Cranberry is a relatively small, red berry which grows on low-hanging vines in temperate zones in many regions of the United States and other parts of the world. Cranberry is a member of the same family of plants as bilberry and blueberry. Cranberry can be taken as a juice, the whole berry, or from an extract. For maximum health benefit, cranberry juice should be unsweetened.
The active ingredients in cranberry include chemical compounds called proanthocyanidins. Proanthocyanidins are potent antioxidants that appear to be able to decrease bacterial adherence to the bladder epithelium cells. The main benefit of this action is that bacteria have less likelihood of grouping together to cause bladder infection, urinary track infections and other related conditions.Suggested Health Benefits Cranberries
- Urinary Tract Infections - Many people take cranberry supplements to prevent urinary tract infections caused by bacteria. Specifically, the proanthocyanidins found in cranberry appear to block the adhesive strands on the E. coli bacteria from sticking to a surface whereby inhibiting their ability to stick to the cell walls of the uterus and bladder.
- Reduction of Dental Plaque - It is believed that cranberry juice can inhibit the aggregation of bacteria that cause dental plaque.
- Anti-Cancer Activity - Based on evaluation of several vitro screening tests, it has been suggested that the proanthocyanidin compounds found in cranberry may exhibit some anti-carcinogenic activity.
- Heart Disease - Cranberry extract has been shown to inhibit low density lipoprotein oxidation. Since this process is believed to be part of what can cause heart disease, prevention of oxidation through cranberry supplementation can potentially reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Kidney stones - Some medical professionals and specialists believe that quinic acid abundant in cranberry may help to prevent the development of kidney stones.
There are a number of user submitted cranberry and urinary product reviews and ratings available at NutritionalTree.com.
One 400 mg capsule of concentrated cranberry juice extract can be taken two times per day. Several 16-ounce (500 ml) glasses of high-quality unsweetened cranberry juice from concentrate each day approximate the effect of a capsule. If using cranberry tincture 1/2 to 1 teaspoon should be taken three times per day.Side Effects
No major side effects have been reported.Supporting LiteratureBrown DJ. Herbal Prescriptions for Better Health. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1996, 57-61.
Howell AB, Vorsa N, Der Maderosian A. Inhibition of the adherence of P-fimbriated Escherichia coli to uroepithelial-all surfaces by proanthocyanidin extracts from cranberries. New Engl J Med 1998;339:1005-1006.
Rotblatt M, Ziment I. Evidence-Based Herbal Medicine. Philadelphia, PA: Hanley & Belfus, Inc; 2002:145-147.
Schlager TA. Effect of cranberry juice on bacteriuria in children with neurogenic bladder. J Pediatr. 1999;135:698-702.
Schmidt DR, Sobota AE. An examination of the anti-adherence activity of cranberry juice on urinary and nonurinary bacterial isolates. Microbios. 1988;55 (224-225):173-181.
Zafriri D, Ofek I, Adar R, et al. Inhibitory activity of cranberry juice on adherence of type 1 and type P fimbriated Escherichia coli to eucaryotic cells. Antimicrob Agents Chemother 1989;33:92-98.