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(Heath Family)


Arctostaphylos uva-ursi is an evergreen Shrub growing to 0.1 m (0ft 4in) by 1 m (3ft 3in) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 4 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from Apr to July, and the seeds ripen from Jul to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, self.The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.[PFAF]

2013 [E-flora]

Status: Native [E-flora]
General: Prostrate shrub with somewhat stoloniferous rooting stems, sometimes forming mats several meters wide; bark reddish to brownish, peeling off; stems ascending at the tip, 5-15 cm tall, minutely hairy, sometimes glandular. [IFBC-E-flora]
Leaves: Alternate, evergreen, leathery, egg- to spoon-shaped, 1-3 cm long, 0.3-1.2 cm wide, rounded at tip, rarely pointed, narrowed basally, entire, glabrous to minutely hairy especially on the margins and midrib, dark green above, paler below; stalks 2-5 mm long. [IFBC-E-flora]
Flowers: Several in few-flowered terminal clusters; flower stalks 2-5 mm long, straight or curved, borne in the axils of hairy bracts; corollas pinkish-white, urn-shaped, 4-6 mm long, 5-lobed; calyces 1-1.5 mm long. [IFBC-E-flora]
Fruits: Berries, bright red, 5-10 mm wide. [IFBC-E-flora]
In 1974, Packer and Denford reviewed the classification of infraspecific taxa, found it to be inadequate, and proposed that four subspecies and two varieties be recognized. Two of the subspecies were new taxa, not previously described. The taxa were based on the type of hairiness found on the young branches and stalks, chromosome numbers, and phenolics. All four subspecies occur in BC, but are not geographically distinct. We have, therefore, decided not to recognize these taxa until further work is done on the taxonomy and distribution of these entities in BC. [IFBC-E-flora]
USDA Flower Colour: Purple
USDA Blooming Period: Late Spring
USDA Fruit/Seed characteristics:

Colour: Red
Present from Summer to Fall

According to the USDA, this species is a known allelopath. [USDA-E-flora]

Habitat / Range
Dry forests and exposed, often rocky, sites in the lowland to lower alpine zones; common throughout BC; circumboreal, N to AK, E to NF and S to N CA, NM, MN, and VA; Eurasia. [IFBC-E-flora]

Ecological Indicator Information
A shade-tolerant/intolerant, submontane to subalpine, circumpolar evergreen shrub (transcontinental in North America). Occurs on very dry to moderately dry, nitrogen­ poor soils (Mor humus forms) within boreal, temperate, and cool mesothermal climates; its occurrence increases with increasing continentality. Common in open-canopy, young­seral lodgepole pine forests on shallow soils, soils on rock outcrops and strongly drained coarse-skeletal soils on water­shedding sites. Often associ­ated with Gaultheria shallon, Pleurozium schreberi, and lichens. Characteristic of moisture-deficient sites. (IPBC)[E-flora]

Kinnikinnick is a widespread circumpolar submontane to subalpine shrub species (Klinka et al. 1989). In North America, it is found from California north to Alaska, across Canada and the northern US, and throughout the Rocky Mountains from Canada to New Mexico (Crane 1991). In British Columbia, it is found across the province in "dry forests and exposed, often rocky, sites in the lowland to lower alpine zones" (Douglas et al. 1999). It is frequently a dominant understory species in open pine forests where it grows best in high light situations (but will sometimes tolerate shade) (Crane 1999). Klinka et al. (1998) indicate that in coastal BC it is "common in open-canopy, young, ­seral lodgepole pine forests on shallow soils, soils on rock outcrops and strongly drained coarse-skeletal soils on water­shedding sites". It is a fire-tolerant species (short fire cycles, low fuel buildup) and may be a "seedbanking species with fire resistant seed" (Crane 1999).[E-flora]
This common BC species is an evergreen prostrate shrub species with leathery dark green leaves that produces trailing stems and can form broad mats. Flowers are pink and bell-shaped; fruits are bright red 'berries' (drupes). Roots on dry sites are reported up to 181 cm (Crane 1991). It is clonal and, although seedlings are produced, reproduction is primarily asexual (Crane 1991). [E-flora]

A. Uva-ursi is NOT recommended for internal use by pregnant women; herbalist Michael Moore warns that large quantities could decrease circulation to the fetus. [Schofield]
Herbal Medications says that A. uva-ursi is ". . . relatively safe, and no symptoms are expected in quantities generally available." Taken in large or frequent quantities, however, it can cause gastrointestinal upset, nausea, and central nervous system depression. For chronic urinary and kidney problems, A. uva-ursi is safest blended with soothing, demulcent herbs such as Iceland moss and comfrey. [Schofield]
Be aware that internal consumption of A. uva-ursi tea often results in the urine becoming alkaline and bright green; the urinary antiseptic hydroquinolone is the cause of this harmless reaction. [Schofield]
This plant is best not used by pregnant women since it can reduce the supply of blood to the foetus[172]. Large doses may lead to nausea and vomiting due to tannin content. Overdoes may result in tinnitus, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, convulsions and collapse [301]. [PFAF]
The herb should not be prescribed to children, pregnant women or patients with kidney disease [238][WHO]. Another report says that some native North American Indian tribes used an infusion of the stems, combined with blueberry stems (Vaccinium spp) to prevent miscarriage without causing harm to the baby, and to speed a woman's recovery after the birth[257]. [PFAF]
The oral LD50 of hydroquinone ranged from 300 to 1300mg/kg body weight in rodents and dogs, but was only 42–86mg/kg body weight in cats. Acute exposure of rats to high doses of hydroquinone (over 1300mg/kg body weight) caused severe effects on the central nervous system, including hyperexcitability, tremor, convulsions, coma and death (32).[WHO]
Folium Uvae Ursi should not be used for prolonged periods. Patients with persistent symptoms of a urinary tract infection should consult a physician. Use of Folium Uvae Ursi may cause a greenish-brown coloration of the urine that darkens on exposure to air due to the oxidation of hydroquinone.[WHO]
Internal use of Folium Uvae Ursi may cause nausea and vomiting due to stomach irritation from the high tannin content (13, 38). The hydroquinone concentration in topical preparations is limited to 2% in Nigeria, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, following reports that preparations containing more than 2% hydroquinone caused exogenous ochronosis in black women in South Africa (39). Topical application of preparations containing less than 3% hydroquinone in different bases caused negligible effects in male volunteers from different racial groups. However, there are case reports suggesting that skin-lightening creams containing 2% hydroquinone have produced leukoderma as well as ochronosis. Hydroquinone (at a concentration of 1% in aqueous solution or 5% in a cream) has caused erythema and allergic contact dermatitis (32).[WHO]
Drug Interactions: Folium Uvae Ursi should not be administered with foods or medicines that acidify the urine.[WHO]

Edible Uses


Makes a beverage tea.[Turner, Kuhnlein] Spring to fall. [Schofield] A tea is made from the dried leaves[177, 183].[PFAF]
The green, leathery leaves can be used to make a rather pleasantly bitter, astringent tea, which is popular in many parts of the world as a health tea or tonic, good for stomach and urinary disorders. In Russia, this tea is especially well known and is called kutai, or "Caucasian tea". [Coffee]
Kinnikinnick Tea: Use 5 ml (1 tsp) of dried kinnikinnick leaves per 250 ml (1 cup) of boiling water, and allow to infuse for about 5 minutes. The addition of a few drops of lemon juice makes a rather pleasant drink. Prospectors and trappers recommend soaking the leaves in whisky first and then using them in the normal way to make tea. [Coffee]


Berries add a sweet flavor to fish (especially whitefish) intestines, liver, or eggs when cooked with plenty of grease. Formerly, they were used to make Indian hash, a mixture of pounded dry meat, grease (fat from bear, caribou, or ducks, or vegetable shortening), and berries. Bone marrow also was used either fresh, in which case the hash was highly perishable, or boiled from crushed bones, then combined with meat and berries. (Nos. 779, 797).[Ethftyukon]
Among the Cahuilla Native Americans of southern California, manzanita was regarded as a primary food source since it could be collected in volume and stored. Though the use of manzanita seems to be nearly a lost art today, it was once considered an important food additive.[Nyerges]
Dry and mealy but widely eaten by indigenous people. Eaten fresh and raw, or more commonly, cooked. They could be dried for storage, or buried fresh in birch-bark containers.[Turner, Kuhnlein]
The bright-red fruits are dry and mealy and rather tasteless when eaten raw, but if cooked in a stew or fried in grease or butter are quite palatable. They are also good mixed with other berries, such as blueberries or cranberries. [Coffee]
Raw or cooked[3, 7, 8, 62, 161, 257]. Insipid, dry and mealy[4, 101, 183], it becomes sweeter when cooked[212]. Added to stews etc, it is a good source of carbohydrates [101]. The fruit can also be used to make a cooling drink or used for preserves etc[161, 183]. [PFAF]
This fruit has been eaten by the Indians and white settlers, but the seeds are rather large and the pulp is mealy and dry. It can be eaten raw as an emergency food, especially in late fall or winter when little else may be available. It is better cooked. [Harrington] The Tanaina of Alaska eat them with animal or fish grease or oil, and use them raw as a laxative. (Marles, 1984, notes, however, that they can cause constipation.)[Turner, Kuhnlein]
Some localities are said to have better tasting kinnikinnick berries than others. [Turner, Kuhnlein]
Harvesting: Harvested in late summer, but could be obtained throughout the winter months and even into spring. [Turner, Kuhnlein]
Green Berries: If you pick a green fruit and suck on it, you'll discover an interesting trail nibble. Chances are you'll spit out your first taste. it's sour. But, there's also sugar in there, and if you try it again, and again, the flavor will grow on you. Some pretty good jam and jelly is made from the green fruit. [Nyerges]
Preservation: It can be dried and stored for later use[257].[PFAF] Stored in oil, when the seeds are soft and the fruits are juicy and sweet, they are ready for consumption.[Schofield] More recently, the berries were dried for storage, then boiled and mixed with boiled "dumplings" made with flour and water.[Turner, Kuhnlein]
Cranberry Sauce: Simmer in water until soft, grind in a food mill, sweeten the pulp to taste and serve as a mock cranberry sauce. [Schofield]
Lemonade: For a tangy wilderness "lemonade," simmer two cups fruits in two cups water with one half cup honey for 30 min. Let the mixture sit for one hour, strain, chill, and enjoy.[Schofield]
Vinegar: Another use of this sour liquid is as a vinegar for a wilderness salad dressing. It makes a surprisingly good substitute, especially when you consider all that goes into making regular vinegar. This undiluted manzanita liquid can also be frozen for later use.[Nyerges]


Food Additive: Typically, manzanita was used as an aspic, a thickener, or a sweetener to other foods.[Nyerges]
Collect the ripe fruit, and pick out any foreign matter, such as leaves or sterns, bugs, and so forth. [Nyerges]
Wash it all, and let it dry in a colander. I typically put all the berries in a cookie pan and let them then dry in the sun or in the oven at pilot-light temperature. [Nyerges]
Next, I put some of the berries in my old fashioned Mexican metate, a stone grinder. I grind away at the entire seeds for awhile until I have removed the covering from each fruit and have ground up most of the covering. The actual seed will get ground down a bit, but it is harder and takes more work to reduce to a powder. [Nyerges]
Then I put the ground material into a sieve and shake out the fine powder. This fine powder is then added in varying amounts to bread or pastry products. I like to add it to my acorn pancakes (see Gak Tree for recipe), and it both sweetens the dough and gives it a smoothness that's a bit hard to describe. Well, it' s good. In fact, you can save this fine powder and add it to a lot of dishes. Experiment. Use it wherever you might have used aspic or a thickener, such as in gravy, jellies, or sauces. [Nyerges]
Meat: The manzanita powder can also be added to meat, in much the way that wild berries were added to meat to produce the original pemmican. Again, you' d need to experiment to get the right flavor, but you' d be adding powdered manzanita to a dry meat that has been ground. The manzanita acts as a preservative and flavoring. [Nyerges]
Put into a pan the coarse meal that was left in the sieve and cover with water. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Taste just a bit of that water. You'll find it is terribly sour, but still, there' s that sweet aftertaste. Strain out the coarse meal, and then add an equal amount of water to your sour manzanita water. Also add about a tablespoon of honey for each quart of liquid. [Nyerges]
Other Uses

Smoking Mixture 

Commonly used. Generally toasted over a fire or in the oven. [Turner, Kuhnlein] Smoked as a "narcotic" by Kwakiutl Indians. [Pharmacotheon] Harvested year-round.[Schofield] The dried leaves have been used for smoking as an alternative to tobacco[238]. One report says that it is unclear whether this was for medicinal purposes or for the intoxicated state it could produce[192], whilst another says that the leaves were smoked to treat headaches and also as a narcotic[257]. [PFAF]
A report of a drunken spree produced by inhaling the smoke of kinnikinnick blended with bunchberry and salal leaves.[Schofield] The evergreen leaves have long been utilized as a substitute for tobacco, often used mixed with it. A smoker deprived of his favorite "weed" could gather the leaves, dry and toast them, and could surely use them at least in moderation for smoking. [Harrington]
The leaves are harvested at any time of the year, roasted beside a fire or over a stove until crisp and brown, then pulverized and smoked alone in a pipe or mixed with real tobacco. Some people who have tried it have found its effects very mild, but others say it can make one sleepy and dizzy if too much smoke is inhaled. [Coffee]
An intoxication similar to opium. The dried leaves are used as a tobacco substitute. The term kinnikinnick can also refer to other plants and to mixtures of these plants. [EncyHMED]
Reports: To me, there isn't a lot of flavor, though I have heard that the leaves need to be slightly fermented to truly bring out the flavor and aroma of this smoke. It does smoke well, and so I enjoy adding it to my non-nicotine smoking mixes. [Nyerges] Reagan (190, 191, 193), mentioned that several Indian tribes smoked the leaves and the general effect was an intoxication due to the narcotic content. Kephart (140) stated that the leaves were milder in summer than in winter. [Harrington]
(Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) Dried, the leaves would be smoked by the American Indians as a substitute for tobacco (Sanford); the Keres Indians seem to have mixed them with tobacco in the ordinary way (L A White), while the Chippewa claimed they smoked it “to attract game” (Densmore). The North-west coast Indians also used the leaves for the smoking substance kinnikinnick (Enboden. 1979), which is an Algonquin word meaning “that which is mixed”, usually tobacco (Johnston).[DPL Watts]
Potawatomi - These leaves, dried and powdered, they likewise mix with their tobacco; and as said before, smoke it only during the summer.”[HuronSmith Zuni]
The Kwakiutl smoked the leaves of some type of wild plant, possibly of this species, before tobacco was introduced by the white man (Cranmer, 1969). Other Northwest Coast Indian groups smoked these leaves, which are apparently slightly narcotic (Gunther, 1945). The dry mealy berries may have been eaten, as they were by other Indian groups.[Turner&Bell2]


A yellowish-brown dye is obtained from the leaves[57, 101], it does not require a mordant [168]. A grey-brown dye is obtained from the fruit[257]. [PFAF] Color varies from camel to gray or blue-green depending on plant parts, mordant, and species used.[Schofield]


The leaves are a good source of tannin[46, 61, 212]. [PFAF]


The dried fruits are used in rattles and as beads on necklaces etc[99, 257]. [PFAF]


The mashed berries can be rubbed on the insides of coiled cedar root baskets in order to waterproof them[257]. [PFAF]

Wildlife Indicator 

Hunters in the old days and even today would often take special note of the manzanita patches. This is because the fruit provides food for a wide variety of game including all small game and birds, of course, but also larger animals.[Nyerges]
Medicinal Uses
Bearberry was commonly used by many native North American Indian tribes to treat a wide range of complaints and has also been used in conventional herbal medicine for hundreds of years, it is one of the best natural urinary antiseptics[254]. The leaves contain hydroquinones and are strongly antibacterial, especially against certain organisms associated with urinary infections[238]. The plant should be used with caution, however, because hydroquinones are also toxic[222].[PFAF]
The plant has been widely used in traditional medicine throughout Europe for antiseptic and astringent properties of the glycosides arbutin and metilarbutin that are located primarily in the leaves (3,13).[SWHAUU]


Grease-soaked fruit are used as a laxative. [Schofield]


Antiseptic, astringent, diuretic, lithontripic, hypnotic and tonic[7, 9, 21, 102, 165, 172, 192]. The dried leaves are used in the treatment of a variety of complaints [4]. [PFAF]
Alaskan homesteaders used to soak berry leaves in brandy and then brew into a tea for minor health complaints.[Schofield]
Harvesting: These leaves should be harvested in early autumn, only green leaves being selected, and then dried in gentle heat[4]. [PFAF][WHO]
Urinary Antiseptic traditionally used for kidney and bladder infections, bed-wetting, and urinary tract disorders. Used as a douche and after-birth sitz bath. [Schofield] Kinnikinnick has long been used by European and North American Indian herbalists for relieving kidney and bladder problems and in the treatment of numerous other ailments. [Coffee] A tea made from the dried leaves is much used for kidney and bladder complaints and inflammations of the urinary tract such as acute and chronic cystitis and urethritis, but it should be used with caution and preferably only under the supervision of a qualified practitioner[4, 21, 46, 172, 222, 254]. [PFAF] Internally, as a mild urinary antiseptic for moderate inflammatory conditions of the urinary tract and bladder, such as cystitis, urethritis and dysuria (11, 13, 14).[WHO]
The tea is more effective if the urine is alkaline, thus it is best used in combination with a vegetable-based diet[254].[PFAF] Dermatological Aid: skin irritation and rashes. [Schofield] Added to herbal baths for suppurating skin conditions.[Schofield] Externally, a poultice of the infused leaves with oil has been used as a salve to treat rashes, skin sores etc, and as a wash for a baby's head[257]. [PFAF]
Cosmetic: Cold tea makes a good splash for closing the pores after a facial steam. Being antiseptic, the herb is well suited for antibacterial liniments. [Schofield]
Infusion: An infusion of the leaves has been used as an eyewash, a mouthwash for cankers and sore gums and as a poultice for back pains, rheumatism, burns etc[257]. [PFAF]
Other uses: fluid retention and bed wetting. Claimed to strengthen the heart muscle and urinary tract and to return the womb to its normal size after childbirth [301]. Treatment should be short (seven days) and used with an alkaline diet [301]. Not recommended for children under 12. [PFAF]
After-Birthing Aid: Mothers can boil one-quarter cup uva-ursi leaves in a gallon of water for twenty minutes and use this mixture in sitz baths after childbirth to reduce inflammation and prevent infection. The bath should be taken every morning for three to four days.[Schofield]
Folk Use: As a diuretic, to stimulate uterine contractions, and to treat diabetes, poor eyesight, renal or urinary calculi, rheumatism and venereal disease (4, 5, 15). Topical applications have been used for skin depigmentation (15).[WHO]
Dosage forms: Crude drug for infusions or cold macerates, extracts and solid forms for oral administration (13). Store in a well-closed container, protected from light (3).[WHO]
Daily dose: 3g crude drug in 150 ml water as an infusion or cold macerate, up to three or four times daily; 400–850mg hydroquinone derivatives. Other preparations accordingly calculated as arbutin (12, 13). Patients should avoid highly acidic foods, such as acidic fruits or fruit juice, during treatment (25, 40), and be advised to drink plenty of fluids. [WHO]
Leaves of Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (L.) Spreng. (Ericaceae) are an official plant raw material and are recommended for use as a diuretic and disinfectant for inflammatory diseases of urinary pathways [1]. The leaves (gya’kyi ma in Tibetan) were used in Buryatiya Tibetan medical practice for diseases related to increased stomach acidity (gastritis, heartburn), as an antipyretic for measles and a sedative for neurasthenia, and as powders in agents for diseases of the endocrine system (Basedow’s disease) [2].[OPC]


The leaves are somewhat bitter tasting when fresh and have been chewed in moderation by some people to prevent thirst, since they seem to cause the saliva to flow. [Harrington]. This drink also helps your body to hydrate, and thus, it is good to drink during heat waves or if you're in the desert. You could also just add a few of the dried fruits into your canteen and take advantage of these hydrating qualities that way. [Nyerges]

Feminine Troubles 

Boil a heaping teaspoon herb in two cups water for thirty minutes and drinking one-half cup every four hours ". . . for excessive menstruation, gonorrhea, ulceration of the cervix, and other female troubles." (See Caution)[Schofield].

Medicinal Parts: The medicinal parts of the plant are the dried leaves and preparations of the fresh leaves.
Production: Uva-Ursi (Bearberry) leaves consist of the fresh or dried leaves of Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, which are gathered in the wild. The arbutin content is highest in December and January and also when the leaves are dried rapidly. The main sources are Spain, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Scandinavia, Poland, Russia and Bulgaria.
Hydroquinone glycosides: arbutin (arbutoside, hydroquinone-O-beta-D-glucoside, 5-16%), methyl arbutin (O-methyl hydroquinone-O-beta-D-glycoside, up to 4%), galloyl derivatives of arbutin (0.05%): O-galloyl hydroquinone-O-betaD-glucoside (p-galloyl oxyphenyl-O-beta-D-glucoside), 2'- O- galloyl arbutin, 6'-0-galloyl arbutin, free hydroquinone (usually under 0.3%) as decomposition product of arbutin, emerging as the leaves age or during dehydration Piceoside: (4 - hydroxyacetophenone - O - beta - D - glucopyranoside)
Phenol carboxylic acids: including gallic acid (free 180 mg/ 100 g), p-coumaric acid (18.0 mg/100 g), syringic acid (16.8 mg/100 g), salicylic acid (12.0 mg/100 g), p-hydroxybenzoic acid (9.6 mg/100 g), ferulic acid (6.0 mg/100 g), caffeic acid (6.0 mg/100 g), lithospermic acid (dimeric caffeic acid)
Tannins (15-20%): gallo tannins including penta-O-galloylbeta-D-Glucose and hexa-O-gailoyl-beta-D-glucose; ellagitannins, including corilagin (l-0-galloyl-3, 6-di-Ohexahydroxydophenol-beta-D-gulcoside); condensed tannins, chiefly proanthocyanidins and their monomerics, including cyanidin, delphinidin
Iridoide: monotropein (0.025%)
Flavonoids: flavonol glycosides, including hyperoside (0.8- 1.5%) which is the chief flavonol glycoside, quercitrin-3-beta-D-0-6'-galloyl galactoside, quercitrin, isoquercitrin, myricitrin, myricetin-3-O-beta-D-galactoside, 2 isomeric quercetin arabinosides, aglycones of these compounds
Enzymes: including a beta-glucosidase (arbutase), that is rendered inactive with dehydration and processing of the drug, due to the high tannin content
Triterpenes: including among others ursolic acid (0.4-0.8%), alcohol uvaol, beta-amyrin
The tannins in Uva-Ursi act as an astringent, and the phenol glucocsides and their aglyca have an antibacterial effect. The antimicrobial effect is associated with the aglycon hydroquinone released from arbutin (transport form) or arbutin waste products in the alkaline urine. The drug has urine-sterilizing properties that are attributed to bacteriostatic hydroquinones, conjugates of glucuronic acid and sulfuric acid. The maximum antibacterial effect is expected 3 to 4 hours after administration. There are no clinical studies available that have been definitively evaluated.
Approved by Commission E: • Infections of the urinary tract Uva-Ursi is used for inflammatory disorders of the efferent urinary tract.
Unproven Uses: In folk medicine, the herb is used for all forms of urogenital and biliary tract disease. Homeopathic Uses: The herb is used for inflammations of the efferent urinary tract.
The drug is contraindicated in pregnant women, nursing mothers and children under 12 years of age.
General: No health hazards are known in conjunction with the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages. Individuals with gastric sensitivity may experience nausea and vomiting following intake of preparations made from the drug due to its high tannin content.
Pregnancy: The drug is contraindicated during pregnancy. Nursing Mothers: The drug is contraindicated in nursing mothers.
Pediatric Use: Liver damage is conceivable in connection with administration of the drug over extended periods, particularly with children, due to the possible hepatotoxicity of the hydroquinones released. The drug is contraindicated in children under 12 years of age.
Drug Interactions: Uva-Ursi preparations should not be administered with any substance that causes acidic urine since this reduces the antibacterial effect. Because the urinedisinfecting effect of the hydroquinones released in the urinary tract only occurs in an alkali environment, the simultaneous administration of medication or food that increase uric acid levels in the bladder is to be avoided. The sodium sparing effect of Uva-Ursi may offset the diuretic effect of thiazide and loop diuretics. Uva-Ursi may add to the gastrointestinal irritation that occurs with NSAID use.
Overdosage can lead to inflammation and irritation of the bladder and urinary tract mucous membranes. Liver damage is conceivable in connection with administration of the drug over extended periods, particularly with children, due to the possible hepatotoxicity of the hydroquinones released.
Mode of Administration: Uva-Ursi is available as comminuted drug, drug powder or dried extract for infusions or cold macerations, and also as extracts and solid forms for oral administration. It is also a component of urologic combination and single-component preparations.
How Supplied: Capsules—150 mg, 455 mg, 505 mg
Preparation: To make a tea, pour boiling water over 2.5 gm finely cut or coarse powdered drug (l teaspoonful is equivalent to 2.5 g drug.), or place the drug in cold water that is rapidly brought to a boil. The tea should draw (to extract the essence) for 1 5 minutes and then be strained. Teas may contain up to 30% Uva-Ursi in combination with other drugs. For higher Uva-Ursi content, prepare cold macerate (over 6 to 1 2 hours) to lower the tannin content.
Daily Dosage: The daily dosage of finely cut or powdered drug is 1 0 g (corresponding to arbutin content of 400 to 840 mg) or 0.4 g dry extract in a single dose. A single dose of liquid extract is 2 g. Daily dosages of an infusion or cold maceration are 3 g drug to 150 ml water as an infusion or cold maceration up to 4 times a day or 400 to 840 mg hydroquinone derivatives calculated as water-free arbutin. The urine should be alkaline.
Homeopathic Dosage: 5 to 1 0 drops, 1 tablet or 5 to 1 0 globules 1 to 3 times daily or 1 ml injection solution twice weekly sc (HAB1).
Storage: Store in well-sealed containers protected from light.[PDR]

BEARBERRY (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (L.) Spreng.) + [HMH Duke]
Activities (Bearberry) — Algicide (1; MAB); Antibacterial (1; APA; FAD; PIP; PH2); Antiedemic

(1; CAN); Antihepatosis (1; CAN); Antiinflammatory (1; APA; CAN; SHT); Antiseptic (1; BGB; CAN; PH2; WAM); Antitussive (1; MAB); Antityrosinase (1; PHR); Aquaretic (1; SHT); Astringent (1; APA; PIP; PH2; WAM); Bitter (f; PED); Candidicide (1; BGB); Cytotoxic (1; CAN); Depurative (f; DEM); Diuretic (1; APA; CAN; FAD; PH2); Emetic (1; APA); Emmenagogue (f; DEM); Fungicide (1; BGB); Hemostat (1; BGB; FAD); Intoxicant (f; DEM); Laxative (f; DEM); Litholytic (1; CRC; FNF; PH2); Molluscicide (1; CAN); Narcotic (f; DEM); Nephroprotective (1; MAB); Phospholipase-A2-Inhibitor (1; MAB); Tonic (f; DEM); Urinary Antiseptic (1; FAD; PH2; SKY; WAM); Vulnerary (f; DEM).

Indications (Bearberry) — Acne (f; DEM); Backache (1; CRC; DEM); Bacteria (1; APA; FAD;

PIP; PH2); Bleeding (1; BGB; CRC; FAD); Blennorrhea (1; CRC); Boil (f; DEM); Bronchosis (f; APA; CRC; FAD); Burn (f; DEM); Cancer (1; CRC; JLH); Candida (1; BGB); Canker (f; DEM); Catarrh (f; CAN; MAB); Childbirth (f; CRC); Cholecystosis (1; MAB); Cold (f; DEM); Conjunctivosis (f; DEM); Constipation (f; DEM); Cough (1; MAB); Cystosis (1; APA; FAD; WAM); Dandruff (f; DEM); Dermatosis (1; WAM); Diabetes (f; CRC; MAB); Diarrhea (1; APA; FAD; WAM); Dropsy (f; BGB); Dysentery (f; CRC; MAB); Dysmenorrhea (1; CRC); Dysuria (1; CAN; CRC; MAB); Enuresis (f; MAB; PED; WAM); Fever (1; CRC); Fracture (f; DEM); Fungus (1; BGB); Gallstone (1; CRC); Gingivosis (f; DEM); Gleet (f; CRC); Gonorrhea (f; FAD; MAB); Gout (1; CRC); Hematuria (f; BGB; MAB); Hemorrhoid (1; CRC; WAM); Hepatosis (1; CAN; CRC); Hyperpigmentation (f; MAB); Incontinence (1; CRC); Infection (1; APA; BGB; FAD; PIP); Inflammation (1; APA; BGB; CAN; MAB; PH2; SHT); Itch (1; WAM); Kidney Stone (1; APA; CRC; X7860196); Leukorrhea (1; MAB); Lithuria (f; CAN); Menorrhagia (1; CRC; MAB); Miscarriage (f; DEM); Mycosis (1; BGB); Nephrosis (1; APA; FAD; MAB; PED); Obesity (f; APA); Ophthalmia (f; DEM); Otosis (f; DEM); Pain (1; DEM); Pancreatosis (1; CRC); Pneumonia (1; BGB); Prostatosis (1; MAB; PED); Pyelitis (1; CAN; CRC; PNC); Pyelonephrosis (1; MAB); Rheumatism (1; CRC); Splenosis (1; CRC); Sprain (f; DEM); Stone (1; CRC; FAD; FNF; PH2; SHT); Strangury (f; MAB); Streptococcus (1; FNF); Swelling (1; CAN; MAB); Thirst (f; DEM); Tuberculosis (f; CRC); Ulcer (1; CRC); Urethrosis (2; APA; KOM; PNC); Uterosis (f; BGB); UTI (2; APA; PHR; PH2; SHT); Water retention (1; APA; CAN; FAD; PH2); VD (1; MAB); Yeast (1; BGB; FNF).

Dosages (Bearberry) — 10 g leaf (= 400–700 mg arbutin), take only a few days (APA); 10 g dry

leaf in 1 quart cold water (SF); 12 g dry leaf/day (= 400–840 mg arbutin) (MAB); 3–6 g dry leaf (PED); 4.5 g dry leaf/22 ml alcohol/23 ml water (PED); 1.5–4 g leaf, or in tea, 3 ×/day (CAN); 2–4 tbsp fresh leaf (PED); 3 g herb/150 ml water 1–4 ×/day (PIP); 1.5–4 ml liquid extract (1:1 in 25% ethanol) 3 ×/day (CAN); 1–4 ml concentrated BPC infusion (CAN); 15–30 ml BPC fresh infusion (CAN); 5 ml tincture 3 ×/day (SKY); 10–17 ml tincture (1:5); 4–8 ml fluid extract (1:2); 2–4 ml liquid leaf extract (PNC); 2–4 ml concentrated leaf infusion (PNC); 1–3 (500 mg) capsules 3 ×/day (NH); 250–500 mg StX (20% arbutin) (SKY).

Contraindications, Interactions, and Side Effects (Bearberry) — Class 2b, 2d. Contraindicated

in kidney disorders, irritated digestive conditions, acidic urine; not for prolonged used (AHP; AEH; WAM). Hepatosis, nausea, nephrosis, stomachache, vomiting. Use no more than 1 week, unless otherwise directed by physician. Not recommended for children, lactating, pregnant, or nephritic patients (AHP; PH2; SKY). Canadians discourage bearberry as a nonmedicinal ingredient for oral use (Michols, 1995). Do not take other urine acidifiers, which could lessen antisepsis (KOM). One gram of the cytotoxic hydroquinone, equivalent to 6–20 g plant material, totally extracted (I presume) has caused collapse, convulsions, cyanosis, delirium, nausea, shortness of breath, tinnitus, and vomiting. Five grams has proved fatal. Because of high tannin content, prolonged use of uvaursi may cause chronic liver impairment. Since large doses are reportedly oxytocic, and in view of hydroquinone’s toxicity, “the use of uva-ursi during pregnancy and lactation is best avoided,” but in the last paragraph on page 259, the hydroquinone concentrations “provided by ingestion of therapeutic doses of uva-ursi are not thought to represent a risk to human health” (CAN).

Extracts (Bearberry) — Aqueous and methanol extracts molluscicidal at 50 ppm. Antiseptic

(bactericidal) activity of arbutin, at least on urinary-tract bacteria, depends on beta-glucosidase activity of the microbe, Enterobacter, Klebsiella, and Streptococcus being highest, Bacillus, Mycobacterium, Shigella, and Staphylococcus apparently intermediate, with Escherichia being lowest. Arbutin is absorbed from the GI tract virtually unchanged. During renal excretion, it is hydrolyzed to the active principle, hydroquinone, which exerts an antiseptic and astringent action on the urinary mucous membranes. The crude extract is reportedly more effective than isolated arbutin, due to other chemicals that may also yield hydroquinone. Gallic acid in the crude extract may prevent beta-glucosidase cleavage of arbutin in the GI tract before absorption, thereby delivering more hydroquinone in renal excretion (CAN). Methanol extract (50%) inhibits tyrosinase. This could also inhibit the formation of melanin from DOPA (KOM). LD50 2% hydroquinone = 320–550 mg/kg orl (MAB); Arbutin = codeine as antitussive and stronger than the non-narcotic dropropizine (MAB).

Commercial Use
Herbal Medicine: The leaves are grown commercially in Spain and to a lesser extent in Canada and the United States for use in medicine as a diuretic and astringent. The medicine is marketed under the name of Uva Ursi or Bearberry. [Coffee]

Occultists place bowls of bearberry leaves in rooms to stimulate astral projection and psychic opening.[Schofield]


The chief medicinal principle of kinnikinnick tea is a glycoside known as arbutin, found in many members of the heather family. [Coffee] Uva-ursi contains ten percent arbutin and substantial ericolin, substances that hydrolize in stomach fluids to form the urinary antiseptics, hydroquinolone and methylhydroquinone.[Schofield]
Folium Uvae Ursi; (consists of the dried leaves of A. uva-ursi)
The major constituent is arbutin (5–15%). Related hydroquinone derivatives present include hydroquinone and methylarbutin (up to 4%). Gallic acid is the major phenolic carboxylic acid present, together with galloyl arbutin and up to 20% of gallotannins, flavonoids and triterpenes, mainly ursolic acid and uvaol (4, 10–12). [WHO]

  • ALLANTOIN Plant: DUKE1992A
  • ALUMINUM Leaf 719 ppm; DUKE1992A
  • ARBUTIN Leaf 50,000 - 120,000 ppm DUKE1992A
  • ASCORBIC-ACID Leaf 191 ppm; DUKE1992A
  • ASH Leaf 50,000 ppm; DUKE1992A Seed 6,000 - 33,000 ppm DUKE1992A
  • BETA-CAROTENE Leaf 172 ppm; DUKE1992A
  • CALCIUM Leaf 10,900 ppm; DUKE1992A
  • CARBOHYDRATES Leaf 814,000 ppm; DUKE1992A
  • CHROMIUM Leaf 12 ppm; DUKE1992A
  • COBALT Leaf 17 ppm; DUKE1992A
  • FAT Leaf 26,000 ppm; DUKE1992A Seed 20,000 - 500,000 ppm DUKE1992A
  • FIBER Leaf 121,000 ppm; DUKE1992A
  • GALLIC-ACID Plant: DUKE1992A
  • HYDROQUINONE-GLYCOSIDES Leaf 50,000 - 180,000 ppm DUKE1992A
  • HYDROQUINONES Leaf 3,000 - 5,000 ppm DUKE1992A
  • HYPERIN Leaf: DUKE1992A
  • IRON Leaf 1,050 ppm; DUKE1992A
  • KILOCALORIES Leaf 2,710 /kg; DUKE1992A
  • LUPEOL Plant: DUKE1992A
  • MAGNESIUM Leaf 1,210 ppm; DUKE1992A
  • MALIC-ACID Leaf: DUKE1992A
  • MANGANESE Leaf 165 ppm; DUKE1992A
  • NIACIN Leaf: DUKE1992A
  • PHOSPHORUS Leaf 370 ppm; DUKE1992A
  • POTASSIUM Leaf 3,830 ppm; DUKE1992A
  • PROTEIN Leaf 111,000 ppm; DUKE1992A Seed 25,000 - 256,000 ppm DUKE1992A
  • SELENIUM Leaf: DUKE1992A
  • SILICON Leaf 70 ppm; DUKE1992A
  • SODIUM Leaf 60 ppm; DUKE1992A
  • TANNIN Plant 60,000 - 200,000 ppm DUKE1992A
  • THIAMIN Leaf 1 ppm; DUKE1992A
  • TIN Leaf: DUKE1992A
  • URSOLIC-ACID Leaf 4,000 - 7,500 ppm DUKE1992A
  • UVAOL Plant: DUKE1992A
  • WATER Leaf 884,000 ppm; DUKE1992A
  • ZINC Leaf: DUKE1992A

ppm = parts per million
tr = trace

The use of arbutin and hydroquinone as skin-whitening agents has been investigated.[HMI Stockey]

Constituents of Essential Oils
GC and GC/MS analyses of the essential oils extracted from Arctostaphylos uva-ursi and Vaccinium vitis-idaea leaves enabled the identification of 338 different constituents (243 in A. uva-ursi and 187 in V. vitis-idaea, Table 1), representing 90.4 and 91.7% of the total GC peak areas, respectively. The major contributors to the V. vitis-idaea oil were α-terpineol (17.0%), pentacosane (6.4%), (E,E)-α-farnesene (4.9%), linalool (4.7%) and (Z)-hex-3-en-1-ol (4.4%). The same two constituents, α-terpineol (7.8%) and linalool (7.3%), were predominant in the oil of A. uva-ursi, additionally characterized by hexadecanoic acid (4.5%) and (E)-geranyl acetone (4.1%). Another common feature of the analyzed oils was the presence of terpenoids (46.8 and 49.5% in A. uva-ursi and V. vitis-idaea oils, respectively) and fatty acid derived compounds (34.1% - V. vitis-idaea, 10.7% - A. uva-ursi oil) in high relative amounts. Fatty acids and fatty acid esters (F, 11.8%), and carotenoid derived compounds.[CSLV]
(CD, 14.1%) represented a significant portion of A. uva-ursi oil. The mentioned constituents belonging to F and CD classes were identified in the V. vitis-idaea oil as well, but were present in a considerably smaller relative amount. [CSLV]
Chemical studies showed the presence in the aerial part of A. uva-ursi of various groups of phenolic compounds (simple phenols, phenolic glycosides, flavonoids, procyanidins, tannins) [3–5], triterpenes [6], polysaccharides [7], lipids [8], and essential oil [9]. Data on the composition of the plant roots are limited to reports of the presence in them of unedoside [10].[OPC]
the composition of phenolic compounds from leafy shoots and roots of A. uva-ursi growing in Buryatiya.



KinnikinnickArctostaphylos uva-ursi [Turner, Kuhnlein]

Part:GreensPer 100 g fresh weight
Food Energy (Kcal)-Ash (g)1Potassium (mg)-
Water (g)49Thiamine (mg)-Magnesium (mg)-
Protein (g)1.7Riboflavin (mg)-Calcium (mg)221
Fat (g)3.1Niacin (mg)-Phosphorus (mg)39
Carbohydrate (g)-Vitamin C (mg)-Sodium (mg)-
Crude Fiber (g)4.2Vitamin A (RE)2.1Iron (mg)12.7
Zinc (mg)-Manganese (mg)0.6Copper (mg)-


Seed - best sown in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe. Pre-soak dried seed in boiling water for 10 - 20 seconds or burn some straw on top of them and then stratify at 2 - 5°c for 2 months[11, 200]. The seed usually germinates in 2 - 3 months at 15°c[134]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame or greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer. Cuttings of side shoots of the current season's growth, 5 - 8cm with a heel, August to December in a frame. The cuttings are very slow and can take a year to root[1, 78]. Division in early spring. Take care because the plant resents root disturbance. Pot the divisions up and keep them in a lightly shaded position in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are growing away actively. Layering of long branches in early spring[200, 238]. [PFAF]

Often planted on sandy slopes, highway cuts, and barren soils to check erosion. Transplant dormant roots in spring, or sink a flowerpot filled with sandy soil near an established patch. After the herb roots itself, cut it free and transplant to the desired area. [Schofield]
A good ground-cover for steep sandy banks in a sunny position[188, 200] or in light shade[197]. A carpeting plant, growing fairly fast and carpeting as it spreads[208]. It is valuable for checking soil erosion on watersheds[212]. This is also a pioneer plant in the wild, often being the first plant to colonize burnt-over areas, especially on poor soils[155].[PFAF]
Requires a deep moist well-drained light or medium lime-free loam in sun or semi-shade[3, 11, 200]. One report says that this species succeeds in alkaline soils[182] (a rather surprising comment considering the general needs of the genus - it is more likely that the plant can grow on limestone so long as the soil remains acid[K]).Shade tolerant[31] but plants produce less fruit when they are grown in the shade[200]. Prefers a cool damp position. A very ornamental plant, it is sometimes cultivated for its medicinal uses[1]. There are a number of named varieties developed for their ornamental interest[200]. The form 'Massachusetts' is an especially prostrate, free-flowering and free-fruiting form[183]. 'Anchor Bay', 'Point Reyes' and 'Vulcan's Peak' have all been mentioned as good groundcover forms[200]. This is one of the first plants to colonize bare and rocky ground and burnt over areas[155]. It is often an indicator of poor soils in the wild[212]. Plants resent root disturbance and should be placed in their final positions as soon as possible[11, 134]. Hybridizes with other members of this genus, especially A. columbiana.[PFAF]

Ectomycorrhizal Fungi
This is the first study focussing on European A. uva-ursi in subalpine and alpine habitats. Abundant and very species-rich ectomycorrhizal fungal communities were detected in all habitats of A. uva-ursi. The community structure was typical for any ECM host, but the detection of fungi that are usually considered to be highly specific on other host plants was surprising. We conclude that A. uva-ursi harbours a wide array of generalist and host specific fungi that are capable of colonising a wide range of tree hosts.[EMFARC]


Sustainable Harvesting:
Guidelines for the sustainable gathering and patterns of collection A. uva-ursi biomass in the Pyrenean area were established to obtain optimum yield and to preserve the viability of the populations. Mainly, harvest should occur in populations located in areas without tree stands and/or on southern slopes as these areas have the highest leaf production and are the richest in arbutin content. Plant collection should be done in the autumn to obtain the highest content in arbutin and to do the least harm to the regeneration capacity of the plants. Only a small portion of the total stems and leaves (<25% of the stand cover) should be cut to limit any effect on regeneration capacity of the plant. Harvesting the same population should be limited to once in three to four years being optimal for stand preservation. Finally, a previous selection of the areas to harvest, and a good knowledge of their probable preceding exploitation, is indispensable. [SWHAUU]

Synonyms A. officinalis. Arbutus uva-ursi. Uva-ursi procumbens. Uva-ursi uva-ursi. [PFAF].

Uva-Ursi uva-ursi (L.) Britton [E-flora]


  1. [E-flora] Arctostaphylos uva-ursi [Accessed: 6/11/2014 9:53:55 PM ]
  2. [CSLV] Comparative Study of the Leaf Volatiles of Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (L.) Spreng. and Vaccinium vitis-idaea L. (Ericaceae), Niko Radulović, Polina Blagojević and Radosav Palić, Molecules 2010, 15(9), 6168-6185
  3. [EMFARC] High diversity of ectomycorrhizal fungi associated with Arctostaphylos uva-ursi in subalpine and alpine zones: Potential inoculum for afforestation Doris Krpata, Oliver Mühlmann, Regina Kuhnert, Heidi Ladurner, Friederike Göbl, Ursula Peintner, Forest Ecology and Management Volume 250, Issue 3, 20 October 2007, Pages 167–175
  4. [PFAF.org]http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Arctostaphylos+uva-ursi, Accessed April 11, 2015
  5. [OPC] 6″-Galloylpicein and other phenolic compounds from Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, D. N. Olennikov and G. V. Chekhirova, Chemistry of Natural Compounds March 2013, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 1-7
  6. [SWHAUU]Sustainable Wild Harvesting of Arctostaphylos uva-ursi in the Pyrenees as a Conservation Practice, J. Recasens, P. Ninot, R. Cristóbal & P. Aymerich, Journal of Herbs, Spices & Medicinal Plants Volume 14, Issue 1-2, 2008
  7. [WHO] WHO monographs on selected medicinal plants, Volume 2, WHO, 1999, P. 342 - 351

The information presented on this site is provided for educational purposes. Self diagnosis and treatment, without due diligence, could be harmful and is not encouraged. Some information & images may be copyright. Every effort has been made to present the information in the spirit with which it was originally presented. Some data has been omitted for legal and/or practical consideration. There is some data not covered in the scope of this project, including, but not limited to, cell culture and large-dose animal studies. I have made comparisons and links between related species which may later prove erroneous. I have not verified the information for accuracy and I accept no responsibility for its authenticity. Many of the plants presented are poisonous, have poisonous properties, or could cause illness through misuse, allergic reaction, drug interactions and environmental contaminants. Please use caution and mindfulness when harvesting plants for any use.

Page last modified on 11-04-2015