Alternate Title

  • Berberis aquifolium

Related Terms

  • Aquifoline, aromaline, baluchistine, barberry, berbamine, Berberidaceae (family), berberine, Berberis aquifolium, Berberis aquifolium prursh, Berberis aquifolium Pursh, Berberis aquifolium Pursh var. aquifolium, Berberis piperiana (Abrams) McMinn, bisbenzylisoquinolines, blue barberry, California barberry, canadine, holly barberry, holly mahonia, hydrastine, Mahonia aquifolia, Mahonia aquifolium, Mahonia aquifolium (Pursh) Nutt, Mahonia piperiana Abrams, mountain grape, obamegine, Odostemon aquifolium (Pursh) Rydb, Oregon grape, Oregon-grape, Oregon grape root, Oregon Hollygrape, Oregongrape, oxycanthine, palmatine, psorberine, Relieva, Rocky Mountain grape, sowberry, tall Oregon-grape, trailing mahonia, wild Oregon-grape, woodsour.

Background

  • Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium, Berberis aquifolium) is native to the west coast of North America, from British Columbia to northern California. It has yellow flowers, purple berries, and leathery leaves that resemble holly. It is not related to grape; however, the name Oregon grape originated from the purple clusters of berries that resemble grapes. It is a close relative of barberry (Berberis vulgaris).
  • The rhizome, root, and bark, which are odorless and bitter, are collected in autumn to be used medicinally. Native Americans have traditionally used Oregon grape to treat various ailments, including digestive problems and inflammatory skin conditions. Studies in humans have shown that it may be effective against atopic dermatitis and psoriasis. Substances found in Oregon grape have been studied for their anticancer and antibacterial effects, although these uses are not well-studied in humans.
  • Oregon grape is also used in food, landscaping, and dyes.

Evidence Table

    Disclaimer

    These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

    Psoriasis

    Several studies suggest that the extract of Oregon grape is safe and effective in the treatment of psoriasis.

    Atopic dermatitis

    Based on human study, ointment- and cream-based extracts of Oregon grape may help treat atopic dermatitis. Further study is recommended in order to determine the effect of Oregon grape alone.

*Key to grades:

Tradition

    Disclaimer

    The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

Dosing

    Disclaimer

    The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

  • Adults (18 years and older)

    • Various doses have been studied, but there is no proven effective dose for Oregon grape. For infection, traditional recommended doses of Oregon grape include its use as an infusion (1-3 teaspoonfuls (5-15 grams) of chopped roots boiled in two cups (500 milliliters) of water for 15 minutes and with up to three cups of infused, strained, and cooled liquid, used throughout the day for an unknown duration), or as a tincture (one-half to three-quarter teaspoonfuls (3 milliliters) three times daily for an unknown duration).
    • For psoriasis, 10% Oregon grape extract ointment has been applied three or more times daily.
  • Children (under 18 years old)

    • There is no proven safe or effective dose for Oregon grape in children.

Safety

    Disclaimer

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

  • Allergies

    • Avoid with known allergy/hypersensitivity to Oregon grape, its constituents, or members of the Berberidaceae family.
  • Side Effects and Warnings

    • Oregon grape is well tolerated when used topically. Based on human study, minor side effects such as rash, burning sensation, and clothing stain were reported from topical use.
    • Berberine, a substance found in Oregon grape, may interfere with normal bilirubin metabolism in infants, which may result in jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes). Bilirubin is a brownish yellow substance found in bile that is produced when the liver breaks down old red blood cells.
    • Use cautiously in patients taking sedatives.
    • Use cautiously in patients taking drugs that are broken down by the liver.
    • Use cautiously in patients taking: antibiotics, anticonvulsants (prevents or relieves convulsions), anticancer agents, anti-diarrheals, cardiovascular agents, agents that suppress the immune system, or tetracycline.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

    • Oregon grape is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence.

Interactions

    Disclaimer

    Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

  • Interactions with Drugs

    • Oregon grape may interfere with the way the body processes certain drugs using the liver’s “cytochrome P450” enzyme system. As a result, the levels of these drugs may be increased in the blood and may cause increased effects or potential serious adverse reactions. Patients using any medications should check the package inserts, and speak with their qualified healthcare professionals, including pharmacists, about possible interactions.
    • Oregon grape may increase the amount of drowsiness caused by some drugs. Examples include benzodiazepine such as lorazepam (Ativan®) or diazepam (Valium®), barbiturates such as phenobarbital, narcotics such as codeine, some antidepressants, and alcohol. Caution is advised while driving or operating machinery.
    • Oregon grape may interact with antibiotics, anticonvulsants (prevents or relieves convulsions), anticancer drugs, anti-diarrheals, cardiovascular drugs, drugs that suppress the immune system, and tetracycline.
  • Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

    • Oregon grape may interfere with the way the body processes certain herbs using the liver’s “cytochrome P450” enzyme system. As a result, the levels of these drugs may be increased in the blood and may cause increased effects or potential serious adverse reactions. Patients using any medications should check the package inserts and speak with their qualified healthcare professionals, including a pharmacists, about possible interactions.
    • Oregon grape may increase the amount of drowsiness caused by some herbs or supplements.
    • Oregon grape may interact with antibacterials, anticonvulsants (prevents or relieves convulsions), anticancer agents, anti-diarrheals, cardiovascular herbs or supplements, and herbs or supplements that affect the immune system.

Attribution

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration ().

Bibliography

    Disclaimer

    Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to . Selected references are listed below.

  • Bernstein S, Donsky H, Gulliver W, et al. Treatment of mild to moderate psoriasis with Relieva, a Mahonia aquifolium extract–a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Am J Ther 2006;13(2):121-126.
    View Abstract
  • Donsky H and Clarke D. Relieva, a Mahonia aquifolium extract for the treatment of adult patients with atopic dermatitis. Am J Ther 2007;14(5):442-446.
    View Abstract
  • Gulliver WP and Donsky HJ. A report on three recent clinical trials using Mahonia aquifolium 10% topical cream and a review of the worldwide clinical experience with Mahonia aquifolium for the treatment of plaque psoriasis. Am J Ther 2005;12(5):398-406.
    View Abstract
  • Klovekorn W, Tepe A, and Danesch U. A randomized, double-blind, vehicle-controlled, half-side comparison with a herbal ointment containing Mahonia aquifolium, Viola tricolor and Centella asiatica for the treatment of mild-to-moderate atopic dermatitis. Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther 2007;45(11):583-591.
    View Abstract
  • Rabbani GH, Butler T, Knight J, et al. Randomized controlled trial of berberine sulfate therapy for diarrhea due to enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli and Vibrio cholerae. J Infect Dis 1987;155(5):979-984.
    View Abstract
  • Wu X, Li Q, Xin H, et al. Effects of berberine on the blood concentration of cyclosporin A in renal transplanted recipients: clinical and pharmacokinetic study. Eur J Clin Pharmacol 2005;61(8):567-572.
    View Abstract