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Originally published November 20 2009

Uva Ursi herb reverses urinary tract infections

by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor

(NaturalNews) Urinary tract infections are usually easily treated with a powerful herb known as Uva Ursi (bearberry). (For reference, in Spanish the word "Uva" means a grape / berry, and in Latin, "Ursa" means a bear.)

Here, we bring you an amazing collection of supporting information about uva ursi from health authors like Earl Mindell and Dr. Jonathan Wright. Read this and you'll learn things like the amazing history of indigenous use of this herb across the cultures of the world. Read and enjoy!

Uva ursi and urinary tract infections

Uva ursi (Arctostaphylos uva ursi): Uva ursi, which is also known as bearberry, grows in the northern United States and Europe. It has diuretic, astringent and antiseptic properties. Uses: Uva ursi is used to treat urinary tract infections. The urine must be alkaline for uva ursi to be effective (do not use with cranberry juice which makes the urine acidic). Cautions: Uva ursi is toxic in high doses and should not be used in pregnancy or by anyone who has a kidney infection.
- The New Encyclopedia of Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements and Herbs by Nicola Reavley

Uva ursi, Arctostaphylos uva ursi, is a urinary tract antiseptic and diuretic. It increases renal circulation and stimulates tubular function. Research claims uva ursi works best in an alkaline pH for treatment of urinary tract infections.
- Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth by Sharol Tilgner, N.D.

Uva ursi - More than a thousand years ago, the Chinese and Native Americans were using uva ursi to treat urinary tract infections in both men and women. This herb contains a substance called arbutin, which is converted in the urine to hydroquinone, a urinary antiseptic. Uva ursi is a natural diuretic - it literally flushes out the kidneys. If you use uva ursi regularly, you will need to replenish potassium, which can be lost when you lose fluid. Be sure to eat foods high in potassium, or take a potassium supplement.
- Earl Mindell's Secret Remedies by Earl Mindell

The glycoside arbutin is the main active constituent in uva ursi and comprises up to 10% of the plant by weight. Hydroquinone derived from arbutin and methykrbutm is a powerful anti-bacterial agent and is thought to be responsible for uva ursi's ability to treat urinary tract infections. It is believed to be most effective as a urinary tract antiseptic agent if the urine is alkaline. No human trials have been published confirming the effectiveness of uva ursi in people with urinary tract infections. Are there any side effects or interactions?
- The Natural Pharmacy: Complete A-Z Reference to Natural Treatments for Common Health Conditions by Alan R. Gaby, M.D., Jonathan V. Wright, M.D., Forrest Batz, Pharm.D. Rick Chester, RPh., N.D., DipLAc. George Constantine, R.Ph., Ph.D. Linnea D. Thompson, Pharm.D., N.D.

For all its good, uva ursi can slightly irritate the kidneys and upset your stomach if used for more than a week or so. However, this should give you plenty of time to knock out even the most stubborn bladder infection. One way to mellow out uva ursi's harshness is by adding marshmallow to your formula. Marshmallow soothes the urinary tract and also fights urinary tract infection in a way similar to uva ursi, although it is not quite as powerful. Your best bet is to take these herbs as indicated below, then, when the symptoms have subsided, switch to cranberry, blueberry or uma-boshi.
- Herbs for Health and Healing by Kathi Keville

Uva ursi (Arctostaphylos uva ursi) Medicinal Use: Urinary tract infections. Parts Used: Leaves. Form Used: Tincture, capsule. Potential Side Effects: None in normal doses, but higher doses may cause cramping, nausea, or vomiting. Comments: It's one of the best herbs for urinary tract infections.
- Prescription for Natural Cures: A Self-Care Guide for Treating Health Problems with Natural Remedies Including Diet and Nutrition, Nutritional Supplements, Bodywork, and More by James F. Balch, M.D. and Mark Stengler, N.D.

Uva ursi is indicated for atonic, chronic conditions and infectious conditions of the urinary tract. Use: (a) Urinary tract antiseptic, (b) Diuretic, (c) Increases renal circulation, (d) Stimulates tubular function. Research claims uva ursi works best in an alkaline pH for treatment of urinary tract infections. The leaves contain arbutin, an antiseptic that is hydrolyzed in gastric fluid to hydroquinone. In alkaline urine, hydroquinone is an effective antimicrobial agent and uva ursi itself tends to alkalinize the urine.
- Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth by Sharol Tilgner, N.D.

Native Americans sometimes combined uva ursi with tobacco and smoked it. It was also used as a beverage tea in some places in Russia. The berries were considered beneficial as a weight-loss aid. It was found in wide use for infections of all parts of the body because of its astringent, or "drying," action.
- The Natural Pharmacy: Complete Home Reference to Natural Medicine by Schuyler W. Lininger, Jr. DC

Another recently discovered property of uva ursi is the inhibition of tyrosinase by a 50% alcoholic extract. This effect impairs melanin synthesis, which leads the authors to suggest it could be used as a whitening agent for the skin. However, no clinical trials have been reported. CLINICAL APPLICATIONS: Crude extracts are widely used in Europe as components in certain diuretic and laxative products, but the major use of uva ursi is as a urinary disinfectant in cases of urinary tract infection. Uva ursi is reported to be especially active against E. coli.
- Textbook of Natural Medicine 2nd Edition Volume 1 by Michael T. Murray, ND

Uva ursi (Arctostaphylos uva ursi), also known as bearberry, is one of the best herbs for treatment of urinary tract infections. The leaves, long used by practitioners of herbal medicine, have antiseptic effects. The leaf extract is also a diuretic, helping to remove excess liquids from the body. As a popular home remedy, uva ursi was traditionally used for treatment of bladder and kidney infections, and kidney stones. It was also recommended for treatment of bronchitis.
- The Natural Physician's Healing Therapies by Mark Stengler, N.D.

A parent of Cherokee heritage told me about the use of the herb uva ursi for urinary tract infections. She cautions not to mix this with cranberry juice, since they may counteract each other. This herb is considered as an antiseptic and astringent. However, since it may also be irritating in the urinary tract, check with your youngster's physician about its use or with an herbalist for the age-appropriate diluted dose. One herbal concoction that is said to help uva ursi's effectiveness is corn silk (the stuff that's left when you shuck corn) and parsley tea.
- The Way of Herbs by Michael Tierra

Uva ursi is a diuretic herb containing antibiotic factors. It also has mild astringent properties and is very cleansing to the entire urinary tract. This herb has a long history of effective use against both kidney stones and urinary tract infections. Take 500 milligrams twice a day. Or take a cup of uva ursi tea as needed.
- Smart Medicine for Healthier Living : Practical A-Z Reference to Natural and Conventional Treatments for Adults by Janet Zand, LAc, OMD, Allan N. Spreed, MD, CNC, James B. LaValle, RPh, ND

Interestingly enough, medical researchers have found that this herb works best in the alkaline environment produced by bacteria. Uva ursi enjoyed official recognition in the prescription guide known as the U.S. Pharmacopoeia as late as 1950, when it was replaced with sulfa drugs (antibiotics). In Germany, this herb is still used by doctors to treat urinary tract infection and inflammation. On the advice of herbalist and author Michael Moore, I use manzanita, a close relative of uva ursi, since it grows abundantly where I live in the northern California mountains.
- Herbs for Health and Healing by Kathi Keville

Kidney Stones: A number of physicians and researchers have reported that uva ursi can be helpful for the prevention of kidney stones. Urinary Tract Infections: I recommend uva ursi for any infection of the urinary tract. I usually combine it in formulas with herbs such as echinacea, goldenseal, buchu, marshmallow, and usnea. A number of companies produce variations on this formula for people who have urinary tract infections.
- The Natural Physician's Healing Therapies by Mark Stengler, N.D.

Uva ursi contains arbutin, a chemical known to have antimicrobial activity against E. coli. Take 250 mg of uva ursi in capsule form or 5 ml of the tincture form four times a day. Horsetail is another herb traditionally used to treat urinary tract infections. Take 500 mg or 2 ml of the tincture four times a day. Juniper berry helps increase urination to rid the bladder of bacteria.
- 1000 Cures for 200 Ailments: Integrated Alternative and Conventional Treatments for the Most Common Illnesses by Marshall Editions

Though many herbs have been used for urinary tract infections, the most useful herb in most cases of bladder infections is the uva ursi (bearberry). Research has focused on the most important component of bearberry: arbutin. Arbutin is split into glucose and hydroquinone in the kidney, the latter having an antiseptic effect on the urinary tract. However, this only happens if the urine is alkaline.
- Healing Pets With Nature's Miracle Cures by Henry Pasternak, D.V.M., C.V.A.

Avoid taking uva ursi for longer than a week. Take all kidney and bladder infections seriously; they can cause complications if not treated promptly. If symptoms of a urinary tract infection persist for more than forty-eight hours, you should always seek medical attention. If you develop symptoms such as high fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or severe back pain, get medical assistance immediately.
- Prescription for Herbal Healing: An Easy-to-Use A-Z Reference to Hundreds of Common Disorders and Their Herbal Remedies by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC

Arbutin is the active ingredient in uva ursi. It is an antiseptic for the urinary tract that is particularly effective against E. coli infection. It is also effective against Proteus infections, provided steps are taken to ensure alkalization of the urine. The sugar portion of arbutin, and its attached small molecule (hydroquinone), must be broken apart for arbutin to be effective, and the urine must be alkaline for this to happen. This herb prevents bleeding in mild kidney disease and urinary tract infection.
- Prescription for Herbal Healing: An Easy-to-Use A-Z Reference to Hundreds of Common Disorders and Their Herbal Remedies by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC

Due to the risk potential, uva ursi leaves and their preparations should not be taken for more than one week without the advice of a physician, and they should be used no more than five times in one year. Several therapeutic trials have been carried out on the use of cranberry juice for the same indication and in the prevention of infections of the lower urinary tract. In one randomized trial, 150 women with recurrent urinary tract infections drank 50 ml of cranberry juice or 100 ml of a lactobacillus drink daily for 12 months or received no intervention.
- Rational Phytotherapy: A Reference Guide for Physicians and Pharmacists by volker schulz and Rudolf Hansel

Care must be taken to avoid excessive dosages of uva ursi - as little as 15 g (0.5 ounce) of the dried leaves has been shown to produce toxicity in susceptible individuals. Toxic signs include: ringing in the ears; nausea; vomiting; sense of suffocation shortness of breath; convulsions; delirium; collapse.
- Textbook of Natural Medicine 2nd Edition Volume 2 by Michael T. Murray, ND

Drinking aloe vera juice may also reduce urinary crystals. Uva ursi is traditionally used for urinary tract infections, and relieves pain and cleanses the urinary tract. Take 250-500 mg three times a day, but do not use this herb for more than two weeks. Drink 2-4 cups of juniper berry tea, a strong diuretic kidney cleanser, every day until the stones pass. Horsetail also has diuretic qualities. You can take 2 g a day of the capsule form or drink 2-3 cups of the tea a day.
- 1000 Cures for 200 Ailments: Integrated Alternative and Conventional Treatments for the Most Common Illnesses by Marshall Editions

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