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Cranberry

SCIENTIFIC NAME(S):Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait. (cranberry, trailing swamp cranberry), V. oxycoccos L. (small cranberry), V. erythrocarpum Michx. (Southern mountain cranberry), V. vitis (lowbush cranberry), V. edule (highbush cranberry).
Family: Ericaceae.

Americans eat about 117 million pounds of Cranberry sauce each year, most of it during November and December. But don't wait for Thanksgiving - the common Cranberry ( Vaccinium macrocarpon ) is one of nature's best weapons against cystitis and urinary tract infections.

Cranberry is a relatively small, red berry which grows on low-hanging vines in temperate zones in many regions of the United States and other parts of the world. Cranberry is a member of the same family of plants as bilberry and blueberry.

History

During the mid-1800s, German physicians observed that the urinary excretion of Kippur acid increased after the ingestion of cranberries. It was believed that cranberries, prunes, and plums contained benzoic acid or another compound that the body metabolized and excreted as Kippur acid (a bacteriologic agent in high concentrations). This hypothesis has been disputed because the amounts of benzoic acid present in these fruits (approximately 0.1 % by weight) could not account for the excretion of the larger amounts of Kippur acid.

Despite a general lack of scientific evidence to indicate that cranberries or their juice were effective urinary acidifiers, interest persists among the public in the medical use of cranberries. Cranberries are used in eastern European cultures because of their folkloric role in the treatment of cancers and in reducing fever. Cranberries make flavorful and preserves.

Botany :- A number of related cranberries are found in areas ranging from damp bogs to mountain forests from Alaska to Tennessee. Cranberry plants grow as small trailing evergreen shrubs. Their flowers vary from pink to purple and bloom from May to August depending on the species. The Actiniumgenus also includes the blueberry (V. angstAlit.) and bilberry (V. myrtles).

Uses of Cranberry

Cranberries and cranberry juice appear to combat urinary tract infections. The acids lower urine pH levels enough to slow urine degradation and odor in incontinent patients.

Side Effects of Cranberry

  • Extremely large doses can produce gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea.
  • People who think they have a urinary tract infection should see a health care provider for proper diagnosis and treatment. Cranberry products should not be used to treat infection.
  • It is important to inform your health care providers about any herb or dietary supplement you are using, including cranberry. This helps to ensure safe and coordinated care.

Dosage

One capsule of concentrated cranberry juice extract (400 mg) can be taken two times per day. Several 16-ounce (500 ml) glasses of high-quality unsweetened cranberry juice from concentrate each day approximate the effect of the cranberry extract. Cranberry tincture, 1/2-1 teaspoon (3-5 ml) three times per day, can also be taken.

Toxicology

There have been no reports of significant toxicity with the use of cranberries or their juice. The ingestion of large amounts (> 3 to 4 L per day) of the juice often results in diarrhea and other GI symptoms.

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