A to Z Herbarium: Uva Ursi
Also known as bearberry, because apparently bears enjoy eating the fruit. Can be used in sachets to increase psychic powers. It’s also used in ceremonial smoking mixtures among a number of Native American tribes.
In Iceland, uva ursi was used to make ink, tan leather, and dye yarn. A tonic made from the berries was used to stimulate the blood and increase appetite. It was also believed carrying bearberry would protect one against evil spirits and ghosts.
Uva ursi is most commonly used to treat urinary tract ailments, such as bladder and kidney infections. Drinking it as a tea can help prevent kidney stones, and is also used as a diuretic. Combining it with dandelion root and leaves can help prevent recurring urinary tract infections.
Too much uva ursi can be toxic, however, and should not be taken more than five days in row, or more than five times in a year. It contains hydroquinone which can be harmful to the liver. So be sure to check with your doctor before taking this herb.
Cunningham’s Encylopedia of Magical Herbs, Scott Cunningham, 2016, Llewellyn Publications