Oregon Grapes Properties and Common Uses

Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium) is a multi-purpose herb widely used for its anti-inflammatory properties due to its berberine content. It is used as an alternative to goldenseal which is an endangered plant. Its active component, berberine, is also found in Berberis vulgaris, commonly called barberry, which is a close relative of Oregon grape, but is not identical. Oregon grape shows strong antimicrobial activity against a variety of organisms including bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoans, helminths, and chlamydia. Currently, the main clinical uses of berberine include bacterial diarrhea, intestinal parasite infections, eye trachoma infections, gallbladder disorders, psoriasis and acne. It is also used as a bitter tonic to improve appetite. Growing evidence suggests that it may help reduce symptoms of psoriasis, although it does not seem to be as effective for this purpose as standard drugs. Oregon grape is often recommended by holistic veterinarians for treating intestinal giardia infections. Herbal preparations containing Oregon grape root have been used for ear infections (including mites), urinary tract and conjunctivitis

Do not use in diabetic people or animals or those with acute liver disease. However, because Oregon grape contains berberine, which has been reported to cause uterine contractions, oral consumption of Oregon grape should be avoided by pregnant women. Safety in young children, nursing women, or people with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established. Excessive dosages may deplete vitamin B complex levels.

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