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Urinary tract botanicals

by Paul Bergner

Medical Herbalism 3(4):8-9

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Synonyms: uva ursi, bearberry, kinnick-kinnick, upland cranberry

Part(s) used: leaves

Qualities: cold, dry; associated with Pluto and Mars

Affinities: renal epithelium

Actions: antiseptic, astringent, disinfectant, diuretic, tonic

Dosage: tincture: 2-4 ml

Specific indications: relaxed urinary tract, with pain and bloody or mucous secretions; weight and dragging in the loins and perineum not due to prostatic enlargement; chronic irritation of the bladder, with pain, tenesmus, and catarrhal discharge (Felter, p. 685)

Therapy: acts directly on renal epithelium; retards putrescent changes in the urine; mild disinfectant of urinary passages; vesical catarrh; strangury; gonorrhea with bloody urination; cystitis, pyelitis (Felter, p. 685); dysuria; acute catarrhal cystitis with dysuria and highly acid urine (British Herbal Pharmacopoeia, p. 30); cystitis in paraplegics (Weiss, p. 245)

Constituents: hydroquinones; mainly arbutin and methylarbutin; iridoids; monotropein, and in the roots; unedoside; flavonoids; quercitrin; tannins; volatile oil; ursolic, malic and gallic acids

Caution: Use with caution during pregnancy, oxytocic effects (Duke, p. 56) overdose may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, urethrocystitis, tenesmus, and bloody discharge (Phillips, p. 228; Felter and Lloyd, p. 2039); darkening of the urine (von Oettingen, p. 129); excessive long-term use may cause impairment of the liver (Duke, p. 56)

Barosma betulina

Synonyms: buchu

Part(s) used: leaf collected during the flowering stage

Qualities: pungent, bitter, hot, dry
Copyright 2001 Paul Bergner    379


    Medical Herbalism: Clinical Articles and Case Studies

Affinities: mucous membranes

Actions: irritating, stimulating diuretic, very warming (Anderson Geller), antiseptic, tonic, carminative, aromatic stimulant

dosage: infusion: use 1-2 tsp. Herb to 1 cup water; drink 1 cup t.i.d.; tincture: 1-3 ml

Therapy: chronic urinary tract infections, incontinence, chronic prostatitis, mucopurulent discharge, urge to urinate without success; gastrointentinal upset; always use with a demulcent herb

Constituents: volatile oils


Contraindicated during chronic illness or conditions (Felter, p. 253) Small doses (hydroquinone, not crude plant) produce a sense of heat, spreading to the entire body; large doses produce oral burning, nausea, vomiting, severe diarrhea, strangury, tachycardia, diaphoresis. Urinary output may increase with strong odor, dark color, and brown sedimentation. (Phillips, pp. 138-139)

Chimaphila umbellata

Synonyms: pipsissewa, prince’s pine, ground holly

Part(s) used: herb, leaves

Qualities: bitter

Actions: warming, slightly stimulating diuretic, urinary sedative, urinary antiseptic, tonic, alterative, astringent

Dosage: infusion: 1 tsp. Herb to 1 cup water, drink 1 cup t.i.d.;

tincture: 1-3 ml

Therapy: chronic prostatic irritation, prostatitis, acute or chronic urinary tract infection, cardiac and kidney disease, kidney weakness with chronic or mild nephritis; edema/eruptions; rheumatism; lymph node lesions.

Note: can be substituted in formulas for uva ursi because it is much less toxic and less astringent

Constituents: chimaphilin, arbutin, ercalin, volatile oil, resin, gums
Copyright 2001 Paul Bergner    380


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Cautions: Handling plant parts may produce contact dermatitis (Muenscher, p. 8; Hardin, pp. 12-15)

Juniperus off.

Synonyms: juniper berry

part(s) used: fruit, volatile oil

Qualities: pungent, bitter, sweet, warm, dry;

Actions: antirheumatic, antiseptic, carminative, diuretic, stimulant, stomachic

dosage: tincture: 2-4 ml; oil: 0.03-0.2 ml

Specific indications: renal atony with catarrhal and pus discharges; non-inflammatory irritability of the neck of the bladder (Felter, p. 439)

Therapy: renal hyperemia; chronic nephritis; catarrh of the bladder; chronic pyelitis; after acute nephritis; scarlet fever; oil is used in non-inflammatory prostatorrhea and gleet (Felter, p. 439); chronic arthritis; chronic gout; tendopathies; myogeloses (Weiss, p. 235); chronic low-grade irritatiion of urinary tract; renal congestion; degressed, chronic kidney disease; dysuria and polyuria, especially during menopause; renal atony with catarrh (Anderson Geller)

Toxicity: essential oil is very toxic. See details below.

Constituents: volatile oil, condensed tannins, diterpene acids, sugars, resin

Contraindications: Juniperus should not be used when there is active inflammation; not to be taken by patients with a history of renal problems; often aggravates and irritates acute and subacute nephritis. Caution is advised during pregnancy due to emmenagogue effects; entire plant and its essential oil may be internally and externally irritating (Muenscher, p. 9) The essential oil, cedarwood oil (primarily from Juniperus virginiana) may cause severe systemic effects. A single short-term overdose may be cathartic, producing gastroenteritis with internal bleeding. Pulse rate will then increase, and body temperature decrease. Long-term overdose effects include personality changes, urethritis, cystitis, kidney damage, and convulsion (Woodward, p. 182; Phillips, p. 108; von Oettingen, p. 287) narcosis may occur due to thujone (Duke, p. 257); Laboratory test results: indicate renal toxicity; albuminuria will increase with renal damage (von Oettingen, p. 287)
Copyright 2001 Paul Bergner    381