Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Uva ursi is known by many names: Bearberry, sandberry, kinnikinnick, mealberry, hog cranberry, mountain box, beargrape, redberry, rockberry, Ptarmigan berry and creashak. It is a valuable herb for the urinary system and is included in the Australian, Belgian, British, Czechoslovakian, German, Hungarian, Japanese, Polish, Portugese, Russian, and Swiss Herbal Pharmacopoeias. It is reported to be a diuretic, urinary antiseptic and astringent. It contains the glycoside arbutin, which undergoes hydrolysis in the urinary tract to yield hydroquinones which provide an antiseptic and disinfectant action on the urinary system. It also contains quercetin, a flavonoid which has diuretic properties. The urine must be alkaline for the herb to be effective. When administered orally to mice, there were no lethal effects from this herb, but it may cause nervous system depression and nausea if taken in excessive quantities.

Uva Ursi is a powerful astringent. It has sufficient tannin that it has been used for tanning leather in Sweden and Russia. This astringent action helps eliminate mucus from the urinary tract and may act to strengthen and tone-up the bladder.

Many people have found uva ursi very effective for urinary and bladder infections when taken in tea form. Dosage is 2-3 capsules steeped in a cup of boiling water. Use one or two cupfuls per day between meals.

Uva ursi is also valuable as an astringent to arrest mucus discharge and bleeding, either internally or externally.



1. Brailovskaya, V.A. 1972. Photometric Determination of Arbutin in the Leaves of Uva Ursi. Farmatsiya 21:31-34. (CA 77:85195)

2. British Herbal Medicine Association. 1983. British Herbal Pharmacopoeia. British Herbal Medicine Association. Lane House, Cowling, Mr. Keighley, West Yorks.

3. Denford, K.E. 1973. Flavonoids of Arctostaphylos uva ursi Ericaceae). Experientia 29:939. Geiger, H., U. Schuecker, H. Waldrum, G. Vander Veide, T.J. Mabry. 1975 Quercetine-38-d-(6-D- galloylgalactoside), a Constituent of Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Ericaleae), Z. Naturforsch., C:Biosci 30:296. (CA 83:4956).

5. Kawai, T., T. Terai. 1974. Study of Triterpenoids of Ericaceae by Thin-Layer Chromatography. Osaka Kogyo Daigaku Kiyo 19:1-5. (CA 88:34499).

6. Leifertova, I. 1973. Evaluation of Phenolic Substances in Arctostaphylos uva-ursi. I. Contents of Arbutin and water soluble phenolic substances in the leaves of cultivated plants. Cesk. Farm. 22(10):450-453. (CA 80:143050).

7. Moretti, V. 1977. Bearberry. Botanical Study of Qualitative and Quantitative Research on the Active Principles. Boll. Soc. Ital. Farm. Osp. 23(3)207-224. (CA 88:60l05).

8. Waehner, C., J. Schoenert, H. Friedrich. 1974. Tannins of Leaves of the Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi). Pharmazie 29(9):616-17. (CA 82:82958y).

9. Wagner, H., S. Bladt and E.M. Zgainski. 1984. Plant Drug Analysis A Thin Layer Chromatography Atlasï. Springer Verlag. Berlin, Heidelberg, New York and Tokyo.

10. Zaits, K.A. 1975. Liquid Concentrate of Arctostaphylos uva ursi. Farmatsiya 24(1):40-42. (CA 83:32945).