Pingüica: Nutrition Information, Properties for Health, Side Effects and How to Take It

The pingüica ( Arctostaphylos pungens ) is a shrub that is characterized by being erect and measuring between one and three meters in height. It is native to the southwestern United States and north and central Mexico. It belongs to the Ericaceae family and its bark is red and smooth.

When mature, the leaves are characterized by being bright, leathery and green, from oval to broad, and up to 4 centimeters long. The fruit is a drupe with a width between 5 and 8 millimeters. Its smaller branches and new leaves are slightly woolly.


The shrub develops in acid, dry and shallow soils, laden with sand and gravel, in chaparral, forests and deserts. In Mexico it is also known as bearberry, pindicua, manzanita or tepesquite. The fruits are bittersweet and are used to make alcoholic beverages, smoothies, syrups and jams, as well as to flavor soups.

Popular medicine gives diuretic properties, such as antiseptic urinary tract, urodilator and antilitiásico. They also report its usefulness in the treatment of bronchial affections.


  • 1 Nutritional information
  • 2 Properties for health
  • 3 Side effects
  • 4 How to take it?
    • 4.1 For kidney problems
    • 4.2 To lose weight
    • 4.3 For colds
    • 4.4 For oral herpes
  • 5 References

Nutritional information

The proximal composition of the fruit (per 100 g of dry matter) is as follows: 2.67% protein, 43.87% carbohydrate, 4% lipid, 31% fiber and 1.15% ash.

Analysis of the ash indicates that the fruit contains 13 parts per million (ppm) of iron, 8 ppm of copper, 9 ppm of zinc and 1809 ppm of calcium.

Fruits, although edible, tend to be dry and mealy, and their high fiber content makes them difficult to digest in large quantities. Like the leaves, fruits contain arbutin, a glycosylated hydroquinone.

Properties for health

The benefits of pingüica discussed in traditional medicine are similar to those of its European counterpart uva-ursi ( Arctostaphylos uva-ursi ). Both fruits and leaves are used in therapy.

- It is considered that chewing the leaves has beneficial effects in the treatment of oral herpes and headaches, stomach and cramps.

- In infusion they are used for colds and diarrhea.

- In the treatment of dysphonia, the branches are chewed to extract the juice.

- Its most common use is the treatment of kidney diseases. The arbutin contained in the leaves and fruits is a diuretic compound, so it is used to relieve edema.

- Has indications for the relief of kidney stones.

- Its efficacy in combating infections in the urinary tract and prostatitis has been mentioned and affects the growth of the intestinal flora. However, there is no evidence of clinical research that corroborates this traditional therapeutic use. With these teraupeutic purposes, dried fruits are consumed in Baja California.

- When consumed in the form of juices, fruits contribute to the feeling of fullness, which is why its use as a slimming agent has been documented.

- Fruits are also used as a natural expectorant. They are used in the symptomatic relief of colds and colds, especially if accompanied by eucalyptus.

- The crushed husk of fruits is used as a wound healing.

- The infusion made with the leaves is used to calm the nerves.

- Topically applied arbutin inhibits tyrosinase and prevents the formation of melanin. Therefore, it is used as a skin lightening agent. It can reduce the dark coloration in some parts of the face, the spots that appear with pregnancy and those that are the product of the incidence of the UVA rays of the sun.

- In galenic preparations of facial creams is used between 2 and 5%. It has the advantage that it is less irritating than hydroquinone but it is more expensive. Hydroquinone is currently banned in many countries.

Side effects

It is not considered a toxic plant; at least these types of effects have not been reported. However, the leaves contain the arbutin glycoside that is metabolized to form hydroquinone, a possible hepatic toxin.

By making this transformation from arbutin to hydroquinone, intestinal bacteria favor the environment for intestinal cancer.

Its consumption is not recommended during pregnancy and lactation or in people suffering from gastritis.

In general, it is not advisable to take very high doses because they can cause stomach upsets such as nausea and vomiting.

How to take it?

For kidney problems

In infusion it is prepared by adding one liter of hot water and 4 tablespoons of ground dry fruit. Let it rest for half an hour and then swallow between 3 and 4 cups a day before meals.

Its action is increased if the infusion is prepared by adding 10 g of pingüica, 20 g of horsetail and 10 g of ears of corn.

A third variant of the infusion is incorporating other ingredients: in a liter of water is added a cup of pingüica fruits, two envelopes of arnica tea, two sachets of chamomile tea, two tablespoons of tamarind and a cup of Jamaica flower .

First the water is heated and the fruits of pingüica are added; Then the tamarind and the flower of Jamaica. At the beginning of boiling introduce the envelopes of arnica and chamomile. Then it is allowed to evaporate until a quarter of the water originally present is lost.

Once the decoction is finished, it is diluted with water to reduce its concentrated flavor and consumed throughout the day.

To lose weight

The slimming preparation is made according to the following proportions: a cup of fresh penguins fruits is added a cup of Jamaica flower and two liters of water.

The water is heated and both the flower of Jamaica and the pingüica are added. Once the water acquires a reddish coloration, the infusion is allowed to cool. Strain and serve cold with plenty of ice.

For colds

For bronchial problems and colds it is recommended to chew 2 or 3 small branches per day.

For oral herpes

For oral herpes infections swish with the juice of the branches 3 or 4 times a day and then spit.


  1. Arbutin (2018). Retrieved on April 20, 2018, in Wikipedia
  2. Arctostaphylos pungens (2018). Retrieved on April 20, 2018, in Wikipedia
  3. Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (2018). Retrieved on April 20, 2018, in Wikipedia
  4. Laferriere J., Weber C.W., Kohlhepp E.A. Use and nutritional composition of some traditional mountain Pima plants foods. 1991. J · Ethnobiol. 11 (1): 93-114
  5. Mystery ingredient: Pingüica (water of Pingüica) (2011). Retrieved on April 20, 2018, at
  6. Pingüica: Benefits and how to consume it to take advantage of its properties (s.f.)
  7. Retrieved on April 20, 2018, in
  8. Ogunyeni O. 17 Herbal Remedies For UTI: A Comprehensive Review (s.f.) Retrieved on April 20, 2018, at
  9. Winkelman M. Frequently used medicinal plants in Baja California Norte. Journal of Ethnopharmocology.1986: Sept. 18: 109-131.
  10. Winkelman M. Ethnobotanical Treatments of Diabetes in Baja California Norte. Medical Anthropology. 1989. 11: 255-268.

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