Health Guide

Oregon grape

What is it?

Oregon Grape is an herbal medicine that has been used for colds and the flu, diarrhea, upset stomach, acne, cancer, eczema, hepatitis, herpes, psoriasis, syphilis (infectious disease spread by sexual activity), and vaginitis (discharge, pain, swelling, or itching in the vagina).

Other names for Oregon Grape include: Mahonia aquifolium, Berberis aquifolium, Holly-Leaved Barberry, Sowberry, Woodsour, Blue Barberry, Holly Mahonia, and Mountain Grape.

Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if you need more information about this medicine or if any information in this leaflet concerns you.

Before Using:

Tell your doctor if you

  • are taking medicine or are allergic to any medicine (prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) or dietary supplement)
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medicine
  • are breastfeeding
  • have any other health problems, such as high blood pressure or heart or blood vessel disease


Talk with your caregiver about how much Oregon Grape you should take. The amount depends on the strength of the medicine and the reason you are taking Oregon Grape. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the medicine bottle. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to.

To store this medicine:

Keep all medicine locked up and away from children. Store medicine away from heat and direct light. Do not store your medicine in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or in other damp places. Heat or moisture may cause the medicine to break down and not work the way it should work. Throw away medicine that is out of date or that you do not need. Never share your medicine with others.


  • Before taking Oregon Grape, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Poisoning and death have been associated with excessive use of berberine (one of the constituents of Oregon Grape) (1)

Side Effects:

Stop taking your medicine right away and talk to your doctor if you have any of the following side effects. Your medicine may be causing these symptoms which may mean you are allergic to it.

  • Breathing problems or tightness in your throat or chest
  • Chest pain
  • Skin hives, rash, or itchy or swollen skin

Other Side Effects:

You may have the following side effects, but this medicine may also cause other side effects. Tell your doctor if you have side effects that you think are caused by this medicine.

  • Your skin may burn, itch, or turn red (4)


1. Fetrow C & Avila J: Professional's Handbook of Complementary and Alternative Medicines. Springhouse Corporation, Springhouse, PA; 1999.

2. Gieler U, von der Weth A & Heger M: Mahonia aquifolium - a new type of topical treatment for psoriasis. J Dermatol Treat 1995a; 6:31-34.

3. McGuffin M, Hobbes C, Upton R et al: American herbal Products Association's Botanical Safety Handbook. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL; 1997.

4. Gieler U von der Weth A & Heger M: Psoriasis vulgaris - gute Erfolge mit Homoeopathika. Ars Medici 1995; 14:1018-1019.

Last Updated: 7/4/2018
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