If you’re familiar with the barberry herb, then you already know much of the healing potential of its sister herb, Oregon grape root. This flowering perennial, whose Latin name is Berberis aquifolium, is closely related to the barberry plant (Berberis vulgaris), 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.
Natural Overall Liver Health
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. Another benefit of Oregon grape root is its functioning as an antimicrobial. For these reasons, you’ll find it in Jon Barron’s Liver Flush Tincture and Blood Support formulas.
Natural Relief for Skin Conditions
When used on the skin, Oregon grape has been found to combat certain skin irritations. Studies have concluded that herbal remedies are often more effective on dermatological conditions than pharmaceuticals, and the Oregon grapes power to help fight psoriasis and atopic dermatitis would seem to support that claim.
Natural Bone Strengthener
As with most “liver herbs,” Oregon grape root contains a number of alkaloids that give it a very bitter taste that 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. In China, where Oregon grape root is also substituted for the herb coptis, studies have shown that one of the alkaloids the plant contains, berbamine, can help strengthen bone marrow and assist chemotherapy and radiation patients in their recovery - not bad for a little shrub grown in the Pacific Northwest.
Natural Overall Digestive Health
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.
How to Use Oregon Grape Root
The root is traditionally prepared in one of two methods - either steeping the root to create a tea or using the root to create a tincture that can be used in a variety of ways. In addition, the tincture can also be used to create a topical ointment for use on your skin.
On a different note, the Oregon grape is also the Oregon state flower. As the name indicates, the Oregon grape plant is a common shrub found mostly in the Pacific Northwest. Its year-round foliage most closely resembles holly, making it popular with florists. The golden yellow roots, however, are where the medicinal qualities lie and are commonly harvested for these purposes.
For more information on digestive health, read more about digestive enzymes here.