Kinnikinnick, Bearberry, Uva Ursi Arctostaphylos uva ursi (L.) Spreng, is best known as a diuretic tea, but the red berries are eaten.  Native Americans fry these berries in lard, wild goose fat and other animal fats.  Often mixed or eaten with salmon eggs. 
Left: Arctostaphylos found above the splash zone in Superior Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada. 
Right: Bearberry found on Vancouver Island, west of Sooke along the Juan de Fuca trail.  The plant is available across the northern tier of states.  Often circum-arboreal.

Availability and Use: In Western Traditional Medicine, Uva Ursi or Bearberry is used as a diuretic.  Leaves are infused in hot water to make a tea. The leaves are available under the snow and throughout the year. Typical dose is one teaspoon of dried and powdered leaves to one cup of water (hot infusion, a tea) four times a day. 


A cold maceration of the dried and powdered leaves may increase the the percentage of arbutin and other active hydroquinones and lower tannin content. The hot tea is considered styptic, astringent, antibacterial. 

Function: Diuretic, to increase urine flow, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, prevents kidney stone formation in lab animals, Approved by Commission E  (Germany) for treating infections of the urinary tract.  Traditionally used for urogenital and and biliary tract diseases.

 

Available dried, powdered capsules and whole leaves.  Also, in homeopathic preparations. 

Contraindications:  Do not use during pregnancy and while nursing. Avoid acidic foods when using the tea to treat urogenital and biliary tract diseases. Prolonged use may damage liver and inflame and irritate bladder and kidneys.  Not recommended for children. CAUTION:  Use under the supervision of a trained holistic health care practitioner.

(MORE EDIBLE PLANTS OF THE MONTHS)