Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium) is a species of flowering plant in the family Berberidaceae. This plant is native to western North America. Growing to 1 m in height and 1.5 m in width, oregon grape pinnate leaves consist of spiny leaflets and dense clusters of yellow flowers in early spring.
Their berries are dark bluish-black in color. Oregon-grape is not a true grape although its dark blue berries hang in grape-like clusters. Botanists consider them as part of the Berberis genus. This genus includes a variety of species commonly called barberries.
Oregon grape active constituents are alkaloids that consist of berberine, berbamine, hydrasthine and oxycanthine. These are some health benefits of oregon grape berries. Berberine makes this yellow-flowered plant a natural antibiotic with growing popularity.
Berberine, an active ingredients that gives power oregon grapes, is a well-researched alkaloid also found in other natural antibiotics such as goldenseal and barberry. Herbalists found berberine content traditionally by scratching a tiny patch of the shrub’s bark. This bitter chemical is found in the entire plant, from its flowers to its roots. It is the main reason that Oregon Grape tops the list of most popular natural herbs.
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1. Perform natural anti-depressant
Prolonged sadness, anxiety, the absence of appetite, insomnia or excessive sleepiness are some common signs that are often seen in people with depression. The deficiency of neurotransmitters like serotonin, noradrenaline, and dopamine in the brain leads depression.
Monoamine oxidase (MAO) is an enzyme that decomposes these neurotransmitters. Some studies has given indicators that berberine has the ability to inhibit MAO activity and alleviate symptoms of depression. By inhibiting MAO, berberine raise the concentration of key neurotransmitters in the brain, giving a clear improvement in the pharmacological treatment of depression.
2. Protect the immune system
Natural health practitioners use Berberine to boost the immune system due to its ability to kill pathogens and heal the lining of the gut. Berberine can also improve the gut microbiota when bacteria has damaged the cell. Since it also helps activating white blood cells, it makes them better to fight infection.
3. Perform natural detoxification
Since oregon grape can perform natural detoxification, it can also treat diarrhea. It is this herb’s specialty to treat symptoms of a bacterial infection. E. coli infections are no match for several doses of Oregon grape. Add a dropper or two of the tincture to a glass of water for quick results
4. Maintain healthy liver function
Studies have shown that Berberine can help regulate blood sugar levels by stimulating the uptake of glucose into cells, improving glucose sensitivity and reducing the production of glucose in the liver. Both topical or internal treatment with oregon grape is appropriate to maintain the liver function in a healthy level.
5. Act as antifungal
The next health benefits of oregon grape berries is to act as antifungal. Berberine is potential to fight against a wide range of bacteria and fungi. Berberine has the ability to inhibit the growth of various Candida species, including Candida albicans accordinf to a 2011 paper report.
There is also an indication that berberine kills Candida yeast strains that have become resistant to pharmaceutical antifungals such as fluconazole. Researchers discovered that Berberine was not only capable to inhibit the growth of the Candida strains, but to destruct the yeast cell until it could not survive. It could also destroy the Candida albicans plasma membrane.
6. Fights against cancer
Another health benefits of oregon grape is to fight against cancer. Researches have shown the relationship of berbamine and cancer-killing effect. Researchers have found that not only does berbamine aid with healing liver cancer, but it also helps with certain lung and stomach cancers, blood cancers, certain skin cancers, and an aggressive (highly metastatic) type of breast cancer.
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7. Perform antiamoebocidic
Berberine works on human cell’s DNA to prevent amoebas from take hold in the body. To consume this herb you can take it effectively as tinctures, glycerites, capsules, powder, oil, and salves. It’s very useful to take oregon grape on trip with you where the hygiene is poor.
8. Protect against inflammations
The berberine slows abnormal cell growth in the skin and reduces inflammation. It can relieve the itching caused by skin conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis and allergic rashes
How to make oregon grape berries jam
One of the best ways to process oregon grape berries is to make a jam. You need to use containers and utensils that won’t stain.
- Wash the berries, remove any large stems or other leaves and then put the berries in a pot.
- Add just enough water and boil for 15 minutes until soft.
- To separate the juice and pulp from the skins and seeds, run it through a food-mill in batches.
- You can choose to further strain the juice from the pulp by using cheese cloth or a fine mesh strainer, or you can leave the pulp in to a jam.
- Next measure your juice to consider an equivalent amount of sugar. Give more or less depending on your taste.
- You can try mixing it with the other fruits or ginger if you like. Bring the juice to boil and stir in the pectin. Next add the sugar slowly.
- Taste it as you go until you reach your perfect balance between sweet and tart. Bring to a boil again and stirr thoroughly.
- After cooking for a few minutes, remove from heat and immediately ladle into sterilized jars.
Oregon grape berries gives you a delighted jelly. You can also throw some berries into a pie or cobbler. They can be an alternative for blackberries in most recipes without missing its wonderful taste. Remember to taste test the berries first to know how tart the batch you have is. Oregon grape berries varies in flavor from harvest to harvest.
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Those are some health benefits of oregon grape berries that you will not regret to know. Our nature has provided us with many natural sources that are rich of health benefits. It doesn’t cost much to be healthy if we get the best of the natural sources and live the healthy life.