Uva Ursi Benefits: Dosage and Side Effects

Uva ursi is an evergreen plant that produces red berries. The plant, whose scientific name is Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries.

Uva ursi is often referred to as bearberry because bears seem to enjoy eating its red berries. The Latin term "uva ursi" translates to "bear's grapes." Curicumin

Uva Ursi Benefits: Dosage and Side Effects

This article will discuss the potential health benefits of uva ursi, side effects, how much to take, and more.

Dietary supplements are not regulated the same way that drugs are in the United States, meaning the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve them for safety and effectiveness before products are marketed. When possible, choose a supplement tested by a trusted third party, such as U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP),, or NSF.

However, even if supplements are third-party tested, they are not necessarily safe for all or effective in general. Therefore, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider about any supplements you plan to take and inquire about potential interactions with other supplements or medications.

Supplement use should be individualized and vetted by a healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian, pharmacist, or healthcare provider. No supplement is intended to treat, cure, or prevent disease.

Herbal supplements from the leaves of uva ursi have been mostly promoted for treating urinary tract infections (UTIs) or bladder infections. However, there is not enough research to support their use.

A small clinical trial in Germany found that using uva ursi initially for UTI reduced the use of antibiotics. However, it also led to more symptoms and safety concerns when compared to fosfomycin. Another study could not prove that using uva ursi reduced the severity of symptoms.

Uva ursi has also been used topically (applied to the surface of the skin) because it chemically produces hydroquinone , which is a substance used in skin-lightening creams. Hydroquinone is prescribed for the treatment of dark skin patches that develop due to skin damage. However, there is very little research to support the efficacy of its use for this purpose.

Potential side effects you may experience from short-term use are:

Theoretically, high amounts of hydroquinone (from taking uva ursi) in the body can lead to serious, life-threatening complications, including:

Uva ursi should be avoided if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, as there is not enough safety data on its use. It is also not recommended for children.

Always speak with a healthcare provider before taking a supplement to ensure that the supplement and dosage are appropriate for your individual needs. 

There is no standard recommended dose for uva ursi supplementation.

Speaking with your healthcare provider regarding benefits, risks, and dose of supplements is always recommended.

Due to the potential for toxicity, many experts don't recommend taking the herb for more than one week. Some guidelines suggest taking uva ursi less than five times a year and for not more than five days each time.

Taking more than the recommended dose is more likely to result in side effects.

There is concern that taking too much uva ursi could lead to liver damage when used in high doses. There also may be an increased risk of cancer when used over the long term.

This herb can alter the absorption or effects of certain drugs and nutrients and should not be used if you take:

Follow the manufacturer's guidelines for proper storage and always keep medications and supplements out of the reach of children.

There is no data to show that uva ursi can prevent a UTI. Preliminary data looked at whether uva ursi could be an alternative to antibiotics for treatment. The data from the available research do not support the use of uva ursi over antibiotics.

There are several herbal combinations for bladder infections. Some preliminary studies show that taking uva ursi with dandelion tea may help prevent UTIs. Still, there's not enough clinical research to support these claims.

Uva ursi is sold in crushed leaf and powder preparations, including tea, tinctures, and capsules to take by mouth. Extracts of the plant are also used in products applied to the skin. Only the leaves are used—not the berries—in herbal medicinal preparations.

Always check that your supplements are third-party tested to ensure that they contain the ingredients listed on the label and are free of contaminants.

Uva ursi is an herbal supplement that may be marketed to treat urinary tract infections and urinary incontinence and to lighten the skin. There is limited research to support these uses.

Uva ursi can potentially have dangerous side effects and, therefore, should only be taken for a short time. Always consult with your primary healthcare provider before taking any supplements.

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By Jennifer Lefton, MS, RD/N, CNSC, FAND Jennifer Lefton, MS, RD/N-AP, CNSC, FAND is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist and writer with over 20 years of experience in clinical nutrition. Her experience ranges from counseling cardiac rehabilitation clients to managing the nutrition needs of complex surgical patients.

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Uva Ursi Benefits: Dosage and Side Effects

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