Bearberry Uva-Ursi

Scientific names: Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, Arctostaphylos coactylis, Arctostaphylos adenotricha

Other common names: Arctostaphylos, bear’s grape, crowberry, foxberry, hogberry, kinnikinnick, manzanita, mountain box, rockberry, uva-ursi

The common bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi L. Sprengel) is a ubiquitous procumbent evergreen shrub located throughout North America, Asia, and Europe. The fruits are almost tasteless but the plant contains a high concentration of active ingredients.

Bears are particularly fond of the fruit, which explains its Latin name, “uva ursi,” which means “bear’s grape.” Most authorities refer to Arctostaphylos uva-ursi as uva ursi. However, the related plants, Arctostaphylos adentricha and Arctostaphylos coactylis, have also been termed uva ursi by some experts.

Uva ursi is used primarily for urinary tract disorders, including infections of the kidney, bladder, and urethra; swelling (inflammation) of the urinary tract; increased urination; painful urination; and urine that contains excess uric acid or other acids. Uva ursi is also used for constipation and a lung condition called bronchitis.

Uva ursi, hops, and peppermint are also used in combination to treat people with compulsive bedwetting and painful urination [1].


Immune Support, Women, Urinary Tract Support


 Bearberry exerts antimicrobial effects against Escherichia coli, Proteus vulgaris, Enterobacter aerogenes, Streptococcus faecalis, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella typhi, and Candida albicans. Bearberry traditionally has been used as a diuretic (it is especially effective in cases of highly acidic urine), an antiinfl ammatory, and an astringent. Contemporarily, it is used as a decoction to treat urinary tract infections. Bearberry may be useful in premenstrual bloating.


Little primary research is available detailing the mode of action of bearberry.

Antiseptic/Diuretic Action

The diuretic effect of bearberry results from both its triterpene chemical components and arbutin, a hydroquinone. These components stimulate diuresis.

Antiinflammatory Action

One of the flavonoid components of bearberry, quercitrin, is responsible for decreased infl ammation. Arbutin and urosolic acid may also be responsible for its antiinfl ammatory effects (Jahodar et al, 1985).

Antimicrobial Action

Research on the antimicrobial effect of bearberry has focused on arbutin. Arbutin has been reported to be effective as a diuretic and as a urinary antiseptic in moderate doses, but only if the urine is alkaline. Use of the whole plant is most effective because of the combined effects of arbutin and gallic acid, another chemical component (Constantine et al, 1966; Leung, Foster, 1996). Urosolic acid has been found to be effective against gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria and yeast (Kowalewski et al, 1976; Zaletova et al, 1986). Arctostaphylos uva-ursi has been shown to be effective against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (Shimizu et al, 2001).

Bearberry has shown an inhibitory effect against Arcobacter butzleri, A. cryaerophilus, and A. skirrowii (Cervenka et al, 2006). Methanol extracts showed strong antimicrobial activity.

Herbal Use

Uva-ursi is stated to possess diuretic, urinary antiseptic, and astringent properties. Traditionally, it has been used for cystitis, urethritis, dysuria, pyelitis, lithuria, and specifically for acute catarrhal cystitis with dysuria and highly acidic urine (2).


The following is compiled from several sources, including General References G2 and G6.

Flavonoids Flavonols (e.g. myricetin, quercetin) and their glycosides including hyperin, isoquercitrin, myricitrin and quercitrin. Iridoids Asperuloside (disputed), monotropein. (1) Quinones Total content at least 6%, mainly arbutin (5–15%) and methyl-arbutin (glycosides), with lesser amounts of piceoside (2) (a glycoside), free hydroquinone and free p-methoxyphenol. (3)

Tannins 6–7% (range 6–40%). Hydrolysable-type (e.g. corilagin pyranoside); ellagic and gallic acids (usually associated with hydrolysable tannins). Terpenoids a-Amyrin, a-amyrin acetate, b-amyrin, lupeol, uvaol, ursolic acid, and a mixture of mono- and di-ketonic aamyrin derivatives.(4, 5) Other constituents Acids (malic, quinic), allantoin, resin (e.g. ursone), volatile oil (trace) and wax.


defi ciency, anemia, malnutrition due to high tannin level, and disorders involving gastrointestinal irritation. It is not intended for prolonged use unless used under the direction of an experienced herbalist.

Parts used:


Additional Resources


[2] Mosby’s Handbook of Herbs and Natural Supplements – fourth edition

Important Precautions

Not for use during pregnancy or lactation. If you have a medical condition or take pharmaceutical drugs please consult your doctor prior to use.


This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.