The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

We wish you peace and health!

Oregon Grape

Scientific Names

Oregon Grape

  • Berberis aquifolium
  • Mahonia aquifolium L.
  • Berberis repens L.
  • Mahonia repens L.
  • Berberidaceae
  • Barberry family

Common Names

  • California barberry
  • Holly-leaved barberry
  • Holly mahonia
  • Mahonia
  • Mountain grape
  • Rocky Mountain grape
  • Trailing mahonia
  • Wild Oregon grape

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Parts Usually Used

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Oregon Grape

Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Wild Oregon grape is an evergreen shrub; it has irregular, knotty roots that have brownish bark with yellow wood underneath. The branched stems extend to 3 feet or more and have alternate, pinnate leaves with 5 to 9 leaflets. Ovate or oblong lanceolate, the leathery, sessile leaflets have 10 or more spiny teeth on each side and are glossy dark green on top, pale green underneath. Yellow flowers bloom in fascicled racemes from April to May. The globular blue berries resemble bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.), more commonly called huckleberries.

Oregon grape (B. repens), was used by Native Americans. Shoshone name “Sogo tiembuh’; Paiute name “Kaw-danup”; Blackfeet name “Oti to que.” The root was peeled, dried and steeped to check rectal hemorrhage, stomach troubles, and dysentery.
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Where Found

Found in mountain areas on wooded slopes below 7000 feet from British Columbia to Idaho and southward to Oregon and California. Native to North America, introduced to Europe as a cultivated plant but has become naturalized there.
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Medicinal Properties

Alterative, diuretic, laxative, tonic
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Biochemical Information

Alkaloid berberine
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Legends, Myths and Stories

There are several varieties of this herb, which appear to have similar properties. Thus, 4 are given here, because of this similarity.

This is the Pacific Northwest variety of barberry and was used by the mountain folk of California as a preferred treatment for all chronic degenerative diseases, especially cancer and arthritis. Used in the treatment of anemia, not because of the iron in the plant, but rather its ability to release iron stored in the liver.
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Oregon Grape is used in the treatment of liver and kidney troubles, rheumatism, arthritis, hepatitis, jaundice, syphilis, anemia, constipation, leukorrhea, and uterine diseases. Good blood purifier and useful for scrofula and skin diseases such as eczema, acne, herpes, and psoriasis. Women drink it first thing in the morning to stimulate the onset of menstruation.
The medical used are almost identical to that of Barberry (Berberis vulgais).
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Formulas or Dosages

Infusion: use 1 tsp. roots to 1 cup boiling water. Steep, strain. Take 1 tbsp. 3 to 6 times a day.

Tincture: a dose is from 5 to 10 drops in liquid daily.
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How Sold

Dried herb and extract
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Large doses have a cathartic effect, causing watery diarrhea and abdominal pains.

Avoid in pregnancy; a uterine stimulant.
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Buy It! American Folk Medicine, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

Buy It! Back to Eden, by Jethro Kloss; Back to Eden Publishing Co., Loma Linda, CA 92354, Original copyright 1939, revised edition 1994

Buy It! The Complete Medicinal Herbal, by Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, Inc, 232 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, First American Edition, copyright 1993

Buy It! Earl Mindell’s Herb Bible, by Earl Mindell, R.Ph., Ph.D., Simon & Schuster/Fireside, Rockefeller Center 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020

Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

Buy It! Indian Uses of Native Plants, by Edith Van Allen Murphey, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1958, print 1990

Buy It! Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., Lotus Press, PO Box 325, Twin Lakes. WI 53181., Copyright 1988, published 1992

Buy It! Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

Buy It! The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine, by Dr. David Frawley & Dr. Vasant Lad, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, Second edition, 1988.

Buy It! The Rodale Herb Book: How to Use, Grow, and Buy Nature’s Miracle Plants (An Organic gardening and farming book), edited by William H. Hylton, Rodale Press, Inc. Emmaus, PA, 18049., 1974

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