Friday, September 26, 2014

CRANBERRY - Articles by a Naturopathic Doctor ( N.D.)

Containing a significant amount of Vitamin C is only one of the many benefits of cranberries ...

Cranberries are the fruit of a bush (Vaccinium macrocarpon) that have a tart flavour and are commonly used in cooking, baking, juice, or eaten plain.  Cranberry sauce is frequently paired with turkey during Thanksgiving celebrations in North America.   Traditionally, cranberry has been used for hundreds of years to prevent and and treat urinary tract infections

In the current medical model, a large amount of scientific research has been performed to confirm this traditional usage, and has also shown it to decrease the severity of established Urinary Tract Infections as well.  It is now widely used by naturopathic and medical healthcare practitioners around the world. 

How does it work?

Cranberry contains compounds called lectins that prevent bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract.  When they cannot stay stuck to the bladder wall, they are easily flushed out with the urine and do not lead to infection.  This is particularly true of the most common urinary tract pathogen, the bacteria commonly called E. coli.  The increased activity against E. coli may also be due to the mannose content of cranberry.  For more information on how mannose works, please see our Mannose article.  Supplementation with cranberry also acidifies the urine, which makes it an uncomfortable environment for many bacteria to live and reproduce.  

Cranberries help fight urinary tract infections
Nutritional Content
In addition to the antibacterial sugar mannose, cranberries also contain significant amounts of vitamin C, which is important for the healing of the lining of the urinary tract.  The chemical compounds called proanthocyanidins found in cranberry have been shown to have anti-cancer effects in preliminary laboratory testing.  More studies are needed to determine if cranberry will be clinically useful for cancer patients.

Why doesn’t sweetened cranberry juice work?

It is important to avoid drinking sweetened cranberry cocktails, because they often contain little actual cranberry juice and lots of sugar.  Sugar actually feeds the bacteria that cause urinary tract infections, and can allow them to reproduce more quickly.  

How can I take cranberry?

Cranberry can be purchased as a raw or dried berries, encapsulated dried berries, encapsulated extract, or concentrated juice.  The concentrated unsweetened juice is the best way to consume cranberry for its medicinal qualities.  The juice is very tart but be sure to only dilute the juice with water, not other fruit juices to avoid adding extra sugar.  Encapsulated cranberry ranges in strength and quality.  Purchase a product that gives an equivalent value of raw cranberries or concentrated cranberry juice.  Combination products for urinary tract infections may contain cranberry.  The dose of unsweetened juice recommended is generally 300ml daily (diluted as desired with water), and the dose for tablets is 400mg three times a day for at least a month.  In children, the dose of concentrated juice is 15ml per kg of body weight (diluted as desired with water).

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