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Table of Contents > Articles > Cranberries: more than a folk remedy ...
Cranberries: more than a folk remedy for UTIs

Recognition of the medicinal properties of the cranberry actually has a long history in the Americas. Early settlers from England learned to use the berry both raw and cooked for various ailments including appetite loss, digestive problems, and scurvy (cranberry is high in vitamin C) and Native Americans made poultices from whole dried berries for wounds. And, over the past several decades, the use of cranberries in treating urinary tract infections (UTI) has been gaining wide acceptance in conventional medicine

A Rutgers University research team has identified a compound in the cranberry called proanthocyanidins (tannins). These tannins stop the E-coli (or Escherichia coli, the bacteria that causes most UTIs) from sticking to the cell walls in the bladder and the kidney. Bacteria are prevented from sticking to the mucosal surface and end up passing through the urine.

The biochemical properties of the cranberry are not only effective in treating UTI's but, according to recent research, may also help protect against peptic ulcers. Another study suggests that cranberries may even help prevent the plaque bacteria in the mouth that causes periodontal disease. (Note however that because most commercial juices are high in dextrose and fructose, they are not suitable for oral hygiene.)

So for a number of reasons, adding cranberries to your diet may be very beneficial to your health. Cranberries are available as fresh or frozen berries, cranberry concentrate, dried capsules, tablets, and of course as juice. However, because most cranberry juice or cocktails typically contain sugar, which is though to lower immunity, commercial cranberry juice may not be as effective in alleviating symptoms of UTI and bacteria as other cranberry sources.

To date there have not been any reports or literature which establish any clinically significant interactions between the cranberry and conventional medications. In addition, the cranberry has not been considered by the German Commission E and is not on the General Sale List in Britain.


Integrative Medicine Access 2000

Cranberries: Anti-adhesive, antimicrobial, and anti-oxidant? The Integrative Medicine Consult. December, 2000.

Review Date: December 2000
Reviewed By: Integrative Medicine editorial

Copyright © 2004 A.D.A.M., Inc

The publisher does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of the information or the consequences arising from the application, use, or misuse of any of the information contained herein, including any injury and/or damage to any person or property as a matter of product liability, negligence, or otherwise. No warranty, expressed or implied, is made in regard to the contents of this material. No claims or endorsements are made for any drugs or compounds currently marketed or in investigative use. This material is not intended as a guide to self-medication. The reader is advised to discuss the information provided here with a doctor, pharmacist, nurse, or other authorized healthcare practitioner and to check product information (including package inserts) regarding dosage, precautions, warnings, interactions, and contraindications before administering any drug, herb, or supplement discussed herein.

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