Payne Mountain Farms
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Using uva-ursi in herbal medicine

Uva-Ursi (Arctostaphylos Uva-Ursi) is also known as bearberry, bear grape, mountain cranberry, and chipmunks apple. Leaves of the plant are used to treat chronic bladder and urinary tract infections. They are used to reduce urinary pain and are used to produce diuretic effects. The herb has also been used as a general tonic for weakened kidneys, liver, and the pancreas.

Uva-ursi leaves are extremely antiseptic and very effective in treating acid urine. Uva-ursi leaves are also used to treat kidney stones and are helpful in cases of chronic diarrhea. Uva-ursi acts on the mucus membranes of the urinary tract to soothe irritation, reduce inflammation, and fight infection.

The berries are considered to be beneficial as a weight loss aid. The berries and leaves neutralize acidity in the urine, increase urine flow, and reduce bloating & water retention.

Uva-ursi is very astringent and is good for infections due to its drying action.  High amounts of the chemical compound, glycoside arbutin, are present in uva-ursi. This substance kills bacteria in urine. Before it can act, however, the urine must be alkaline. To ensure alkaline urine, drink 6 to 8 grams of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) mixed with water.  Do not take uva-ursi with fruit juice, tomatoes, pineapple, or vitamin C.

Uva-ursi tea or tincture is sometimes used in treating bed wetting and has been reported to be effective against E. coli. Uva-ursi has been used externally as an astringent wash for cuts and scrapes. 

Native Americans not only use uva-ursi as a medicinal herb for treating urinary infections, they also combine uva-ursi with tobacco for smoking. In Russia, uva-ursi is used as a beverage. In Scandinavia, the leaves are sometimes used to tan leather (because of the high tannin content).

The dried leaves are extremely useful in herbal medicine. Leaves should be collected in the fall and dried completely before storing in air-tight containers.

A native of cold, northern regions, uva-ursi is an evergreen ground-cover with red berries. The plant thrives in humus-rich, acid soil. Bears are very fond of the berries and they are also a major food source for grouse. Cattle usually avoid the plant.

Uva-ursi is sometimes grown as an ornamental plant. It is very attractive when cascading over walls and embankments. Uva-ursi has small, pink, bell-shaped flowers that mature into red berries. The berries are edible but sour tasting. They can be used as a survival food in extreme situations.

 * Use uva-ursi for only one or two weeks at a time. Do not use uva-ursi if you have kidney disease or high blood pressure. Uva-ursi can irritate the stomach. If you experience stomach discomfort, discontinue use. Uva-ursi is not recommended for children under twelve years of age. Do not use during pregnancy. Studies indicate that uva-ursi may increase the anti-inflammatory effects of corticosteroid medications including ibuprofen.  Always consult with a physician before using any herbal remedy.