Oregon Grape Root (Mahonia Aquifolium) is best-known for its ability to cleanse the blood of toxins. Its detox effect is a natural result of its ability to stimulate both the liver and gallbladder, cleansing them, optimizing their functions and improving the flow of bile. But Oregon grape root is capable of so much more than filtering blood and promoting the excretion of toxins from our bodies. Below, I’ve listed some of Oregon grape root’s other, less recognized, health and beauty benefits.
Benefits of Oregon Grape Root
- Gastrointestinal system protector
- Eases abdominal pain and stomach cramps
- Immune system booster
- Cures eye infections
- Relieves placque psoriasis
The entire Oregon grape root plant is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antibiotic. “Herbalists use Oregon grape root in the treatment of bacterial diarrhea, intestinal parasites, and eye infections. It has a sedative effect on the smooth muscles lining the digestive tract and can relieve stomach cramps and abdominal pain.”1
Herbalists consider Oregon Grape an excellent alternative to the now endangered Goldenseal. Oregon grape and goldenseal are not botanically related, but “they both contain the immune-stimulating, infection-fighting, antiseptic constituent berberine.”1 And it’s been scientifically proven that herbs containing berberine protect against bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
Oregon grape root is also an excellent treatment for placque psoriasis, an inherited systemic inflammatory disease of immune dysfunction whose most obvious visible characteristic is elevated, inflamed skin cells. Used topically, Oregon grape root “can be used in skin washes to deter the over production of skin cells that occurs in placque psoriasis.”2 More than one study has concluded that Oregon grape root is more effective for psoriasis than pharmaceutical preparations. A study published in American Journal of Therapeutics, focusing on the topical use of Oregon grape root, showed that the herb was not only effective but had fewer (and less harmful) side-effects. “The results indicate statistically significant (P < 0.05) improvements in [Psoriasis Area Severity Index] and [Quality of Life Index] in the Mahonia-treated group, compared with the control group. The side effects reported were infrequent, < 1% and minor; the most frequent side effects were rash, a burning sensation when applying the cream, and clothing stain. These data indicate that Reliéva, a proprietary [extract] of M. aquifolium, is effective and well tolerated in patients with mild to moderate psoriasis.”3
One psoriasis sufferer, Heather McKensie, can vouch for the herbs’ topical effectiveness. Heather’s psoriasis issue began following a near-fatal car crash, 10 years before. The only thing that has helped her psoriasis has been a skin care product line containing an extract of Oregon grape root. “Ms McKensie said cream has allowed her to lead a normal life, which is a true blessing after years of feeling like a ‘leper’. … She said: ‘I literally feel like a new person.’”4 You can read Heather’s entire story by clicking the link above.
Oregon Grape Root warnings
If you suffer from chronic gastrointestinal irritation or inflammation, you should avoid internal use of Oregon grape root. Oregon grape root is not harmful to nursing mothers and their babies, unless the baby has jaundice, but should be avoided by pregnant women. “Limit use to no more than 7 consecutive days for adults, 3 for children, exercise caution when using in children. Taking vitamin B6 supplements can give infectious bacteria resistance to the antibacterial toxins in the herb.”1 So, deep six the B6 until you have completed your cleanse.
Oregon grape root is generally safe and effective, when used as recommended. The most important guideline for Oregon grape root use is no more than 3 times per day for 7 consecutive days. This is a long-standing guideline for Oregon grape root, when used internally. And one serving would be considered 1tsp (measuring teaspoon!) per 8 ounces of water, as an infusion or decoction. An extract dosage/serving will depend on the potency of the extract, so read the label.
1 “Oregon Grape Mahonia aquifolium”. Annie’s Remedy, n.d. Web. November 9, 2015
2 “Benefits of Grape Root | Herbal Library”. Baseline of Health Foundation. JohnBarron.org, n.d. Web. November 13, 2015
3 Bernstein, Steve; Donsky, Howard; Gulliver, Wayne; Hamilton, Douglas; Nobel, Sion; Norman, Robert. “Treatment of Mild to Moderate Psoriasis with Reliéva, a Mahonia aquifolium Extract—A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study”. American Journal of Therapeutics, March/April 2006. Web. November 16, 2015
4 Madlen Davies. “Heather Mckensie felt ‘like a leper’ due to psoriasis until she found herbal cream”. Daily Mail, February 4, 2015. Web. November 16, 2015
Abascal, Kathy and Yarnell, Eric. “Combining Herbs in a Formula for Irritable Bowel Syndrome”. Alternative and Complementary Therapies, February 2005. Web. November 22, 2015