Uva ursina plant for Herbal Naturopathy: properties, benefits, uses, side effects

Uva ursina ( Arctostaphylos uva-ursi ) is a plant of the Ericaceae family. Known for its anti- inflammatory and antiseptic properties, it is useful for urinary tract disorders. Let’s find out better.

Properties of bearberry

Bearberry leaves are used in phytotherapy against numerous bacterial strains commonly responsible for urogenital tract infections, because it acts both on inflammation and on infection. In fact, the plant is able to determine an antimicrobial, anti- inflammatory and calming action on the continuous urge to urinate. 

Among the various active ingredients that make up its phytocomplex, arbutin is a glycoside with an isoquinoline structure, capable of breaking down in contact with the urine into glucose and hydroquinone. This latter process is favored by the alkalinity of the urine, therefore in the case of those bacteria that make the environment basic such as Proteus vulgari s or Klebsiella pneumoniae , the use of bearberry is more than ever appropriate; while in the case of acidic urine it is good to artificially alkalize  with sodium bicarbonate. 

Hydroquinone, together with phenolic heterosides ((6-10%,) present in the phytocomplex, performs an antibacterial action, especially against staphylococci and  Escherichia coli, responsible for most urinary infections. 

Gallic tannins (15-20%) protect the mucous membranes of the urogenital tract, hindering the adherence of microbes to the epithelium; they have astringent properties as they counteract the excessive production of mucus, produced by inflamed tissues . This activity, in particular, is useful in case of diarrhea which is often associated with cystitis. 

Finally, the triterpenes (ursolic acid) and flavonoids (hyperin, isoquercitin) work in synergy with arbutin, exerting a diuretic and anti- inflammatory action, very useful in infections, characterized by strong burning, which require a mechanical rinse of the urinary ducts.

Uva ursina can be effectively prescribed in case of acute cystitis, chronic cystitis, urethritiscolobacillosis. An interesting indication of use, in the geriatric field, is prostatic hypertrophy with an inflammatory and infectious component and catheter-related cystitis

How to use


The most commonly recommended preparations are the infusion, the decoction or the cold macerate. The intake of liquids and the resulting diuretic activity carry out a washing action on the urinary tract, enhancing the antimicrobial activity of arbutin. 

INFUSION:  1 tablespoon bearberry leaves, 1 cup of water 

Pour the bearberry into the boiling water and turn off the heat. Cover and leave to infuse for 10 min. Filter the infusion and drink 4 cups a day between meals.

Bearberry mother tincture : 80 drops in 1 and 1/2 liter of mineral water, to be drunk throughout the day, between meals.

Contraindications of bearberry

The use of bearberry is not recommended in case of pregnancy, lactation and renal insufficiency. Furthermore, prolonged use is not recommended as it can lead to irritation of the gastric mucosa, nausea and vomiting.

Description of the plant

Small shrub about 30 cm high with creeping branches. The leaves are obovate, leathery, evergreen, dark green in color, changing every three years.

The flowers are pink, pendulous, are collected in small terminal clusters and carry small bratae at the base of the pedicel. The fruits are small red berries (drupes) with a not very pleasant taste, containing an inedible acidic and floury pulp. 

The habitat of the bearberry

The bearberry is widespread in northern Europe, Asia and North America; it also grows well in northern, on stony soils and open wooded areas, mainly in the Alps and the Apennines. 


Unknown to the Greeks and Latins, it seems to have been imported from Asia and then discovered by the French botanist Michel Adanson in 1763 who classified it with the term Arctostaphilos (from the Greek act√≤s meaning ” bear ” and staphilos ” grape “) due to popular belief that the bears loved it.

The first scientific studies on the properties of the plant began in Padua in 1764 with the pharmacologist Girardi, who demonstrated the solvent action on kidney stones.

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