What is Mahonia aquifolium?
Has it been researched?
How does it work?
Is it safe?
Research Summary


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What is Mahonia aquifolium?

Mahonia aquifolium, or Holly-leaved Barberry, is a plant native to Western USA. It is an evergreen shrub growing to about to 1 by 1.5 metres with dense clusters of yellow flowers in early spring, followed by dark blue berries. Hence it is also known as Oregon Grape.

The root has been shown to contain high proportions of berberin and oxycanthin (strong antimicrobial agents) and has been successfully used to treat a variety of skin disorders as well as digestive disorders and impure blood conditions.


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Has it been researched?

Yes. There has been extensive research in recent years into the healing properties of Mahonia aquifolium, and in particular into its use in the treatment of psoriasis.

In one study published in the Journal of Dermatology(1), the results were outstanding; Monitoring over 400 psoriasis sufferers from 89 different dermatological clinics throughout Germany, the researchers found that regular use of Mahonia aquifolium ointment was particularly successful: 81% of the patients stated that their symptoms had either completely disappeared or substantially alleviated, and within 12 weeks, the number of patients who had severe lesions had reduced by 81%.


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How does Mahonia aquifolium work?

Mahonia aquifolium has historically been used to treat a wide variety of ailments, most notably skin disorders. However, in recent years, researchers have discovered that it contains unique qualities.


Scientists have discovered that the extract of the bark of Mahonia aquifolium contains very strong antioxidant compounds and inhibits keratinocyte (abnormal skin cell) growth(2).


Tests by US and Canadian researchers have demonstrated that Mahonia aquifolium is one of the top five most powerful herbal antifungal agents (3).

Promotes Healthy Metabolism

Scientists at the national Cancer Institute, NIH, Bethesca, USA have demonstrated that Mahonia aquifolium inhibits lipoxygenase and lipid hydroperoxide, and that this effect may be a crucial factor in explaining why it seems to be so beneficial for psoriasis sufferers(4).


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Is it safe?

Mahonia aquifolium is a completely natural plant extract and no serious or significant adverse side effects have been observed in any tests to date. A small percentage (less than 5 per cent) may experience increased itching and redness on initial use. Please be advised that pregnant women and those patients taking any allopathic medications or diagnosed with any disease should consult their health practitioner before taking Mahonia aquifolium extract internally.

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Geler U.; Von der Weth A.; Heger M. Mahonia aquifolium – A new type of topical treatment for psoriasis. Journal of Dermatological Treatment (United Kingdom), 1995, 6/1 (31-34)

Muller K.; Ziereis K., Gawlik I. Institut fur Pharmazie, Universitat Regensburg, Universitatsstr. 31, D-93040 Regensburg Germany PLANTA MED. (Germany), 1995, 61/1 (74-75)

McCutcheon A.R.; Ellis S.M.; Hancock R.E.W.; Towers G.H.N. Antifungal screening of medical plants of British Columbia native peoples department of Botany, University of British Columbia, 3515-6270 University Blvd, Vancouver, Borough Council V6T 1ZA Canada J.
ETHNOPHARMACOL. (Ireland), 1994, 44/3 (157-169)

Misik V.; Bezakova L.; Malekova L.; Kostalova D. Lipoxgenase inhibition and antioxidant properties of protoberberine and aporphine alkaloids isolated from Mahonia aquifolium. National Cancer Institute, NIH, Bethesda, MD 20892 USA Planta Medica (Germany), 1995, 61/4 (372-373)


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