Scientific Name/Common Name: Mahonia aquifolia / Oregon Grape
Part(s) Used: Root
Constituents/Active Ingredients: Isoquinoline alkaloids berbamine, berberine, canadine, corypalmine, hydrastine, isocorydine, mahonine, and oxyacanthine, resin, and tannins.
Overview: Oregon Grape is a tall shrub found in the western regions of Canada and the United States. The bright yellow roots are very bitter and contain berberine and hydrastine, alkaloids also found in goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) that act as powerful antibiotics. Native Americans used the root tea to treat recurrent fevers, dysentery, to tonify, and to stop rectal hemorrhage. Oregon grape root partially works by stimulating bile and kidney secretions and improving digestion. The root’s antibacterial properties are also well documented and explain its successful use in treating skin and internal infections. Extracts are used as a blood-cleanser to treat acne, nausea, eczema, psoriasis, and cold sores. The decoction acts as a digestive and liver tonic, which improves appetite and relieves rheumatic inflammation. Berberine is the most studied of the alkaloids and has been shown to possess fungicidal and antibacterial activities.
Traditional Use/Benefits/Body Systems: Alterative for cleansing, cholagogue to stimulate bile, laxative/digestive tonic.
Clinical Studies/Scientific Research/References:
Hoffmann D. 2003. Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester (VT): Healing Arts Press.
Duke JA. 1985. Oregon Grape. In Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, p. 287-288.
Disclaimer: This information in our Herbal Encyclopedia is intended only as a general reference for educational purposes. It is not a replacement for medical advice. This content does not provide dosage information, cautions/contraindications, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Please consult any relevant product labels for detailed information on use and with a medical practitioner for individual health advice.