The Humble Cranberry
Wednesday, October 11th 2006
"We know that brushing, flossing and regular dental cleanings reduces the risk of developing periodontitis by helping to prevent the onset of gingivitis, or gum infection", said Julie Labrecque, from the University of Laval and lead researcher of the study. "With this new study, cranberries may provide an interesting ingredient in the development of new therapeutic approaches for treatment of periodontitis."
For centuries cranberries have been valued for their ability to support the health of the urinary tract and help treat urinary tract infections. In the early 1990's researchers discovered cranberry's "anti-adhesion" activity. This anti-adhesion effect is primarily due to special type-A structure proanthocyanidins (PACs) found naturally in cranberries. These Type-A PACs help guard the body from certain harmful bacteria that cause urinary tract infections. More recent research has shown they may also be beneficial for stomach ulcers and gum disease.
Recent findings published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy reveal that the cranberry may be the next new weapon in the fight for good oral health. Researchers have discovered that natural compounds in cranberries may help ward off periodontitis, or severe gum disease, by serving as a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. This anti-inflammatory effect may be attributed to unique compounds in the fruit that prevent P.gingivalis bacteria from adhering to the teeth below the gum line. This new research offers great promise for the millions of people affected by periodontitis, the primary cause of tooth loss in adults.
In this study, researchers discovered that cranberry compounds can reduce the growth of P.gingivalis and subsequent plaque development - the initial step in the development of periodontitis. Periodontitis occurs when inflammation or infection of the gums is left untreated or treatment is delayed. Infection and inflammation spreads from the gums to the ligaments and bones that support the teeth and eventually leads to tooth loss.
In addition to preventing the growth of P.gingivalis, previous research has shown that cranberry compounds may also prevent certain oral bacteria from directly destroying gum tissue itself - another major factor contributing to periodontitis. This may have more widespread implications as recent studies have also linked severe gum disease with an increased likelihood for heart disease and stroke.
Reproduced unabridged from the October - December 2006 issue of Health and Herbal News, with the kind permission of Health and Herbs International Ltd.
Footnote from Ideal Health:
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