Uva Ursi, a small evergreen shrub is also known as Sandberry, Bearberry, Hog Cranberry and Kinnikinnick. The last deriving from a Native American word that means "mixture" specifically referring to a ceremonial smoking blend in the language. Uva Ursi leaves were one of three herbs used in this blend. The berries apparently are tasty to bears and so when the plant was named in Latin uva-ursi, this was taken into consideration, uva (grape or berry) and ursi (bear.) Every Native American, European, and Early American settler used this plant medicinally for the same purpose, the health of the urinary tract. Uva Ursi was listed in the U.S. Pharmacopeia and National Formulary from 1820-1950 as a Urinary Antiseptic. It does contain the chemical arbutin. It is known that the body excretes 64-75% of arbutin in urine, and arbutin converted to hydroquinone maintains a healthy microbial balance within the urinary system. It is best to limit the use of Uva Ursi to short term, with two weeks being a maximum length of time. Uva Ursi also contains allantoin, a chemical also found in Aloe, which has a soothing effect.
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