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Cranberry's Role in Helping Urinary and Other Infections


Saturday, October 1st 2005

For years many people have reached for the cranberry juice when ever that uncomfortable feeling of a urinary tract infection starts to set in. Is it an old wives tale or is there validity to it?

Scientists are getting serious about studying the cranberry. The National Institutes of Health (USA) is underwriting research to find out exactly how effective it is in preventing urinary tract infections (UTI's). But the applications for cranberries don't stop there. This antioxidant-packed berry may also help prevent kidney stones, stomach ulcers, gum disease, atherosclerosis and cancer.

Rationale Behind Cranberry Action

Cranberry creates an inhospitable environment for bacteria in the urinary tract by acidifying the urine. But another mechanism is thought to be even more important in protecting against UTI's. Most UTI's are caused by E. coli, which normally inhabit the intestinal tract. To propagate in the urinary tract, these bacteria must be able to attach to the walls of the tract. They do this by forming fibres on their cell walls called fimbrials. The fimbrials make an adhesive that sticks to receptors on the surfaces of urinary tract cells. In the laboratory, cranberry extract has been shown to irreversibly inhibit the ability of bacteria to make these fibres on their cell walls. Without the ability to adhere to human cells in the urinary tract, bacteria are harmlessly flushed out of the system in the urine.

We have all heard of E. coli (Escherichia coli) outbreaks usually from contaminated food or water sources. This bacteria is a natural habitant of our colons and does not become a problem when kept in check. UTI's have been typically caused by E. coli attaching to the cells lining the urinary tract.

Bacterial Brush-off

Adhesion of bacteria to human body cells is the first step in most bacterial infections, not just UTI's. Therefore, scientists are beginning to explore whether cranberry's anti-adhesive ability can be used to protect against other types of bacterial infection, including stomach ulcers and gum disease. The bacteria Helicobacter pylori causes most stomach ulcers. In an Israeli study, researchers found that in the laboratory cranberry prevents H. pylori bacteria from sticking to stomach mucus linings.

Cranberry may also guard against the oral bacteria that cause cavities and periodontal disease. In the laboratory, cranberry has been found to inhibit the formation of bacterial complexes that cause dental plaque, and also to kill anaerobic bacteria, which cause the most severe gum problems.

Reproduced unabridged from the October - December 2005 issue of Health and Herbal News, with the kind permission of Health and Herbs International Ltd.

Footnote from Ideal Health:

The following products are all useful for Urinary Tract & Bladder Infections:

Bladder Support
Cranberry 60,000+
Urinary-Med Spray
Kidney Bladder
Kidney Tea
Inner Health Plus
Urinary Tract Support

Related health information can be found here:

Beet Root - a splendid liver and kidney cleanser, full of nutrients and iron
Kidney & Bladder
The benefits of fasting & detoxifying
The Good Health Diet
Thisilyn for liver support
Water, the elixir of life

Related articles can be found here:

Cystitis and bladder infections - the mighty Cranberry
Doctors Recommend a Multi-Vitamin a Day
Improved Colostrum provides extra health benefits
The Kidney Health Plan
Why take Primadophilus?

If you need help or advice, you are welcome to email our naturopathic team with your health question.

Disclaimer: The health information presented here has been written for the New Zealand health consumer. It is of a general nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subjects covered. The information is not intended to be comprehensive or to provide medical advice to you. While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility or liability is accepted, and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided. All health ailments should be treated by a qualified health professional.


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