Other Names - Bearberry, Kinick Kinick, Mealberry, Radiant Manzanita, Sandberry, Whortleberry, Bear's Grape, Mountain Cranberry
Origin - Northern United States and Europe
Part of the plant used - Leaves and berries.
Description - Prostrate evergreen ground cover to 10' wide. Uva ursi is a small perennial evergreen shrub native throughout US, northern California to Alaska along the west coast. White to pink flowers tinged with red blossom from June to September followed by small edible red berries. Leaves used as tobacco substitute, stems used to make pipes, berry edible. Uva ursi leaf is widely used as a diuretic, astringent, and antiseptic. Folk medicine around the world has recommended uva ursi for nephritis, kidney stones and chronic cystitis. The herb has also been used as a general tonic for weakened kidneys, liver or pancreas.
Pharmacology - Uva ursi contains a high concentration of arbutin, an antiseptic phenolis glycosides have diuretic and urinary antiseptic action. They relieve pain from bladder stones, cystitis, nephritis and kidney stones. Arbutin is converted in the body to hydroquinones and glucose which has antiseptic and disinfecting properties if the urine is alkaline. The hydroquinone will turn the urine green. Uva ursi also contains allantion which is known for its soothing and tissue-repairing properties. Uva Ursi is also extremely high in tannin, which can lead to stomach distress if taken in large quantities. The tannin content of Uva Ursi tea can be easily minimized by soaking the leaves in cold water rather than by brewing in hot water, which would release more of the tannin.
Medicinal Uses - Urinary tract infection. Barberry leaves are used to treat bladder and kidney infections. The plant is believed to have urinary antiseptic properties. It helps to reduce accumulations of uric acid and to relive the pain of bladder stones and gravel. It is used to alleviate chronic cystitis. The tea or tincture is used for bronchitis, nephritis, and kidney stones.
Toxicity, Cautions & Contraindications - Nontoxic beyond the following cautions: Uva ursi requires an alkaline pH to work. It is contraindicated as a urinary disinfectant under conditions of acid urine. Urine can be made alkaline by ingesting a heaping teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda. Contraindicated as a diuretic or flushing agent in acute cystitis. Can induce gastric irritation if overused due to the tannin concentration.Uva Ursi should not be used by children or pregnant women, and should never be used for prolonged periods of time or in high doses unless under the supervision of health care professional.
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