Trailing Swamp Cranberry

General Information

Common Name:

Trailing Swamp Cranberry

Latin Name:

Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait

Family:

Ericaceae

Indications & Historical Uses

For more than a century, American Indians consumed crushed cranberries to prevent and treat urinary tract infections (UTI). Today, even after the introduction of antibiotics capable of eradicating the bacteria responsible for the urinary tract infection, many women still swear by this remedy. Many women drink cranberry juice to treat cystitis (inflammation of the urinary bladder). The juice is also reported to deodorize the urine.

Contraindications & Precautions

No known contraindications.

It is important to note that no one should self medicate a urinary tract infection as antibiotics are almost always warranted. Therefore, if a urinary tract infection is suspected one should always consult a physician.

Large amounts of juice may cause diarrhea and stomach upset.

Drug Interaction:
None known.

Dosage Information

How Supplied:

Trailing swamp cranberry can be consumed in capsules containing the dried cranberry powder. Six capsules are equivalent to 90mL of cranberry cocktail.

Alternatively, one can consume fresh or frozen cranberries. Forty-five grams would be equivalent to 90mL of cranberry cocktail, however, it would be difficult to consume this quantity, as these berries are sour tasting and acidic.

Recommended dose of cranberry juice cocktail.

As a UTI preventive is 90mL (or 3 fl.oz.) – about 1/3 of this is pure juice.

As UTI treatment is 360-960mL (12-32 fl.oz.).

Active ingredients:

Two constituents:

  1. Fructose
  2. Various carbohydrates and fiber as well as plant acids including benzoic and citric acid.

Pharmacology

It is a popular belief that cranberry juice effectively prevents urinary tract infections. An important study in 1994 reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that cranberry juice was more effective in treating than preventing urinary tract infection. It was the first placebo controlled large-scale trial to show that cranberry juice truly does reduce levels of bacteria in the urine. It also showed that cranberry juice increases the influx of white blood cells (immune cells) into the urine to fight the infection. Currently the US Pharmacopoeia lists cranberry juice as an effective remedy for preventing UTIs. It is not known how cranberry works, but several theories have been proposed. In the early 1920s, scientists believed that cranberry juice works by making the urine more acidic; the increased acidity possibly inhibits bacterial development as bacteria flourish in an alkaline (basic) environment. Recent research indicates that the benefits are more likely due to cranberry’¬ís ability to make the urinary tract unfavorable to these bacteria in another way. Namely, by preventing the microorganisms from adhering to the epithelial cells that line the urinary tract. The most common bacteria causing UTI is Eschericia coli. It produces two constituents (known as adherins) that cause the organisms to cling to the epithelial cells where they multiply rapidly. Two different constituents of cranberry juice inhibit adherin activity. Recent findings suggest that cranberry juice works to reduce the odor of incontinent individuals by acidifying the urine and reducing the bacterial activity (especially of E.coli).

Origin

Cranberry is a well-known red acidic fruit or berry of a small evergreen shrub. A number of species are cultivated throughout the United States. The medicinal part is the juice of the cranberry.

Processing

Berries are processed into juice and marketed as cranberry cocktail or prepared as a powder and marketed as a capsule.

Scientific References

W.J.Hopkins et al, Journal of American Medical Association (Letter) 272(8)(1994):588-9.

Lawrence Review Natural Products (St. Louis:Facts and comparisions,July 1994).

I.Oek et al, New England Journal of Medicine,(324)(1991): 1599 .M.S.Soloway and R.A. Smith,)Journal of American Association,260(1998) :1465A.E.Sabota ,Journal of Urology,131 (1984):1013-16.

R.Goodfriend , Journal of American Association ,72(8) (1992):588.

Lawerence Review of Natural Products (St. Louis :Facts and Comparisons, July 1994).

J.Avor et al ,Journal of American Medical Association ,271(1994):751.

N.R.Blatherwich and M.L. Long ,Journal of Biological Chemistry,57(19923):815-18.

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