Oregon Grape Root, Berberis aquifolium (AKA Mahonia aquifolium), comes from an evergreen, flowering shrub with shiny, holly-like leaves called the Oregon Grape or Holly-Leaved Barberry and is the Oregon State flower. It has lovely yellow flowers that develop into clusters of juicy, purple fruit, hence its name. The golden yellow root of the Oregon Grape is commonly harvested as a medicine.
Oregon grape is a member of the Berberidaceae family and its roots contain the chemical constituent berberine, thought to be responsible for many of the plant’s healthful benefits.
It is similar in chemical structure to goldenseal and has very similar healing properties since they both contain the berberine which has been shown to stimulate the immune system and help protect against bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It also contains tannins that ease inflammation and itching.
Studies have shown that when Oregon grape is used in topical skin products it helps ease skin irritation and deter the overproduction of skin cells that occurs in plaque psoriasis.