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Oregon grape is a bitter herb with principle action on the blood building organs of the liver and spleen. It is a classic blood purifier with nearly identical actions to barberry, yellow dock, yucca, red clover and golden seal.
It contains the same antibacterial agents as golden seal and barberry. Dr. Daniel Mowrey reports that a study showed that three constituents of Oregon grape, berberine chloride, oxycanthine chloride and columbane chloride were effective against several strains of bacteria. Berberine is found in all three plants, was found to be more effective than chloramphenicol against some bacteria. One herbalist recommended it for staph infections both internally and externally.
Like other bitters, Oregon grape has a stimulating effect on digestive secretions to improve digestion and appetite and correct digestive disorders. Like other bitters it helps to improve absorption of nutrients. This makes it useful in any disease where the system is run down and the person is weak. Bitters like Oregon grape often help to balance the digestive and glandular processes and overcome the cravings for "junk" foods, in particular, sugar. This is especially the case when they are used as liquid herbs in a glycerine base.
Like other herbs in its class, it strengthens the liver and promotes the flow of bile.
The bile is the natural stimulator of the peristaltic action of the colon, so this gives it a mild laxative action. It combines well with Cascara Sagrada to help regulate the lower bowel. It has been used to help the liver in cases of hepatitis. It is virtually identical to barberry in its action on the live and seems to be more effective in cases of chronic or constitutional weakness in that organ.
This herb's chief claim to fame is as a lymphatic and blood cleanser. It proves beneficial to persons with the lymphatic rosary sign in iridology. For those of you unfamiliar with iridology the lymphatic rosary is little puffy "clouds" around the outside edge of the iris. This represents congestion and stagnation of the lymphatic system which manifest itself by such symptoms as swollen glands in the throat or pelvic areas, sinus congestion and other mucus disorders.
Blood and lymph purifiers are used to correct various skin disorders. Herbalists recognize that skin disorders such as eczema, boils, acne, pox, etc. are the results of the body working to eliminate excessive toxins in the blood and lymph through the skin. Bitter herbs act as an internal soap. By supporting the action of the liver and spleen, the body is able to cleanse the blood more effectively, eliminating the need to push toxins through the skin. A couple of writers have reported that Oregon grape acts as a mild stimulant to thyroid, the organ which controls elimination through the skin.
Because of these actions Oregon grape root has been recommended very highly by many herbalist for all chronic skin diseases such as psoriasis, eczema, herpes, yellow skin (hepatitis) and acne. The plant is supposed to restore the skin to a smooth, clear condition after any illness which may have dried out the skin or produced sores. Blood purifiers like Oregon grape were once widely used to treat skin disorders but have lately been replaced by topical applications of cortisone and other drugs (which suppress elimination through the skin.)
Dr. Daniel Mowrey commented on this as follows, "...as the debilitating side effects of drug usage become better understood (e.g. that prostate cancer is caused by cortisone), perhaps we will witness a gradual return to the use of natural methods."
It is reported to have beneficial effects on the inner skin (mucus membranes) as well, similar to golden seal. It helps to control excessive mucus or catarrh on the mucus membranes. It could be used as a douche for this purpose as well.
Blood cleansing is helpful when there are joint irritations and inflammatory diseases. Oregon grape was formerly used as a treatment for syphilis.
Other applications reported by various herbalists include: chronic uterine disease, as a nerve tonic, diarrhea, dysentery, to lessen an enlarged spleen and for pulmonary troubles.
Oregon grape (2 oz)