Herbal Profile: Oregon Grape Root |

Herbal Profile: Oregon Grape Root

Sarena-Rae Santos June 26, 2023

What is Oregon Grape Root?

Oregon grape root is sometimes called holly-leaf barberry, mountain grape, Oregon grapeholly, Oregon barberry, or its scientific names Berberis aquifolium and Mahonia aquifolium. Oregon grape root is a part of the Berberidaceae family. It can be identified in the spring by its clusters of bright yellow flowers, which ripen into round, dusty grape-like blue-black berries. Oregon grape root can grow up to six feet tall, with leaves nearly 10 inches long. Their oval to oblong-shaped leaves emerge bronze and turn bright green with wavy, spine-tipped edges and shiny tops (1).

Health Benefits of Oregon Grape Root

Oregon grape root has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years due to its many health benefits, including:

Antimicrobial Properties 

An antimicrobial property is when a substance, or in this case, an herb, can kill or suppress the spread of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, protozoans, and fungi (2).In test-tube studies, Oregon grape root’s compound, berberine, exhibited antimicrobial properties against several bacteria, fungi, and protozoa strains (3). Several studies had similar results against MRSA and other bacterial infections caused by E. coli (4,5,6).

Anti-Inflammatory Properties 

Aside from Oregon grape root’s antimicrobial properties, it also has anti-inflammatory properties. Chronic inflammation has been linked with many diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, asthma, and certain cancers (7). Studies have discovered that Oregon grape root’s berberine compound suppresses, inhibits, and differentiates inflammatory responses (8). Additionally, studies have deemed the topical application of Oregon grape root a safe and effective therapeutic option with minimal and well-tolerated side effects like pruritus, rash, or burning sensation (9).

May Reduce Symptoms of Skin Conditions 

Statistics say one in three Americans will struggle with skin conditions (10). The antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties make Oregon grape root useful in treating several skin conditions. A study review of topical Oregon grape root cream noted significant improvements in psoriasis symptoms and stabilization (without follow-up treatment) for a month (11). Another study showed significant symptom improvements in atopic dermatitis patients after three months of using an Oregon grape root cream (12).

May Improve Mental Health

Worldwide, 970 million people struggle with mental health, resulting in approximately 8 million deaths annually, accounting for 14.3% of worldwide deaths (13). Oregon grape root may help improve mental health and mood disorders (14). In animal studies, berberine increased serotonin and dopamine levels in mice (15). Several studies also demonstrate Oregon grape root’s ability to alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress (16,17,18).

May Promote Detoxification

Oregon grape root plays a critical role in the detoxification process. Oregon grape root’s compound, berberine, can help destroy biofilms, thus releasing parasites, toxins, and metals bound up (19,20). Oregon grape root can help to fight drug-resistant fungi and yeasts, helping to heal and soothe the gut lining (21,22). 

May Support Healthy Digestion

The digestion process breaks down food into smaller components that can be absorbed into the bloodstream and turned into nutrition (23). When your foods aren’t digested properly, you may experience digestive troubles like heartburn. In animal studies, berberine has prevented heartburn, acid reflux, and the esophageal damage associated with it better than mainstream pharmaceutical solutions like omeprazole (24).

Other animal studies have found Oregon grape root’s compound, berberine, to improve irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms and gut inflammation (25,26). These results have been duplicated in human studies too. For instance, an 8-week study found patients who received berberine treatment experienced reduced symptoms of diarrhea frequency, abdominal pain, and IBS compared to the placebo group (27).

Safety Concerns

According to mainstream sources, there isn’t enough reliable information to know if Oregon grape root is safe to use in medicinal amounts or what the side effects might be. Of course, that is inaccurate as this post has many sources proving its safety profile and studies discussing its minimal and well-tolerated side effects. This source also claims it is likely unsafe during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and childhood stages of life (28).

Contrarily, Mountain Rose Herbs, a trusted source for herbal education, only notes one precaution for Oregon grape root. They state it should not be used in pregnancy except under the supervision of a qualified healthcare practitioner. They also recommend consulting with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using herbal products, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications (29).

How to Use Oregon Grape Root

Oregon grape root is found in dried bulk, pills, powders, extracts, or tinctures. Tinctures always contain the most concentrated amount of herbs. Teas and soups are also options, especially when following Ayurvedic medicine recipes. Some great articles to check out featuring the use of Oregon grape root include:

Follow the recommendations of any supplement; some of my recommendations include:

  • Earthley’s Vaccine Detox is an herbal tincture that helps to restore wellness post-vaccination by supporting gut health. Six herbs combine to help heal leaky gut, support liver health, and boost the immune system, while chlorella powder removes heavy metals from the body. Whether you have taken a vaccine recently or in the past, had a vaccine injury, or are simply looking to detox from the toxins around you, this tincture is for you!

Disclaimer: This post is not intended as medical advice. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and nothing in this post is intended to diagnose, treat, or cure anything. If you have questions, please do your own research or seek advice from a health professional.

If you have Oregon grape root in your natural medicine cabinet, how do you use it?

This is the writings of:

Sarena-Rae Santos
Sarena-Rae Santos' journey to natural health began in 2019 when she swayed away from allopathic medicine after becoming wheelchair-bound due to the side effects of 20+ medications. Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) and dizziness due to nystagmus were the sources of her many health complications. Sarena's symptoms diminished after adopting a healthier lifestyle surrounding whole foods and herbs, leaving her a fantastic quality of life and a passion for educating people.

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Hi, I’m Kate.  I love medical freedom, sharing natural remedies, developing real food recipes, and gentle parenting. My goal is to teach you how to live your life free from Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government by learning about herbs, cooking, and sustainable practices.

I’m the author of Natural Remedies for Kids and the owner and lead herbalist at EarthleyI hope you’ll join me on the journey to a free and healthy life!

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