Scientific Names of Cranberries:    

Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait. [Fam. Ericaceae]


Cranberry juice or tea; freeze-dried cranberry powder; cooked cranberries

Traditional Usage:    

– Antibacterial
– Anti-inflammatory
– Antioxidant
– Asthma
– Diuretic
– Fever
– HIV Infection
– Urinary Tract Problems
– Vascular Disorders
– Yeast Infections


Cranberries, Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait. [Fam. Ericaceae], are rich in colorful flavonoids called anthocyanins and their colorless precursors called oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs). Anthocyanins and OPCs are powerful antioxidants that protect skin from sun damage, prevent LDL cholesterol oxidation better than vitamin C, prevent blood platelet stickiness better than aspirin and prevent bacteria from adhering to urinary tract membranes. Cranberries also contain a compound called arbutin that helps to treat Candida yeast infections, is antibiotic and diuretic. The berries also contain at least four anti-asthmatic compounds. The most notable use of cranberries is for their ability to prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs). A recent study published in the British Medical Journal shows that cranberry juice significantly reduces the risk of UTIs. The study recruited 150 women with persistent UTIs. Fifty drank just under 2 oz of cranberry juice a day for six months. Another 50 drank a preparation of Lactobacillus, a “friendly” bacteria that helps prevent yeast infections. The final 50 women were given no treatment. After six months, only eight women taking cranberry juice had experienced a UTI, compared with 19 of those taking Lactobacillus, and 18 not taking anything. Only 50 milliliters of cranberry juice concentrate was needed to produce the 20% reduction in UTIs observed, and this amount was deemed well tolerated and could be recommended to anyone suffering from UTI. Another clinical trial looking at patients with spinal cord disability, a population highly susceptible to life-threatening UTIs, found that cranberry juice reduced the risk of these infections. An earlier study done back in 1966 used 16 ounces of cranberry juice per day for three weeks and found that 73% of 60 patients had no more infections. Another study done in 1991 used a mere four to six ounces of cranberry cocktail with 30% cranberry juice to prevent UTIs.

Active Ingredients:    

Cranberries contain: Colorful flavonoids called anthocyanins and their colorless precursors called oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs). The berries also contain a compound called arbutin, other flavonoids, tannins, plant acids, invert sugar and pectins. Three proanthocyanidin trimers possessing “A-type” interflavanoid linkages based on epicatechin were isolated from ripe cranberries that prevented adherence of P-fimbriated Escherichia coli isolates from the urinary tract. Also isolated were weakly active epicatechin dimers and monomers. The Nutrient Units Value per 100 grams of mashed cranberry sauce: Protein 0.2g; Total lipid (fat) 0.15g; Fiber, total dietary 1.0g; Ash 0.1g; Minerals: Calcium, 4mg; Iron, Fe 0.22mg; Magnesium, 3mg; Phosphorus, 6mg; Potassium, 26mg; Sodium, 29mg; Zinc, 0.05mg; Copper, 0.02 mg; Manganese 0.060mg; Selenium, 0.5mcg; Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid 2.0mg; Thiamin 0.015mg; Riboflavin 0.021mg; Niacin 0.1mg; Vitamin B-6 0.014; Folate, DFE 1mcg; Vitamin A, 20 IU; Vitamin A, RE 2mcg; Vitamin E (ATE) 0.1mg.

Suggested Amount:    

For treatment of UTIs: The dosage of cranberry juice ranges from between 2 ounces to 16 ounces, based on controlled clinical trials (the lower dosage corresponds to pure cranberry juice and the higher dosage corresponds to cranberry cocktail containing 30% real juice). Powdered extracts of cranberry can be taken correspondingly. For strengthening the vascular system: Take between 250-1000mg of cranberry extract standardized to contain 25% anthocyanins daily. For soothing irritated mucous membranes of the mouth and throat or for treating fever: Unless otherwise prescribed, 1-2 tablespoonfuls of cranberry fruit are boiled in water (ca. 150ml) for 10 minutes and passed through a tea strainer while still hot. A cup of the freshly prepared tea is drunk cold several times a day. Alternatively, place the cranberries in cold water for two hours, allowing them to swell and then take 1-2 teaspoonfuls of these berries with some fluid for the same purpose.

Drug Interactions:    

None known


None known

Side Effects:    

None known


Duke, J. 1997: The Green Pharmacy, The Ultimate Compendium of Natural Remedies from the World’s Foremost Authority on Healing and Herbs. pp. 82; 99-100; 242; 560. Rodale Press.

Foo LY, Lu Y, Howell AB, Vorsa N. 2000. A-Type proanthocyanidin trimers from cranberry that inhibit adherence of uropathogenic P-fimbriated Escherichia coli. J Nat Prod. 2000 Sep; 63(9): 1225-8.

Henig YS, Leahy MM. 2000. Cranberry juice and urinary-tract health: science supports folklore. Nutrition. 2000 Jul-Aug;16(7-8):684-7. Review.

Kontiokari T, Sundqvist K, Nuutinen M, Pokka T, Koskela M, Uhari M. 2001. Randomised trial of cranberry-lingonberry juice and Lactobacillus GG drink for the prevention of urinary tract infections in women. BMJ. 2001 Jun 30; 322(7302): 1571.

Reid G, Hsiehl J, Potter P, Mighton J, Lam D, Warren D, Stephenson J. 2001. Cranberry juice consumption may reduce biofilms on uroepithelial cells: pilot study in spinal cord injured patients. Spinal Cord. 2001 Jan; 39(1): 26-30.

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