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Botanical: Berberis aquifolium (PURSH.)
---Synonyms---Mahonia aquifolia. Holly-leaved Barberry. Oregon Grape Root.
Family: N.O. Berberidaceae
---Habitat---Western United States.
---Description---Several varieties of the subgenus Mahonia contribute to the drug of commerce under the name of Berberis aquifolium. It is a quickly-growing shrub about 6 feet high: the oddly compound leaves have no spine at the base; they are evergreen and shining. The flowers grow in terminal racemes, are small and yellowish-green in colour, and the purple berries are three- to nine-seeded. The bark is brown on the surface and yellow beneath. The root is from 1/2 inch in diameter to 3 inches at the base of the stem, odourless, and with a bitter taste. The shrub was introduced into England from North America in 1823. It was formerly known as Mahonia aquifolia and is very hardy.
---Constituents---The principal constituent is a high proportion of berberin, and there is also oxycanthin.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Tonic and alterative, recommended in psoriasis, syphilis and impure blood-conditions. It may be used like colombo, berberis, etc., in dyspepsia and chronic mucous complaints. In constipation it is combined with Cascara Sagrada. It improves digestion and absorption.
---Preparation---Fluid extract, 10 to 30 drops.
B. nervosa and B. repens are frequently found in the drug.
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Bear in mind "A Modern Herbal" was written with the conventional wisdom of the early 1900's. This should be taken into account as some of the information may now be considered inaccurate, or not in accordance with modern medicine.
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