You may not have heard of arctostaphylos uva ursi (or just uva ursi) before, but this herb has been used for centuries to treat a variety of medical maladies. From a nutritional supplement to a muscle relaxant, read on to learn about all of the ways that uva ursi can be used.
1. Urinary Tract Infections
Related to its astringent properties, uva ursi is also used to treat and prevent urinary tract infections. Arbutin is a main component of uva ursi, and it reacts in the stomach to create a disinfecting substance. This in turn helps cleanse the urinary tract and kill any bacteria that may cause infection. Uva ursi is also used to treat general lower urinary tract inflammation. Not only is uva ursi a powerful astringent, but it is also a potent diuretic and possesses the ability to soothe and tighten mucous membranes in the urinary tract.
2. Lowers High Blood Pressure
Similar to many other diuretics, uva ursi may help lower high blood pressure. Diuretics are also used to treat congestive heart failure, and uva ursi may be effective in this realm as well. Because diuretics may cause your nutrients to fluctuate, discuss the use of uva ursi for cardiovascular health with your physician before use.
3. Diarrhea Aid
Uva ursi is also effective in treating diarrhea, thanks in large part to specific tannins found in the herb. These astringent tannins actually bind to the body’s waste, helping to solidify excrement and reduce diarrhea. This will also help with the bloating, cramps, and general discomfort that tend to accompany diarrhea.
4. Treats E. Coli
Test preparations utilizing uva ursi have shown that it may be effective in killing the E.coli bacteria. This property is also attributed to the arbutin and its ability to flush microbes out of the body. — (Pizzorno J, Murry M. Textbook of Natural Medicine. 1999;989-990, 1187)
5. Powerful Astringent
Uva ursi is a naturally powerful astringent, which makes it great for treating and preventing infection. In particular, it has been used to prevent postpartum infections. It is also used to treat cuts and scrapes as well as mild sprains, and is effective in treating cold sores and infections of the vagina.
Uva ursi is also believed to be an effective kidney and liver detoxifier, and it also soothes sore, achy muscles.
How to Use Uva Ursi
This herb can usually be found in your local health food store in the forms of capsules, tincture or dried herb, but be sure to read dosage instructions carefully and seek advice from a professional if possible.
To make uva ursi tea, boil (on medium heat) 1 tablespoon of the dried leaves in 2 cups of water for about 35 minutes. Let cool, and drink 1/2 cup of the tea 2 times per day. Sweeten with honey, if desired.
Excessive use of uva ursi is not recommended and it should not be taken in high doses or for longer than 5 days in a row.
Children, people with high blood pressure, Crohn’s disease, ulcers or digestive problems, kidney or liver disease, and pregnant or lactating women, should not take uva ursi.
Image credit: Walter Siegmund