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Cranberry (Vaccinum, Oxycoccus)

The most common variety of cranberry cultivation is the large Canberry (Oxycoccus macrocarpus or Vaccium macrocarpon). The remaining two varieties of the cranberry, the common cranberry (Oxycoccus palustris) and the small cranberry (Oxycoccus microcarpus), are also used in the manufacture of preparations for improving the functioning of the urinary tract.

What does the cranberry look like and where can it be found?

The cranberry is a trailing vine or dwarf shrub that inhabits damp soils. The cultivation of cranberries is spread across all continents. In Poland the most common are two varieties of the plant: the common cranberry (Oxycoccus palustris) and the small cranberry (Oxycoccus microcarpus). They are different from the large cranberry, primarily in the size of fruits. However, no major differences have been found in the contents of compounds or taste between the varieties.

A characteristic of a cranberry when it blossoms in the beginning of summer is the flowers. They are light pink and point outwards like the neck of a crane. The cranberry fruits make people keen on consuming them, especially given their ripe flesh, intensely red colour and specific flavour (which is sweet and sour).

Active ingredient contents in the cranberry fruits

The cranberry is a valuable source of vitamin C, proanthocyanidins, tannin, fibre, fructose, citric and benzoic acids, as well as potassium, calcium, iron, iodine, magnesium and sodium. The protective effect on the urinary tract is owed to the proanthocyanidins. The substances inhibit pathogenic bacteria from colonising on the surfaces of the epithelial cells in the urinary tract. Hence the bacteria cannot multiply. A simultaneous effect is the increased capacity for discharging unwanted microorganisms from the urinary system. The organic acids and vitamin C bolstered by proanthocyanidins shifts the pH of urine to a more acidic one. The lower pH creates unfavourable an environment for the development of pathogenic bacteria.

Therapeutic indications for the cranberry fruit extract

The cranberry should be administered in the prevention and treatment of inflammations of the urinary tract. Inflammation of the urinary system is usually a recurring condition, especially in women. Reduced immune response, frequent sexual intercourse, bad hygiene and contraceptives increase the risk of frequent infections of the urinary tract. That is why further administration of cranberry extract is still recommended after curing an infection (e.g. in the form of the dietary supplement Żurasol forte).

The concentration of cranberry extracts varies between individual formulas. It is therefore good to know which is the optimum dose of cranberry that should be taken per day. It is assumed that the recommended daily allowance is approximately 400 mg for extracts of the cranberry. This is around 35 mg on the basis of the proanthocyanidin concentration.

Can everyone use cranberry extracts?

Although the cranberry is very beneficial to the urinary tract, it is not recommended for just anyone. Persons with diagnosed osteoporosis should avoid cranberry extracts since they inhibit assimilation of calcium by the bones. The contraindication is similar in persons who suffer from renal calculosis (especially the oxalate variation of the disorder), because the cranberry promotes an increase in the mass of deposits in the kidneys.

Is it better to drink cranberry juice, eat cranberries or take processed preparations?

It would be best to eat the fruits. But in order to ensure the optimum dosage of proanthocyanidins one kilogram of the berries or preserves would need to be eaten, or one litre of cranberry juice drunk. Such recommendations might not be feasible, and they would also be very expensive. Hence it is more convenient and faster to supplement preparations with extracts of cranberry (e.g. Żurasol forte) at an appropriate dosage.

Products containing Cranberry

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