Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)


Bearberry Overview:

Bearberry is a small shrub native to the temperate climates of North America and Europe. The leaves are almost exclusive for treating bladder and urinary tract infections but are also used to reduce inflammation topically and internally.

Bearberry is mainly used as a treatment for urinary tract infections, venerial disease, and prostatitis. Some of the glycosides contained in the leaves becomes active one passing into the urine, where the antimicrobial components can then take effect without being subjected to metabolism by the liver.

Although effective, bearberry must be used cautiously, and never more than 5 days in a row or more than 3 times in a year.

+ Indications

  • Inflammatory or infectious conditions of lower UT especially cystitis
  • Prostatitis
  • Kidney or bladder calculi
  • Acute catarrhal cystitis with dysuria (BHP)
  • Cystitis
  • Topical inflammations (applied topically)
  • Vaginal infection (as a douche)

+ Contraindications

  • Pregnancy & lactation
  • Kidney disease or infection
  • Not suitable for long term use

Main Herbal Actions:

  • Urinary Antiseptic
  • Astringent
  • Antinflammatory
  • Diuretic
  • Antimicrobial
  • Demulcent

Main Uses:

The main uses of bearberry are for urinary tract infections, or inflammation. This can involve cystitis, vaginal infection, kidney calculi, and prostatitis.


Part Used


Family Name



North America (Canada And United States)
Temperate parts of Asia

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Constituents of Interest

  • Arbutin
  • Ursolic acid
  • Hydraquinone

Common Names

  • Bearberry
  • Uva-ursi
  • Mountain cranberry
  • Green manzanita
  • Raisin d'ours
  • Kinnikinnick
  • Foxberry
  • Crowberry
  • Mealberry
  • Mountain tobacco

Botanical Info:

The Arctostaphylos genus contains 50 species. The uva-ursi species is named after the Uva-ursi constellation which takes the shape of a bear in Greek astrology.

The leaves of bearberry are charactaistically obovate, with a dark green top and silvery-grey bottom.


Research Overview:

Level Of Research:


Clinical Applications Of Bearberry:

Bearberries hydroquinone esters are useful for treating urinary tract infections. This is by far the best and most popular application of bearberry medicinally.



bearberry is not suitable for long term use. Limit to 5 consecutive days, and no more than 3 times per year.

Contraindicated with pregnancy, lactation, and children under 12.

Contraindicated with kidney disorders.


Recommended Products Containing Bearberry:

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Standardised Bearberry Capsules

Douglas Loboratories

Made from Arctostaphylos uva-ursi. Standardised.

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Bearberry Leaf Powder

Bulk Supplements

Made from Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

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Bearberry Extract

herb Pharm

Made from Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

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For list of references see the full bearberry monograph.