Common Name

Standardized: pipsissewa
Other: prince's pine

Botanical Name

Chimaphilla umbellata (L.) W.P.C. Barton
Plant Family: Ericaceae


A small, perennial evergreen native to much of southern Canada and the northern United States, pipsissewa was used by indigenous peoples for its astringent properties. Its scientific name literally means "winter loving," but its leaves are collected in late summer. The leaves have very little scent until they are rubbed to release a pleasant but mildly "puckery" odor. It is currently used as a flavoring in root beer production, and in candy.

Parts Used

Dried leaf usually, although all parts of the plant including stems are active.

Typical Preparations

Teas (made in boiling water), and tinctures usually and very rarely found as a capsule. Cosmetically it can be found in lotions or creams from a fresh extract.

Therapeutic Uses, Benefits and Claims of Pipsissewa

Pipsissewa contains quinones (hydroquinones), flavonoids, triterpenes, phenols, methyl salicylate, essential oil, and tannins. Quinones have been proven to have a disinfecting effect on the urinary tract.

Pipsissewa was an important herb among the native Americans in North America, and they used it in the form of herbal teas for a variety of health problems, especially as a tonic and diuretic medication for rheumatism, kidney and bladder ailments. The herb was also popular among the European settlers.

Modern scientific studies have confirmed that the plant can be useful as a diuretic and urinary tract disinfectant.

It was widely used and highly regarded by herbal practitioners in North America as a safe and reliable antiseptic and antibacterial agent for treatment of cystitis, painful urination, bladder and kidney stones, kidney inflammation, prostatitis, gonorrhea and other ailments.

The herb helps the body to get rid of excess fluid and waste products by increasing urinary flow and improve liver function.

Drinking tea made from pipsissewa may be effective as a remedy for rheumatism, arthritis and gout.

Animal studies have shown that extracts of the herb also have the ability to lower high blood glucose values.

Chimaphila umbellata has the same effect on the urinary system as bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi). Both these plants have hydroquinone as the main active ingredient.

Pipsissewa has a lower content of tannins than bearberry and more diuretic properties which make it more suitable for long-term use.

North American Indians used the plant to increase sweating, to treat fever diseases (like typhoid) and as a fevers reduce agent.

They also used it for painful menstruation and tuberculosis of the lymph glands of the neck.

Pipsissewa is a bitter herb which has been used internally as a tea to treat ailments of the respiratory tract like colds, whooping cough and bronchitis.

Furthermore, it was used as a remedy for lack of appetite and poor digestion.

Externally, an extract of pipsissewa was used as an astringent eyewash for sore eyes. Extracts of the fresh leaves can be used as a wash or wet compresses on the blisters, tumors, ulcers, and swelling.

Fresh plant material can be placed directly on the skin as a painkiller for rheumatism in the joints and muscles.

The leaves have has also been used as a tobacco substitute.

Dosage and Administration

Herbal tea can be made by steeping 1 teaspoon of the dried crushed leaves in a cup of boiling water, wait until it becomes cold and then strain. 1-2 cups a day of the cold tea can be taken daily.

Extracts of the same strength can also be used externally as a poultice for boils and infected wounds.

In addition, commercial pipsissewa tincture can be used, where the manufacture’s instruction should be followed.


Specific: No known precautions.
General: We recommend that you consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using herbal products, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.

This herb is sold by the ounce

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