Getting to Know Herbs: Mahonia Mountain Grape (Oregon Grape)

in #gardening2 years ago (edited)

Like the Goldenseal and Blue Cohosh, the Mahonia Mountain Grape also has berberine in the dark bluish fruits. It also shouldn't be consumed in large quantities due to the negative effects (blood flow, blood pressure) from doing so, despite being edible and rich in vitamin C.

Other common names are Mahonia aquifolium, Berberis aquifolium, Oregon grape, Oregon holly-grape (as the leaves look like holly leaves). It's not a true grape, but gets that name due to the cluster and color of the fruits.

Key Points

  • mainly to treat skin issues like infections or psoriasis and dermatitis
  • safe on the skin, not safe in large doses when ingested
  • centuries of traditional medicinal use
  • not a grape, although it looks like it, but edible and safe in small doses



Like the blue cohosh, this plant was also used by Native Amerindians, mainly for treating indigestion.

Where is it found?

It's natively found in western North America, from California up to Alaska, and Alberta to New Mexico. Outside of these native regions, it can be considered an invasive species that will displace native vegetation.

What's it used for?

The root and rhizomes are used to make the herbal medicine. It's used for for stomach ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), stomach upset, as a bitter tonic, to treat infections, and to cleanse the bowels.

Studies have shown it's safe to use when applied to the skin and effective to treat psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and possibly healing second degree burns. The chemicals in the plant may help fight bacterial and fungal infections.

Other potential applications from tradition and theory include: 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.

The fruits can be used to make wine, but reguire a lot of sugar to ferment.

The fruits can be used to make a purple due, and the stems and roots to make a yellow dye.

Are there any risks?

It's likely unsafe during pregnancy or when breast feeding. It's also recommended to keep it away from children, especially newborns.

Some medications can last long when taken with Oregon grape, as the liver takes longer to break those medications down. Drug effects can increase, as well as the side effects. These medications include cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune), lovastatin (Mevacor), clarithromycin (Biaxin), indinavir (Crixivan), sildenafil (Viagra), triazolam (Halcion), and many others.


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Yeah we got a lot of that stuff in the NW. Silly gooses think its holly! lol

Hehe, geese like holly?


I don't know how many posts you are going to do with herbs, but would it be possible for you at some point to create an index of them, perhaps by what they are used for primarily for later reference? I know that Steemit is not set up for such an easy reference.

Good idea.

Alrighty, will do ;) I can add the previous ones to future posts as well. Thanks ;)

This is a great series on Herbs. I will check out the prior ones. Thanks @krnel

Thanks. I took picture at a herb garden, and decided to do some posts about each herb, as they are all used for medicinal purposes as well. Glad it has provided some value to you.

It's also good for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels! (The leaves)

Koo, thanks, the berberine in this and the previous two herbs can help with that it seems :)

I think Berberine is made from grape leaves. I've been using it for about 6 months now and I no longer need insulin (except when I go nuts with candy or sweets). I pretty much eat what I want and have only taken a shot once in 6 months.

Hi @krnel its realy an intresting information that is it not a grape, although it looks like it, but edible and safe in small doses. And also its risky strange,used to make wine ... Its look like a simple fruit but have many advantages and disadvantages that we not know... Thank for sharing it.. ☺