The cranberry grows on a plant that is native to North America and bears a red fruit in summer. Juices, baked goods, and other items are made with cranberries.
Cranberry juice cocktail contains 26% to 33% pure cranberry. In its pure form, the fruit can be extremely bitter. For that reason, cranberry juice is usually heavily sweated. The dried fruit is processed and added to pills and extracts.[1, 2, 3]
Cranberry was used by Native Americans as a remedy for kidney and bladder problems. English immigrants used the berry to treat stomach troubles, blood disorders, scurvy (lack of vitamin C), and loss of appetite. It also has a history of use for diabetes, wounds, and liver problems. Currently, cranberry is most often used to prevent and treat urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Cranberries are also packed with antioxidants, including vitamin C. Antioxidants reduce the effect of free radicals in the body, which harm cells and DNA.
In addition, the fruit is used to:
Still others use cranberry to treat:
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Pleurisy (swelling in the lining of the lung)
- Type 2 diabetes
In most cases, cranberry is safe for everyone, including children and pregnant women. The recommended dose, for helping to prevent UTIs in adults, is at least 3oz of pure cranberry juice per day, or 10oz of juice cocktail. Adults can also consume 1.5oz of frozen or fresh cranberries.
Other dosage recommendations include:
|Urinary tract infection prevention (children)||15ml/kg of 30% cranberry concentrate daily|
|Urine deodorizer (for incontinence)||3oz to 6oz of cranberry juice daily|
|Type 2 diabetes||6 cranberry capsules daily (or 300mg to 400mg twice daily) for 12 weeks|
Ask your doctor what dosage is best for you.
Does cranberry work
Studies have shown that cranberry can help prevent UTIs. It helps keep bacteria from attaching to the urinary tract. It is especially useful for women who have frequent infections. However, it is not recommended for treatment of UTIs since it is less effective for clearing bacteria that has already become attached to the urinary tract.
Cranberry juice is recommended over pill form.[1, 4] Similarly, cranberry may help prevent stomach ulcers, but more research is needed.[1, 2] In addition, since cranberry juice has a lot of salicyclic acid (also in aspirin), it may help prevent blood clots and tumors, and decrease swelling.
Other possible uses
Studies are being conducted regarding cranberry's effectiveness for the following:
- High cholesterol
- Alzheimer's disease
Cranberry may interact with some medications. Do not consume a lot of cranberry products if you are allergic to aspirin or take it on a regular basis, as it also contains salicyclic acid. If you take warfarin (Coumadin), ask your doctor before consuming cranberry because it might increase your risk of bleeding.
Don't take cranberry if you already have a urinary tract infection.
Before using cranberry products, you should consult your doctor about any medications you are taking to ensure they don't get broken down in the liver.[1, 3]
Drinking a lot of cranberry juice could cause loose stools and stomach discomfort. Consider taking the pill form instead.
Safety and considerations
- If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, ask your doctor about the safety of taking cranberry supplements.
- The oxalate levels in cranberry may increase the risk of kidney stones. If you are high risk, avoid taking cranberry extracts. Limit cranberry juice as well.[1, 3]
- Don't consume cranberry if you already have a UTI. Call your doctor to discuss treatment options.[1, 2]
- Cranberry juice has a lot of sugar. If you have diabetes, look for sugar-free, light, or artificially sweetened versions of cranberry juice.
Where to buy
Although we don't sell cranberry, you can compare different cranberry products here, including quality and price.
- University of Maryland Medical Center;" Reviewed 2011
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine; "Cranberry;" Updated 2012
- MedlinePlus; "Cranberry;" Reviewed 2012
- Denise Mann; HealthDay; "More Proof Cranberry Juice Thwarts Infection: Popular folk remedy holds up in analysis of 13 previous studies on urinary tract infections;" July 2012
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