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Bearberry: is a powerful urinary antiseptic, effective against infections of the kidney, bladder and urethra. It kills infective organisms, and also soothes inflammation, and tones and strengthens the tissues in these organs ... 

Common Names: Uva-Ursi, Bearberry, Mountain Cranberry

Botanical Name: Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Family: Heath (Ericacea)

Plant Type: Perennial ground cover

Parts Used: Leaves and berries

The bearberry is a small evergreen shrub found in many parts of continental Europe and in some areas along the northern regions of the continental U.S.

Description: The shrub can be distinguished by the presence of a long and solitary fibrous main root that radiates out several buried and prostrate stems in different directions. Out of these prostrate roots, arise the main aerial branching stems of the plant. These aerial stems can often reach four to six inches when they are fully grown. The bearberry has a slightly reddish or brown color bark on the stem. The small leaves of the bearberry are egg-shaped and flat with the narrow end attached to the stalk, and are rounded at the apex; they reach a length of about half an inch to one inch, and the leaves are also characterized by being slightly rolled down at the edges and by the leathery feel. The white to pinkish flowers, each with five segments and formed like tiny narrow-mouthed urns, mature into small fruits with five seeds.

Cultivation: Bearberry grows as a wild groundcover in dry, sandy, gravely, sunny, poor soils where limestone is predominant. Hardy to zone 2, it can easily be transplanted into your garden, although it is not usually cultivated.

Harvesting: Gather younger leaves around August, ripened berries in fall.

Native American Herb Wisdom

Native Americans used it with tobacco and other herbs in religious ceremonies; used as a smudge (type of incense) or smoked in a sacred pipe, it carried the smoker's prayers to the Great Spirit. When mixed with tobacco, it was referred to as Kinnikinnick, from an Algonquian (probably Delaware) word for "mixture". Native Americans also used Bearberry tea to treat inflammation of the urinary tract, urethritis, kidney stones, and cystitis. The Cheyenne used the tea to treat back sprains. Some Native American tribes powdered the leaves and applied them to sores. Other tribes drank it to treat venereal diseases. The berries were also made into a tea that was used to ward off obesity. Early European settlers in the Americas used the leaves taken internally as an astringent to treat nephritis, kidney stones and other diseases of the urinary system. Source: wiki

Herbal Healing with Bearberry

Medicinal Actions: Antiseptic, astringent, diuretic, tonic

Medicinal Uses: Bearberry is particularly useful for the treatment of chronic diarrhea, dysentery, profuse menstruation, piles, and disorders of the spleen, liver and pancreas. It has an outstanding curative influence for chronic affections of the kidneys (including kidney stones), and mucous discharges from the bladder.  It relieves long standing cases of leukorrhea and chronic urethritis.  It not only kills infective organisms, but also soothes inflammation and tones and strengthens the tissues in these areas. Bearberry is among the herbs used in diabetes for excessive sugar.

The leaves were once boiled with water, allowed to cool, and the decoction applied to the skin to stop the itching and spread of poison oak and poison ivy.


  • Pregnant women, nursing women, and children under the age of twelve should not use Uva Ursi.
  • People with chronic kidney disease, peptic ulcers or duodenal ulcers should avoid this herb.
  • Use of Uva Ursi may aggravate gastro-esophageal reflux disease.
  • Extracts of bearberry species contain quinone in the leaves, which oxidizes to toxic hydroquinone when exposed to stomach acid.
  • Excessive amounts (many times the recommended dosage) should not be taken, as it may be irritating to the stomach mucosa.
  •  As per the German Commission E, use of Uva Ursi should be limited to no more than fourteen days at a time, and your overall use of this herb should be limited to no more than five treatment cycles each year.
  • Use of this herb may turn the urine a greenish color, which is not harmful.

Healing Combinations with Bearberry

Bearberry works well when combined with couch grass (Agropyron), corn silk (Zea), and yarrow (Achillea). Its effects are further supported if the patient also drinks cranberry juice or lemon barley water, which makes the urine more alkaline.

Source: The Herb Handbook by Su Bristow is free to access and use.
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