Uva ursi, the common name of the fruit-bearing plant Arctostaphylos uva ursi, has been used in traditional medicine for nearly 2000 years. In modern naturopathy, holistic practitioners utilize the uva ursi hrb as a treatment for urinary tract infections and cystitis, or inflammation of the bladder.
Uva ursi is also known as bear berry (or bearberry, as a single word) because bears enjoy the taste of the fruit. The Latin name, uva ursi, literally translates to “bear’s fruit.” Several trade names also exist.
Uva ursi is a trailing, vine-like evergreen shrub endemic to cold forests in North America, Europe, Siberia, the Himalayas and the Iberian Peninsula. Its short, creeping branches trail along bare ground, rocky terrain and the walls of cliffs and canyons. It has pink and white bell-shaped flowers and bright-red berries that grow in clusters.
The use of uva ursi herb has been dated to at least the second century C.E. Several Native American groups used uva ursi as a remedy for urinary tract infections. Prior to the advent of sulfur-based drugs and modern antibiotics, uva ursi herb was used to tract bladder infections and irritation of the urethra.
How it Works
Uva ursi herb contains several chemicals that combat urinary tract infections. The chemicals hydroquinone and arbutin possess powerful antibacterial properties. Additionally, its naturally-occurring tannins help to shrink and tighten mucus membranes, thereby reducing inflammation and fighting infection.
Although generally effective, uva ursi can also be somewhat toxic. Hydroquinone, one of its active constituents, can cause serious liver damage. In general, conventional treatments are considered to be safer for the treatment of urinary tract infections.
Read more about uva ursi from the University of Maryland Medical Center.