Herbal Supplements
Uva Ursi and Urinary Tract Infections
Biological Description
Uva ursi (kinnikinnick, pinemat manzanita) is the plant related to the Arctostaphylos species and is also widely known as bearberry. Its name is translated from Greek as “bear’s bunch of berries” and is given to the berry due to the fact that bears greatly favor this sour pink-red fruit. Uva ursi is an evergreen perennial shrub with short red-brown branches that grows as mat or vine on open areas and down slopes. Small, thick, spoon-shaped leaves are attached to the stem alternately and are the part of the plant for which it is generally favored in medicinal use. Bell-shaped white or pink flowers appear in spring and later in summer they produce red berries located along the stem. Medicinal use of uva ursi is traced back into the second century, when Native Americans used it as a remedy to fight urinary tract infections.
Bearberry grows best in a deep moist well-drained light loam in sun or semi-shade. Typical habitat of the plant is open hillsides in the mountains, alpine forests and dry sides of canyons. Uva ursi is quite adaptable to the wide range of conditions and will grow in any acidic soil and sunny location.
Parts Used
Only the leaves of the plant are used for various medicinal products and preparations.
Uva ursi is usually found in form of crushed leaves, or is powdered for various preparations.
The principal active compound of the herb is the hydroquinone glycoside arbutin, chemical that acts as an anti-bacterial agent and is responsible for uva ursi's beneficial effects on urinary tract infections. It is absorbed in the stomach and passes out of the body during urination, acting on the mucus membranes of the urinary tract soothing irritation, reducing inflammation and fighting the infection. Astringent properties of the leaves have also been used for diarrhea, dysentery, bladder infections and other afflictions of the urinary tract. Uva ursi is rich in other potential chemicals, such as flavonoids, ursolic acid, tannic acid, gallic acid, some essential oil and resin. They produce antibacterial, disinfectant, diuretic, lithontripic, sedative, tonic, and urinary antiseptic actions.
Health Benefits
The major benefit of uva ursi is its use for the urinary tract infections treatment, bladder inflammation (cystitis) and kidney stones. Chronic irritation, pain, mucous production and weakness of the urinary tract are successfully handled with various herbal preparations of the plant. Bearberry is also used for other conditions, not related to urinary tract. It is known to strengthen heart muscle, return the womb to its normal size after the childbirth, remove excessive sugar from the blood (in patients with diabetes), handle liver problems, fluid retention, lung congestion, arthritis, lower back pain, excessive menstruation, vaginal discharge and vaginal diseases. Uva ursi may be toxic if taken in high dosages, so carefully study the allowed amount before using it.
2013-03-05 12:21:42
All tihngs considered, this is a first class post
2009-02-09 15:15:23
i've read that the berry of the plant can be eaten or cooked with aswell. or even to make a cider out of them. here it only states that the leaves are used.
2007-08-20 08:43:53
very helpful, thanks!
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