Bearberry purportedly gets its name from the fact that the berries seem to be a favorite food of bears.
It is a traditional bladder treatment used in European folk medicine. In northern Europe and Eurasia, bearberry tea has been a traditional herbal treatment for hundreds of years. (2)
Some Native American tribes used an infusion of the stems of bearberry and blueberry as a way to prevent miscarriage, and aid a woman’s recovery after childbirth. (3)
The leaves of uva ursi contain a very powerful and recognized antibacterial chemical compound known as hydroquinones. This is a scientifically proven compound, but its use is questioned by the US Food and Drug Administration, and the plant is not sanctioned for medical use in the United States. (4)
A tea made from a decoction of dried bearberry leaves is a traditional treatment for urinary tract infections in many parts of the world.
Ingesting bearberry tea works best if the patient is on a vegetable-based diet. It has been clinically shown to be more effective when the urine is alkaline in nature. (2)
The uva ursi leaves may be smoked to relieve a headache. This form of use is illegal or carefully regulated in many regions, due to the narcotic effect of the plant.
A partially dehydrated decoction made from bearberry may be applied as a salve to canker sores, sore gums, burns, and minor cuts. (3)
It is used as a disinfectant in some regions, perhaps due to its known attributes as a urinary antiseptic.