Other names: Bear’s Grape, Bear's Bilberry, Bear's Whortleberry
Bearberry originates from North America, it is most famously used for bladder and urinary tract infections. It has been widely used as a diuretic, astringent and antiseptic, with a history of medicinal use dating back to the 2nd century.
Bladder/Cystitis/Urinary Tract Infections:
Cystitis is an infection of the urinary bladder that is more common in women than in men, due to the position of the urethra. The urethra is the tube that allows urine to pass out of the body.
Bacterial infections in this area can occur in response to changes in the delicate microbiome ecosystem of the urogenital area. This can largely be affected by factors such as diet, stress levels and hygiene regime. A low-functioning immune system may also be a risk factor.
A bacterial infection of the bladder may present with symptoms such as; abdominal pain, a constant urge to pass urine and burning sensation when passing urine. Bearberry leaves contain a high concentration of the phytochemical “arbutin” which is converted by bacteria in the urine into a molecule which is a highly potent bacterial killer. It helps to prevent harmful bacteria from growing, supporting a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria. Hydroquinone content in Bearberry may also relieve pain and inflammation in the bladder or urinary tract [i] [ii]. Arbutin also helps to reduce the accumulation of uric acid, which could be beneficial in the treatment of kidney stones [iii]. Bearberry also contains diuretic phytochemicals, including ursolic acid, which encourage the passing of urine.
The antibacterial properties of bearberry have been found to inhibit the activities of bacteria such as E-coli and proteus-vulgaris as well as some strains of staphylococcus bacteria, thus protecting against and helping to prevent intestinal infections [iv].
Its high tannin content could also be effective in the treatment of diarrhoea [v].
Compounds such as ursolic acid are powerful astringents which have a tightening effect on tissues and may help in the treatment of wounds. Another compound, allantoin, helps to promote the growth of healthy new cells and the healing of wounds. Bearberry also contains tannic acid, a phenolic acid, which studies have shown has a number of health benefits including anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and cell-protective activity.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding:
Avoid use in Pregnancy and breastfeeding as uva ursi may stimulate the uterus. There is also insufficient safety data in terms of breastfeeding.
Uva ursi is possibly unsafe for children as their liver tissue is still developing.
There are reports that uva ursi contains a chemical that can thin the retina in the eye. This could worsen the condition of people whose retinas are already too thin [vi]. Avoid use if currently experiencing this problem.
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