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Cranberry (<i>Vaccinium macrocarpon</i>)

Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon)

*DISCLAIMER* All information is provided for educational purposes only. No drugs or supplements should be taken without prior advice from your health professional.


Is cranberry used for more than a Thanksgiving dish?
What is it used for?
What's the best form to use?
How do I use it?
Caution!


Is cranberry used for more than a Thanksgiving dish?
Long before cranberry sauce became a Thanksgiving tradition, Native Americans used this ruby-red berry for healing purposes. The cranberries we cultivate in New England bogs have a place not only on the dinner table, but also in your medicine cabinet. back to top

What is it used for?
For decades, cranberry juice has had a reputation among women for helping relieve the symptoms of urinary tract infections, or UTIs. Now scientific studies support that belief. They show that cranberries contain active ingredients that prevent bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract, making it harder for an infection to take hold. back to top

What's the best form to use?
The form of cranberry you choose is literally a matter of taste. Here are some options:
  • Cranberry juice cocktail. Many people make it a habit of drinking this easy-to-find juice to keep urinary tract infections at bay. Be aware, however, that such drinks are only one-third cranberry juice. The rest is water and a lot of unhealthy sugar.
  • Unsweetened cranberry juice concentrate. You'll get more cranberry "punch" with this purer form of juice. If it's too sour, mix it with water or sparkling water (and maybe a little sugar). It's available in health food stores. Be aware, however, that some people find unsweetened cranberries a bit too tart to take.

    You'll get more cranberry "punch" with this purer form of juice. If it's too sour, mix it with water or sparkling water (and maybe a little sugar). It's available in health food stores. Be aware, however, that some people find unsweetened cranberries a bit too tart to take.
  • Cranberry-concentrate capsules. If you want to avoid both the sugar of commercial cranberry juice and the pucker-power of unsweetened concentrate, look for cranberry capsules in a health food store or drugstore.
  • Blueberries. Now here's some good news! Blueberries, a close cousin of cranberries, have similar chemical properties when it comes to fighting urinary tract infections. Eating juicy blueberries as often as possible is a pleasant way to help keep your urinary tract healthy. back to top
How do I use it?
To avoid getting a urinary tract infection, drink a couple of glasses of cranberry juice a day, especially if you've already had a urinary tract infection and want to prevent another one.

If you have symptoms of a urinary tract infection, see a doctor. It's important that you treat a urinary tract infection right away to prevent it from turning into something more serious. While you are being treated by a doctor, you can also increase your intake of cranberry juice to, say, four glasses a day to give your treatment a boost. If you opt for cranberry-concentrate capsules (found in health food stores), follow package instructions; a typical dose is one capsule two to four times a day. Be sure to swallow each capsule with an eight-ounce glass of water. back to top

Caution!
Do not rely on cranberry to cure a full-blown urinary tract infections. If you have a urinary tract infections, you'll need a doctor to prescribe antibiotics. Cranberry should be used together with a doctor's treatment, not instead of it. Also, drinking excessive amounts of juice can cause an upset stomach and diarrhea. Note also that people who have diabetes should avoid drinking large amounts of sweetened juice.

The use of herbs is not recommended during pregnancy and breast-feeding except under the guidance of a health professional. back to top

 
 
 
Last Modified Date: 4/4/2001
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