Uva-ursi (Arctostaphylos Uva-Ursi)

Uva-ursi (Arctostaphylos Uva-Ursi) syn. Arbutus Uva-Ursi

Other common names: Bearberry, arberry, bear grape, kinnikinnik, hogberry, mountain cranberry, rockberry, sandberry, mountain box, manzanita

The following information may not be re-posted, copied or published without my permission and appropriate credit given. Please contact me via email (listed on the About page) if you wish to re-publish any of the information on my blog.

Family: Ericaceae

Photo by Danielle Cameron

Photo by Danielle Cameron


Soothing diuretic, antimicrobial, urinary tract tonic, anti-inflammatory, vulnerary, lowers uric acid levels.


Leaves are harvested in September and October.

Part used: Leaves (dried)


Arbutin, hydroquinones, methyl-arbutin, ericolin, ursone, gallic acid, ellagic acid, tannins and others.


Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Urinary tract/kidney infections, fluid/urinary retention, cystitis, swelling in the urinary tract, hyperpigmentation, dry hair and scalp, prevention of kidney/gallstones (not my first choice for this, as it isn’t suitable for long-term or frequent dosing – if you suspect you already have stones, consult with a doctor before using any herbal medicine).

Medicinal preparations:


The leaves can be made into a tea, tincture or capsules, and even have been smoked in traditional ceremonies.


While uva-ursi is not a common topical remedy, it has been used in external preparations for lightening skin – making it useful for those with hyperpigmentation or scarring. It is also included in some hair care products designed to moisturize the hair and scalp.


Diagram courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons/Biodiversity Heritage

Diagram courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons/Biodiversity Heritage

May cause stomach upset and vomiting, especially in high doses. Do not use if pregnant or nursing, if you have high blood pressure, thinning of the retina, potassium deficiency, Crohn’s disease (or other digestive disorder), bladder/kidney/gallstones, or an underlying liver or kidney disease. Do not give to children under 18 years old. If taking an iron supplement, do not use uva-ursi within two hours before or after your supplement dose. Do not take supplements or medications that increase urine acidity while on uva-ursi (including Vitamin C, cranberry juice, and others). May interact with pharmaceutical medications, including NSAIDs (such as aspirin and ibuprofen) and lithium. Serious side effects may result if you exceed the recommended dosage.

*Important: The hydroquinones in uva-ursi can be toxic to the liver – do not use in high doses, or for more than five consecutive days, and don’t take more than five courses of treatment with this herb in one year. Do not take with any drugs that are hard on the liver, including alcohol.

I suggest consulting a pharmacist or physician before starting any herbal supplement if you are taking a prescription medication or have serious underlying health concerns.

Energetic/traditional use:

This herb has an extensive history, being used by First Nations populations as a smoking herb, and of course for medicinal preparations. Particularly when used for smoking, it was referred to as kinnikinnik. It was used to open up energetic channels and facilitate spiritual communications. It was considered particularly appealing for those who have bear as their totem animal. Its constitution is hot, sour and dry.

Disclaimer: The information on this website is intended as general education on herbs and is not intended to take the place of medical care. Please consult a health care professional before embarking on any health regime.

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