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

Uva Ursi Side Effects and Warnings

Written by FoundHealth.

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.


  1. Frohne VD. The urinary disinfectant effect of extract from leaves uva ursi [in German; English abstract]. Planta Med. 1970;18:1-25.
  2. Nowak AK, Shilkin KB, Jeffrey GP. Darkroom hepatitis after exposure to hydroquinone [letter]. Lancet. 1995;345:1187.
  3. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Extremely Hazardous Substances. Superfund Chemical Profiles. Park Ridge, NJ: Noyes Data Corporation; 1988:1906-1907.
  4. Lewis RJ Sr. Sax’s Dangerous Properties of Industrial Materials. 8th ed. New York, NY: Van Nostrand Reinhold; 1989:1906-1907.


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