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Uva Ursi

Uva Ursi

Botanical Description & Habitat

Arctostaphylos uva ursi

Family
Ericaceae

Common names

ArberryBear's grape
HogberryKinnikinnink
ManzanitaMountain box
Mountain cranberryRed bearberry
RockberrySagackhomi
Sand berryUpland cranberry



Habitat
Found in northern Europe, Asia, and North America

Description
An evergreen dwarf shrub which reaches four to six inches in height. Uva ursi flourishes in dry, sandy, or gravely soils rich in humus. It has erect, branching stems with dark brown or reddish bark. The leaves are dark green, leathery, and egg-shaped. The flowers range from white to reddish-white, and grow in terminal clusters. The fruit is a bright red, pink, or grayish-brown berry one-sixth of an inch long and contains several one-seeded nutlets.

Medicinal parts
Leaves

Historical Properties & Uses

Uva ursi leaf is a recognized diuretic, astringent, and antiseptic. The herb's leaves and extracts have been included in many commercial diuretic preparations, and are used in folk medicine around the world to treat nephritis, kidney stones, and chronic cystitis. As a diuretic, uva ursi acts directly on the kidneys to help relieve pain from bladder stones and gravel, cystitis, nephritis, and kidney stones. Arbutin and methyl-arbutin (glycosides), the herb's primary active principles, are effective urinary disinfectants when the urine is alkaline.

Early in American history, uva ursi was considered of great benefit in numerous ailments, as an astringent and anti-scorbutic. Today, uva ursi is used as a tonic and specific for cases of weakened liver, kidneys, and other glands. It is also used in the treatment of diabetes, although its antidiabetic property has not been experimentally verified. In Europe, uva ursi is sometimes used as a laxative, due to its hydroquinone content.

This herb has approval status by the German Commission E for urinary inflammation (urethritis).

References:

Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.

Method of Action

Uva Ursi Is An Antiseptic And Urinary Disinfectant
Arbutin and methyl-arbutin are converted to hydroquinones (e.g., methylhydroquinone) in the urine, if the urine is alkaline. These substances are antiseptic and disinfectant to the urine-forming and urine-excreting organs.

Uva Ursi Has Antibiotic Properties
In one screening test of several plants, uva ursi showed the greatest antibiotic properties of plants tested, especially against Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli. Uva ursi also has mulluscicidal properties. A crude extract was active at concentrations of 50 ppm against the freshwater snail Biomphalaria glabrata, which is the intermediate host of schistosomiasis, one of the most widespread parasitic diseases in tropical and subtropical countries. The activity was attributed to the presence of tannin.

Drug Interactions & Precautions

Documented pharmacological actions justify the herbal use of uva ursi as a urinary antiseptic. However, uva ursi requires an alkaline urine to be effective (in order for arbutin to be broken down into hydroquinone).

The German Commission E notes that uva ursi should not be administered with any substances that cause acidic urine, as this interferes with its antibacterial effect.

References:

Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.

Safety Factors & Toxicity

Arbutin, the primary active component of uva ursi, is probably safe as it occurs in the plant. If taken in a pure state, however, it can be toxic, since it is a hydroquinone. Toxic symptoms include tinnitus, vomiting, delirium, convulsions, and collapse, with possible death. Uva ursi should be used only when necessary.

Fatal amounts have been in the order of 5 g (30 -100 g plant material).

Therapeutic doses are not thought to represent a risk to humans.

Uva ursi leaf has approval status by the German Commission E.

The German Commission E recommends a limited duration for the use of this herb (because of arbutin) of not more than one week, or 5 times a year, without medical advice.

References:

Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.


Preparation & Administration

Three times a day

Dried herb
2-4 grams

Tea
made of 1 tsp dried herb

Fluid extract
1:1 in 25% alcohol, 2-4 ml

Tincture
1:5 in 45% alcohol, 3-6 ml

This herb has approval status by the German Commission E.

Recommended daily dosages in Germany are as follows:

3 g of the herb in 150 ml of water as an infusion or cold maceration up to 4 times a day.

100 - 210 mg hydroquinone derivatives up to 4 times a day.

The German Commission E recommends a limited duration for the use of this herb (because of arbutin) of not more than one week, or 5 times a year, without medical advice.

References:

Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.

Note: This Herbal Preparation information is a summary of data from books and articles by various authors. It is not intended to replace the advice or attention of health care professionals.

References

Am Hospital Formulary Service. Am Soc of Hosp Pharm. Wash, D.C.

Behrens, P. Heilsame drogen im wort und bild. Krankenplege, 29(3), 101-104, 1975.

Benigni, R. Richere sulla presenza di sostanze ad azione antibiotica nelle piante superiori. Fitoterapia, 19(3), 1-2, 1948.

Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.

Bressler, R., M.D. Bogdonoff & G.J. Subak-Sharpe. 1981. The Physicians Drug Manual. Doubleday & Co, Inc. Garden City, NY. 1213 pp.

Committee on Pharmocopaeia of the Am Institute of Homeopathy, The Homeopathic Pharmacopaeia of the United States. 8th ed., Vol 1. Otis Clapp and Son, Agents, Boston, l981.

Goodman, L.S. & A. Gilman. 1975. Pharm Basis of Thera. MacMillan, NY.

Grases, F. et al: Urolithiasis and phytotherapy. Int. Urol. Nephrol. 1994, 26(5): 507 -511.

Hansten, P.D. 1979. Drug Interactions, 4th ed. Lea & Febiger, Phila.

Hyde, F.F. British Herbal Pharmacopoeia. British Herbal Medicine Assoc: West Yorks, England, 1983

Kastrup, E.K., ed. 1981. Drug Facts and Comparisons, 1982 edition. Facts and Comparisions Division, J.P. Lippincott Co, Phila(St. Louis).

Leung, Albert Y. 1980. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredient used in Food, Drugs and Cosmetics. John Wiley and Sons, New York. 409 pp.

Lewis, Walter H. & Elvin-Lewis, P.F. Memory. Medical Botany - Plants Affecting Man's Health, John Wiley and Sons. New York, l977.

List, P. & L. Hoerhammer. 1969-1976. Hagers Hanbuch der Pharmazeutischen Praxis, vols. 2-5. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.

Martin, E.W. 1978. Drug Interactions Index, 1978/79. J.B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia.

Martindale: The Extra Pharmacopoeia, The pharmaceutical Press, London, 1977.

Matsuda, H. et al: Studies of cuticle drugs from natural sources. IV. Inhibitory effects of some Arctostaphylos plants on melanin biosythesis. Biol. Pharm. Bull. 1996, 19(1): 153 -156.

Merck. The Merck Index: An Encyclopedia Of Chemicals And Drugs. 9th edition, Rahway, N.J.: Merck & Co., 1976.

Mowrey, Daniel B., Ph.D. Exper. Psych., Brigham Young University. Director of Nebo Institute of Herbal Sciences. Director of Behavior Change Agent Training Institute. Director of Research, Nova Corp.

Scientific Committee, British Herbal Pharmocopaeia, British Herbal Med Assoc, Lane House, Cowling, Na Keighley, West Yorks, Bd Bd220lx, l983.

 


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