Cranberries are one of very few varieties of fruit that are native to Northern America. The other fruit varieties are the concord grape and blueberry.
There is documentation that Native Americans mixed deer meat with mashed cranberries to make ‘pemmican’, a convenience food, kept for long amounts of time and eaten to sustain energy levels during times of reduced food intake. It is high in calories and proved to be very beneficial for the Native Americans who were known to move about to different camps, several times a year, especially during the Winter when fur trades were popular.
As well as being a beneficial dietary source during times of potential famine, cranberries were crushed into a paste known as a poultice, and applied to wounds to dry out any toxins that may have been present. Native Americans also used the whole cranberry plant as a laxative and for treating stomach cramps, fever, and any childbirth related injuries.
Native Americans inherently knew cranberries had a positive effect on health however, today, cranberries are known to be antioxidant rich and this is possibly related to its high vitamin C content.
Today, many people are aware of the positive role cranberries play in helping with the prevention and treatment of urinary tract infections (UTI). Cranberry juice is frequently consumed for UTIs however, several commercial cranberry juices can be rather high in sugar and can worsen UTIs.
When using cranberry for improving the urinary system, it is best to take it in the form of a concentrated extract, or in the form of a capsule or tablet.
It is not 100% known how cranberries can help in the treatment and prevention of UTIs however, what is known is, Cranberry helps in preventing bacteria from clinging on to the urethra and bladder and therefore preventing the bacteria from travelling up into the kidneys, where severe infections can arise.
Some clinical studies have found that daily cranberry supplementation can reduce UTIs from occurring frequently, by up to 50% and can prevent bacteria from being present in the urine.
If using cranberry extracts, and if there is no benefit within 2 days of contracting a UTI, please seek help from a medical professional.
- Hisano M, Brushini H, Nicodemo A, Srougi M. Cranberries and lower urinary tract infection prevention. Clinics; 2012: 67(6), 661-667