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Herb Information
Name: Uva Ursi
Biological Name: Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Heath family, Ericaceae

Other Names: Bearberry, Bear's grape, Crowberry, Foxberry, Hog cranberry, Kinnikinnick, Mealberry, Arberry, Mountain Box, Mountain Cranberry, Red bearberry, sagackhomi, sandberry, upland cranberry, uva ursi, universe vine, wild cranberry, bear's grape, arberry
Parts Used: Leaves
Active Compounds:  

Bearberry leaves contain arbutin, a powerful astringent that has antiseptic properties. The leaf is also rich in tannins, useful for tanning leather. The glycoside arbutin is the active ingredient in uva ursi. Arbutin is present in fairly high amounts (up to 10%) in uva ursi. It has been shown to kill bacteria in the urine. Before it can act, however, the sugar portion of the arbutin and its attached small molecule (known as hydoquinone) must be broken apart. The urine must be alkaline for this to happen. Hydroquinone is a very powerful anti-microbial agent and is responsible for uva ursi's ability to treat urinary tract infections. Arbutin has also been shown to increase the anti-inflammatory effect of synthetic cortisone.


Folk healers have used bearberry leaves to make a tea that is used an a tonic and as a diuretic in many parts of the world. The Cheyenne Indians drank the tea for back sprains; others have used it for venereal diseases.

Remedies For

Urinary tract infection

Barberry leaves are used to treat bladder and kidney infections. The plant is believed to have urinary antiseptic properties. It helps to reduce accumulations of uric acid and to relive the pain of bladder stones and gravel. It is used to alleviate chronic cystitis. The tea or tincture is used for bronchitis, nephritis, and kidney stones.


A low growing, trailing evergreen shrub, 4 to 6 inches high. The bark is dark brown or somewhat reddish. The leaves are dark green, leathery, oval and taper toward the base. Dense, drooping clusters of pinkish-white, waxy, urn shaped flowers appear in April-June. The bright red berries ripen in Autumn and last through the winter.


Soak the leaves in alcohol or brandy, then add 1 tsp. soaked leaves to 1 cup boiling water. Drink 2 to 3 cups a day, cold.

Tincture: Take 10 to 20 drops in water, 3 to 4 times a day.

For alcohol based tinctures, many people take 5 ml three times per day.

Herbal extracts in capsules or tablets (containing 20% arbutin) in an amount of 250-500 mg three times per day can also be taken. Use of uva ursi should be limited to no more than 14 days. To ensure alkaline urine, 6-8 grams of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) mixed in a glass of water can be drunk. Individuals with high blood pressure should not take baking soda. Do not take it for more than 14 days.


Excessive use of bearberry can lead to stomach distress, and prolonged use can produce chronic poisoning.

Some people may experience mild nausea after taking uva ursi. Avoid taking acidic agents such as vitamin C or fruit juice, while using uva ursi. Do not take if you are pregnant or if you are lactating.

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