Bearberry - Arctostaphylos uva ursi, Uva Ursi
2007-02-06 11:56:30
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Herb Name including Botanical and Other Names
Latinized name is
Arctostaphylos uva ursi
and it is an herb that is known by many common names. Common names of Bearberry include Arberry, Beargrape, and Bear’s grape, Foxberry, Hogberry, Kinnikinnick, Mealberry, Mountain Box, Mountain Cranberry, Red Bearberry, Rockberry, Sagackhomi, Sandberry, Upland Cranberry, and Uva Ursi.
Herb Overview
Bearberry was first used by the Welsh physicians of Myddfai in the thirteen century. It is the tannin in the leaves of bearberry that was formerly used to tan leather in Russia and Sweden. Bearberry has been used since the second century and Native Americans relied on Bearberry as a treatment for infections, particularly urinary tract infections, bladder infections and other similar ailments. Actually, until the discovery of certain antibiotics, Bearberry was often relied on to treat infections because Bearberry has antimicrobial substances in its makeup. Bearberry is sometimes used to rid one of excess water because the herb offers diuretic effects with its use.
Herb Description
Bearberry is an herb that is derived from a shrub. The shrub thrives in Alpine forests and in various areas of North America, Canada, Europe, Asia, the Iberian Peninsula, the Himalayas and Siberia. It is a dwarfed evergreen shrub that flourishes best in humus-enriched soil and it can often be found along rocky hills. The Bearberry plant has brown colored branches, and the shrub possess bell-like blooms colored pink and white during the spring months of the year. Part of the reason that the Bearberry shrub has earned its name is because bears in the wild possess a liking for the berries that develop on the plant. The berries of the Bearberry shrub are acerbic but edible. 
Like the branches of the Bearberry, the bark is brownish red. The leaves of the Bearberry appear shiny; they are oblong and grow to a little over two centimeters long. Further, the colored bell-shaped blooms appear in terminal racemes that droop down, usually in clusters of four or more. Later, the blooms become berries that consist of a bright red color.
Herb make-up
The only parts of the Bearberry that are used in medicinal treatments are the leaves and the berries are not used in natural remedies. The leaves are used as a natural remedy for Kidney Stones, cystitis, urinary tract infections and a derivate of hydroquinone called arbutin, is the main compound in Bearberry. Arbutin is easily absorbed through the digestive system and it produces antibacterial, antimicrobial and cleansing effects on the body. During the process of elimination, the herb works to soothe irritated areas in the membranes of the urinary tract while simultaneously working against any infection that may exist.
Types available
Bearberry is available for purchase in leaf form. The leaves are crushed and created into powder and the powder can be used to treat a number of ailments and infections. Bearberry is also sold in capsule form.
Method of intake
Children that are under the age of 12 should not be exposed to Bearberry under any circumstances. Sufficient studies have not been conducted to determine the affects of Bearberry on small children. If Bearberry is used on children older than 12 years of age, it is still recommended that a healthcare professional is contacted for consultation first. A healthcare professional can appropriately monitor children while using Bearberry.
Adults can use Bearberry to treat infections, but they should still seek the advice of a healthcare professional. Adults can use the dried herb, which is available in capsule form and it can be used up to four times every day. Bearberry can also be brewed as a tea by pouring one cup of hot water over a teaspoon of dried Bearberry. A tea ball can also be used and Bearberry needs to be steeped in the hot water for approximately 15 minutes. The tea can be ingested up to four times daily.
Bearberry can be used as an extract up to four times a day and tinctures can be used three to four times each day to gain the desired result. It is however, recommended that Bearberry is not used more than a period of one week and it is suggested that a healthcare professional is contacted whenever taking herbal remedies.
Bearberry promotes immune system functioning and helps improve one’s overall well being. It is important to realize that the use of herbs may produce side effects and that taking herbs without proper healthcare advice can be dangerous. If an individual is taking other medications, this warning is particularly important—a healthcare professional can advise of possible, dangerous interactions that an individual may otherwise be unaware of.
When taking Bearberry, in order to get the full effect from the herb, one should not drink citrus drinks like Orange juice, grape juice, pineapple juice, Grapefruit juice or Tomato juice. It is also advisable to take a little bit of baking soda to insure that alkaline remains in the urine: Bearberry requires alkaline in the urine to work effectively. Again, Bearberry should not be taken more than seven days at a time and it should only be used for a maximum of five times in one year.
Extensive use of Bearberry can result in undesirable side effects including an increased heart rate, bouts of insomnia, periods of irritability, the onset of nausea, and in some cases, Vomiting can result. Pregnant women and breastfeeding women should not use Bearberry and individuals with high Blood pressure should avoid the use of this herb.
Interaction possibilities
Those individuals who are currently using Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and Corticosteriods should not use Bearberry at the same time before discussing it with a healthcare professional. Certain animal studies conducted in Japan reveal that Bearberry might increase the effects of NSAIDs like ibuprofen and indomethacin and Corticosteriods treatments including prednisolone and dexamethasone. Additional studies are still in progress and until such studies are conclusive, it is imperative that people using any kind of medication seek professional advice before using Bearberry as a treatment for certain ailments.
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