Common Name: cranberry, American cranberry, bog cranberry. Latin Name: Vaccinium macrocarpon.
Cranberries are the fruit of a native plant of North America. These delicious red berries are used in foods as well as in herbal products.
Cranberries are a gift from nature. And like all of nature's gifts, it is very good for the human body. Some US states and other countries market cranberry as one of the few superfruits (a fruit with numerous health benefits) in the world. The berries are used to produce beverages and many other food products, as well as dietary supplements in the form of extracts, teas, and capsules or tablets.
What Science Says
- Some studies testing cranberry products for their ability to prevent urinary tract infections have shown promise. These studies have generally been small in size, and some were not randomized or controlled; therefore, the results are not yet conclusive.
- Research shows that components found in cranberry may prevent bacteria, such as E. coli, from clinging to the cells along the walls of the urinary tract and causing infection. However, the mechanism of action of cranberry is not fully understood.
- NCCAM, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, and the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research are funding studies to understand whether and how cranberry might work to prevent urinary tract infection and prevent the formation of dental plaque
Side Effects and Cautions
- Eating cranberry products in food appears to be safe, but drinking excessive amounts of juice could cause gastrointestinal upset or diarrhea.
- People who think they have a urinary tract infection should see a health care provider for proper diagnosis and treatment. Cranberry products should not be used to treat infection, rather to help prevent infection.
- Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use, especially if you have a pre-existing health condition.
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