Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium) is a powerhouse herb! Also known as Holly-leaf barberry, mountain grape, Oregon grape holly, Oregon barberry, blue barberry, creeping barberry, holly barberry, holly-leaved Berberis, holly Mahonia, Mahonia,, Mahonie, scraperoot, trailing Mahonia, Uva de Oregon, Vigne de l’Oregon and water-holly.
Oregon grape has also demonstrated the ability to help lower blood sugar in patients with insulin resistance.
The root of Oregon grape has been used to treat many maladies throughout history, including colds, flu, herpes, hepatitis, syphilis, stomach upset, cancer, stimulating liver function, Fever, Jaundice and supports digestive health.
It can be used as a wash for eye infections, acne, athlete’s foot, gastrointestinal issues, and skin conditions like Psoriasis and Eczema. The berberine slows abnormal cell growth in the skin and reduces inflammation, which, in turn, relieves itching.
The root is also used as a tea to treat Dysentary. It’s an effective treatment of giardia (a type of infectious diarrhea), Yeast and Urinary Tract Infections (UTI). Conversely, it also cleanses the bowels. Even E. coli infections are no match for several doses of Oregon grape. Add a dropper or two of the tincture to a glass of water for quick results.
One of the primary actions of this herb is an improvement of blood flow to the liver, and is a blood purifier.
Toothaches are not to be trifled with. An infected tooth or gum line can turn toxic in a shockingly short amount of time. Herbal medicine is not a substitution for proper dental care, but when a toothache shows up and you don’t have access to a Dentist, you can rub Oregon grape powder directly on the gum to reduce painful swelling and stave off a more serious bacterial infection.
Externally it is a disinfectant. Oregon Grape is perfect for treating wounds by keeping the area free from infection and swelling.
Diluted tincture can be dabbed on a wound after it’s been cleaned.
For infected eye conditions such as conjuntivitis or a Sty , treat topically applying a diluted and thoroughly strained tea to the area.
Salve made with Oregon grape oil is a great addition to every family’s first aid kit.
Some parents prefer to add Oregon grape tincture and calendula tincture diluted with water in a small bottle with a mister top to spray on scraped knees and elbows.
Serious infections of the lungs and the sinuses are no match for consistent care with Oregon Grape.
This is the family friend with viral infections to avoid deadly bacterial infections. The other properties that ease inflammation and pain.
The primary medicinal component of Oregon grape, berberine, has been shown to have Anti-bacterial and Anti-fungal properties. Berberine generally slows down the mobility of the intestinal tract in those with diarrhea; it also inhibits the growth of bacteria and enhances immune cell properties, helping to prevent infections.
Generally more accessible and easily available, it is used in place of Golden Seal offering similar antimicrobial properties.
The berberine alkaloids act on our cell’s DNA to prevent gastrointestinal amoebas from taking hold in the body. This herb may be taken effectively in a variety of forms: tinctures, glycerites, capsules, powder, oil, and in salves.
The tender young leaves of Oregon grape are edible – and have a lemony taste similar to sorrel. The berries are typically not eaten in large quantities due to their tart and bitter flavors, but traditionally were mixed with the berries of Salal, an abundant understory shrub in the PNW, and huckleberries to be dried into fruit leather. A yellow dye extracted from the stems and roots of Oregon Grape was used to dye baskets, fabric, and cordage.
The bitter compounds in Oregon Grape stimulate bile release from the liver and gallbladder, which in turn is supportive to the skin, gastrointestinal tract, and immune system. It can also assist the body’s detoxification processes.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA, is a serious staph infection that is resistant to pharmaceutical antibiotics. A constituent of Oregon Grape Root, berberine, has shown it contains a specific multidrug resistance pump inhibitor (MDR Inhibitor) named 5′-methoxyhydnocarpin (5′-MHC), to fight MRSA and works to decrease bacterial resistance to antibiotics. Berberine penetrates the entire plant from its flowers to its roots.
Harvesting and Identification: Late Spring-Late Summer, Oregon Grape is simple to harvest all year. The flowers can be picked in the spring, the berries can be gathered in the summer and the roots and stems can be harvested in the fall and winter. Root should be peeled of the outer bark.
The berries may be frozen or dried for later use. The berries can have as many as 9 seeds per berry which is why Oregon grape makes a better jelly than a jam. When fermented with honey into a melomel or mead, they make a tasty wine with gentle medicinal qualities. Don’t bother harvesting Oregon Grape leaves. These have little to no medicinal value. Dig up the plant in the fall or winter.
Clean the roots thoroughly. While they are still fresh, use a metal scouring sponge and a paring knife to remove the outer bark. The bright orange inner bark is our goal. Use the paring knife to shave off the inner bark for processing. If your Oregon Grape hasn’t been watered much, it will have berberine in the inner root as well. This alkaloid is easy to see so cut the root into serviceable chips for later use as well.
⦁ Side Effects:
Do not use when chronic gastrointestinal irritation or inflammation is present, such as irritable bowel.
Limit use to no more than 7 consecutive days for adults, 3 for children, exercise caution when using in children.
Taking vitamin B6 supplements can give infectious bacteria resistance to the antibacterial toxins in the herb.
Oregon grape is counter indicated for people with Raynaud’s disease as it may produce numbness or tingling sensations with high doses.
Some people report a slightly sedative effect of Oregon grape. For those already using anti-anxiety drugs, Oregon grape is not recommended.
Large amounts of this herb is not recommended (or required) as the tannins can cause stomach upset.
Pregnant or nursing women should only use Oregon grape under the advise of a qualified health specialist.
Discontinue use of Oregon Grape if allergic reactions occur.