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Herb Spotlight - Uva Ursi

Uva Ursi (Arctostaphylos uva ursi)

Family: Ericaceae

Part Used: Leaf

Flavor/Aroma: Bitter

Energetics: Cooling; Drying


Herbal Actions: 

Urinary Tonic5,1, Antispasmodic, Stimulent, Renoprotective, Anti Inflammatory, Astringent5, Antiseptic4

Overview:

Uva Ursi, or Bearberry, has been incorporated into the reproductive wellness routine Native American and Canadian tribes, it was mentioned in traditional chinese medicine regimes as a go-to kidney tonic, and was also implemented by European medicalists for varying uterine disorders. Uva Ursi, although may look unassuming in the wild, packs a tonifying punch strong enough to aid in the worst urinary infections and more.

Botany:

Uva Ursi is a woody perennial shrub that grows best in rockier soil types with plenty of drainage. Its leaves are small and ovate, shiny, and leather like in texture. The flowers are delicate and reddish in color, and they will mature into fruit in the fall and winter as a ruby, succulent berry.2

Cultivation and Harvesting:

Uva Ursi is an evergreen native to parts of Europe, parts of Asia, and North America. It has been reported growing as far north as the Arctic circle and as far south as New Jersey. Uva Ursi has been incorporated into the pharmacopoeias of Austria, Germany, Russia, Japan, and many more areas of the world.5 The leaves are best harvested with care during the fall months when the arbutin, a potent medicinal compound, is the highest.

Southern Oregon Cultivation:

Uva Ursi can be identified easily throughout the wild landscapes of Southern Oregon, favoring higher altitudes and mountainous trails. It can be spotted growing amongst the densely forested hills, along the rocky coast, and especially on trails that gain in elevation. Always use your discretion when harvesting, keeping foragers and pollinators in mind as you collect and share, and trying your best not to collect the stems so the plant can continue to grow.

History and Folklore:

American Native Uses:Uva Ursi leaves were commonly brewed into a tea and used to support urinary tract infections, cystitis, menopausal symptoms, and uterine dropsy. It was also dried and smoked, along with tobacco, for ritual purposes. The Cherokee and Cheyenne used Uva Ursi as a bladder and kidney tonic.1




Traditional Chinese Medicine Uses: Uva Ursi is indicated to support urinary incontinence, irritations, kidney stones and associated infections, and to tonify uterine tissue. It was used to increase the downward flow of the bladder desired for optimal urinary health.1  

Modern Applications:

Uva Ursi is indicated to support atony and irritation of the uterine tissues, to support the renal tract, soothe inflamed mucosal tissues in the reproductive organs, and remedy excessive or blood discharges.3 The diuretic effect of Uva Ursi is due to the high levels of gallic acid, which metabolizes as ursin., also it is a very tannic botanical. Research support the use of Uva Ursi to promote the elimination of water, support catarrh of the kidneys and bladder, and to treat lower urinary infections. It is also indicated to support diarrhea, dysentery, h. pylori infections, and to tone the uterus postpartum.4,5

Uses and Preparations:

 

Dried Herb Tea Preparation: 

1 Tablespoon decocted in one cup of water for about 15 minutes.

Using a reusable tea bag or tea ball, immerse the loose dried herbs into boiling water and allow to steep for 5-10 minutes, preferably covered, in order to release the maximum amount of herbal goodness. Some herbal tea can carry a strong flavor. We recommend organic honey as a sweetener which preserves the beneficial herbal compounds. 

Tincture: 

2-6 mL up to 5 times daily.

Some herbal tinctures can have a strong flavor on their own. Adding your tincture to a glass of 6-8oz of water is one easy way to help, should you wish to dilute the flavor.  

Note:

It is important to remember that some bodies may react differently than others when using herbal products. Our recommended usage amounts are designed to be an average dosage only. If you have specific concerns about the dosage amount or interaction with other medication, please consult with your doctor or health care practitioner prior to using our products.  

Recommended Usage:

It is important to remember that some bodies may react differently than others when using herbal products. Our recommended usage amounts are designed to be an average dosage only. If you have specific concerns about the usage amount or interaction with other medication, please consult with your doctor or health care practitioner prior to using our products.

Precautions:

We recommend consulting with your practitioner if you are pregnant, or plan to become pregnant, or if you are using any other medications.

References:

  1. Uva Ursi. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.rjwhelan.co.nz/herbs A-Z/uva-ursi.html 
  2. Uva Ursi (U. S. P.)-Uva Ursi. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.henriettes-herb.com/eclectic/kings/arctostaphylos.html 
  3. Trill, J., Simpson, C., Webley, F., Radford, M., Stanton, L., Maishman, T., … Moore, M. (2017, September 8). Uva-ursi extract and ibuprofen as alternative treatments of adult female urinary tract infection (ATAFUTI): study protocol for a randomised controlled trial. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5591533/ 
  4. Bearberry. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.herbrally.com/monographs/bearberry
  5. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://cms.herbalgram.org/expandedE/UvaUrsileaf.html?ts=1573854610&signature=62833e26ad5e854f1359786d5b4957fd 

    For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.