Scientific Name: Vaccinium macrocarpon
Common Name: Bearberry, Mossberry, Cranberry
History of Use
Cranberries were originally used by North Americans as fabric dye, food and healing agent. High in Vitamin C, these fruits were transported by American whalers and mariners while on long travel at sea to prevent scurvy (History of Cranberries, n.d.). Traditionally, cranberries are incorporated in the diet of North Americans as pemmican (crushed cranberries, dried deer meat and melted fat). As a medicine, they are used in treating arrow wounds (Neto & Vinson, 2011).
Currently, good scientific evidence for preventing urinary tract infection has been established. This is achieved because of a property of the fruit proanthocyanidins (PACs) with double A-type linkages that inhibit P-fimbriated E. coli from adhering to the uroepithelial cells (Rane, Bernardo, Howell, & Lee, 2014).
Cranberry PACs also impacts the bacterial anti-adhesion activity in the stomach cavity by preventing Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria associated with the onset of stomach ulcers, from attaching to isolated stomach cells (Burger, Weiss, Sharon, Tabak, & Neeman, 2002).
Cranberry PACs also prevents the adhesion of Streptoccocus sobrinus to hydroxyapatite and prevents biofilms associated with coaggregation and adhesion of bacteria to teeth and gums (Girardot, et al., 2014).
Cranberry is considered the best source of flavonols with content almost twice as high as other commonly consumed fruit juices such as pomegranate and grape (Neto & Vinson, 2011). Flavonols are part of the many groups of phytochemicals and, as such, functions as active antioxidants that could improve your health by increasing the ability to fight inflammation and neutralize free radicals (Busch, 2013). Because Cranberry naturally contains other phytochemicals such as resveratrol, epigallocatechin gallate, and quercetin, evidence has been emerging for the key role of apoptosis in cranberry’s anticancer activity especially in inducing apoptosis in breast tumor cells, and inhibiting proliferation of cancer cell lines in vitro, including breast, colon, pancreas, and leukemia (Neto C. C., 2007).
Who should not take Cranberry
Moderate drug interaction has been noted for anticoagulants such as warfarin. Cranberry can increase the time warfarin stays in the body and can increase bleeding, if any. Consult your doctor if you are taking anticoagulants to adjust proper dosage.
If you have known allergic reactions to the members of the Ericaceae family (cranberries and blueberries), Cranberry should be avoided. If you also have known allergic reactions to aspirin, you should avoid drinking large quantities of Cranberry as Cranberries contain significant amounts of salicylic acid.
How to Get your Cranberry On
Cranberry is readily available in the form of cranberry juices, cranberry sauces and dried cranberries. These are normally added in desserts and stuffings.
Since the fruit is not naturally occurring in the Philippines, cranberry products are a bit expensive. You might want to incorporate the fruit in your day in the form of convenient once-a-day capsules of pure cranberry extract or cranberry softgels packed with a punch of vitamin C.
Burger, O., Weiss, E., Sharon, N., Tabak, M., & Neeman, I. O. (2002). Inhibition of Helicobacter pylori Adhesion to Human Gastric Mucus by a High-Molecular-Weight Constituent of Cranberry Juice. Food Science and Nutrition, 42(3), 279-284. doi:10.1080/10408390209351916
Busch, S. (2013, November 27). What Are Flavonol Antioxidants? Retrieved April 5, 2015, from LiveStrong: http://www.livestrong.com/article/271702-what-are-flavonol-antioxidants/
Girardot, M., Guerineau, A., Boudesocque, L., Costa, D., Bazinet, L., Enguehard-Gueiffier, C., & Imbert, C. (2014, April). Promising results of cranberry in the prevention of oral Candida biofilms. (P. Bavoil, Ed.) Pathogens and Diseases, 70(3), 432-439. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/2049-632X.12168
History of Cranberries. (n.d.). Retrieved April 5, 2015, from Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association: http://www.cranberries.org/cranberries/history.html
Neto, C. C. (2007). Cranberry and Its Phytochemicals: A Review. The Journal of Nutrition. Retrieved April 5, 2015, from http://www.cogsci.umassd.edu/engineering/mtx/bmebt/links/neto1.pdf
Neto, C. C., & Vinson, J. A. (2011). Cranberry. In I. F. Benzie, & S. Wachtel-Galor (Eds.), Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects (2nd ed.). Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press. Retrieved April 5, 2015, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92762/
Rane, H. S., Bernardo, S. M., Howell, A. B., & Lee, S. A. (2014, February). Cranberry-derived proanthocyanidins prevent formation of Candida albicans biofilms in artificial urine through biofilm- and adherence-specific mechanisms. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, 69(2), 428-436. doi:10.1093/jac/dkt398