Oregon Grape

Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium)

Family: Berberidaceae

Parts commonly used: Root and rhizome.

Properties/energetics: Alterative, cholagogue, liver stimulant, bitter tonic, laxative, anti-inflammatory/Cold; bitter.

Systems predominantly affected:  Digestive, skin, blood, lymphatic, eliminative, genitourinary.

Uses: Oregon Grape root has a tonic effect on the liver and gallbladder similar to that of Goldenseal. It has a definite affinity for the genitourinary tract and is proving to be highly beneficial for treating prostate infection. Oregon Grape is one of the berberine-containing plants. It is reliably anti-inflammatory to mucous membranes; It stimulates bile flow, thereby cleansing the liver; and is especially useful when sub-clinical liver toxicity is brought on by environmental toxins, poor diet, or pathogens. It is a strong, bitter tonic, augmenting digestive secretions of all kinds. Oregon Grape has a particular reputation for being alterative to skin conditions such as acne and eczema when they are associated with an overtaxed liver. It is useful as a broad-spectrum herb for treating yeast, fungus, and bacterial infections in the gastrointestinal tract.  

Combinations: Combines well with Burdock and Cleavers for skin conditions and with Yellow Dock or Cascara Sagrada for improved bowel movement. Combines extremely well with Marshmallow and Saw Palmetto for treating prostate infection and allaying the symptomatic discomfort of this condition.
Affects on specific body types: Can be a little too bitter and strong for the Seer-type gastrointestinal system, although very low doses can be appropriate for treating Seer skin conditions. Oregon Grape root is an excellent catabolic stimulant for the Warrior and Monarch-type liver, however, useful for skin disorders in both constitutions. For the Warrior, this herb is a classic remedy for treating what Traditional Chinese Medicine refers to as excess liver-fire conditions, including irritability, a tendency to outbursts of anger, a tight neck and shoulders, insomnia, intense headaches, and constipation. When treating these signs of liver irritation, it’s helpful to combine Oregon Grape with other more passive tonic agents such as Milk Thistle and Dandelion.

Preparations/dosage: Decoction: 1/2 cup three times a day. Tincture: 15 to 30 drops three times a day.

By James Green, Herbalist, copyright 2008

For more information please refer to James Green’s book, The Male Herbal, 2nd Edition