Uva Ursi
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Uva Ursi?

The uva ursi plant is a low-lying evergreen bush whose berries are a favorite of bears, hence the name "bearberry." However, it is the leaves that are used medicinally.

Uva ursi has a long history of use for treating urinary conditions in both America and Europe. Up until the development of sulfa antibiotics, its principal active component, arbutin, was frequently prescribed as a urinary antiseptic.

Safety Issues

There are significant safety concerns with uva ursi. The arbutin contained in uva ursi leaves is broken down in the intestine to another chemical, hydroquinone. This is altered a bit by the liver and then sent to the kidneys for excretion. 1 Hydroquinone then acts as an antiseptic in the bladder. Unfortunately, hydroquinone is also a liver toxin, carcinogen, and irritant. 2 3 4 For this reason, uva ursi is not recommended for long-term use. In addition, it should not be taken by young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease.