Bearberry (Uva-ursi) (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)
Parts commonly used: Leaf harvested in fall or summer.
Properties/energetics: Diuretic, astringent, urinary antiseptic, demulcent, soothing tonic/Cold; bitter, astringent.
Systems predominantly affected: Genitourinary.
Uses: Bearberry (also known as Uva-Ursi, Kinnikinnick, and Indian Tobacco) will influence all mucous membranes, showing a specific affinity with the genitourinary system, giving an antiseptic, astringent, and demulcent effect. It is extremely effective for treating chronic inflammation of the bladder and kidneys. It will soothe, tone, and disinfect this system, and its tissue-strengthening astringency can be helpful in treating prostate weakness and some forms of bed-wetting. Bearberry is used for treating catarrh of the bladder, leucorrhea, and lingering gonorrhea and its associated symptoms. It will gradually diminish the discharge while it works to tone the tissue. The leaves of this herb relieve aching back caused by kidney trouble. Bearberry contains 7 to 9 percent arbutin in the leaves, which is largely responsible for its antimicrobial action in the urinary tract. Besides being antiseptic in the urinary tract, Bearberry is diuretic and astringent, removing excess water and strengthening the bladder wall.
Combinations: Combines well with Marshmallow root, Yarrow, Couch Grass, Buchu, and Corn Silk to treat cystitis or pyelitis (infection and inflammation of the renal pelvis of the kidney in males, often due to stagnant urine blocked by an enlarged prostate or kidney stones). Bearberry has a specific use for treating conditions associated with small stones (gravel) or a calculus in the kidney or bladder. Combines well with Horsetail, Agrimony, and Corn Silk to treat some forms of incontinence such as bed-wetting.
Affects on specific body types: As a tonic, Bearberry is a good general diuretic for Monarch-type kidney and bladder problems, especially for water retention and chronic or recurring infections when, according to the early-twentieth-century herbalist Harvey Wickes Felter, “the tissues are relaxed and toneless, with dragging and weighty feeling. There is always a feeble circulation and lack of innervation when Uva-Ursi is indicated.” Good for all types for treating acute urinary-tract infection. Use with a demulcent such as Marshmallow root and/or Corn Silk to allay any irritation to gastrointestinal and urinary tracts.
Preparations/dosage: Infusion: 1/2 cup four times a day to treat infection. Tincture: For treating urinary-tract conditions, 60 drops in water as needed.
Precautions: Can be irritating to the stomach if used in frequent large doses.
By James Green, Herbalist, copyright 2008
For more information please refer to James Green’s book, The Male Herbal, 2nd Edition