Herb Spotlight - Oregon Grape

Oregon Grape (Berberis spp.)

Family: Berberidaceae

Part Used: Root

Flavor/Aroma: Bitter

Energetics: Cooling, Drying



Oregon Grape offers a variety of medicinal benefits from liver support and protection to the ability to help regulate blood sugar levels. The synergistic effects of this potent bitter herb, has earned it a prestigious reputation as an effective digestive aid and powerful antimicrobial.


Oregon grape is an evergreen shrub that can grow to reach heights of 6 feet tall. The leaves of this plant are thick, shiny and green, and almost leather-like in texture. In the fall the leaves will express oranges and reds, in spring its flowers bloom as yellow clusters, and in the summer those flowers mature into “grapes”. The root can grow to be 4 centimeters in diameter, and has a woody, brownish outer bark. Oregon Grape reflects its treasured medicinal benefits through its vibrant, golden-centered roots.

Cultivation and Harvesting:

Oregon grape is native to the western areas of the United States and in most Northern, temperate ecosystems. It usually grows in sunnier areas, but is not shy to densely shaded areas, as this plant adapts well in most conditions. The roots of the Oregon Grape plant are best harvested with care in the Spring or Fall seasons. The inner bark is carefully revealed and used for its medicinal purposes.1

Southern Oregon Cultivation:

Oregon Grape grows abundantly throughout the state, and especially in the Southern Oregon region. Prized for its showy flowers and berries, florists and herbalists alike often harvest this beneficial herb. It can be found growing in the forests that hug the coast, up toward the Cascade mountain range. Its flowers also provide sustenance to the local pollinator populations, and should be harvested with care. 

History and Folklore:

American Native Uses: Oregon Grape was noted to have been used by many tribal communities to relieve fevers and diarrhea, to support kidney function, and for gastrointestinal assistance. It was used by the Apache as a gum remedy, and the Blackfoot community as a blood medicine, infant remedy, and for rheumatism. The stems, root bark, and leaves were all used to make dyes to color various fabrics.

In both Ayurvedic Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine, Oregon Grape root is used to remedy excess heat and dampness, or pitta and kapha, from those that consumed this medicinal plant.5

Modern Applications:

Oregon grape is indicated to support a variety of ailments including gallbladder diseases, gastrointestinal infections, uterine hemorrhage, constipation, malaria, and syphilis. There is also research to support that Berberine, one of the active constituents of Oregon Grape, contributes considerably to the oxidative and phytochemical effect of the herb, thus resulting in an antidiabetic, hepatoprotective, alkaloid dense plant medicine. It is also used to remedy topical fungal and bacterial infections such as MRSA, Candida, and E. coli.1,2,3,5

Uses and Preparations:

Dried Herb Tea Preparation: 



1-5 mL up to 3 times per day.

Some herbal tinctures can have a strong flavor on their own. Adding your tincture to a glass of 6-8oz of water is one easy way to help, should you wish to dilute the flavor.  

Recommended Usage:

It is important to remember that some bodies may react differently than others when using herbal products. Our recommended usage amounts are designed to be an average dosage only. If you have specific concerns about the usage amount or interaction with other medication, please consult with your doctor or health care practitioner prior to using our products.


We recommend consulting with your practitioner if you are pregnant, or plan to become pregnant, or if you are using any other medications. It is contraindicated in pregnancy due to the uterine stimulants, berberine, palmatine, and other potentially unsafe constituents.


  1. Berberis aquifolium. (n.d.). www.henriettes-herb.com/eclectic/kings/berberis-aqui.html 
  2. He, W., Lv, J., Huang, H., Mi, J., Quan, S. (September 3, 2019). Effects of berberine on the HPA-axis pathway and skeletal muscle GLUT4 in type 2 diabetes mellitus rats. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31564939 
  3. Cheung, CK., Gao, J., Shi, WW., Shaw, PC., Shou, JW. (September 3, 2019). Berberine Protects C17.2 Neural Stem Cells From Oxidative Damage Followed by Inducing Neuronal Differentiation. www.ncbi.nlmnih.gov/pubmed/31551713 
  4. Al-Kuraishy, HM., Al-Gareeb, Al., Hussion, NR. (August, 2019). Reno-protective effect of berberine. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31603884 
  5. Oregon Grape. (n.d.) Oregon grape Berberis spp. www.herbrally.com/monographs/oregon-grape

For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.