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Uva Ursi

Plant Part Used

Leaf, fruit

Active Constituents

Glycosides, tannin, hydroquinone, and allantoin. (1) , (2) [span class=alert]

This section is a list of chemical entities identified in this dietary supplement to possess pharmacological activity. This list does not imply that other, yet unidentified, constituents do not influence the pharmacological activity of this dietary supplement nor does it imply that any one constituent possesses greater influence on the overall pharmacological effect of this dietary supplement.[/span]


Uva ursi has been used worldwide as a diuretic, astringent, and antiseptic for centuries. It has historically been recommended for nephritis, kidney stones, cystitis, and as a tonic for the liver. (3) Its antiseptic activity is claimed to soothe the membranes of the urinary tract in much the same manner as phenazopyridine. Uva ursi, or bearberry, is a low growing evergreen shrub found native in many parts of the world.

Dosage Info

Dosage Range

100-200mg (standardized extract) daily.

Most Common Dosage

100mg (standardized extract), 2 times a day.


[span class=doc]Standardization represents the complete body of information and controls that serve to enhance the batch to batch consistency of a botanical product, including but not limited to the presence of a marker compound at a defined level or within a defined range.[/span]

The most current available medical and scientific literature indicates that this dietary supplement should be standardized to 10-25% arbutin per dose.


Frequently Reported Uses

  • Astringent
  • Diuretic
  • Uroantiseptic
  • Intestinal depurative
Other Reported Uses
  • Nephritis
  • Urinary Tract Infection
  • Kidney Stones

Toxicities & Precautions


If you have any type of kidney disorder, do not take this herb. (4)

Do not use if urine is acidic. It may turn the urine green.

Symptoms of severe toxicity include tinnitus, nausea, stomach upset, vomiting, shortness of breath, sense of suffocation, convulsions, delirium and collapse. (5)

Health Conditions

Do not use in acute cystitis. (6)

Pregnancy/ Breast Feeding

Oxytocic, do not use in pregnancy. (7) , (15)

Age Limitations

Do not use in children under 12 years of age.


Uva ursi possessed antimicrobial activity and is commonly used to treat UTIs.The antimicrobial activity is believed to be due to arbutin, a phenolic glycoside, which is converted into aglycone hydroquinones and released in alkaline urine.(16) It was shown that uva ursi increased the hydrophobicity of the microbial cell surface, therefore reducing the ability of bacteria to adhere to host cells. (8),(9),(17) If arbutin is given alone, it is broken down in the GI tract. However, when the whole plant is taken, the other components protect it from degradation and enhance absorption. This might explain why crude extract exerted more antimicrobial effect than isolated arbutin.


Studies reported that uva ursi leaf extracts (phenolic compounds) possessed antioxidant and radical scavenging activities.(18) The extracts also inhibited cytochrome P450 enzymes and P-glycoprotein transport, which may affect drug metabolism and efficacy.(19)

An observational case report of a female patient found after taking uva ursi, a known inhibitor of melanin synthesis, for 3 years developed symptoms of bilateral bull’s-eye maculopathy. Caution should be taken when ingesting this herb for any length of time.(10)

Recently, in vitro study reported that uva ursi has inhibitory activity to porcine pancreatic lipase. (20)


  1. View Abstract: Jahodar L, et al. Investigation of Iridoid Substances in Arctostaphylos Uva-ursi. Pharmazie. 1978;33:536-37.
  2. Jahodar L, et al. Antimicrobial Effect of Arbutin and an Extract of the Leaves of Arctostaphylos Uva-ursi in Vitro. Cesk Farm. 1985;34(5):174-78.
  3. Newall CA, et al. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health Care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press; 1996:258-59.
  4. Newall CA, et al. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health Care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press; 1996:258-59.
  5. Uva ursi. Merck Index. 12th ed. Whitehouse Station, NJ: Merck and Co; 1996:1688.
  6. Uvae ursi folium. German Commission E Monograph. May1984;Bundesanzeiger:no.228.
  7. Newall CA, et al. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health Care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press; 1996:258-59.
  8. View Abstract: Matsuda H, et al. Pharmacological Studies on Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (L.) Spreng. III. Combined Effect of Arbutin and Prednisolone or Dexamethazone on Immuno-inflammation. Yakugaku Zasshi. 1991;111(4-5):68-76.
  9. Assaf MH, et al. Preliminary Study of Phenolic Glycosides from Origanum Majorana; Quantitative Estimation of Arbsutin; Cytotoxic Activity of Hydroquinone. Planta Medica. 1987;53:343-45.
  10. View Abstract: Wang L, Del Priore LV. Bull's-eye maculopathy secondary to herbal toxicity from uva ursi. Am J Ophthalmol. Jun2004;137(6):1135-7.
  11. Idolo M, Motti R, Mazzoleni S. Ethnobotanical and phytomedicinal knowledge in a long-history protected area, the Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise National Park (Italian Apennines). J Ethnopharmacol. 2010 Feb 3;127(2):379-95.
  12. Jarić S, Popović Z, Macukanović-Jocić M, Djurdjević L, Mijatović M, Karadzić B, Mitrović M, Pavlović P. An ethnobotanical study on the usage of wild medicinal herbs from Kopaonik Mountain (Central Serbia). J Ethnopharmacol. 2007 Apr 20;111(1):160-75.
  13. Idolo M, Motti R, Mazzoleni S. Ethnobotanical and phytomedicinal knowledge in a long-history protected area, the Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise National Park (Italian Apennines). J Ethnopharmacol. 2010 Feb 3;127(2):379-95.
  14. Heinrich, M., Barnes, J., Gibbons, S., Williamson, E.M. Fundamentals of Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy. Churchill Livingstone, Edinbrugh. 2004. pp. 245–252.
  15. Ernst E. Herbal medicinal products during pregnancy: are they safe? BJOG. 2002 Mar;109(3):227-35.
  16. Uva ursi. In: LaGow B, chief editor. PDR for Herbal Medicines. 3rd ed. Montvale, NJ: Thomson; 2004:847-851. 
  17. Turi M, Turi E, Kotjalg S, Mikelsaar M. Influence of aqueous extracts of medicinal plants on surface hydrophobicity of Escherichia coli strains of different origin. APMIS 1997;105:956-962.
  18. Amarowicz, R., Pegg, R.B., Moghaddam, P.R., Barl, B., Weil, J. A Free-radical scavenging capacity and antioxidant activity of selected plant species from Canadian prairies. Food Chem.2004 (84): 551-562.
  19. Chauhan B, Yu C, Krantis A, Scott I, Arnason JT, Marles RJ, Foster BC. In vitro activity of uva-ursi against cytochrome P450 isoenzymes and P-glycoprotein. Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2007 Nov;85(11):1099-107.
  20. Slanc P, Doljak B, Kreft S, Lunder M, Janes D, Strukelj B. Screening of selected food and medicinal plant extracts for pancreatic lipase inhibition. Phytother Res. 2009 Jun;23(6):874-7.

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