Cranberries have been traditionally used to prevent urinary tract infections. In fact, cranberry Vaccinium macrocarpon has been the protagonist of several research lines in the last few years.
- 1. What is cranberry?
- 2. Benefits of cranberry
- 3. Cranberries against urine infections
- 4. What are the properties of cranberries to treat urinary infections?
- 5. Effects of Cranberries
- 6. Tips to prevent urine infections or cystitis
- 7. It is advisable to take cranberry nutritional supplements for:
- 8. Intake and dose of cranberry supplements:
- 9. Who can specially benefit from taking Cranberries?
- 10. What do the experts think about cranberries?
- 11. Cranberry supplements have no side effects nor contraindications
- 12. Bibliography
- 13. Related Entries:
What is cranberry?
Cranberry is a fruit from the Vaccinium macrocarpon Aiton species, which belongs to the Vaccinium L. genus of the Ericaceae family.
These berries come from a small perennial shrub that can slowly grow from 10 to 20 cm. The plant is native to the Eastern United States. Native Americans ate cranberries, but also used them as a natural remedy for several diseases and as a dye.
In the beginning, cranberries are white spherical berries that turn red as they mature. Eventually they become bright pink or crimson. They measure approximately 9-14 mm and have a smooth surface.
They are edible and quite bitter. You can either eat them raw, dehydrated, in a concentrate or powder. Usually, people used them to make juices, drinks, sauces, gelatin and jams.
Moreover, the food and pharmaceutical industry uses them as a color additives and preservatives. They are also available in powder or capsule supplements due to its benefits for our organism.
Benefits of cranberry
- Preventing bacterial adherence to the bladder and urethra, specially by E. coli bacteria
- Providing antioxidant properties.
- Supporting the health of the cardiovascular and immune systems.
- Blocking the pathogens that cause tooth decay, improving our oral health.
Its antioxidant properties are being studied due to their ability to prevent urine infections.
Cranberries against urine infections
Cranberries, regardless of their format, produce an antiseptic and antibiotic effect on the germs that cause urinary infections. In fact, they are particularly effective on the Escherichia coli according to several studies.
Women tend to suffer more from recurrent urinary infections like cystitis, which an infection of the bladder, as well as frequent infections during pregnancy.
The Spanish Association of Urology warns that between a 50 and 60% of pre-menopausal women suffer urine infections (90% are cystitis). Moreover, the highest peak takes place between the ages of 18 and 39, which coincide with an increase of sexual activity.
Approximately a 20% of women suffer from cystitis and urinary infections regularly. Therefore, they experience unpleasant symptoms, such as a burning and pain when urinating.
Cranberries are rich in proanthocyanidins (PAC). These are a type of antioxidant flavonoids that prevent the bacteria from adhering to the bladder walls.
Actually, several research lines are trying to prove its role in the prevention of different bladder infections like: cystitis, renal parenchymal (pyelonephritis), or prostate (acute prostatitis or a chronic bacterial infection).
In fact, a review of these studies published by the Cochrane Foundation proved that cranberries lower the risk of recurrent cystitis in a 35%. However, cranberries do not have the ability to detach the bacteria since they are adhered to urinary tract cells.
Natural cranberry is more acid than other fruits, which is why we do not tend to eat it alone. Cranberry in tablets are much easier to take.
Those who are prone to suffering chronic urinary infections can follow a natural treatment with cranberry dietary supplements. In fact, it is an effective and safe alternative, as opposed to anti-biotic treatments. Cranberries are very rich in tannins and they are used to prevent and treat cystitis and urinary infections. These berries come from a heather bush and its production peak takes place between the months of May and June.
Cranberries can help to prevent and treat urinary tract infections. They improve our health in general and specifically the health of the immune system due to its high vitamin content.
What are the properties of cranberries to treat urinary infections?
Cranberries have a high vitamin B2 content as well. In fact, some of its ingredients are tannins, a valuable component to treat urinary tract infections.
Anthocyanins are substances responsible for the red color of the berries. Another bioactive components that is also present in cranberries are proanthocyanidins (PAC), other type of flavonoids.
Tannins react against the attack of bacteria, preventing their colonization and multiplication within the organism. Cranberries improve our health in general. Because of this, they are used to prevent and treat urinary infections, both in Europe and the United States.
Effects of Cranberries
One of the components of cranberries are tannins. These elements can block the attack of bacteria and treat urinary infections and cystitis.
The most common causes of urinary infections are the E.Coli. These bacteria can find optimal conditions to multiply and settle on the mucous membranes of the urinary tract.
Tannins protect the mucous membranes against the attack of bacteria. Thanks to these substances, the body excretes the bacteria through the urine, preventing the inflammation. In addition, the E. Coli bacteria are immune to most antibiotics.
Therefore, the active ingredients of cranberries combined with antibiotics can ensure that the bacteria do not find the perfect environment.
Moreover, the tannins from cranberries have a high vitamin B2 content which is highly beneficial for our health. Tannins also support the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats into energy. Another of the effects of Vitamin B2 is inhibiting the inflammation in the mucous membranes.
Tips to prevent urine infections or cystitis
It is always better to prevent these issues. That is why we have gathered some tips for you to use. For example:
- Wash your hands properly with soap before any contact with the vagina and all intimate parts.
- Wash the genital area several times a day with a suitable soap for this purpose. Change underwear after going to the bathroom.
- After urinating or defecating, always wipe from front to back. This will prevent the bacteria from the anal area from reaching the urethra.
- Drink from 2 to 3 litres of water daily to urinate frequently and excrete the bacteria from the bladder.
- Urinate immediately after having sex.
- If you want to urinate, do not hold it for a long time.
- Take a cranberry supplement because it is good for cleansing the bladder and for preventing infections.
Other factors that can increase the risk of suffering cystitis, apart from sex, include eating acid or spiced foods like caffeine, alcohol and soda drinks.
It is advisable to take cranberry nutritional supplements for:
- Urine or urinary infections
- Women who suffer from cystitis or bladder infections
- Preventing and treating bladder infections
- Improving the performance in cases of weakness
- Strengthening the immune defenses
Intake and dose of cranberry supplements:
In medicine, cranberries are mainly used to prevent and treat urinary infections which tend to specially affect women. They should be taken regularly to make sure that the effects of the fruit are as effective as possible. There are also several ways of taking these cranberries, such as juices or food supplements.
Taking a tablet, capsule, or glass of cranberry juice every three or four hours, will provide the body with the vitamins and tannins that it needs. Natural cranberry has a bitter taste and it is not usually eaten alone, rather, it is mixed with other foods.
Cranberry juice is usually combined with other types of juice. Cranberry jelly is usually used to match salty dishes. Even the infusions will provide certain benefits. For those who do not like its flavor, the best choice is to take it as a dietary supplement.
In the White Book by the Ibero-american Society of Neurology and Urogynecology and the Spanish Society of Community Medicine, they wrote we have to take cranberry 30 days in a row. This is the only way to make sure that the E. coli does not repopulate the urinary tracts. Moreover, this should be done at least three or four months every year.
Cranberry is safe and it does not usually have side effects. In fact, you can take it for long periods of time as a preventive measure. However, you should consult your doctor before using it, since it can interact with some medicines.
Who can specially benefit from taking Cranberries?
Those who tend to suffer cystitis and urinary infections.
- People with vitamin deficiencies.
- Those who want to improve their physical performance.
- People who want to enhance their immune system.
- To prevent bacterial infections.
What do the experts think about cranberries?
For centuries, people have used cranberries due to their benefits and effects.
However, some cranberry products tend to have added sugar to make them more pleasant. Thus, cranberry dietary supplements are the best alternative, since they have a higher concentration of the ingredients. Its regular consumption also stimulates the immune system.
Cranberry supplements have no side effects nor contraindications
No side effects or contraindications have been found due to the intake of cranberry supplements. They are usually safe because they are made with natural ingredients.
This supplement does not produce any type of interaction when it is combined with other supplements or medicines. The natural and raw cranberry can cause stomach discomfort because of its acidity, which is why it would be more advisable to take this fruit as a supplement.
- Sihra N, Goodman A, Zakri R, Sahai A, Malde S. Nonantibiotic prevention and management of recurrent urinary tract infection. Nat Rev Urol. 2018 Dec;15(12):750-776. doi: 10.1038/s41585-018-0106-x.
- Ranfaing J, Dunyach-Remy C, Lavigne JP, Sotto A. Propolis potentiates the effect of cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) in reducing the motility and the biofilm formation of uropathogenic Escherichia coli. PLoS One. 2018 Aug 23;13(8):e0202609. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0202609. eCollection 2018.
- Luczak T, Swanoski M. A Review of Cranberry Use for Preventing Urinary Tract Infections in Older Adults. Consult Pharm. 2018 Aug 1;33(8):450-453. doi: 10.4140/TCP.n.2018.450.
- How to avoid urinary tract infections, natural remedies