Category Archives: Bearberry (Arctostaphylos)

Documenting Change in Nunavut

Here is a thesis that explores climate change through berries near Kugluktuk, Nunavut, Canada. The program is part citizen science as well as documenting the ethnobotany of the region. It includes great summaries of the most important berries and even some recipes!

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Bearberry Medicine

Berries have so many great health attributes (nutrients, antioxidants, vitamin C, even iron in some cases), it is not only the fruiting part of a plant that humans have used medicinally.  Before the advent of sulfa drugs, bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) was used to treat urinary tract infections and chronic cystitis.  It is still used in alternative medicine, and with the increase in antibiotic-resistant UTI bacteria, it is being looked at again.  You can take a commercial extract (pill), or make a tea from the dried leaves.  Uva ursi contains tannins (which shrink mucus membranes) and antibacterial compounds like hydroquinone and arbutin.  It is most effective when taken at the beginning on an infection, and should only be taken for up to 5 days at a time.

Caution–bearberry should not be taken as a preventative.  One of the components, hydroquinone, can cause serious liver damage. Do your research, check your dosages, and talk to a medical professional before you decide to try uva ursi for urinary problems.  Bearberry medicine

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