Jane notices she is experiencing the symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI). She has gotten it three times now and just went to the doctor for her regular dosage of antibiotics. While conversing, he mentioned, “Don’t you think it is time you started preventing these infections? A glass of cranberry juice a day can keep the urinary tract infection away.”
Jane was taken aback. Not once had she considered the source of her problem, nor the preventative measures she could take. Even more shocking for her was that the doctor recommended cranberry juice.
The fact is, unbeknown to many, the tiny fruit we call Cranberry is riddled with benefits, not just for those diagnosed with a UTI. The English word cranberry is the shortened version of “craneberry“, which came from the plants flowers that dip down and resemble the head of a crane. These birds are also fond of the berries which grow in bogs where cranes make their home. In Canada, cranberries are often referred to by their Amerindian name, “atoca”. Cranberries are also known as bounce berries, because they literally bounce if dropped when fresh and bearberry, since bears also love them.
The Amerindians recognized the natural preservative power (benzoic acid) in the berries and often mixed them into pemmican (dried meat mixture) to extend its shelf life. They also used the fruit to create a medicine that they believed would help with the healing of wounds and to create a dye for the colouring of rugs and blankets. Their usage spurred the interest in cranberries and further led to its first recorded cultivation in North America in the 19th century.
Cranberries are a rich source of vitamin C, as well as manganese and other nutrients. Their numerous antioxidants have the potential to prevent cancer and heart disease, as well as boost the immune system. Persons have also used cranberries to control the symptoms of type-2 diabetes and to control the odor of urine, most commonly associated with bladder infections. The Cranberry juice similarly has components that can fight against tooth decay, reversing the formation of plaque on teeth by reducing the amounts of the bacteria which causes plaque.
With insufficient research data to support all the purported benefits of cranberry, the scientific community remains divided on whether the fruit actually provides all the benefits it is rumored to have. Nonetheless, doctors encountering patients such as Jane continue to recommend a daily measure of Cranberry juice or tablet to prevent the occurrence of UTI and other infections. The tiny cranberry fruit offers massive health benefits to all.