Ericaceae family (Heath family)
Bearberry or Uva-Ursi or Kinnikinnick is a perennial evergreen, carpet-like spreading shrub in dry moors and cliffs. It grows throughout the country.
The family name Arctostaphylos is derived from Greek words arctos ‘a bear’ and staphyle ‘a bunch of grapes’. The Latin name of the species uva-ursi means ‘bear’s grape’. Bearberry is a commercial herb and a pharmaceutical medicinal herb.
Medicinal Herb Use
Leaves are gathered in the early summer before the ripening of the berries. The active agent contained in the leaves of bearberry is mainly arbutin, which is secreted in the kidneys as it is, but is converted to hydroquinone in alkaline urine. Hydroquinone is an antiseptic i.e. an anti-bacterial substance with its highest effect within a few hours after taking the herbal preparation. Consumption of plenty of liquid and alcaline food (fruit and vegetables) boosts the effect of bearberry.
The most recent studies have proven arbutin alleviates allergic reactions and inflammatory reactions. Thus, arbutin may be significant in the future in the treatment of inflammatory connective tissue diseases.
The leaves and the heads of twigs are used as a medicinal herb for the treatment of the inflammations of urinary tract and bladder, kidneys and gallbladder.
In traditional healing, bearberry has also been used for treatment of bronchitis and involuntary urination.
Raipala-Cormier, Virpi; Moisio, Marjaana; Tolvanen, Mattias 1997: Luontoäidin kotiapteekki. Kasvilääkinta ja luontaishoidot. 7. painos, WSOY, Helsinki.
In arbutin research, it was discovered that arbutin, extracted from bearberry leaves, efficiently helps to prevent production of melanin.
Source: Matsuda, H., Nakamura, S., Shimoto, H., Tanaka T., Kubo, M./ Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Kinki University, Osaka, Japan.
In arbutin research, it was discovered that arbutin, extracted from the bearberry leaves, can be used as a skin-whitening ingredient.
Source: Matsuda, H., Higashino M., Nakai, Y., Iinuma, M., Kubo, M., Lang, F.A,/ Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Kinki University, Osaka, Japan.