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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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