Plant Profile: Uva Ursi

Uva Ursi (A.K.A Bearberry)
(Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)


Family: ERICACEAE

Energetics: Cooling. Drying

Taste: Pungent

Tissue States: Laxity. Depression. 

Parts Used: Leaves

Systems Affected: Urinary System. 

Key Components: Glycosides (Arbutin, Methylarbutin (turn into antiseptics in presence of water - M. Wood,  Ericolin). Tannins (Debate between JJ Pursell 6% and Matthew Wood 15-20%). Flavonoids. Resin. Volatile oils. Triterpenoids. Allantonin. Ursolic acid, Malic acid, Gallic acid. Trace minerals: Iron, calcium, chromium, selenium magnesium.

Preparations & Dosage: Infusion. Tincture. 

Actions:
Foundational: Astringent. Demulcent.
Primary: Diuretic.
Secondary: Antiseptic. Tonic.

Uses: 
  • Sooth, tone & strengthen urinary system membranes. 
  • Gravel, calculus or ulcerations in kidneys & bladder.
  • Infections ex. Pyelitis or Cyctitis.
  • Chronic kidney problems.
  • Bed-wetting.
  • Incontinence (tones bladder sphincter).
  • Prostate constriction.
  • Douche for vaginal ulceration or infection. 
  • Helps to regulate contractions as well as helping labor to progress.
  • Arbutin, a Glycoside, goes through the body unchanged until it enters the kidneys. There it has an antiseptic and diuretic action on the kidneys which cleanses the mucous membranes of the bladder. 
  • Tannins help balance the pH of the urine, lowing the acidity. 
  • Can help postpartum to increase tone to tissues and prevent infection. 
Combines With: 

For urinary infections: Couch Grass and Yarrow. OR 1 oz Uva ursi with 1/4 oz marshmallow & ginger root. Steep in 1 pint boiling water until room temp. Drink 3 cups/day.

Identifying: Low evergreen shrub. 

Growing: Prefers well drained, sandy, acidic soil and full sun. Can be found in zones 2-6. 

Collecting: 

Contraindications: Should not be used for longer than 7-10 days at a time. Large doses can be toxic and cause liver problems in young children. Not recommended for children. Not recommended in pregnancy. Can turn urine green (not dangerous). 


Sources:
The Complete Herbs Sourcebook: David Hoffman. Pg 216
The Herbal Apothecary: JJ. Pursell. Pg 60-61
The Way of Herbs: Michael Tierra. Pg 201
The Earthwise Herbal: Volume 2: Matthew Wood. Pg 74-76

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