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Herb Basics: Benefits of Cranberry

By The Herb Companion staff
November/December 2001
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Common names: Cranberry, American cranberry, large cranberry
Latin name: Vaccinium macrocarpon
Family: Ericaceae
Part used: Berry
Medicinal uses: Cranberry is a popular remedy for preventing urinary tract infections. Studies show that the fruit helps prevent the adhesion of E. coli bacteria to the lining of the bladder. Also, cranberry helps to deodorize the urine.
Forms commonly used: Whole fruit, juice, capsules and tablets. Also, in urinary health combination formulas.
Side effects: Cranberry is extremely safe. However, some people may be allergic to it, and drinking very large amounts of the juice may cause diarrhea and stomach upset. If a urinary tract or kidney infection is present, a visit to your health-care provider is necessary; antibiotics will likely be needed.
Notes: A number of cranberry species are cultivated throughout the United States, mostly in Wisconsin and Massachusetts. The plant is hard to grow at home in most areas—it requires wet, boggy, and acidic soil. Americans eat approximately 400 million pounds of cranberries annually—more than $1 billion worth every year. In early American medicine, the berries were used as a treatment for scurvy and dysentery. Unsweetened cranberry juice is extremely sour. If you’re drinking the juice preventively, you may want to try a lightly sweetened juice. If you’re fighting an infection, capsules may be a more palatable option.

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