Oregon Grape is a native plant on the North American west coast from British Columbia to northern California, occurring mostly in the understory of Douglas-Fir forests. This plant is not a grape at all, but gets its name from the purple fruits that form following a robust yellow flower cluster. It resemble a holly bush, in fact the botanic name aquifolium means that the leaf is holly-like and is derived from the Roman name for holly, aquifolium, ‘prickly leaved’. The chief alkaloid in Oregon Grape, berberine, has been researched for its properties relating to the immune system, and the inhibition of growth of certain bacteria and fungi. Berberine is also found in the plant Goldenseal. Since Oregon grape is not threatened to extinction in most of its natural range, as Goldenseal, many herbalists are using it as an alternative plant. Berberine alone has many clinically relevant applications, which vary from eyedrops to applications for maintaining normal cholesterol, making it a very diverse chemical. In modern herbal practice it is used to support the healthy functioning of the immune system, to promote healthy skin functions, and to promote the natural detoxification process by supporting the lymphatic glands.
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