Uva ursi has been used by the Native Americans since the second century as a remedy for urinary tract infections. It contains hydroquinone, a chemical that has antibacterial properties. It also contains tannins, which have astringent properties that aid in the reduction of inflammation and toning of the bladder. It is also effective against bacteria found in the intestines that cause kidney and bladder infections, including e. coli. It increases the volume of urine, which helps to flush out microbes and toxins.
Common Name of the Herb: Uva Ursi
Latin Name: Arctostaphylos uva ursi
Parts Used: Only the leaves
Actions: Urinary antiseptic, diuretic, antibacterial, and astringent
Preparation and Use: To make uva ursi tea, soak three grams of dried leaves in five ounces of water for at least twelve hours. Or make as a standard tea with 1 tsp. dried herb and boiling water. Strain and drink it hot or cold three to four times a day. Powdered Uva ursi also comes in capsule form. A tincture may be made and mixed with tinctures of other kidney-bladder herbs such as parsley, horsetail, corn silk, nettle, couch grass, juniper berries, burdock and others.
Cautions and Limitations of Use:
· When taking uva ursi, avoid eating acidic foods, such as pineapple, citrus, lemon and tomato. Uva ursi requires alkaline urine to be effective as an antibiotic. Another way of making your urine alkaline is to take some baking soda.
· Pregnant woman should not take uva ursi, because it is an oxytocic that can stimulate contractions of the muscles of the uterus. It is also a diuretic that encourages water loss.
· Because of its hydroquinone content, uva ursi should only be taken for short periods with a recommended maximum of five days to a week. Hydroquinone is toxic to the liver.
· Its tannin content can cause intestinal irritation and acute nausea.
– Use of herbal supplements may be unsafe for chronic kidney disease patients, since the body is not able to clear waste products like a healthy person.
· Caution for all herbs and foods: Stop using if you experience symptoms of allergy. Seek emergency medical attention if you experience symptoms of a serious allergic reaction including difficulty breathing; closing of your throat; swelling of your lips, tongue, or face; or hives. People who are allergic to other foods in the ericaceae family may be allergic to uva ursi. Consult your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking prescription medications, regarding possible interactions.
· If in doubt about the safety of any herb, consult a doctor with special knowledge and experience with herbs.
· Constituents: Arbutin, hydroquinone, hyperoside, monotropein, triterpenes and tannins
· Growing the Herb: Uva ursi grows best in dry, sandy, or gravely soils, since it requires the soil to be well-drained. It can grow even in poor soil, but flourishes in soil rich in humus. The more acidic the soil, the faster the plant grows. It can grow in full shade, semi-shade, or no shade at all. If growing it in the garden, moisten the soil daily.
· How to Gather: Gather only the leaves for medicinal purposes
· Other English Common Names: upland cranberry, bearberry, red bearberry, kinnikinnink, sagackhomi, bear’s grape, arberry, hogberry, rockberry, sandberry, and mountain box
· Where it Grows: It can be found in alpine forests around the world, including Europe, North America, Siberia, Iberian Peninsula, and the Himalayas.
. How to Identify: Uva ursi is an evergreen bush 4 to 6 inches in height and creeping. It has red-brown branching stems. The leaves are dark green, leathery and egg-shaped. The pink or white bell-shaped flowers bloom in summer. The red pink or gray-brown fruit is very tiny, only a sixth of an inch, with one seed each.