Why do bears snack on Uva Ursi and how can it benefit you

Uva Ursi is a flower and berry-producing shrub whose leaves are known for their medicinal properties. In Native American cultures, Uva Ursi has many healing uses. It's been a remedy for everything from urinary tract infections to bladder infections since the 2nd Century. Yet, many people don't know about Uva Ursi's benefits, how to use it, or the correct Uva Ursi dosage.

Today, we wanted to provide some information about this herb, how to use it safely, and where you can find it. Keep reading to learn about Uva Ursi and how you can integrate it into your health and wellness routine.

What is Uva Ursi?

Uva Ursi is a trailing evergreen shrub with pink and white flowers, short red or brown branches, and beautiful, bright red berries. You can find Uva Ursi throughout the Alpine forests of North America, Siberia, Europe, the Himalayas, and the Iberian Peninsula. Unlike many plants, Uva Ursi thrives in harsh environments, like the walls of canyons. This herb grows slowly but is tough, hearty, and has many uses for medicine and healing.

Close up picture of red Uva Ursi berry with green leaves in the background

What is another name for Uva Ursi?

Uva Ursi is also called Bearberry because it's said that bears enjoy snacking on the berries it produces. Uva Ursi translates to "bear grapes" in Latin. You might also hear Uva Ursi referred to as Rockberries, Sandberries, Kinnikinnicks, Arctostaphylos Adentrictricha, and Arctostaphylos Coactylis.

colorful herbs on a table with herbs burning and smoking in metal jar

What is the Herb Uva Ursi Used for?

Uva Ursi leaves have many benefits. However, its flowers and berries aren't typically used in herbal medicine. If you're considering trying Uva Ursi, keep reading to learn about some of its benefits, side effects, and uses.

Effects and Uses

  • Before antibiotics and sulfa drugs, Uva Ursi was primarily used to fight urinary tract infections, bladder infections, and kidney infections. This herb contains glycosides, which your body transforms into hydroquinone, a compound with antibacterial properties. That means Uva Ursi may help to reduce bacteria in the urine.
  • A 2017 study published in Trials found that combining Uva Ursi with dandelion root could stop recurring UTIs. However, that study had few participants, so more research is needed about this remedy.
  • Current research suggests that Uva Ursi is most effective when someone's urine is alkaline because acid impairs its antibacterial properties. Uva Ursi should be used immediately after you begin experiencing symptoms of a urinary problem.
  • Uva Ursi also contains tannins or chemical compounds that might reduce inflammation by drying out your tissues. This may help prevent other health problems so you can continue feeling your best.

 Benefits of Uva Ursi for the Skin

  • There are also many Uva Ursi benefits for skin, including removing dark spots, acne, and signs of aging. You can also use it as sunscreen or to cure melasma--or the appearance of dark patches on the skin common among pregnant women. Finally, Uva Ursi may help treat ochronosis, a skin condition causing blue-black patches on your body.
prairie flowers in the foreground with water and clouds in the background during dusk

Healing Herbs Uva Ursi

Uva Ursi is a healing herb with several medicinal properties. However, it's important to take precautions and Uva Ursi to make the most of its health benefits.

How to Take Uva Ursi

Uva Ursi is available over the counter as crushed leaves, powders, capsules, and tinctures. A standard dose for the dry herb is 2-4 grams per day with a total of 400-800 milligrams of arbutin. You can also make it a tea by soaking three grams of dried leaves in five ounces of water for twelve hours.

Is it Safe to Take Uva Ursi Daily?

Ask your doctor before taking Uva Ursi because it can interact with other medications, supplements, or herbs you're taking. In general, it's not recommended to take Uva Ursi more than five times a year. You should always take it under a healthcare provider's supervision.

Hydroquinone, one of the chemicals found in Uva Ursi, could damage your liver. Due to its potential for toxicity, it's essential to take the correct Uva Ursi dosage. Don't take more than a series of five doses in one year. Never use more than the recommended dose. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have Crohn's disease, digestive problems, ulcers, kidney or liver disease, you should not take Uva Ursi.

What are Uva Ursi's side effects?

Some reported side effects of Uva Ursi include insomnia, irritability, nausea, and vomiting. However, side effects are generally mild.

large powerful buffalo in full view with open prairie in the background

Uva Ursi in Native Cultures

Uva Ursi has many uses in native cultures, including treating a range of urinary diseases. Early Native Americans also smoked Uva Ursi in its dried form--both on its own and mixed with other herbs such as dried dogwood bark or tobacco. Kinnikinnick, one of the common names for Uva Ursi, translates to "smoking mixture." The Blackfeet nation also ate the berries and fruits, while other traditions used the plant to create dyes.

Uva Ursi and Hemp Cigarettes

Adding Uva Ursi to hemp cigarettes is a great way to honor and celebrate Native traditions. At Soje, our "Floral Blend" cigarettes combine Uva Ursi, red willow, mint, dogwood, Echinacea, and Lobelia Inflata, which can help you overcome nicotine cravings while allowing you to feel relaxed and restored. Find out more about how we use Uva Ursi in our smoking products here!