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Uva ursi (bearberry)
What is uva ursi? What is it used
Uva ursi is a small shrub that grows in colder northern climates.
The shrub contains small, thumb-shaped green leaves and red
flowers. The shrub also contains red berries which bears are
reportedly quite find of (hence the nickname of "bearberry").
The leaves and berries are used medicinally.
The active ingredient in uva ursi is called arbutin, which
has been shown to kill bacteria in the urine. It also works
in conjunction with a substance called hydroquinone in the
intestines to aid in the transport of water to the kidneys.
Although no human studies have been published on the subject,
uva ursi is believed to help treat urinary tract infections.
How much uva ursi should I take?
The German Commission E monograph suggests three grams of
uva ursi taken in 150 millileters of water as an infusion
three to four times daily. For alcohol-based tinctures, five
millileters TID can be taken. For herbal extracts or capsules
(containing 20% arbutin), 250-500mg TID can also be taken.
However, use of uva ursi should be limited to no more than
14 days consecutively.
What forms of uva ursi are available?
Uva ursi is available in several forms, including powders,
tinctures, extracts, capsules and tablets.
What can happen if I take too much
uva ursi? Are there any interactions I should be aware of?
What precautions should I take?
Some patients may become nauseous after taking uva ursi.
Prolonged use (more than two to three weeks) is not recommended,
as it may cause intestinal disorders. In addition, people
should not take acidic liquids such as cranberry juice or
prune juice, or more than 500mg of vitamin C, while using
uva ursi. It should not be used by pregnant or lactating women,
and it should be used in children only with the guidance of
a healthcare professional.
Other Resources :
More You Know About Nutrition
- Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et
al (eds). The Complete Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic
Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, MA: Integrative Medicine
- Communications, 1998, 2245.
- Hincha DK, Oliver AE, Crowe JH. Lipid composition
determines the effects of arbutin on the stability of membranes.
Biophys J Oct 1999;77(4):2024-34.
- Jahodar L, Jilek P, Pakova M, Dvorakova
V. Antimicrobial effect of arbutin and an extract of the
leaves of arctostaphylos uva-ursi in vitro. Ceskoslov
- Kamei H, Koide T, Kojima T, Hashimoto Y,
Hasegawa M. Inhibition of cell growth in culture by quinones.
Cancer Biother Radiopharm Jun 1998;13(3):185-8.
- Matsuda H, Nakamura S, Tanaka T, Kubo M.
Pharmacological studies on leaf of arctostaphylos uva-ursi
(L) spreng v. Effect of water extract from arctostaphylos
uva-ursi (l) spreng (bearberry leaf) on the antiallergic
and antiinflammatory activities of dexamethasone ointment.
J Pharm Soc Japan 1992;112:6737.