The medicinal power of lingonberry leaves

Cowberry is a tasty fruit that grows on a low-growing shrub that likes to grow in small clumps on heathlands. Not only the fruit of this shrub has medicinal properties, but also the leaves. The leaf is dried and used in tea as an effective means of treating bladder infections. In addition, it is an excellent means of promoting the functioning of the kidneys and can relieve edema. This also cures arthritis and osteoarthritis. NB! This article is written from the personal view of the author and may contain information that is not scientifically substantiated and/or in line with the general view.

Botanical drawing lingonberry / Source: Otto Wilhelm Thomé, Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)


  • Naming lingonberry
  • Active substances lingonberry leaf
  • Lingonberry leaf for cystitis
  • Consult a herbal therapist


Naming lingonberry

Biologists, botanists and herbalists often use the Latin name when describing a species so that there is no confusion as to which species exactly should be used. When most people think of lingonberry, they think of the small red berry or currant called Ribes rubrum in Latin. The Latin name for the lingonberry bush is Vaccinium Vitis-Idaea . Vaccinium is the general term for berry bushes that do not lose their leaves. It is derived from ‘bacca’ meaning berry and ‘vacca’ meaning cow. Cows love lingonberries. ‘Vitis’ is Latin for ‘grape’. Dutch has a number of folk names for lingonberries: Rode krakelbezie, Bospalm, Lepeltjesheide, Blaadjesheide. In English it is called Cowberry, Foxberry or Worthleberry. The best known name in French is Myrtille rouge and in German the berry is called Preiselbeere or Fuchsbeere.

Cowberry leaf / Source: B.gliwa, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-2.5)

Active substances lingonberry leaf

In fact, the leaves contain more medicinal substances than the berries of this shrub. The main active substances are the phenol glycoside arbutin. In addition, it contains medicinal tannins in the form of catechol tannin, pyrogall tannin and gallic acid. It also contains the gallic acid glycoside neomyrtillin. It contains the flavonoids hyperoside, quercetin, isoquercetin, ovicularin and epicatechin. By the way, catecholols also fall under flavonoids. To a lesser extent, the following substances are active in lingonberry leaves: triterpenic acids, the minerals iron and manganese and organic acids.

Lingonberry leaf for cystitis

Arbutin in the lingonberry makes it a mild antiseptic; it expels bacteria in the urinary tract. Urulic acid and bitter substances also contribute to the antibacterial effect. In addition, it is an astringent, which means it works on the mucous membranes; these excrete fewer substances. The tannins act as an anti-inflammatory substance in the urinary tract. Arbutin and various flavonoids provide a diuretic effect; one loses fluid that has accumulated over time in edema or fluid accumulation. Due to the combination of these medicinal effects, herbal therapists can decide to use it for the following indications:

  • Benign prostate enlargement that can cause bladder infections due to incomplete urination, causing bacteria to remain behind.
  • Prevention of honeymoon cystitis or bladder infection in sexually active women,
  • Prevention of repeated bladder infections in the elderly, women with weakened resistance and diabetics,
  • Prevention of bladder infections in postmenopausal women who are more susceptible to infections due to the drop in estrogen and the associated thinning of the mucous membranes.
  • Prevention of bladder infections in people with catheter, spinal cord injuries and chronic urinary tract infections. In 90% of cases, burning or stabbing pain during urination is reduced, annoying urges disappear and the number of times one has to urinate is reduced.
  • Acute bladder infection, burning and having to urinate in small amounts decrease relatively quickly after taking the berries.
  • Acute bladder infection without complications involving painful urination, frequent small urination and acidic urine.


Neomyrtylline works by lowering blood sugar levels. That is why lingonberry leaf is recommended in a tea against diabetes mellitus and adult-onset diabetes.


Consult a herbal therapist

Anyone who wants to use lingonberry leaf as a medicinal remedy is recommended to consult a herbal therapist. Lingonberry leaf extracts and medicines in the form of mother tinctures, powders, nebulisate, liquid extract, ointment, cream and capsules should only be used on the prescription of authorized persons. A herbal therapist can tell you more about this, as well as about any side effects and interactions with other medicines or herbs. There are also beneficial combinations with herbs. All medicinal effects of this medicinal herb mentioned in this article are based on scientific research and come from Geert Verhelst’s Large Handbook of Medicinal Plants, a standard work in the field of healing plants. The book is used in phytotherapy.

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