Oregon Grape is an evergreen shrubby plant that grows through the Pacific Northwest as well as other temperate areas across North America. It’s a strongly protective plant with prickly, Holly-like leaves and a strong does of berberine running through it’s woody parts. It’s best known in popular-herbal culture as a more sustainable substitute for Goldenseal whenever a strong anti-biotic is needed. My first encounter with Oregon Grape was as just that, a general anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, anti-viral herb for countering colds and flus through winter in the damp, chilly climate of the Willamette Valley and Pacific Northwest in general.
As a boundary-protector, Oregon Grape works on a more subtle, energetic, magical level to protect boundaries that are being attacked from within. In flower essence form, Oregon Grape is used to help folks overcome mistrust and paranoia that’s seated in early childhood experiences in which they felt mistrusted or starved for attention and as a result built strong boundaries to keep others at bay. Oregon Grape’s energy is about getting the sticky, icky stuff that keeps us from flourishing to move along, encouraging us to clear those old emotional experiences and let our energies begin to flow once again. Magically speaking, it’s a good partner when working on healing one’s own baggage or that of one’s ancestors, particularly when you’re not entirely sure if the boundary you’re protecting is a good boundary. Oregon Grape works well for those times when you need clarity about the worth of the convictions to which you’re holding.
I keep a goodly stash of Oregon Grape root in my herbal pantry year-round. Although my family doesn’t tend toward bronchitis or lingering damp-heat types of infections, I like to have it at the ready for friends who are more suseptible to them. When I notice a cold or flu that’s gotten into my lungs tipping into the lingering, sticky-mucus stage or if I notice that mucus has gone from clear or white to yellow or greenish, I’ll add a little Oregon Grape root to the medicine, too. Matthew Wood suggests using Oregon Grape root alongside Burdock root, which I agree is a powerful combination.
Oregon Grape-Burdock Electuaries Recipe
In the early fall, before cold and flu season really kicks off, I make simple electuaries using local honey, burdock root and Oregon Grape root. They’re tasty just as they are and can easily be popped into a nourishing cup of tea through the tail-end of recovery from a flu or cold that’s been hard on the respiratory system. They’re especially welcome when you’ve got that lingering damp in your lungs coupled with an unproductive and sometimes deep cough that never quite seems to clear the phglem. I like Thomas Easley’s heated-honey electuary technique, but these can be made with room temperature honey, too.
- 1 part Oregon Grape root powder
- 1 part Burdock root powder
- 1 to 2 parts raw honey (heated to 200 degrees Fahrenheit/93 degrees Celsius, optional)
- Measuring Spoons
- mixing bowl
- microwave or other heat source
- spoons for stirring
- Tray lined with parchment paper or silicon liner (to prevent sticking)
Instructions for Making Electuraries
- Measure the herbal powders into a bowl, setting aside a small amount for use later, and mix them well.
- Add the honey a little at a time, mixing quite well, until the mixture becomes a slightly sticky paste that holds it’s shape.
- Form the paste into small balls about 1/4 inch (2.5 cm) across.
- Dip or coat each ball lightly with the reserved herbal powder and set them on a smooth surface to set.
- Once they’re firm (a day or so in my damp climate), you can store them in a sealed container. I keep mine in the refrigerator, but they’ll keep in the pantry, too.
Use: Take one or two up to three times a day when needed.
Other Oregon Grape Magic Ideas
- Make Oregon Grape jelly with flowers or fruits of Oregon Grape for gently drying the body during the rainy, damp season.
- Add Oregon Grape root powder to your incense blend for working on inner healing and clarity. It’ll pair well with yarrow for healing a deeply wounded spirit, frankincense or myrrh for clearing and purifying especially when boundaries are changing, and rose for healing from a broken or damaging relationship or for finding a new love safely.
- Make Oregon Grape flower essence to help you manage personal boundaries when living in a crowded or close urban environment…and as a helper if your intent is to change your environment to one that feels safer than where you currently are.
- Plant Oregon Grape in your front yard near your windows to help protect against unwelcome intrusions.
Resources for Oregon Grape Medicine
- The Earthwise Herbal, Volume II: A Complete Guide to New World Medicinal Plants by Matthew Wood
- The Art and Science of Plant Medicine Making
- Flower Essence Repertory: A Comprehensive Guide to the Flower Essences researched by Dr. Edward Bach and the Flower Essence Society
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