Precautions

The bitterness of Oregon grape root makes some people nauseous when they first start taking it, though this usually passes after the first few doses.

Do not take Oregon grape root if you have chronic diarrhea, a duodenal ulcer, or excessive stomach acid, as it could make these conditions worse. Do not take Oregon grape root in pregnancy without first consulting with a natural health care professional.

Oregon grape and its cousin goldenseal act very similarly. But since Oregon grape is easy to grow and is not threatened with extinction, more and more herbal practitioners are switching from goldenseal to Oregon grape to treat a range of conditions. Here's how this alternative medicine works:

Healing Properties

Oregon grape root has a distinctly bitter taste due to the presence of alkaloids, including berberine, the most notable. Though initially disagreeable to people not familiar with bitter herbs, these substances have a beneficial effect on the digestive tract. They stimulate the flow of bile, which loosens the stools and helps prevent and sometimes relieves constipation, diverticulosis, gallbladder disease, and hemorrhoids. They may also help people with constipation-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Oregon grape also has antibiotic and anticancer properties that are receiving more and more attention by researchers and clinicians. Berberine and other alkaloids have been shown to kill a wide range of microbes and have been effective in human studies for speeding recovery from giardia, candida, viral diarrhea, and cholera.

Studies in China show that an alkaloid it contains, called berbamine, helps protect the bone marrow and promotes its recovery from chemotherapy and radiation therapy for cancer. Combined with its bitter digestive-strengthening properties, Oregon grape has an interesting and distinctive combination of properties.

Preparation and Dosage

Oregon grape root is taken either as a tea or tincture. To make tea, simmer 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried, coarsely chopped root in 1 cup of water for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain out the leftover root (or eat it, if you prefer), and sip the remaining liquid just before eating each substantial meal.

A tincture is an alcohol extract of the root. Mix 1/2 to 1 teaspoon in 2 to 4 ounces of water and sip before each meal. The amount of alcohol in tinctures at this dose is very low and presents no significant problem.

Storage

Keep dried Oregon grape root away from light and heat. Do not keep longer than one year. Tincture will keep indefinitely if stored away from light and heat.

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This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.