Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

This herb with the odd sounding name is actually a very old folk remedy.

Other Names: Arberry, Bearberry, Bear’s Grape, Kinnikinnick, Mealberry, Mountain Box, Mountain Cranberry, Red Berried Trailing Arbutus, Redberry Leaves, Rockbeery, Sagackhomi, Sandberry, Upland Cranberry, Red-Beery, Upland Cranbeery, Common Bearberry, Arbutus Uva-Ursi, Red Bearberry

The botanical name of Uva Ursi, also called Bearberry, is taken from the Greek ‘arcto’ meaning berry and the Latin ‘uva ursi’ meaning bear.

uva ursiUva Ursi, (Chinese, European and Native American medicinal systems) strengthens and tones the urinary tract. It is especially useful for kidney infections, bladder infections, and inflammatory disease of the urinary tract. During bladder infections, the leaves were chewed. In Chinese medicine it is associated with the element of water and is used to treat incontinence (believed to contract the sphincter muscle).

Uva Ursi as an Herb for Medicinal Uses

The medicinal parts of the plant are the dried leaves and preparations of the fresh leaves. The leaves have a bitter, astringent taste. They are distinguished from the cranberry by the reticulate vein structure and non-glandular spots beneath.

Uva Ursi is approved by Commission E for infections of the urinary tract.

Uva Ursi is used as a diabetes remedy for excessive sugar in the blood. Often used in combination with blueberry a tincture was made: 20 to 40 drops tincture of blueberry leaves, 10 to 20 drops tincture of Bearberry; dose is 10 to 20 drops in water three times daily.

For bed-wetting (not for children under 12), a remedy is made by combining 1 ounce bearberry, 1/2 ounce each of white poplar, sumach berries and Yarrow; simmer in 1 quart of water for 20 minutes.

Uva Ursi is used for postpartum women to return the womb to its natural size, as well as to prevent infection of the womb after childbirth.

Uva Ursi has been used as part of a compound formula for venereal disease.

Folk medicine: In folk medicine, the herb is used for all forms of urogenital and biliary tract disease.

Homeopathic Uses: The herb is used for inflammations of the efferent urinary tract.

Uva Ursi has been taken in tea, capsule and extract form as well as used as a douche. Usually taken as a cold infusion which is warmed up (if desired). One ounce of bearberry has often been combined with 1/2 ounce each of poplar bark and marshmallow root in 1 pint of water, then steeped 20 minutes.

Native Americans added the leaves of Uva Ursi to ‘kinnikinnick’ (a smoking mixture) in their peace pipes; this was smoked during tribal councils; was believed to be calming and mentally clarifying. The word ‘kinnikinnick’ is Algonkian, Cree, or Ojibwa, meaning ‘that which is mixed’. ‘Sagacomin’ is an Algonkian word meaning ‘smoking leaf berry’.

Culinary Uses of Uva Ursi

Unknown; not recommended.

Folklore & Magickal Uses

Uva-ursi is said to increase psychic powers. Native Americans used it in religious ceremonies.


Uva Ursi should not be used by pregnant women.

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