Uva ursi is an herbal supplement made from a shrub called Arctostaphylos (aka bearberry 🐻).

Some believe the herb comes with some dope health perks and use uva ursi to treat:

But despite its legendary status as a holistic health herb, there’s not a lot of research to back up its benefits. Here’s what the science says.

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Uva ursi is a popular pick for peeps with pee problems. Two of its compounds — arbutin and hydroquinone — have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.

Arbutin is a medicinal compound that transforms into hydroquinone when it’s metabolized. Hydroquinone may ease bladder or urinary tract pain and reduce inflammation. It could also encourage a healthy balance of bacteria.

So the idea that uva ursi can treat kidney stones and urination probs is really only backed by theoretical science.

What’s the sitch on supplements?

This little plant is decked out with tiny berries that bears can’t resist (it actually translates to “grape of the bears” in Latin, which is adorbz). But for humans, uva ursi supplements are made from the plant’s leaves, not the berries.

Supplements can come in teabag, capsule, or liquid drop form. Some folks also use loose leaf uva ursi to steep tea or DIY skin products.

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UTIs are a common infection that can affect any part of your urinary system. They can be hella painful and totally annoying. If left unchecked a UTI can lead to serious health concerns like kidney infections or sepsis.

While some folks use uva ursi as their go-to UTI treatment, we still need more research to prove it actually works.

Some test tube studies suggest that uva ursi can stave off Staphylococcus saprophyticus and E. coli — two of the most common types of bacteria that cause UTIs. But this doesn’t mean it can cure a UTI 10/10.

A 2019 study tested a group of women with minor UTI symptoms. Ultimately, uva ursi didn’t lessen their symptoms or eliminate the need for antibiotics.

Does it matter when I take it?

Some research suggests uva ursi is more effective if taken at the first signs of a UTI. This might be because hydroquinone can make your pee more acidic. Alkaline pee can kill bad bacteria and might prevent the infection from getting worse (key word: maybe).

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Uva ursi isn’t only good for your pee-parts. It might also help with:

  • Weight loss. Arbutin, the plant’s active compound, has been promoted as a weight loss supplement. But there’s not a lot of research to back this up.
  • Menstrual cramp relief. Uva ursi might help ease cramps. Keep in mind, most studies have only been on animals.
  • Skin care. Hydroquinone can reduce the appearance of dark spots or freckles on your skin. It’s also used in a lot of skin-lightening products.

Uva ursi is generally considered safe if taken correctly. But in some cases it can cause:

Possible drug interactions

Uva ursi doesn’t play well with certain medications.

  • Lithium. Uva ursi may increase lithium in your blood to unsafe levels.
  • NSAIDs and corticosteroids. Uva ursi may boost the anti-inflammatory effects of these drugs, according to animal studies. But we still don’t know the effect this combo has on humans.
  • Iron. Wait 2 hours to take an iron supplement after you take uva ursi.
  • Other supplements, juice, and drugs. This might sound wild but cranberry juice, citrus juices, and vitamin C supplements can pump up the volume on your pee’s acidity. When paired with uva ursi, Tinkle Town might experience an acid overload.

Who should avoid uva ursi?

Don’t use uva ursi if you:

  • are nursing
  • your eggo is preggo
  • have an intestinal, liver, or kidney disease

The herb is also not recommended for children.

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A standard uva ursi dose is 2 to 4 grams a day (which is about 400 to 800 milligrams of arbutin).

It’s VERY important you keep your dosages in check. Just half an ounce of the dried herb can be toxic. There are also concerns swirling around hydroquinone. Some research shows long-term exposure can cause cancer.

You should also limit the length of usage. It shouldn’t be taken for more than 2 weeks at a time. Overuse can lead to liver or kidney damage.

Supplement PSA

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t monitor supplement as closely as other medications. Make sure you stick to the good stuff when buying an uva ursi supplement.

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Uva ursi is an herbal extract pulled from bearberry shrub leaves. It boasts a long history of traditional medical uses. Lots of folks use it to treat UTIs and other urinary-related conditions.

Keep in mind, research proving uva ursi’s efficacy is limited. You should always ask your doc about the best treatment for your unique urinary sitch.

It’s also very important you keep your uva ursi dosages in check. Taking too much can be toxic and lead to serious health concerns.

P.S. Always talk with your doc before adding a new supplement to your regimen.