Scientific name: Acrtostaphylos uva-ursi,  Acrtostaphylos officinalis

Common names: Bearberry, Upland Cranberry, Universe Vine, Mountain Box, Wild Cranberry, Bear’s Grape, Kinnpikinnick, Red Bearberry, Sagackhomi, Mountain Cranberry, Green Manzanita, Busserole

Ayurvedic names: katphala

Chinese names: Xiong Guo

Bangladesh names:

Arab names:    عنب الدب (i’nabu ddubb)

Rain Forest names:

Family: Ericaceae (heath)

Approximate number of species known: 50

Common parts used: Leaf

Collection:  Collected anytime, but usually in spring and summer

Annual/Perennial: Perennial

Height: 15 feet

Actions:  Astringent, anti-inflammatory, urinary antiseptic

Known Constituents: Hydroquinone glycosides inclduing arbutin and methylarbutin, polyphenols including gallotannins, phenolic acids, flavanoids, triterpenes, tannin, usually > 7% anhydrous arbutin (C12, H16, O7)

Constituents Explained: 


A small shrub native to western North America that can sometimes suppress the growth of neighbouring plants(7). 

Flowers are small and pink. 

Traditional Use:

Probably the most used urinary antiseptic. It soothes, tones, and tightens the mucous membranes through the urinary system. 

Also used for diseases of the kidney and bladder, irritation of the bladder and cystitis(7), bed wetting, and as a vaginal douche. 

It has been used when there is pus or blood being discharged in the urine(1).

Jethro Kloss used it for haemorrhoid’s, excess menstruation, liver, pancreas and spleen problems(1). He also used it as a douche in mouth ulcers, and the womb(1).  

Native Americans used this herb for ceremonial smoking(7), the berries provide food for bears and birds(7).

It has also been used as a whitening agent for the skin(7).

The German Pharmacopoeia sets a lower limit of 6% arbutin content. If the Bearberry sample contains less than this it is considered adulterated with other species of Arctostaphylos(7).

Clinical Studies:

Arbutin is a glycosylated hydroquinone extracted from the bearberry plant (Arctostaphylos species). In the present study, it was determined the effects of arbutin on TCCSUP human bladder carcinoma cell proliferation. 

To determine the effects of arbutin on cell proliferation, TCCSUP cells were treated with arbutin at various concentrations, and the cell proliferation was measured using the MTT assay. 

Arbutin significantly decreased TCCSUP cell proliferation in a concentration- and time-dependent manner. Furthermore, cell cycle analysis revealed that arbutin strongly disrupted the cell cycle in a time-dependent manner. 

Western blot analysis demonstrated that arbutin led to the inactivation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), which is known to critically regulate cell proliferation. In addition, arbutin markedly increased the expression of p21, which is known to be highly involved in cell cycle regulation. 

Therefore, this study suggests that arbutin inhibits TCCSUP cell proliferation via ERK inactivation and p21 up-regulation.


Li H, Jeong YM, Kim SY, Kim MK, Kim DS. “Arbutin Inhibits TCCSUP Human Bladder Cancer Cell Proliferation Via Up-Regulation Of P21.” 2011 April

Source material:

Herb Name: Uva Ursi

Other Names:  Bearberry, arberry

Latin Name:  Arctostaphylos – uva-ursi

Family:  Ericaceae

Common parts Used:  leaves, stem, fruit

It is a woody ever green shrub. It is about 6- 32 cm high. The evergreen parts are the leaves. The fruit is like berry which is red in color. It belongs to the family Ericaceae. The flower are hermaphrodite and pollination occurs through insects. It needs moist soil to grow.

The Fruit of Uva Ursi is used raw as well as cooked. It is tastier when cooked. It is considered a good source of carbohydrate and is usually added to stews. It is also used in preserves and cooling drink. The leaves are dried and used to make tea.

Uva Ursi is considered as Native American tribe herbal medicine. It is considered the best natural therapy for urinary tract infections. The leaves are used as antibacterial. Uva Ursi is a good astringent. It considered effective for the paraplegic patients with cystitis. It should not be used during pregnancy. Uva Ursi is also recommended for Kidney stone patients, it also avoids the formation of stones in kidney. The crushed leaves of Uva Ursi are applied externally of muscular pain region. The leaves are considered analgesic.


Latin name:      Arctostaphylos Uva-Ursi

Family:              N.O. Ericaceae

Other names: 

Bearberry, Arbutus Uva-Ursi.

It is a small procumbent woody shrub 5-30 cm high. The leaves are evergreen, remaining green for 1–3 years before falling. The fruit is a red berry. The leaves of this plant are used as an herb.

Uva-Ursi is a small shrub, with decumbent, much branched, irregular stems and evergreen leaves, is distributed over the greater part of the Northern Hemisphere, being found in the northern latitudes and high mountains of Europe, Asia and America. In the British Isles, it is common in Scotland, on heaths and barren places in hilly districts, especially in the Highlands, and extends south as far as Yorkshire; it grows also on the hills of the north-west of Ireland. In America it is distributed throughout Canada and the United States as far south as New Jersey and Wisconsin.

The leaves are shiny, small, and feel thick and stiff. They are alternately arranged on the stems. Undersides of leaves are lighter green than on the tops. New stems can be red if the plant is in full sun, but are green in shadier areas. Older growth stems are brown. In spring, they have white or pink flowers. They are a common plant on Jack pine sites.

Bearberry has historically been used for medicinal purposes. It contains the glycoside arbutin, which has antimicrobial properties and acts as a mild diuretic. It has been used for urinary tract complaints, including cystitis and urolithiasis. An infusion may be made by soaking the leaves in ethanol and then diluting with water.

The usual form of administration is in the form of an infusion, which has a soothing as well as an astringent effect and marked diuretic action. Of great value in diseases of the bladder and kidneys, strengthening and imparting tone to the urinary passages. The diuretic action is due to the glycosides Arbutin, which is largely absorbed unchanged and is excreted by the kidneys. During its excretion, Arbutin exercises an antiseptic effect on the urinary mucous membrane: Bearberry leaves are, therefore, used in inflammatory diseases of the urinary tract, urethritis, cystisis, etc.