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What Is Cranberry Used for Today?
Cranberry is widely used today to prevent bladder infections , although as yet the evidence to support this use remains limited. Contrary to the research from the 1920s, it now appears that cranberry's acidification of the urine is not likely to play an important role in the treatment of bladder infections; current study has focused instead on cranberry's apparent ability to block bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall. 1 If the bacteria can't hold on, they will be washed out with the stream of urine. Interestingly, studies have found that in women who frequently develop bladder infections, bacteria seem to have a particularly easy time holding on to the bladder wall. 2 This suggests that cranberry juice can actually get to the root of their problem.
Just as cranberry seems to prevent adhesion of bacteria to the bladder, preliminary evidence suggests that it might also help prevent the adhesion of the ulcer-causing bacteria Helicobacter pylorito the stomach wall. On this basis, it has been proposed for preventing or treating ulcers, with mixed results as described below .
Other preliminary evidence suggests that the same actions of cranberry juice might make it useful for treating or preventing cavities 3 or gum disease . 4 However, there is one kink to work out before cranberry could be practical for this purpose: the sweeteners added to cranberry juice aren't good for your teeth, but without them cranberry juice is very bitter.
Cranberry has also been investigated as a possible aid in reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer , 5 and as a treatment for diabetes , 6 but there is no meaningful evidence as yet that it is actually helpful for these conditions.
One study failed to find cranberry significantly effective for enhancing mental function . 7
- Sobota AE. Inhibition of bacterial adherence by cranberry juice: potential use for the treatment of urinary tract infections. J Urol. 131(5):1013-6.
- Schaeffer AJ. Recurrent urinary tract infection in the female patient. Urology. 32(3 Suppl):12-5.
- Weiss EI, Kozlovsky A, Steinberg D, Lev-Dor R, Bar Ness Greenstein R, Feldman M, Sharon N, Ofek I. A high molecular mass cranberry constituent reduces mutans streptococci level in saliva and inhibits in vitro adhesion to hydroxyapatite. FEMS Microbiol Lett. 232(1):89-92.
- Weiss EI, Lev-Dor R, Kashamn Y, et al. Inhibiting interspecies coaggregation of plaque bacteria with a cranberry juice constituent. JADA. 1998;129:1719-1723.
- Wilson T, Porcari JP, Harbin D. Cranberry extract inhibits low density lipoprotein oxidation. Life Sci. 62(24):PL381-6.
- Chambers BK, Camire ME. Can cranberry supplementation benefit adults with type 2 diabetes? Diabetes Care. 26(9):2695-6.
- Crews WD Jr, Harrison DW, Griffin ML, Addison K, Yount AM, Giovenco MA, Hazell J. A double-blinded, placebo-controlled, randomized trial of the neuropsychologic efficacy of cranberry juice in a sample of cognitively intact older adults: pilot study findings. J Altern Complement Med. 11(2):305-9.