Kinnickinnick: How to Cure a UTI

Kinnickinnick, Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, also called Uva Ursi, Bear Berry, and Indian tobacco, is a common shrub planted ornamentally outside apartment complexes and homes and a common wild plant found in western and northern America.

Kinnickinnick is a diuretic and urinary antiseptic, which makes it an effective cure for acute urinary tract infections. To make the medicine, just strip the leaves off the stem, put ’em in a jar and douse in extremely strong alcohol with a little water mixed in. As per the late herbalist Michael R.S. Moore, the recipe is one part herb to five parts liquid, and the liquid should be 50% alcohol. To achieve this you could take 195 proof Everclear and dilute it with water.

Sten Porse/Wikipedia

Let the mixture sit for 6 weeks in the dark before using. Be careful only to take this medicine short-term and for serious infections, as it will irritate the bladder and kidneys if used more than a few days. The dosage, according to Moore, is 30 to 60 drops in 8 ounces of water, three times per day.

Kinnickinnick contains tannins, so it has an astringent action that can also be useful as a tea to treat diarrhea. However, you would need to dry the leaves first and apply some hard alcohol to them to make the medicinal compounds extractable in hot water, according to herb author Gregory Tilford.

Some people smoke the leaves. I have tried this and did not like the flavor.

The red berries of kinnickinnick are edible, though not particularly worthwhile. They are very mealy.

Another use is for kinnickinnick is to soak in a bath of the leaves for, um, shrinking hemorrhoids. I hope you don’t need to, but if you do, maybe this will come in handy.

To identify this plant, look for smooth, spoon-shaped leaves that are darker in color on the top than on the bottom, and that are attached to the twigs in an alternate pattern. This means pairs of leaves alternate rather than appear directly across from each other.

There is a closely related upright version of this plant, a pretty shrub/tree with distinctive red bark, Arctostaphylos manzanita, known as Manzanita, which can be used similarly for medicinal purposes. It is common in California. Photo here.

Thanks for reading. Tell your friends how to use free medicine. Share this post!

Then explore many more wild plants on the Search Plants! page.

3 thoughts on “Kinnickinnick: How to Cure a UTI

  1. Manzanita berries store really well. I’ve had a jar of them for almost two years now. They aren’t anything exciting for eating straight, but you can knock the outer shell out and crush it into a flour. Also if you boil the inner seed it’ll give off a slight lemony flavor.

    Thanks for the info on UTI cures. :)

    • Yes, tinctures made in alcohol last indefinitely, for years. So you would want to make it now and have it on hand for later. Uva ursi tincture is also commercially available, which would be an option for emergencies.

Leave a Reply