Scientific Name/Common Name: Arctostaphylos uva-ursi / Bearberry
Part(s) Used: Leaf
Constituents/Active Ingredients: At least 6% quinones including largely arbutin (5-15%); 6-7% tannins including approximately 15-20% catechol and gallo-tannins; flavonoids including myricetin, quercetin and their glycosides including hyperin, hyperoside, isoquercitrin, myricitrin and quercitrin; terpenoids and triterpenes including alpha amyrin, beta amyrin, lupeol, uvaol, and ursolic acid; iridoid glycoside monotropein; phenol-carboxylic acids including gallic acid, p-coumaric, and syringic acids.
Overview: Uva ursi means “grape of the bear” in Latin. Bearberry is one of the main ingredients in First Nations traditional smoking mixtures, known as kinnikinnick. Herbalists have long used the leaves in tea for various ailments of the urinary system. The leaves of bearberry contain a compound called arbutin that is metabolized into the antibacterial compounds hydroquinone glucuronide and hydroquinone sulphate. Bearberry leaf tea is listed in the German Pharmacopoeia as a urinary disinfectant for the treatment of bladder and kidney catarrh (mucous) and inflammation. It is noted by German authorities that the tea works best against UTIs when urine is kept alkaline by eating a generous plant-based diet.
Traditional Use/Benefits/Body Systems: Traditionally used in Herbal Medicine as a mild diuretic to help relieve symptoms associated with minor urinary tract infections, such as burning sensation and/or frequent urination; antibacterial; diuretic.
Clinical Studies/Scientific Research/References:
Wichtl M (ed). 1994. Uvae ursi folium – Uva ursi leaf. In Herbal Drugs and Phyto-pharmaceuticals. (English translation by Norman Grainger Bisset). CRC Press, Stuttgart, pp. 510-512.
Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J, editors. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Newton (MA): Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000.
Mills S, Bone K. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy, Modern Herbal Medicine. Edinburg (GB): Churchill Livingston; 2000.
Disclaimer: This information in our Herbal Encyclopedia is intended only as a general reference for educational purposes. It is not a replacement for medical advice. This content does not provide dosage information, cautions/contraindications, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Please consult any relevant product labels for detailed information on use and with a medical practitioner for individual health advice.