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Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium, Berberis aquifolium)

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Also listed as: Mahonia aquifolium, Berberis aquifolium
Related terms
Background
Evidencetable
Tradition
Dosing
Safety
Interactions
Attribution
Bibliography

Related Terms
  • Aporphine alkaloids, 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, columbamine, corytuberine, holly barberry, holly mahonia, hydrastine, isocorydine, isothebaine, jatrorrhizine, magnoflorine, 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, oxyberberine, oxycanthine, palmatine, protoberberines, psorberine, Relieva TM, Rocky Mountain grape, Rubisan®, sowberry, tall Oregon-grape, trailing mahonia, wild oregon-grape, woodsour.

Background
  • Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium, Berberis aquifolium) grows on 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 its purple clusters of berries that resemble grapes. It is a close relative of barberry (Berberis vulgaris).
  • The rhizome (underground stem), 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 for skin disorders such as atopic dermatitis and psoriasis. Substances found in Oregon grape have been studied for their anticancer and antibacterial effects, although these uses have not been well studied in humans.

Evidence Table

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. GRADE *


Several studies suggest that extract of Oregon grape applied to the skin is safe and effective in the treatment of psoriasis. More research is needed to make a firm conclusion.

B


According to human research, ointment- and cream-based extracts of Oregon grape applied to the skin may help treat atopic dermatitis. Further research is needed to determine the effect of Oregon grape alone.

C


In human research, a combination ointment containing an active part of Oregon grape, berberine, showed beneficial results for the healing of second degree burn wounds. Further research regarding the use of berberine alone is needed.

C
* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)


Tradition / Theory

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.

  • Acne, antifungal, antimicrobial, antimutagenic, antioxidant, antiparasitic, appetite stimulant, arthritis, bile flow improvement, blood purifier, colds, conjunctivitis (pinkeye), constipation, cough suppressant, diarrhea, digestion, disorders of stomach and intestines, diuretic (increases urination), dysentery (inflammation of intestine), eye cleansing, eye inflammation, fever, flu, general health maintenance, gonorrhea, heart disease, hemorrhage (bleeding), hepatitis (liver inflammation), herpes, immune system regulation, infections, jaundice, skin diseases, sore throat, syphilis, tonic, tuberculosis, urinary tract infections, vaginitis, yeast infection.

Dosing

Adults (18 years and older)

  • For infection, Oregon grape has been traditionally taken by mouth 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 a day for an unknown duration).
  • For psoriasis, the following has been applied to the skin: a 10% Oregon grape extract ointment applied three or more times daily; Oregon grape extract ointment (RelievaT) applied twice daily for 12 weeks and three times daily for four weeks; Oregon grape bark extract (10%) applied 2-3 times daily for an average of four weeks; a cream containing 10% Oregon grape applied for one month, 12 weeks, or up to six months; a homeopathic ointment of Oregon grape (Rubisan®) has been applied for 12 weeks.
  • For atopic dermatitis, an Oregon grape cream (RelievaTM) has been applied to the skin for 12 weeks.
  • Use cautiously when taking by mouth for more than two or three weeks and avoid large doses, as consumption of large doses of berberine may cause poisoning or death.

Children (under 18 years old)

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

Safety

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 or sensitivity to Oregon grape, its parts, or members of the Berberidaceae family.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Oregon grape berries are likely safe when eaten in amounts normally found in food.
  • Oregon grape is generally well tolerated when used on the skin. Minor side effects, such as rash, a burning sensation, and clothing stains, were reported when Oregon grape was used on the skin.
  • Oregon grape may also cause diarrhea, jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes in infants), kidney inflammation and irritation, liver toxicity, nausea, tiredness, and vomiting.
  • Use cautiously when taking by mouth for more than two or three weeks.
  • Avoid using large doses of Orgeon grape, as other Berberis species and high doses of berberine, a compound found in Oregon grape, have been reported to cause poisoning, toxic effects, and death.
  • Avoid in people with liver disease.
  • Avoid in pregnant and breastfeeding women and in children due to a lack of sufficient information.
  • Avoid with known allergy or sensitivity to Oregon grape, its parts, or members of the Berberidaceae family.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Avoid in pregnant and breastfeeding women and in children due to a lack of sufficient information.

Interactions

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 a qualified healthcare professional, including pharmacist, about possible interactions.
  • Oregon grape may increase the amount of drowsiness caused by some drugs with sedative effects. Examples include benzodiazepine such as lorazepam (Ativan®) or diazepam (Valium®), barbiturates such as phenobarbital, narcotics such as codeine, some antidepressants, CNS depressants, and alcohol. Caution is advised while driving or operating machinery.
  • Oregon grape may also interact with agents for heart health, agents that affect the immune system, agents that prevent or relieve seizures, antibiotics, anticancer agents, cyclosporine, stomach and intestinal agents, and tetracyclines.

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 a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, about possible interactions.
  • Oregon grape may increase the amount of drowsiness caused by some herbs or supplements with sedative effects.
  • Oregon grape may also interact with antibacterials, anticancer herbs and supplements, antioxidants, herbs and supplements for heart health, herbs or supplements that affect the immune system, herbs or supplements that prevent or relieve seizures, stomach and intestinal herbs and supplements, licorice, and vitamin B.

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

Bibliography
  1. Bernstein S, Donsky H, Gulliver W, et al. Treatment of mild to moderate psoriasis with Relieva, a extract--a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Am J Ther 2006;13(2):121-126.
  2. Cernakova M, Kostalova D. Antimicrobial activity of berberine--a constituent of . Folia Microbiol (Praha) 2002;47(4):375-378.
  3. Chatterjee P, Franklin MR. Human cytochrome p450 inhibition and metabolic-intermediate complex formation by goldenseal extract and its methylenedioxyphenyl components. Drug Metab Dispos 2003;31(11):1391-1397.
  4. Donsky H, Clarke D. Relieva, a extract for the treatment of adult patients with atopic dermatitis. Am J Ther 2007;14(5):442-446.
  5. Gulliver WP, Donsky HJ. A report on three recent clinical trials using 10% topical cream and a review of the worldwide clinical experience with for the treatment of plaque psoriasis. Am J Ther 2005;12(5):398-406.
  6. Haupt H. [Poisonous and less poisonous plants. 63. Barberry (Berberidaceae) ()]. Kinderkrankenschwester 2003;22(12):538-539.
  7. Klovekorn W, Tepe A, Danesch U. A randomized, double-blind, vehicle-controlled, half-side comparison with a herbal ointment containing , Viola tricolor and Centella asiatica for the treatment of mild-to-moderate atopic dermatitis. Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther 2007;45(11):583-591.
  8. Musumeci R, Speciale A, Costanzo R, et al. C. Presl. extracts: antimicrobial properties and interaction with ciprofloxacin. Int J Antimicrob Agents 2003;22(1):48-53.
  9. Rackova L, Oblozinsky M, Kostalova D, et al. Free radical scavenging activity and lipoxygenase inhibition of extract and isoquinoline alkaloids. J Inflamm (Lond) 2007;4:15.
  10. Reuter J, Wolfle U, Weckesser S, et al. Which plant for which skin disease? Part 1: Atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, acne, condyloma and herpes simplex. J Dtsch.Dermatol.Ges. 2010;8(10):788-796.
  11. Rohrer U, Kunz EM, Lenkeit K, et al. Antimicrobial activity of and two of its alkaloids against oral bacteria. Schweiz Monatsschr Zahnmed 2007;117(11):1126-1131.
  12. Slobodnikova L, Kost'alova D, Labudova D, et al. Antimicrobial activity of crude extract and its major isolated alkaloids. Phytother Res 2004;18(8):674-676.
  13. Vollekova A, Kost'alova D, Kettmann V, et al. Antifungal activity of extract and its major protoberberine alkaloids. Phytother Res 2003;17(7):834-837.
  14. 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.
  15. Xu R, Dong Q, Yu Y, et al. Berbamine: a novel inhibitor of bcr/abl fusion gene with potent anti-leukemia activity. Leuk Res 2006;30(1):17-23.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)


The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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