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What is Cranberry?

Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) is a small evergreen shrub that grows in mountains, forests and damp bogs from Alaska to Tennessee. Native Americans introduced the Europeans to cranberry as a food, dye, and medicine. In the 1920s, canned cranberry sauce was introduced, and in the 1940s, cranberry juice became commercially available. Cranberry has been used to prevent and treat urinary tract infections since the 19th century.

Today cranberry is available in a variety of forms such as fresh or frozen cranberries, cranberry juice cocktail, other cranberry drinks, cranberry sauce, and powder in hard or soft gelatin capsules. Cranberries are approx 88% water and contain flavonoids, anthrocyanins, cetechin, triterpinoids, citric acid, malic acid, glucuronic acid, quinic acid, benzoic acid, ellagic acid, and vitamin C. Fresh or frozen cranberries are a good source of cranberry because they contain pure fruit.

Health Benefits:
Cranberry has long been linked to helping defeat urinary tract infections, and recent research is beginning to bear this out. To see how this can be, we should first look at our kidneys.

The kidneys: Kidneys(one on each side of the spine just above the waist) make urine, which consists of about 95 percent water and 5 percent urea and various salts. This urine exits the kidney via long, thin tubes called ureters. The ureters (one from each kidney) drain into the bladder, a small round organ that acts as a holding tank. When the bladder fills, you get a signal that it is time to urinate. The urine passes out of your body through a canal called the urethra.

Anything that interferes with this flow may cause the urine to back up and stagnate in the bladder. The urinary tract then becomes a sitting duck for disease. Women often experience urinary tract infections. More than 60 percent of women experience a urinary tract infection sometime during their lives. For many women, infection is a chronic problem.

These infections are caused by the introduction of bacteria into the urinary tract. Once inside, they thrive in the warm, moist environment. Ultimately, they begin to affect urine production and the function of the bladder, resulting in significant pain.

Any reduction in kidney efficiency can have a drastic and immediate impact on our health. Even a partial reduction in the kidney's ability to filter the blood will lead to the rapid buildup of deadly toxins in the bloodstream. In severe cases, patients may require a kidney dialysis machine to artificially filter blood. Although this equipment does prevent the deadly buildup of urea and ammonia in the bloodstream, it is not as effective as the kidneys.

Highly Acidic:
However, because of their high acidity and extremely sour taste, they are less readily used in clinical practice. Pure cranberry juice is tart like lemon juice because of the high citric and quinic acid content. Cranberry juice cocktail is more palatable, but is only 25%-33% juice and contains corn syrup as a sweetener, whereas other cranberry juice drinks contain as little as 10% juice.

These sweetened beverages are relatively high in calories (approx 140 kcal per 8-oz serving) and could cause weight gain in a patient consuming the juice for medicinal purposes. Another drawback to sweetened beverages is that, theoretically, the sugar could act as a source of food for uropathogens. Cranberry sauce consisting of sweetened or gelled berries at a concentration one-half that of cranberry juice cocktail is also readily available to consumers. Cranberry capsules are a sugar-free source of cranberry.

Hard gelatin capsules contain more crude fiber and organic acids than cranberry juice cocktail, whereas the soft gelatin capsules contain soybean oil and have only 8% of the total organic acids found in fresh cranberries. It takes 12 capsules of cranberry powder to equal 6 fluid oz of cocktail. In the various studies and consumer references, many dosages and dosing regimens have been reported for the use of cranberry in prevention of renal calculi, prevention of urinary odor, and prevention and treatment of urinary tract infections.

Prevention of urinary tract infection: 8 oz of cranberry juice four times a day for several days, then twice daily; 300 mL/day as cranberry juice cocktail. Treatment of urinary tract infection: 6 oz cranberry juice of daily for 21 days; 6 oz twice daily. Reduction of urinary odors: 16 oz of cranberry juice daily; 3 oz of daily, then increased by 1 oz each week to a maximum of 6 oz daily. Prevention of urinary stones: 1 qt of cranberry juice cocktail daily; 8 oz four times a day for several days, then 8 oz twice daily.

Another Potential Benefit: With the use of cranberry is its antiviral effect. One study evaluated the ability of various commercial juices and beverages to inactivate poliovirus type I in vitro. Cranberry juice had some antiviral activity that was noted to be enhanced at pH 7.0. The antiviral effect of commercial juices is thought to be caused by polyphenols, including tannins, which form complexes with viruses. So, now you have it, cranberry is not just good with the thanksgiving feast.

Nature's Way's Cranberry Extract

Solaray's Cranberry

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