Bearberries are three different species of dwarf shrubs that belong to the genus Arctostaphylos. They are native to cold regions of the Arctic and Subarctic, hence its distributions are mostly found in North America, Northern Asia and Europe.
The term “bearberry” was named that way because it is the favourite type of berry eaten by bears. At the same time, bearberries are edible for humans and are also cultivated to serve this purpose. What are the different kinds of bearberry? And what are the health benefits of bearberry?
These are the 20 health benefits of acai berry.
Different Types of Bearberry
There are three identified types of bearberries;
- Common Bearberry (Arctostaphylos Uva-ursi)
The common bearberry, which is also nicknamed kinnikinnick and pinemat manzanita is a shrub berry whose shrubs grow 5-30cm high. The leaves are shiny, small, thick, stiff yet evergreen for approximately 1-3 years before falling out. The flowers are red to pink with bright red berries.
Its growth is centred in northern latitudes but emphasized in higher altitudes as the latitudes go more southern. These regions include Iceland and Scandinavia to Spain, Italy and Greece in Europe, Turkey, the Caucasus, Levant and Himalaya in Asia, and from Greenland and Alaska to the bordering regions of United States with Mexico in North America. In traditional Native American culture, bearberries are also used to infuse smoking mixes, hence the name kinnikinnick.
- Red Bearberry (Arctostaphylos Rubina)
The red bearberry is the second type of bearberry that is native to Eurasia and North America, from Alaska through majority of Canada and ending up in Greenland. Compared to the common bearberry, the red bearberry has a short plant measuring 15cm tall with leaves measuring 2 to 6cm long.
The shrubs are known to be successful to grow in less-fertile and barren soils of the Arctic. It is most often found in moisty places such as lake or bay shores, river banks, wet forest floors or bogs. Many animals, ranging from polar bears, meadow wolves, voles, caribou, sheep to ravens feed on the red bearberry. It is actually also edible by human beings however people are not really favoring it.
- Alpine Bearberry (Arctostaphylos Alpina)
The final type of the bearberry is the Alpine bearberry or the mountain bearberry. Its height is shared with the red bearberry, which is approximately 15cm tall with oval bright green leaves that prominently displays its veins.
The Alpine bearberry is found in high latitudes, such as Scotland, Scandinavia, Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Russia as well as Siberia. Its southernmost limits include Alpine and Pyrenees Mountains of Europe, Altay Mountains in Mongolia, as well as the states of Maine and New Hampshire in the United States of America.
What are its Health Benefits?
Here are the health benefits of Bearberry:
- Bearberries Prevents Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
Urinary Tract Infection or UTI is an infection that affects the kidney, ureter, urethra or bladder, which also causes pain and discomfort in the pelvic region of the body. The common bearberry and also benefits of blueberry contains tannins that serve as an antiseptic for treating this disease while reducing bacteria content inside the urine. Other than that, it can also treat UTI related conditions such as urolithiasis and inflammations associated with it.
- Bearberries Protect the Whole Immune System
Hydroquinone, which is mostly found in skin lightening products are proven to be powerful antibacterial agents that can effectively defense you from a number of diseases, ranging from the gut to the skin.
- Bearberries Support Detoxification
Detoxification is much needed by the body in order to function properly. Bearberries support detoxification by being used as a natural diuretic. It can help filter and eliminate excess sodium, lipids, water plus some other toxic compounds in the body while cleansing the bladder and kidneys at the same time.
- Bearberries Can Cure Headache
Headache is one simple problem that can come and go anytime, often without any medication at all. Bearberries have been used for over a century to cure this common discomfort, and it was the Native Americans who came up with this technique.
The dried leaves of the uva-ursi (common bearberry) shrub are infused and smoked in such a way that it creates an effect similar to cannabis. Despite being a successful remedy for headaches, however this practice is looked down upon in modern culture.
- Bearberries are Good for Pregnant Women
There are many health benefits of Bearberry. Bearberries are wonderful for pregnant women because it is thought to help prevent miscarriage and ensuring the safety of the mother plus the offspring. During the labour process, inflammation and pain increases greatly. Consuming bearberries are believed to be successful in anticipating some of the pregnancy-related discomfort and pain.
- Bearberries Can also Treat Arthritis
Arthritis is the swelling, inflammation of one or more than one joints, that cause stiffness and pain when in movement. Arthritis is most common in older aged people and it may remain permanent for the rest of their lives. Bearberries can prevent this condition by reducing inflammation, hence making it very suitable for rheumatism arthritis patients and other symptoms associated with it.
- Bearberries Make Healing Faster
The salve of the bearberry, like the benefits of juniper berry for skin, can double function as a topical fluid for various purposes, ranging from simple wounds, burns, sores, bruises or inflammation. The acidic nature of bearberries helps speed healing under the skin, while reducing both pain and inflammation simultaneously.
- Bearberries Avoids Gastrointestinal Issues
Gastrointestinal issues should not be taken lightly since they can affect the whole health badly by altering and destroying the distributional balance of positive bacteria inside our gut. Various bacteria, from E. coli, proteus vulgaris, as well as staphylococcus can be eliminated easily with the help of bearberries.
Side Effects of Bearberry
One active ingredient contained inside the bearberry is the hazardous hydroquinone. Hydroquinone is a toxic chemical commonly found in skin lightening products and prone to allergic reactions, that’s why bearberries should also be consumed with care.
In the meantime, temporary side effects include slight nausea or dizziness. Before consuming or using bearberries on a long-term basis, it is best to consult a medical expert or physician first.