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Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium)

  • Liver congestion

  • Gastric ulcers

  • Crohn's

  • Ulcerative colitis

  • Dermatoses

  • Jaundice

  • Boils

  • Abscesses

  • Conjunctivitis

  • Hordeolum

  • Sinusitis

  • Cold/flu

  • Tonsillitis

  • Otitis Media

  • Amoeba

  • Tapeworms​

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Plant Family: 

Berberidacea family

Habitat & Cultivation: 

Oregon grape grows in damp/ moist shaded woods. Mahonia consists of 60 different species mainly populated in East and Southeast Asia. The species are also found in the Pacific Northwest, Central America, and South America (He & Mu, 2015). 

Oregon grape is found in shady, moist areas, particularly near rivers. As we have learned this week, Oregon grape has an affinity to help clear stagnation in the body. Particularly, stagnation in the liver, GI tract, kidneys and urinary tract (Popam, 2015). Given that this plant grows particularly in moist and mobile locations, I would imagine that this gives us an idea of how it interacts in the body. Oregon grape not only clears stagnation in moist environments, but it makes the environment an inhospitable place for bad microbes.

Nervosa leaves are thinner, Aquafolium has yellow leaves.

Parts Used/Collection:

Berries and Roots

Herbal Actions: 

  • Bitter tonic

  • Cholagogue/Choleretic

  • Laxative - digestive secretions, liver/gallbladder movement 

  • Alterative

  • Antimicrobial - MRSA, Candida

  • Diuretic

  • Tonic/Astringent - mucosal tonic, regenerates mucosa and submucosa. Increases beneficial bacteria


  • Soil reinforcement

  • Tuberculosis

  • Periodontitis

  • Dysentery

  • Pharyngolaryngitis

  • Eczema

  • Wounds

  • Psoriasis

  • Fever

  • Diarrhea

  • Gout

  • Rheumatism

  • Renal disease

  • Biliary Disease-cholecystitis, cholelithiasis

  • Leishmania

  • H. Pylori



  • Do not use in pregnancy- isoquinoline alkaloids have uterine stimulant properties.

  • Due to the affinity for the cytochrome P450 detox pathway of the liver, drugs may not be metabolized properly, or the drugs may not be able to be broken down, increasing their effect.

  • Not to be taken while breastfeeding.

  • Avoid use in jaundiced neonates.

  • Avoid use  with drugs that displace the protein binding of bilirubin such as phenylbutazone

Plant Constituents: 

  • Mucilage & Starch

  • Triterpenoid saponins (avenocosides)

  • Proteins (avenins)

  • Indole alkaloids (gramine)

  • Silicic acid esters

  • Nutrients and Minerals

  • Flavonoids

System Affinities:

  • Digestive system

  • Exocrine glands-mammary and sweat glands

  • Liver/Gallbladder

  • Urinary

  • Mucosal

  • Integumentary

  • Blood

  • Lymphatics


  • Moderate/strong Bitter

  • Cooling

  • Dry/Damp

  • Mobile

  • Astringent

  • Clearing

  • Moving


No known contraindications for Avena sativa during pregnancy or lactation. The only possible contraindication I was able to find was avoiding use of Avena sativa when there is a known gluten sensitivity or intolerance.


Oregon grape can be prepared as a tincture, or as a decoction, however due to it being a potent bitter, decoction preparations can be hard for compliance if being taken internally. Decoctions can also be made for topical use! It can also be powdered and used both topically and internally. Tincture dosing is dependent based on what you are trying to treat. Some suggest large doses up to 4mL 3x daily (which is A LOT and only to be used for a very short period of time), low doses of 1-3 drops 3x qd up to about 30 drops 3x qd are far more reasonable. However, if planning to use over a longer period of time, more moderate dosing of 10-20 drops 3x daily is more reasonable. For decoctions, use 1/4c-1/2c roots in 3-4c water, simmer gently for about 1hr. Can be used topically or internally

Personal Experience:




  • ABC Clinical Guide to Herbs. New York, NY: American Botanical Council. Accessed online at

  • American Herbal Pharmacopoeia. (1999). Scotts Valley, CA: American Herbal Pharmacopoeia.

  • Hoffman, D. (2003). Medical Herbalism. Healing Arts Press: Vermont.

  • Mills, S., & Bone, K. (2005). The Essential Guide to Herbal Safety. Philadelphia: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone.






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