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Arctostaphylos uva ursi

Also known as Bearberry, Uva Ursi is a low growing herb of the heather family. It closely resembles Blueberry and the Cranberry, but unlike the tasty fruits of these cousins, the actual Bear 'berry' is quite insipid and mealy and not particularly recommendable as a wild food. However, bears seem to like them, which is how they got their name. Native Americans also appreciated the berries and ascribed great rejuvenating value to them. In fact, they utilised leaves, bark and berries for various purposes. In western herbalism, Uva Ursi is mostly appreciated for its tough little leathery leaves, which yield a powerful antiseptic agent. Native Americans use Bearberry ceremonially. It is one of the main ingredients of the sacred smoking mixture known as Kinnik Kinnik.

Uva Ursi is one of the best herbs for the urinary system. It has a proven antiseptic effect and is also astringent, resulting in an overall anti-inflammatory and antibacterial action on the urinary tract. Both traditional herbalism and mainstream medicine have used it for centuries to treat conditions such as urethritis, cystitis, prostatitis, etc. It may even wash out kidney sand and gravel. It can be used on its own or in combination with other herbs, but works best if the pH level of the urine is alkaline. It is generally not recommended to use Uva Ursi over an extended period of time, since its tannins may irritate the stomach and intestinal lining. However, should long term use be necessary a cold extract tends to be milder and thus may be better tolerated. Do not use during pregnancy. Not recommended while breastfeeding.

Bearberry leaves can be smoked for ceremonial purposes. It clears the psychic channels and assists with the magical work. It may also be used as an offering to the Gods and plant Devas. Bearberry is particularly useful for those who work with the bear as a totem animal.