Complementary Medicine - Cam
Parts Used & Where Grown
Oregon grape is an evergreen shrub which grows throughout the American northwest. It is somewhat misnamed, as the fruit are not actually grapes. It is, however, grown in Oregon (it is the official state flower). Oregon grape is a close relative of barberry (Berberis vulgaris), and shares many common uses and constituents. The root is used medicinally.
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Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.
For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.
3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:
Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)
Before European colonists arrived, the indigenous peoples of North America treated all manner of complaints with Oregon grape.1 The berries were used for poor appetite. A tea made from the root was used to treat jaundice, arthritis, diarrhea , fever, and many other health problems.
How It Works
How It Works
Alkaloids, including berberine, berbamine, canadine, and hydrastine, may account for the activity of Oregon grape. Isolated berberine has been shown to effectively treat diarrhea in patients infected with E. coli. 18 One of the ways berberine may ease diarrhea is by slowing the transit time in the intestine.19 Berberine inhibits the ability of bacteria to attach to human cells, which helps prevent infections , particularly in the throat, intestines, and urinary tract .20 These actions, coupled with berberine’s ability to enhance immune cell function ,21 make Oregon grape possibly useful for mild infections although clinical trials are lacking on the whole root.
In one clinical trial, an ointment of Oregon grape was found to be mildly effective for reducing skin irritation, inflammation and itching in people with mild to moderate psoriasis .22 Whole Oregon grape extracts were shown in one pharmacological study to reduce inflammation (often associated with psoriasis) and stimulate the white blood cells known as macrophages.23 In this study, isolated alkaloids from Oregon grape did not have these actions. This suggests that something besides alkaloids are important to the properties of Oregon grape responsible for reducing inflammation.
The bitter-tasting compounds as well as the alkaloids in Oregon grape root are thought to stimulate digestive function .
How to Use It
A tea can be prepared by boiling 1–3 teaspoons (5–15 grams) of chopped roots in 2 cups (500 ml) of water for fifteen minutes. After straining and cooling, 3 cups (750 ml) can be taken per day. Tincture, 1/2–3/4 teaspoon (3 ml) three times per day, can be used. Since berberine is not well absorbed, Oregon grape root might not provide adequate amounts of this compound to treat significant systemic infections . A physician should be consulted in the case of infection before attempting to use Oregon grape. An ointment made with 10% Oregon grape extract applied three or more times daily may be useful for psoriasis .
Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds
At the time of writing, there were no well-known supplement or food interactions with this supplement.
Interactions with Medicines
Certain medicines interact with this supplement.
Types of interactions: Beneficial Adverse Check
Replenish Depleted Nutrients
Reduce Side Effects
Potential Negative Interaction
The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers’ package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.
Oregon grape is thought to be safe in the recommended amounts. Long-term (more than two to three weeks) internal use is not recommended. Berberine alone has been reported to interfere with normal bilirubin metabolism in infants, raising a concern that it might worsen jaundice.28 For this reason, berberine-containing plants should be used with caution during pregnancy and breast-feeding.
1. Duke JA. CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1985, 287–8.
2. Hahn FE, Ciak J. Berberine. Antibiotics 1976;3:577–88 [review].
3. Majahan VM, Sharma A, Rattan A. Antimycotic activity of berberine sulphate: an alkaloid from an Indian medicinal herb. Sabouraudia 1982;20:79–81.
4. Bhakat MP. Therapeutic trial of Berberine sulphate in non-specific gastroenteritis. Indian Med J 1974;68:19–23.
5. Kamat SA. Clinical trial with berberine hydrochloride for the control of diarrhoea in acute gastroenteritis. J Assoc Physicians India 1967;15:525–9.
6. Desai AB, Shah KM, Shah DM. Berberine in the treatment of diarrhoea. Indian Pediatr 1971;8:462–5.
7. Babbar OP, Chatwal VK, Ray IB, et al. Effect of berberine chloride eye drops on clinically positive trachoma patients. Ind J Med Res 1982;76:83–8.
8. Khin-Maung-U, Myo-Khin, Nyunt-Nyunt-Wai, et al. Clinical trial of berberine in acute watery diarrhoea. Br Med J 1985;291:1601–5.
9. Schulz V, Hänsel R, Tyler VE. Rational Phytotherapy: A Physician’s Guide to Herbal Medicine. 3rd ed, Berlin: Springer, 1998, 168–73.
10. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 425–6.
11. Tewari JP, Srivastava MC, Bajpai JL. Pharmacologic studies of Achillea millefolium Linn. Indian J Med Sci 1994;28(8):331–6.
12. Gupte S. Use of berberine in treatment of giardiasis. Am J Dis Child 1975;129:866.
13. Choudhry VP, Sabir M, Bhide VN. Berberine in giardiasis. Indian Pediatr 1972;9:143–6.
14. Kaneda Y, Torii M, Tanaka T, Aikawa M. In vitro effects of berberine sulphate on the growth and structure of Entamoeba histolytica, Giardia lamblia and Trichomonas vaginalis. Ann Trop Med Parasitol 1991;85:417–25.
15. Wiesenauer M, Lüdtke R. Mahonia aquifolium in patients with psoriasis vulgaris—an intraindividual study. Phytomed 1996;3:231–5.
16. Galle K, Müller-Jakic B, Proebstle A, et al. Analytical and pharmacological studies on Mahonia aquifolium. Phytomed 1994;1:59–62.
17. Sun DX, Abraham SN, Beachey EH. Influence of berberine sulfate on synthesis and expression of pap fimbrial adhesin in uropathogenic Escherichia coli. Antimicrob Agents Chemother 1988;32:1274–7.
18. 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;155:979–84.
19. Eaker EY, Sninsky CA. Effect of berberine on myoelectric activity and transit of the small intestine in rats. Gastroenterol 1989;96:1506–13.
20. Sun D, Courtney HS, Beachey EH. Berberine sulfate blocks adherence of Streptococcus pyogenes to epithelial cells, fibronectin, and hexadecane. Antimicrob Agents Chemother 1988;32:1370–4.
21. Kumazawa Y, Itagaki A, Fukumoto M, et al. Activation of peritoneal macrophages by berberine-type alkaloids in terms of induction of cytostatic activity. Int J Immunopharmacol 1984;6:587–92.
22. Wiesenauer M, Lüdtke R. Mahonia aquifolium in patients with psoriasis vulgaris—an intraindividual study. Phytomedicine 1996;3:231–5.
23. Galle K, Müller-Jakic B, Proebstle A, et al. Analytical and pharmacological studies on Mahonia aquifolium. Phytomedicine 1994;1:59–62.
24. Khin-Maung-U, Myo-Khin, Nyunt-Nyunt-Wai, et al. Clinical trial of berberine in acute watery diarrhoea. Br Med J 1985;291:1601–5.
25. 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;155:979–84.
26. Khin-Maung-U, Myo-Khin, Nyunt-Nyunt-Wai, et al. Clinical trial of berberine in acute watery diarrhoea. BMJ 1985;291:160–5.
27. 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;155:979–84.
28. Chan E. Displacement of bilirubin from albumin by berberine. Biol Neonate 1993;63:201–8.
Last Review: 02-05-2013
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