Uva Ursi

(Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)

The uva ursi plant is found in colder, northern climates. It has red flowers and red berries, which bears like to eat, giving it its common name of bearberry. The leaf is used medicinally.

The leaves and berries were used by numerous indigenous people from northern latitudes. Combined with tobacco, Native Americans sometimes smoked uva ursi. It was also used as a drink tea in some places in Russia. The berries were considered beneficial as a weight-loss aid. It was found in wide use for infections of all parts of the body because of its astringent, or “drying,” action.

What it does

Uva ursi’s most active ingredient is a glycoside called Arbutin. Its action is supported by other compounds present, flavanoids, tannins, allantoin, caffeic acids, oils and resin. Arbutin converts to hydroquinone in the urinary tract, which is a potent antiseptic. Uva ursi is diuretic, astringent and anti-bacterial.

Potential Uses

Cystitis Urethritis Urinary tract infections

Other information

Herbalists often use Uva ursi in combination with burdock and cleavers to cleanse the system and help with water retention.


The high tannin content of Uva ursi may cause cramping, nausea and vomiting is some people if taken in large doses.

Do not take Uva ursi if you already take diuretic medication.

The high tannin content of Uva ursi may block the absorption of drugs containing atropine, theophylline, ephedrine, codeine or triamterine and it should not be taken in conjunction with these drugs.

Avoid drinking tea as it too contains high levels of tannins.

Do not use in pregnancy or when breastfeeding.

Uva ursi should not be used by children under 12 except under supervision of a qualified herbalist.

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