The leaves of the uva ursi shrub have been used worldwide for urinary problems for at least 1,000 years. The leaves contain arbutin, which is converted in the urinary tract to hydroquinone, a widely used antiseptic. They also contain tannin, an astringent useful in treating wounds, and allantoin, which soothes and accelerates the healing of tissue. Uva ursi, which literally means "bearberry," is an ingredient in most herbal teas that are taken for urinary problems. This woody, mat-forming, evergreen shrub, which appears throughout the Northern Hemisphere, prefers poor, gravelly soil and rarely grows more than a few inches tall.
Taken internally for:
Applied externally for:
Over the counter:
Uva ursi is available in the form of dried leaves; as a tincture; and as a tea, alone or in combination with other ingredients.
Tea: Simmered in hot water for 5 to 10 minutes, then allow to stand for 12 to 24 hours. To counteract the effect of the tannin content, add peppermint or chamomile.
Compress: Tea made, strained, the herb discarded, a pad soaked in the tea and applied.