Oregon grape is a tall shrub, native of the western section of the United States. It grows from Colorado to the Pacific Ocean, and is especially abundant in Oregon and the northern part of California. It is not always tall as it will get growth depending on the amount of water it is given. The wild ones on my property are only about a foot tall, as are the ones I have seen in the mountains in my area. It is also know as: mountain grape, blue barberry, holly barberry, holly, holly-leaved barberry, Oregon grape root.
Oregon grape plant is a common shrub found mostly in the Pacific Northwest. Its year round foliage most closely resembles holly. The golden yellow roots, however, are where the medicinal qualities lie and are commonly harvested for these purposes.
From Machelle Littlefield’s Herb Binder “Oregon grape is one of the major healing herbs. It is considered one of the best infection fighters and contains a natural antibiotic.”
I am not a doctor, the information in this post is not intended to heal, cure ore diagnose any illness. It is intended to give you information on plants and their properties. Please rely on the Lord and those you trust such as your doctor or naturopath to diagnose and treat illness.
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Parts used: it is the roots and inner bark that have the medicinal benefits, young leaves are edible, berries are great for making jelly.
Oregon grape root is an astringent, antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, and a bitter herb.
From Butterfly Miracles with herbal Remedies, Laree Westover “The plants goldenseal, barberry, and oregon grape share similar indications and effects because of their high content of berberis alkaloids. Goldenseal has a great reputation throughout the herbal world,…. Oregon grape root has every attribute of goldenseal. Oregon grape root has additional properties shown to be beneficial in the treatment of a variety of skin conditions. I have found through years of herbal use that local herbs work better for local people. I use very few Chinese herbs because there is usually something just as effective that grows here in our mountains, and works even better for my friends and family. Oregon grape root is a shining example of this principle. I use it almost everywhere that I previously used goldenseal, and with excellent results. Oregon grape root is much less expensive, even free if you wildcraft it. It has become a mainstay of my herbal repertory.”
Taken from the book the healing power of herbs by Michael T Murray: speaking of Oregon grape and goldenseal “Perhaps the most exciting, and most used effect of these herbs is their broad spectrum of antibiotic activity. Their action against a wide variety of pathogens is actually stronger than that of antibiotics commonly used in the medical world, but they produced none of the side effects of prescription antibiotics such as the overgrowth of Candida that is a common side effect of prescription antibiotic use. Another effect of berberine producing plants is their ability to inhibit the adherence of strep and staph bacteria to their host cells. In other words, the critters that aren’t killed outright are flushed from the system because they are unable to clean to the cells of the body. This work is accomplished at very low doses and with no side effects. Don’t forget these two herbs in the treatment of strep throat and staph infections and any infection of the eye.”
What to use this plant for:
- Treatment of liver disorders,
- Various cancers,
- The treatment of conditions involving depressed white blood cell counts. This includes white blood cell count which have been reduced by chemotherapy treatments.
- Used as a tonic to boost a sluggish glandular system and promote balanced hormonal activity.
- Serious infections of the lungs and the sinuses
- Viral infections so they don’t develop into more deadly bacterial infections.
- Respiratory infections as serious as mononucleosis.
- Diarrhea (giardia and other parasites)
- E. coli infections
- Acne, as a wash
- Allergic rashes
- Reduces inflammation
- Relieves itching.
- -Liver Problems. Helps maintain healthy liver function. The skin often shows signs of a stressed liver by exhibiting yellowing or unhealthy growth. Both topical or internal treatment with this herb is appropriate.
- As an amoebocide, Oregon Grape makes a great travelling companion. Disease vectoring amoebas live in water and can cause dysentery or skin rashes. The berberine alkaloids act on our cell’s DNA to prevent amoebas from take hold in the body.
- Psoriasis and atopic dermatitis (externally in a salve or as a soaked oil)
- Skin infections and diseases
- Urinary tract infection, bladder infections, kidney infection
- Staph infection
- Blood conditions
- Promotes digestion
- Helps feed thyroid (as part of an herbal formula)
- Heals mucous membranes in the body
- Helps eliminate extra mucous, even when chronic in the intestines
- Canker sores
- Infection of any kind
- Eye wash for infection
- Vaginal infections
- As a wash for wounds on the skin
- Mouth infections
- Inflammatory bowel conditions
- Infections in the upper digestive tract (h. pylori)
Oregon grape earned its name from pioneers who harvested the plant along the Oregon trail. These hardy travelers used this herb as both medicine and food. In gratitude for the service rendered by this plant, Oregon declared it the state flower. T
Oregon Grape is a natural antibiotic with growing popularity. It produces the same powerful alkaloid, berberine, which give other herbal antibiotics such as goldenseal and golden thread their yellowish color. Scratching a tiny patch of this shrub’s bark aside reveals a golden treasure trove of medicine. Berberine penetrates the entire plant from its flowers to its roots. This bitter chemical is the main reason that Oregon Grape tops the list of most popular herbs in the natural healer’s cupboard.
Preparation Methods for Use & Dosage: tea (infusion or decoction), tincture, oil infusion, capsules, and salve, powdered root. Eye washes can also be made by diluting the tincture with sterile saline solution (4 drops of tincture/1 ounce saline) or 8 drops decoction of the roots/1 ounce saline.
The root is traditionally prepared in one of two methods: either by steeping the root to create a tea, or using the root to create a tincture that can be used in a variety of ways. The tincture can be used to create a topical ointment for use on your skin.
When wild crafting, strip the bark with a sharp knife when it is fresh. When it dries it gets tough to scrape. If you are digging the rhizomes and roots, wash to remove dirt, then strip larger ones with a knife. Entire smaller roots can be cut with pruning sheers or scissors. Dry in baskets or paper bags. The dried herb will last 1-2 years.
Low doses of these herbs are very effective. Higher doses are not recommended for pregnancy and may interfere with the metabolism of vitamin B. Higher doses are not more effective!
Oregon grape root is renowned among herbalists for its ability to stimulate liver function, improve the flow of bile, and for blood cleansing. Oregon grape root uses have traditionally included treating both liver congestion and infectious conditions of both the stomach and intestines.
Oregon grape root contains a number of alkaloids and because of this it has a very bitter taste and can take some getting used to if taken straight. However, the positive benefits of these alkaloids far outweigh the momentary discomfort that their bitter taste may cause. it can help strengthen bone marrow and assist chemotherapy and radiation patients in their recovery.
On the bright side, the bitterness of this herb also has a positive effect on the digestive tract. It has a sedative effect on the smooth muscles lining the digestive tract, and stimulates the flow of bile, which loosens waste in the digestive tract and helps prevent a myriad of complications, such as constipation, stomach cramps, diverticulosis, hemorrhoids, gallbladder disease, and irritable bowel syndrome.
This flowering perennial, , is closely related to the barberry plant, but with the added benefit of adapting more easily to its environment, making it easier to grow. Along the same lines, the Oregon grape shares many of the medicinal properties of goldenseal, but because goldenseal is close to extinction, many herbalists have begun to use Oregon grape in their treatments instead. And like goldenseal, it should be used on an as needed basis, not daily, as constant use will ultimately damage your intestinal probiotics.