Uva Ursi

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi


Uva ursi is Latin for bear berry, one of the plant's common names, and an allusion to the fact that bears love eating its berries. Sometimes called arbutus-uva-ursi, this ground covering plant is an indigenous American evergreen. Uva Ursi leaves are astringent and highly regarded for their ability to tone the urinary passages.

First Nations people have used uva ursi as a urinary antiseptic for more than a thousand years. They smoke it in a blend called kinnikinnick. Shamans and medicine people used uva ursi to induce visions.

Uva ursi leaves contain a crystalline glucoside, arbutin, which is absorbed and excreted by the kidneys. Arbutin exercises an antiseptic effect on the urinary mucous membranes, so it is of great value dealing with any problem of the bladder and kidneys, including urethritis and cystitis. Arbutin has a strengthening, tonifying and healing effect on the entire urinary system. I've seen uva ursi cure urinary tract infections that are unresponsive to pharmaceutical antibiotics.

An elderly man came to me with such frequent urination that he was unable to do the simplest things, like tend his garden in view of his neighbors. He'd used antibiotics under the care of various physicians for several years, all to no avail. He began a course of uva ursi and within weeks there was improvement. Men dealing with prostate or urinary tract disorders find uva ursi's  antimicrobial and antiseptic action minimizes the risk of urinary tract infection.

Uva ursi's ability to encourage flows make it useful for eliminating premenstrual bloating. Its astringent properties make it a good choice to help diminish excessive menstrual bleeding during menopause.

To make use of uva ursi's healing properties, I've found the most useful dose is one cup of dried leaf infusion, or 10 drops of fresh uva ursi tincture, 3-6 times daily until symptoms subside, continuing twice daily for another week or ten days. Ten drops of uva ursi tincture, or one cup of infusion daily, often works as a preventative.

To get the most benefit from uva ursi's antiseptic properties, avoid the use of acidic foods and supplements, such as citrus fruits and vitamin C. In addition to arbutin, uva ursi's other constituents include methyl-arbutin, resin, gallic acid and ellagic acid - a yellow principle resembling quercetin, tannin and ash.

Flower Essence Uva ursi flower essence helps us to connect with deep emotions and deep creativity, bringing ideas to the surface for manifestation in the world.

Magical Lore I had the great privilege of spending time at Blacktail Ranch in Montana with Brooke Medicine Eagle many years ago. On one outing we went to a place called Medicine Rock, a huge boulder that climbs out of the earth for several hundred feet. I was in awe of the splendor. People have left medicine objects and prayer offerings at this place for thousands of years. The ground all around Medicine Rock was covered ankle deep with uva ursi.

Widely used as a religious herb by First Nations people, uva ursi is smoked in a pipe to increase psychic abilities. Some nations used it to train shamans in skills of divination and prophecy. Burn uva ursi leaves as incense to enhance your visionary powers.

Culture Uva ursi likes to grow in acidic, well-drained, dry, sandy or gritty soils, that are not especially fertile, in full sun, though it will tolerate part shade. They are drought tolerant once established but do not grow well in hot, humid conditions.

Difficult to transplant from the wild, they are best propagated by cuttings from the current year’s growth, layering or careful division. Gather the small leathery leaves of uva ursi during the fall. I dry them on screens for infusions and tincture them while fresh or dry, in alcohol or vinegar. 

WARNING! Pregnant women should not use uva ursi as it stimulates uterine contractions. 

I honor your Gods,

I drink at your well,

I bring an undefended heart to our meeting place,

I have no cherished outcomes,

I will not negotiate by withholding, and

I am not subject to disappointment.

Celtic Prayer of Approach

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