’s not even worth my time to go to a doctor because they just give you medicine.




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    1. Thanks for your comment!

      While each case has to be treated individually and not generalised, according to a 2009 review, there’s a few dietary factors that may play a role in acne causation, specifically in certain populations (please refer to table attached).

      It might be that like you’re doing it all right, but hoping this may help you on the subject.




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    2. I hear you. I am a 26-year-old male, have been vegan for the past seven years and low fat for the past month and a half. My switch to veganism did not affect my acne, although it did improve several years later naturally. My recent omission of oil improved my condition, but it is still there. I share your astonishment, how those around me ingest copius amounts of unhealthy foods daily and enjoy clear skin, while healthy me — who eats a relatively clean diet — walks around with scars and noticeable red cysts all over my face. I, too, reckon fruitarianism could be the answer, but I am not there. The only possible cause I could think of is gluten.




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  26. There are some studies linking berberries to cancer, which I posted below. I also found a post on another site from someone named Mike Maas who goes into all the dose equivalencies with rats and concludes that this is a concern for humans. Should we be worried? I also have no way of comparing berry dose vs. goldenseal doses… anyone know how to do that? And let me add — I love these berries and wouldn’t want to stop them unless this concern is legitimate at human dose levels.

    http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/results/pubs/longterm/reports/longterm/tr500580/listedreports/tr562/index.html

    http://tpx.sagepub.com/content/39/2/398.full




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  27. Although research definitely tells us that barberries are efficient in the treament of acne, it also tells us that they have significant side effects, e.g. harming beneficial gut bacteria and lowering blood pressure, to name a few. The video is somewhat misleading, since it portrays the berries as all benefits and no downsides. Safer alternatives for treating acne are welcome.




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  28. Hello,
    I coudnt find anything related to a rosacia or a really itchy red skin.
    For the past 3-4 months i have been to so many doctors, have my blood,stool tested and no one can tell me whats wrong with me. I have a very bad ibs and some say that it causes my skin to go red and very rosacia like. When i was 18 i had a bad rosacia problem ( that wasnt officially diagnosed, they just told me that i have a really bad acne that it would go away if i take x pills with y pills)

    One of the doctors told me that i might have a gluten intolerance and of course ones again blood work and other tests didnt show anything. I have been gluten free for the last 2 months and NOTHING has changed.

    My skin is still very red, itchy and in a lot of pain. I get small white bumps here and there.
    At first of course i was very self conscious about my skin, but now all i want is to remove the pain. Sometimes i wake up in the middle of the night because my face is very itchy and burning.

    Some other side effects that i have :
    – sometimes my throat gets very dry and its hard to breath
    – big weight gain
    – bloated stomach

    I had an allergy test done and absolutely nothing came up!! Oh and when i told my “doctor” that i am vegan and dont eat anything animal, he proceed to tell me that i absolutely need milk! lol

    If anyone has any suggestions or have ever experience anything similar please let me know.
    I am very desperate and would appreciate any help!

    Thank you for your time!




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  29. Thank you so much for making this video! I’m 16 and have kind of bad acne, but I don’t eat any meat, dairy, processed food, or refined sugar, so I’m really considering trying this. Do have any ideas about what might be causing my acne? I’ve heard that eating too much fat on a plant based diet (I saw this on Dr. McDougall’s website) can cause acne, but I was wondering what your thoughts were on that. Thanks!




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  30. My son has severe cystic acne, particularly on his back. I am looking for natural treatments before heading to a dermatologist (who will likely prescribe an antibiotic and other pharmaceuticals). He is about 80% plant based. He avoids dairy but eats too much sugar… working on a major reduction of sugar to see if that helps. If I was to try the barberries, which I’m excited about trying, can you recommend a good source. I can’t imagine he would eat sour berries, so maybe a powder/capsule form…? I see lots on line but have no idea of their quality / safety. Thank you!




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  32. i have adult acne that just seems to be getting worse.. I eat a plant based diet with some meat, no dairy/gluten. I just break out on the right side of my face (not the side I sleep on) and a bunch by my mouth/chin which could be hormonal… I have tried so many supplements that I now think that they may be doing more harm than good. Is there anything I can do to support my hormones / are there any supplements I should certainly be taking? I also have bad allergies. Thanks




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    1. Hi, Caitlin Winters. Without knowing more about your diet and lifestyle, it is difficult to answer your question. If you have allergies, you may need to heal your gut by eating nourishing, prebiotic foods such as beans and cabbage, and anti-inflammatory foods, which includes all the fruits and vegetables that have a lot of color. You say you “eat a plant based diet with some meat.” Have you tried going totally on whole plant foods, and eliminating the meat?
      Some other factors to consider:
      Sugar can affect hormones, skin, and gut health, so cutting sugar would be a good idea for you.
      Moderate exercise may also help with acne.
      It is possible that what you have is not acne at all, but some other skin condition. You might want to consult a health professional about this.
      I don’t know what medications and/or supplements you have already taken, or are already taking, so I cannot recommend any additional supplements for you. You also might be interested in this video, if you have not already seen it.
      https://nutritionfacts.org/video/saving-lives-by-treating-acne-with-diet/
      I hope that helps!




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  33. Hi, I Am wondering how much barberries a day you would recommend me to eat to decrease my acne? I guess what I am asking is, if there is a limit when the amount of berries doesnt have an effect anymore? in this case, how much did the volonters in the test intake per day and how many times? Greeting from Johannes




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  34. Thank you for your question, Johannes. In answer to your question on how much did the volunteers take: equivalent of about a teaspoon of dried barberries three times a day for a month.Not very much at all. Hope this helps. Joan-Nurse Educator




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  35. hi dr. greger , i am a female, 27 from germany but living in dubai since 1 1/2 years, and vegan since almost three years now…i eat very very healthy veggies fruits no gluten no sugar ect. i am very active with sports, BUT still since one year i developed acne rosacea (thats what the dermatologist said) around the mouth… why? i dont know anymore what to do… i tried everything:( before that i had always a lot of problems with candida infection but i have it under control now with the food i eat. also i lost weight three months ago because i do a lot of sport and i eat so clean because im afraid the acne could get worst and now my period is not coming since 1 1/2 months …what can i do to get it back? thanks a lot for the help :)




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    1. Sabrina, As one of the volunteers for NutritionFacts.org who responded to you initially, I wanted to get back to you regarding your follow up questions. I’m sorry you are struggling with the acne which must be so frustrating. I am glad you have discovered NutritionFacts.org and it sounds like you are doing all you can nutritionally which I’ll encourage you to continue. I’m referencing two other resources you can review which may reference information you are already familiar with:Acne https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne-and-rosacea/acne#causes

      http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/acne/basics/causes/con-20020580

      These detail other causes for acne which I’m hoping you are exploring with your dermatologist. You mentioned delayed menstruation which also has multiple causes

      http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Periods-absent/Pages/Introduction.aspx

      Because stress and exercise are both involved in acne and menses, you may want to focus on stress mgt and routine but not excessive exercise.

      It appears yours is a complex case which may take patience and determination but i hope you find resolution soon. To your good health, Joan-NurseEducator




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  36. I know this is a little off topic from acne, please forgive…

    I am also interested in Berberine from barberries due to the study “Efficacy of Berberine in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2410097/#!po=62.9032
    Both my husband and I have been diabetics for some time, though me not as long nor as acute. Due to following a plant based diet for the last 2 years I am no longer on medication for diabetes and he is off of 2 meds and on reduced dose of the third. We are always looking at other foods to add that could boost our successes so I searched the Berberine derived from the “Chinese herb Coptis chinensis French” used in this study and was overwhelmed by the results. I then searched Berberine on NF and watched the 2 videos again. Question: Would we get similar results from barberries? But then again, the very least we would enjoy the healthy tart addition to our oatmeal. Thanks to all for the reliable information!




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