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Plant Family:

Ericaceae family


Habitat & Cultivation: 

Also known as Bearberry, Arctostaphylos uva-ursi is native to Europe, Asia, and North America. 


According to the Native American Ethnobotany(n.d.) database Arctostaphylos uva-ursi was used over several nations and in a variety of forms. Berries were often used as a source of food that may be eaten fresh or preserved for use over the winter seasons as food or medicine.These berries were also used to create ceremonial rattles and may be worn decoratively as jewelry. The uva-ursi leaves have been known to be combined with tobacco and other medicinal plants to create a religious bundle that was used during ceremony or smoked. It’s antimicrobial properties allowed the plant to be used topically to treat all dermatologic needs and oral infections such as canker sores or sore gums.   It’s analgesic properties potent to treat muscle pain, strains, or persistent pain. It also has antimicrobial properties that was used to treat colds or viral/bacterial infections and even headaches. Other uses include abortifacient, antidiarrheal, gyneocologic aid to prevent SAB, healing in the postpartum, and management of menses. (Native American Ethnobotany, n.d.)


Parts Used/Collection: 



Herbal Actions: 

  • Astringent

  • Antibacterial

  • Anti-inflammatory

  • Diuretic

  • Tonic oxytocic

  • GU sedative

  • Urinary, hemostatic


  • Used as a diuretic in the treatment of cystitis

  • To soothe and tonify the urinary organs by removing excess water from the body - only in acute situations, not long term use!

  • To impart tone and induce normal contraction of bladder and restrain excessive mucous discharges in acute situations.

  • Used frequently with stones or ulcerations in kidneys or bladder, or as part of holistic treatment to chronic kidney problems I discourage long term use, the possible risk of hydroquinones and definitate risk of high tannin content over time can be irritating and harmful within the body.

  • Exerts soothing influence on GU tract overall.

  • Urinary UTI

  • Inflammatory conditions- dermatitis. Topical use does not pose the same risks as internal use

  • GI- diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease As an acute aid

  • Antimicrobial action against Candida, E. coli and Staph aureus



  • Avoid in pregnancy due to oxytocin effect, high tannins, and possible risk of hydroquinones (though this is small).

  • Lactation

  • Renal failure

  • Long term use (>14 days) caution due to tannins and hydroquinones.


Plant Constituents: 


System Affinities:

  • Urinary tract (upper and lower)

  • Digestive tract

  • Respiratory tract

  • Lymphatic system

  • Integumentary system



  • Cold, dry, bitter, pungent. Sharp, Clear, Mobile, PK- V+



Avoid in pregnancy due to oxytocic effect; Long term use caution due to tannin. Yes, and by preparing as a cold infusion, this further decreases the risks associated with the tannins.

Safety Class - 1A, no known contraindications; no studies on the safety of uva ursi in pregnancy or lactation - safety has not been conclusively established (AHPA, 2013).



Cold infusion is recommended to avoid extracting the high tannin content in this plant. The tannins can cause major irritation and malabsorption in the GI system. If we use cold water we can extract the arbutin and other water soluble constituents without the tannins. 

Personal Experience:



  • AHPA. (2013). Botanical safety handbook (2nd ed.). CRC Press, FL.

  • Frawley, D., & Lad, V. (2001). The yoga of herbs. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus Press

  • Hoffman, D. (2003). Medical Herbalism. Healing Arts Press: Vermont.

  • Mills, S., & Bone, K. (2005). The essential guide to herbal safety. Elsevier Health Sciences.

  • Romm, A. (2010). Botanical medicine for women's health (p.18-19). St. Louis, Mo: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.




Uva Ursi (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)

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