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Uva Ursi, or Bearberry – (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)

Uva Ursi herb

Also known as bearberry or kinnikinnick, uva ursi has been used medicinally for a long time. Kinnikinnick is a term that some Native Americans used for "smoking mixture" and this herb was added to tobacco and other herbs for precisely that use by some Native American tribes. In Latin, "uva" means grape and "ursi" means bear. The herb is an evergreen shrub with a trailing habit that grows in many alpine regions around the world, including North America, Europe, Siberia and the Himalayas. Bell-shaped flowers of pink or white appear in the spring. Bears often eat the red or pink berries that appear later in the year. The berries are edible, but sour.

Key Medicinal Uses

Internally – Uva ursi has long been used to remedy urinary tract infections like cystitis and kidney stones. This herb is antimicrobial, astringent and has disinfecting qualities. It soothes irritation, reduces inflammation and fights infection.

Externally – Not used externally

Other Uses – Sometimes used in smoking mixes.

Parts Used

Leaves – The leaves are used medicinally.


Uva ursi may stimulate the uterus, so avoid this herb during pregnancy. Don't take for long periods of time as the tannin content of the herb may cause stomach irritation. This herb may be too harsh for children to tolerate. If you suffer from kidney disease, only use under the care of a skilled practitioner. Taking more than 1.5 ounces of herb has caused poisoning in people who are sensitive to this herb, however, bear in mind that 1.5 ounces is a lot to take of any herb.

It should not be taken by people with high blood pressure or gastrointestinal ulcers. Side effects may include irritability, nausea, vomiting, insomnia and an increase in the heart rate. A side effect that is not harmful is the green appearance of the urine when taking this herb. This herb may interact with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Preparation and Dosage

Gather the leaves of uva ursi in the spring and early summer. This herb is usually available dried or tinctured.

If you take capsules, 1.5 to 2.5 grams taken 3 or 4 times per day is a standard dosage. For herbal tea, add 1 heaping teaspoon of dried herb to 1 cup of boiling water. Let it steep for 15 minutes. Strain, and drink up to 4 times per day.

For a dry extract, 100 to 21 mg of hydroquinone derivatives can be taken from 1 to 4 times per day. With a liquid extract, take 30 to 75 drops 3 or 4 times a day. With a tincture, 60 to 90 drops taken 3 to 4 times per day is usually adequate.

Uva Ursi Herbal Remedies Top