Arctostaphylos uva-ursi is small, woody, evergreen shrub native to Europe and parts of Asia. Also known as bearberry, the leaves of this small shrub have a history of medicinal use dating back to the 2nd century. It has been widely used as a diuretic, astringent, antiseptic, and for urinary tract infections. Uva-ursi has many benefits and, in particular, positive effects for those looking to lose weight.
The leaves of the plant are popular with herbalists and contain arbutin, hydroquinone and other chemicals with antibacterial activity. Uva-ursi also contains astringent-like tannins that shrink and tighten mucous membranes, and also reduces inflammation. Uva-ursi also has a diuretic effect due to the ursolic acid and isoquercetin components.
Uva-ursi’s Effect on the Urinary Tract
The hydroquinone derivative, arbutin, is the primary active compound that makes uva-ursi helpful for urinary tract infections. When it is absorbed by the stomach, arbutin splits into a sugar and hydroquinone. The hydroquinone combines with glucuronic acid, creating a compound with astringent and disinfectant properties. When this is expelled from the body during urination, it soothes and reduces irritation of the mucus membranes, and helps fight infection.