Alternative names: Uva Ursi.
Commonly seen throughout Europe and North America, Bearberry is a short evergreen shrub with small leathery leaves. The medicinal portion is the dried leaves, which contain arbutin, methylarbutin, flavonoids, allantoin, tannins, organic acids, volatile oils, resins and others.
Uva Ursi is found in a variety of products, most of them having to do with urinary tract health. Standardized extracts of Uva Ursi are available with up to 20% arbutin.
Arbutin, which is usually present at 8% is considered an extremely effective urinary disinfectant. Arbutin is converted in the alkaline urine to hydroquinone, a potent disinfectant. The effect of Uva Ursi is diminished when the urine is acidic. Uva Ursi is also considered to be a diuretic.
Most products containing Uva Ursi are intended for short-term use because of the strong properties of hydroquinone, and should be limited to 2 or 3 weeks' use.
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