Uva ursi is a Latin name which means “bear’s grape.” Its botanical name is Arctostaphylos and it is in the Ericaceae family. Native Americans used Uva ursi to ease the discomfort of occasional urinary complaints. Today, it is widely used by traditional healers for strengthening and toning the urinary tract.
Uva ursi grows as a vine or mat, usually in open areas and down mountain slopes or dry canyon sides. It has small, leathery, spoon-shaped leaves attached to reddish stems. The flowers usually appear in the spring, starting out as small pinkish urns and later producing red berries sporadically spaced along the length of the stems.
Uva ursi has been used against urinary tract discomforts since the 17th century, and – despite the discovery of antibiotics – is still in use today. It contains a substance called arbutin with antibacterial properties.*
Originally native to Spain, this herb spread throughout Europe, Asia, and North America. It is often called bearberry.
Uva ursi works best when one’s urine is alkaline. To assure alkalinity, stick to a diet rich in fruits, vegetables (especially tomatoes), and fruit juices. Taking small doses of sodium bicarbonate will also help assure alkaline urine. The antibacterial effect of each dose of Uva ursi reaches its peak 3 to 4 hours after administration.*