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The glycoside arbutin is the main active constituent in uva ursi and comprises up to 10% of the plant by weight. Hydroquinone derived from arbutin and methylarbutin is a powerful anti-bacterial agent and is thought to be responsible for uva ursi’s ability to treat urinary tract infections. It is believed to be most effective as a urinary tract antiseptic agent if the urine is alkaline.3 No human trials have been published confirming the effectiveness of uva ursi in people with urinary tract infections.
The German Commission E monograph suggests 1/2–3/4 teaspoon (3 grams) of uva ursi steeped in about 5 ounces (150 ml) of boiling water and drunk as an infusion three to four times daily.4 For alcohol-based tinctures, 1 teaspoon (5 ml) three times per day can be used. Standardized extracts in capsules or tablets (containing 20% arbutin), 700–1,000 mg three times per day, can also be taken. Use of uva ursi should be limited to no more than 14 days. To ensure alkaline urine, about 1 1/2 teaspoons (6–8 grams) of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) mixed in a glass of water can be taken. Baking soda should also not be taken for more than 14 days. People with high blood pressure should not take baking soda. Uva ursi should not be used to treat an infection without first consulting a physician.
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2016.