Oregon Grape Root
Hopefully most people who live in Oregon are aware of the state flower. Beyond its symbolic status, however, Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium and Mahonia nervosa but also known as Berberis aquifolium and Berberis nervosa) is a time-honored, revered herbal medicine with many physiological actions benefiting multiple body systems. In times past it was considered one of the best blood purifiers, or alteratives, available. Its purifying properties aided treatment of everything from syphilis to jaundice; arthritis to cancer; anemia to constipation. We will explore some of the applications for this local favorite.
Oregon grape's beneficial compounds reside in the plant's root. There are several alkaloids responsible for the plant's actions; the most well-known is berberine, which is found also in goldenseal, but there are other compounds providing benefits. The liver and gallbladder are especially benefited by Oregon grape root. The blood cleansing and purifying action of the root improves chronic skin conditions such as eczema, acne, and psoriasis. It increases general liver metabolism and function, helpful in treating hepatitis and jaundice. Oregon grape promotes the gallbladder's secretion of bile, thereby improving elimination of toxins. It has the ability to release stored iron from the liver, making it helpful for anemia. Any general liver cleanse will benefit from the overall organ and blood purifying properties of Oregon grape.
The chronic skin condition psoriasis can be very difficult to treat successfully. Even in the 21st century the causes are not completely understood. Oregon grape root has anecdotal use dating from 1900 for severe psoriasis. Patients took an oral preparation of the herb and had almost 100% improvement in external signs (patches of dry, scaling, red skin). Since then Oregon grape tincture has been used orally to help ease psoriasis symptoms. More recently, clinical studies have proven the efficacy of this herb as a topical treatment. A randomized placebo-controlled study showed 36 percent of patients' lesions treated with a 10 percent Oregon grape ointment improved or disappeared. Using oral preparations and topical Oregon grape together is considered to be the most effective combination due to the thick scaly skin in lesions being difficult for topical preparations to penetrate at adequate concentrations.
Stomach & More
Oregon grape and its constituents (likely the alkaloid berberine) have an affinity for the stomach and gastric mucosa. It appears that these compounds not only boost the immune system but also create a barrier to bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. Conditions such as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and gastroenteritis may be alleviated and improved. Oregon grape is a bitter digestive tonic, improving digestion and assimilation. It is said to promote general healthy function of the stomach and intestines. Normalization of digestion with regular use may be expected, relieving constipation, indigestion and other problems. The antibacterial properties of Oregon grape inhibit the ability of detrimental bacteria to adhere to the wall of the bladder and thereby may help to prevent and control urinary tract infections (UTIs). Other antimicrobial effects include antifungal action; it may inhibit Candida albicans. Recently supplements of the concentrated compound found in Oregon grape, berberine, have become available and are shown to be effective in maintaining healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels as well as aiding in weight loss.
Evergreen Nutrition stocks several forms of Oregon grape: liquid extracts and capsules plus concentrated berberine products. We even have a flower essence from this versatile plant! Oregon grape flower essence helps to correct patterns of imbalance such as paranoid or defensive behavior, expecting hostility from others, and antagonistic projection. Its positive qualities include helping one to achieve loving inclusion of others, positive expectation of good will from others, and the ability to trust.
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