A popular herbal medicine with a long history of use in treating urinary tract infections, uva ursi is also known as bearberry. In our latest blog post, we explain what uva ursi is and how it can be used.
A small evergreen bush with bright red berries, uva ursi is native to North America. Uva ursi translates as “bear grapes” and the plant is also known as bearberry. Bears find the red berries delicious, which is where the name comes from.
It isn’t only bears who find uva ursi useful, however. Humans too have used the berries (and leaves) as food. More importantly, this plant has a long history of use as a herbal remedy.
Extracts from uva ursi were historically used in traditional Native American medicine as a diuretic and to treat symptoms of urinary tract infections.
The leaves were also dried and smoked in place of tobacco.
Today, uva ursi remains a popular herbal remedy for urinary tract issues and is often used as an ingredient in over-the-counter medicines. It also shows potential for treating other conditions, including acne and diabetes.
What Is Uva Ursi Good For?
Analysis reveals that uva ursi has many compounds that are beneficial for human health, including tannic acid, various flavonoids, and ursolic acid.
However, the main reason that uva ursi remains popular as a herbal medicine is its arbutin content.
Arbutin is a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic. In our bodies, it is converted to hydroquinone, which helps to relieve pain and inflammation. This has several benefits for our health.
1. Treat Urinary Issues
Uva ursi’s best-known use is in treating urinary tract infections, kidney stones, and constipation. As a diuretic, it helps to flush urine through the urinary tract, helping to remove harmful bacteria.
The arbutin in uva ursi also adds to its ability to combat urinary tract issues. When it is metabolised into hydroquinone in our bodies, it helps to relieve pain and prevent the growth of the bacteria that cause infections.
Taking uva ursi early when symptoms of a urinary tract infection appear may help you avoid needing antibiotics, as a 2021 study with almost 400 participants discovered.
2. Manage Diabetes
Although most research around uva ursi has focused on its benefits for the urinary tract, there’s some evidence that this herbal remedy may also help with diabetes management.
One study looked at the effects of uva ursi on insulin resistance and hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar), which are both associated with diabetes.
The researchers found that the uva ursi helped to protect the pancreas, reduce hyperglycaemia, and decrease insulin resistance.
This study was done on animals, so further research is needed to confirm whether uva ursi has the same effect in humans. However, it is a positive first step.
3. Banish Acne
Another popular use of uva ursi is in skincare. The arbutin in this herb has two main benefits for our skin – it reduces hyperpigmentation, and it can help to prevent and treat acne.
One of the main causes of acne is a type of bacteria called Cutibacterium acnes. But the active compounds in uva ursi can help to combat this bacteria and prevent breakouts. Because it has anti-inflammatory properties, the arbutin in uva ursi can also help to calm our skin and soothe inflammation.
Arbutin is also a popular skin-brightening ingredient, which is often found in skincare products aimed at reducing hyperpigmentation, dark spots, and uneven skin tone.
This is because arbutin helps to inhibit melanin production. Melanin is our skin’s natural pigment, but sometimes it can be produced in excess in certain areas, leading to dark spots or hyperpigmentation.
By inhibiting the production of melanin, the arbutin in uva ursi can help to lighten these areas of discoloration and give us a more even skin tone.
Arbutin is also used to reduce the appearance of scars.
How to Take Uva Ursi
If you are interested in uva ursi’s benefits for your skin, you’ll most likely want to find skincare products that contain extracts from this herb so that you can apply it topically.
But uva ursi’s other benefits require us to ingest it. While you can find it in pills, powders, and tinctures, our preferred way to enjoy this herb is as a herbal tea.
Not only is this a tastier and easier way to include uva ursi in your daily diet, but it also allows you to easily combine it with other herbs that benefit the urinary tract.
For example, we use uva ursi in two of our herbal tea blends. You’ll find it in NutraFlow, which is our tea for bladder and urinary tract health.
And you’ll also find it in NutraRelease, our premium blend designed to help you rid your body of waste and excess fluids.