Uva Ursi Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi
Autumn leaves and berries
  • Common Names
  • Uva Ursi , Bearberry
  • Botanical Name
  • Arctostaphylos uva-ursi
  • Family

Medicinal Uses & Benefits of Uva Ursi

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How to Use: Uva Ursi

Drink Uva ursi,or bearberry tea
to flush out bacteria

Uva ursi contains a considerable amount of tannins (up to 40 percent) making it one of natures most powerful astringents. Unlike most herbs which can have a wide range of uses, uva-ursi is a specialist in infections and inflammations of the urniary tract. Uva uris ontains as assortment of chemical compounds,especially arbutin, that are active against many of the pathogens commonly found in urinary tract infections. 1

Preparation Methods & Dosage :

Uva ursi's tough leather leaves need to be boiled vigoursly for 15 minutes or soaked overnight in cold water. Uva ursi can also be taken as a tincture, or in capsules. Frequently combined with other herbs to fight urinary infections such as buchu, cleavers, dandelion leaf, parsley,or juniper berries. Uva ursi is more effective when the urine is alkaline 1

see remedies

Uva Ursi Remedies

Uva Ursi Side Effects: The high tannin content of uva ursi can contribute to nausea and vomiting if you are sensitive. Do not use if your urine is already acidic. Uva usi is a strong herb that should be reserved for those times when a quick intervention is needed. It should not be taken for extended periods. Medication containing arbutin should not be taken for longer than a week or more than five times a year without consulting a physician. Not for use for those who have kidney disease, or children. 2

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Plant Description

  • Plant Class:Evergreen shrub
  • Etymology: Other common names red bearberry, bear's-grape, bear's bilberry, bear's whortleberry, foxberry, upland cranberry, mountain cranberry, crowberry, mealberry, rockberry, mountain box, kinnikinnic, killikinnic, universe vine, brawling, burren myrtle, creashak, sagachomi, rapper dandies (fruit). The fruits are mealy red berries that look like tiny apples, which may account for the common name bearberry or 'Bear's Grape' Bear's grape, and may have been given to the plant, either from the notion that bears eat the fruit with relish, or from its very rough, unpleasant flavour, which might have been considered only fit for bears.
  • Flowers/Fruit/Seeds:The waxy flowers, which appear in May, are few and are borne in short, drooping clusters at the ends of the branches. They are white with a pinkish tinge, 5-lobed, and somewhat bell-shaped in form. Smooth, red, globular fruits containing five nutlets follow the flowers.
  • Parts used: The leaves, collected in autumn. All species of the Arctostaphylos genus are medically useful, but it is A. uva ursi that is of primary interest to herbal medicine.
  • Leaves:Low, much-branched shrub trailing over the ground and having numerous leathery evergreen leaves about 1 inch in length
  • Distribution: Native North America growing in dry sandy or rocky soil from the middle Atlantic States north to Labrador and westward to California and Alaska.
(Sievers, A.F.).

Regional Traditions :North America *

Related Species

Manzanita, Artostaphylos columbiana and A. glauca is in the same genus as bearberry and has almost identical medicinal properties. Manzanita grows abundantly in California and was used by the native peoples. Manzanita's sweet red berries can be powdered and mixed with water for a pleasant drink high in Vitamin C. Herbalists sometimes substitute manzanita for bearberry leaves, as well as another related species, trailing arbutus. Epigaea repens also contains arbutin and can be substituted for bearberry. 2

books citedWorks Cited
  1. American Botanical Council . Uva Ursi leaf: Expanded Commission E Monographs , Integrative Medicine Communications, (1994): ,
  2. Weiss, Gaea and Shandor. "Healing Herbs, The" Rodale, (1985)
  3. Alma R. Hutchens. "Handbook of Native American Herbs" Shambahala Boston & London, (1992)
  4. Sievers, A.F. "The Herb Hunters Guide." Trinity Press, (1930, repr)