Cranberry

Botanicals

18/Description

About

Cranberry is a type of evergreen shrub that grows in wet areas, such as bogs or wetlands. Cranberry is native to northeastern and northcentral parts of the United States. The shrub has small, dark green leaves, pink flowers, and dark red fruit that are egg-shaped.

Cranberry is most commonly used for the prevention and treatment of urinary tract infections (UTIs).

Cranberry is also used for kidney stones, neurogenic bladder (a bladder disease), to deodorize urine in people with difficulty controlling urination, to prevent urine catheters from becoming blocked, and to heal skin around surgical openings in the stomach that are used to eliminate urine. Some people use cranberry to increase urine flow, kill germs, and reduce fever.

Some people use cranberry for type 2 diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), enlarged prostate, common colds, flu, heart disease, memory, metabolic syndrome, ulcers caused by Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), scurvy, inflammation of the lining around the lung (pleurisy), and cancer.

In foods, cranberry fruit is used in cranberry juice, cranberry juice cocktail, jelly, and sauce.

How it works

People used to think that cranberry worked for urinary tract infections by making the urine acidic and, therefore, unlikely to support the growth of bacteria. But researchers don't believe this explanation any more. They now think that some of the chemicals in cranberries keep bacteria from sticking to the cells that line the urinary tract where they can multiply. Cranberry, however, does not seem to have the ability to release bacteria which are already stuck to these cells. This may explain why cranberry is possibly effective in preventing urinary tract infections, but possibly ineffective in treating them.

Cranberry, as well as many other fruits and vegetables, contains significant amounts of salicylic acid, which is an important ingredient in aspirin. Drinking cranberry juice regularly increases the amount of salicylic acid in the body. Salicylic acid can reduce swelling, prevent blood clots, and can have antitumor effects.

Effectiveness

Possibly Effective
Preventing urinary tract infections (UTIs)

Some research shows that taking certain cranberry capsules or tablets can help prevent UTIs in people who have had UTIs in the past. However, research is unclear whether drinking cranberry juice helps prevent repeat UTIs. Taking certain cranberry products or drinking cranberry juice might prevent UTIs in older people living in nursing homes, in pregnant women, and in children who have had UTIs in the past. But cranberry does not appear to help prevent UTIs in other people who have conditions that make them a high risk for UTIs. This includes people undergoing surgery or radiation near the bladder or urinary tract, as well as people with a bladder condition (neurogenic bladder) caused by an injury to the spinal cord. While cranberry can help prevent UTIs for some people, it should not be used for treating UTIs.

Concerns

Likely safe

Cranberry is LIKELY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth appropriately. Cranberry juice and cranberry extracts have been used safely in people. However, drinking too much cranberry juice can cause some side effects such as mild stomach upset and diarrhea. Drinking more than 1 liter per day for a long period of time might increase the chance of getting kidney stones.

18/Warnings

Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking cranberry fortherapeuticreasons if you are pregnant orbreast feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Children: Cranberry juice is LIKELY SAFE for children when taken by mouth as a food or drink.

Aspirin allergy: Cranberries contain significant amounts of salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is similar to aspirin. Avoid drinking large quantities of cranberry juice if you are allergic to aspirin.

Inflammation of the stomach lining (Atrophic gastritis): Cranberry juice might increase how much vitamin B12 the body absorbs for people with atrophic gastritis.

Diabetes: Some cranberry juice products are sweetened with extra sugar. If you have diabetes, stick with cranberry products that are sweetened with artificial sweeteners.

Low stomach acid (hypochlorhydria). Cranberry juice might increase how much vitamin B12 the body absorbs for people with low levels of stomach acid.

Kidney stones: Cranberry juice and cranberry extracts contain a large amount of a chemical called oxalate. In fact, there is some evidence that some cranberry extract tablets can boost the level of oxalate in the urine by as much as 43%. Since kidney stones are made primarily from oxalate combined with calcium, healthcare providers worry that cranberry might increase the risk of kidney stones. To be on the safe side, avoid taking cranberry extract products or drinking a lot of cranberry juice if you have a history of kidney stones.

Interactions

Always consult with your doctor.
Moderate
Atorvastatin (Lipitor)

Atorvastatin (Lipitor) is a medication used for lowering cholesterol. The body breaks down atorvastatin (Lipitor) to get rid of it. Cranberry might decrease how quickly the body breaks down atorvastatin (Lipitor). Drinking cranberry juice while taking these medications might increase the effects and side effects of atorvastatin (Lipitor). Avoid drinking large amounts of cranberry juice if you are taking atorvastatin (Lipitor).

Nifedipine (Procardia)

Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver.Cranberry might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking cranberry along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking cranberry, talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.Some medications that are changed by the liver include lovastatin (Mevacor), ketoconazole (Nizoral), itraconazole (Sporanox), fexofenadine (Allegra), triazolam (Halcion), and many others.Cranberry might decrease how quickly the body breaks down some medications that are broken down by the liver, including nifedipine (Procardia). In theory, drinking cranberry juice while taking nifedipine might increase the effects and side effects of nifedipine (Procardia).

Warfarin (Coumadin)

Warfarin (Coumadin) is used to slow blood clotting. Cranberry might increase how long warfarin (Coumadin) is in the body, and increase the chances of bruising and bleeding. But, research in this area is not consistent. Be sure to have your blood checked regularly. The dose of your warfarin (Coumadin) might need to be changed.

Minor
Diclofenac (Voltaren, others)

Cranberry might decrease how quickly the body breaks down some medications that are broken down by the liver, including diclofenac (Voltaren, others). In theory, drinking cranberry juice while taking diclofenac might increase the effects and side effects of diclofenac.

Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2C9 (CYP2C9) substrates)

Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Some research suggests that cranberry might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking cranberry along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. But, research in this area is not consistent. Before taking cranberry, talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.Some medications that are changed by the liver include amitriptyline (Elavil), diazepam (Valium), zileuton (Zyflo), celecoxib (Celebrex), diclofenac (Voltaren), fluvastatin (Lescol), glipizide (Glucotrol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), irbesartan (Avapro), losartan (Cozaar), phenytoin (Dilantin), piroxicam (Feldene), tamoxifen (Nolvadex), tolbutamide (Tolinase), torsemide (Demadex), warfarin (Coumadin), and others.

The information provided on this page is for reference purposes and is not meant to be used as a medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with a medical professional.