Bearberry, scientific name Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, is a plant of the Ericaceae family from which an important natural remedy is obtained able to treat urinary tract infections. These infections, which include, for example, cystitis, are very common, especially in women. It is estimated that throughout her life every woman has a 50% risk of developing one of these infections (Trill et al, Trials, 2017). Often urinary tract infections are treated with antibiotics, however, in case of recurrent cystitis, mild symptoms or antibiotic resistance it may be useful to look for more natural alternatives. One of these is certainly given by bearberry, whose beneficial effects are demonstrated by scientific studies. Moreover, the use of this plant is also accepted as a treatment by different medical regulatory authorities, such as the German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices of Germany. But let’s see better the properties of bearberry and how to take this herbal remedy.
Bearberry is considered diuretic, antiseptic for the urinary tract, astringent, and therefore able to reduce tissue swelling caused by inflammation, and anti-inflammatory. Extracts of its leaves contain flavonoids and terpenoids, with an antioxidant action, tannins and a substance called arbutin, which is mainly responsible for the antimicrobial and antiseptic action. Thanks to these characteristics, this extract has shown, in vitro, to counteract various organisms including Escherichia coli, one of the most common causes of urinary tract infections (Trill et al, Trials, 2017 - Afshar et al, BMC Complement Altern Med, 2018). Therefore, taking bearberry helps to counteract the infection that affects the urinary tract by performing an antibacterial and diuretic action, in addition to this, it also acts by reducing pain and by calming the frequent urge to urinate due to the astringent effect of the plant that counteracts the swelling.
Bearberry and contraindications
Bearberry intake is considered safe and is not toxic. However, slight side effects have been reported concerning the gastro-intestinal tract due to the fact that the remedy is rich in tannins (Afshar et al, BMC Complement Altern Med, 2018 - de Arriba et al, Int J Toxicol, 2013). In any case bearberry should not be taken for long periods of time and should be avoided in pregnancy, breastfeeding and small children.
Bearberry, how it is taken
In case of acute and recurrent cystitis, urethritis, but also urinary stones, you can therefore take bearberry. Bearberry can be found in chemist’s or herbalist’s shops in the form of a dried plant to prepare decoctions, which are effective because arbutin, the active ingredient of bearberry, is soluble in water (Source PubChem). Take a tablespoon of dried bearberry leaves and pour it into 200 ml of boiling water, about a cup. Leave to brew, covered, for 15 minutes. Drink 3-4 cups a day between meals. Alternatively, it is possible to also find mother tincture of bearberry, 50 drops diluted in water to be taken once a day.
Bearberry and synergies
For a preventive action it is also possible to exploit the synergy of bearberry and dandelion. In fact, a study has been published that has observed that taking bearberry and dandelion extracts for a month is able to reduce the reappearance of symptoms by 23% over the course of a whole year (Larsson et al, Current Therapeutic Research, 1993). This is observed thanks to the antibacterial action of bearberry and the diuretic action of the dandelion. The arbutus, Arbutus unedo, is diuretic, astringent and antiseptic and is also often used together or alternately with the bearberry.