Uva Ursi Leaf
Veterinarian Reviewed on January 10, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized
Uva Ursi Leaf
The Uva ursi plant is characterized by its short and red-brown branches. The small, spoon-shaped Uva ursi leaf is alternately attached in the stem and the part that provides medicinal use. In the spring time, it’s bell-shaped flowers in white or pink will start to appear and will become red berries in late summer. The Uva ursi leaf can be taken in crushed form or powdered form.
History and Origin
The Uva ursi plant is related to the popular species of a native ornamental shrub, and also known as bearberry. The name is a Greek translation of “bear’s bunch of berries”. Accordingly, bears favor the red fruit although it is sour. The habitat of Uva ursi is typically located on open hillsides of the alpine, mountains, canyons and forest. It grows in a deep, moist and drained light loam on semi-shaded area or under the sun.
Since the second century, the medicinal value of Uva ursi leaf has been used. The Native Americans found its usefulness to cure urinary tract infections. Actually, not until antibiotics and sulfa drugs were discovered, was Uva ursi leaf used as an effective treatment for infection related to the bladder. Researchers and studies found that it has antibacterial properties due to its hydroquinone glycoside arbutin content that fights urinary tract infections. This chemical is absorbed by the body through the stomach and disposed-off during urination. It acts on the urinary tract’s mucous membranes, and sooths irritation, reduces inflammation, as well as fights infection. The astringent properties of Uva ursi leaf are good for the treatment of dysentery, diarrhea, infections in the bladder, and other disorders of urinary tract. It also has other potential chemicals namely ursolic acid, flavonoids, gallic acid, tannic acid, resin and essential oil that provide anti-bacterial, diuretic, disinfectant, lithontripic, tonic, sedative, and antiseptic actions.
Today, other than urinary tract infections, the Uva ursi leaf is used for the treatment of cystitis or bladder inflammation and kidney stones. It can neutralize acidity found in the urine, and will reduce water retention and bloating by increasing urine flow. The Uva ursi leaf can also strengthen the heart muscle, remove excess blood sugar, help with fluid retention, and fix a womb back to normal size after childbirth. In addition, it can handle liver concerns, lung congestion, lower back pain, arthritis, vaginal discharge, and excessive menstruation.
Lack of information for safety can be a reason to prohibit people with kidney diseases, children, breast-feeding mothers, and pregnant women for using Uva ursi leaf. Large doses of this herb during pregnancy can stimulate uterine contractions. People having high blood pressure are advised to consult their doctor before making use of Uva ursi leaf.
Uva ursi leaf needs an alkaline urine in order to make antimicrobial properties working. People who are using Uva ursi leaf should refrain from eating acidic food such as pineapple, citrus and tomato in order not to impede the process. Prescription drugs like ammonium chloride, and other non-prescription items like rose hips, Vitamin C, and food like cranberry juice can make urine be more acidic. Taking these urine acidifiers may potentially lessen or eliminate the antibacterial effects of the Uva ursi leaf. It should not be used for period longer than one week, and repeating its use over five times in a year is discouraged.
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan