Oregon grape root excites dermatologists for the treatment of psoriasis and other skin diseases

by Donna Earnest Pravel

(NaturalNews) Oregon grape root, also known by its Latin name as Mahonia aquifolium, is a tall, flowering shrub that grows in abundance in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. Herbalists sometimes substitute Oregon grape root for goldenseal or the Chinese herb coptis. The herb is used for constipation, bloating, and other intestinal issues, but dermatologists are revisiting Oregon grape root because of its effectiveness in treating psoriasis and other skin diseases.

Berberine in Oregon grape root fight infections

Oregon grape root is traditionally used as a tonic, a bowel cleanser, and to treat infections, acid reflux, and stomach ulcers. Applied to the skin, Oregon grape root treats psoriasis.

The active chemical found in Oregon grape root is berberine. This plant alkaloid, according to the medical journal Alternative Medicine Review, has been clinically proven to show significant anti- microbial properties. It kills parasites, bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms.

Oregon grape root is the dermatologist’s choice for atopic dermatitis, acne, and psoriasis

Dermatologic Therapy published a clinical study in 2010 which was designed to discern which plant extracts and compounds worked best for a variety of skin diseases. The researchers involved in the study took information gleaned from the former German Commission E and tested botanicals on patients manifesting chronic skin conditions. The study was significant because the tests were performed on human subjects.

Of the various skin diseases tested, atopic dermatitis and psoriasis showed the most impressive results with herbal treatment. Oregon grape root was found to be effective for both atopic dermatitis and psoriasis.

A 2003 study, also reported in Dermatologic Therapy, noted the return of medicinal herbalism to complementary dermatologic health care. Researchers thoughtfully noted that the crude extracts of a variety of plants healed skin diseases such as acne differently than pharmaceuticals, and stated that sometimes herbal therapy is either the best or only choice of treatment for certain skin conditions. Oregon grape root was specifically mentioned for acne, because of the anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, and liver-protecting chemicals contained in the herb.

Using Oregon grape root in traditional ways is easy

Traditional herbalists suggest using Oregon grape root powder in colon cleansing formulas and in topical ointments for skin issues. It can also be made into a tea. Since Oregon grape root is a tough root, the herb must be boiled for 15 minutes before drinking. One teaspoon per cup is recommended, and three cups of tea per day is suggested.

A tincture can be made from Oregon grape root, as well. Two droppers of tincture taken three times a day is the usual recommendation for any herbal tincture. The tincture can be added to an ointment for skin issues such as psoriasis in a 1:10 ratio, according to both traditional herbalists and clinical dermatologists.

About the author:
This article is provided courtesy of Donna Earnest Pravel, owner and senior copy editor of Heart of Texas Copywriting Solutions.com. Get free weekly tips on natural healing and herbs by visiting her blog, Bluebonnet Natural Healing Therapy.


Pubmed.gov, “From medical herbalism to phytotherapy in dermatology: back to the future,” by A.M. Dattner, et al. Dermatologic Therapy. 2003; 16(2): 106-13.

Mountain Rose Herbs.com, “Oregon Grape Root and Powder Profile”

Pubmed.gov, “Which plant for which skin disease? Part 1: Atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, acne, condyloma and herpes simplex,” by J. Reuter, et al. Journal of the German Society of Dermatology. 2010 Oct;8(10):788-96. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20707875

Pubmed.gov, “Berberine.” [No authors listed] Alternative Medicine Review. April 2000; 5(2): 175- 7.