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Cranberries Benefits, Uses, and Side Effects

By Sasha de Beausset Aparicio, MSc

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Cranberries represent a group of shrubs which are evergreen and small. Additionally, they are either creeping shrubs or wines and usually grow at a length of two meters and height of twenty centimeters. The flowers of this shrub are dark pink and possess reflexed petals, which means that the stamens and style are pointing forward while being fully exposed. The flowers are generally pollinated by bees.

The fruit represents a berry which is larger than its leaves and although it is white at first, it eventually turns deep red. It is known for the fact that it has an acidic taste which is sometimes viewed as too sweet. These fruits are a commercial crop in Canada or the United States because individuals usually use it for sauce, juice, sweets, or jam. Its popularity has gotten so big in some regions that, for example, in Canada and America it is an indispensable culinary tradition for Thanksgiving’s Day. Furthermore, from the beginning of the 21st century, the fruits have been marketed with the label of “superfruit” because they possess a high content of antioxidants and nutrients.

As science pointed out, there are currently three or four known cranberry species which are classified in two categories Oxycoccus and Oxycoccoides. Its name derives from the word “craneberry” which was given by some American settlers who believed that the plant is similar to the head, bill, and neck of a crane.

Cranberries Functions & Benefits

After the beneficial effects of the fruit extracts were noticed by either regular people or through a series of scientific researches, they have been included in products which are destined for medical purposes and natural remedies which often promote the enhancement of health on a general level.

However, on a more particular note, it is believed that this fruit have a positive impact when it comes to treatment and prevention of urinary tract infections. Even though it showed some promising results in the prevention of urinary tract infections, it hasn’t proved reliable during its treatment. Another important use is with neurogenic bladder or difficulties linked to urinary control. Other utilization include killing germs, enhancement of the urine flow, reduction of fever, and speeding when it comes to wound healing.

Although the cases are rather rare, some individuals believe that cranberries are also helpful with a series of more serious medical conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome, type two diabetes, scurvy, cancer and lung inflammations.

The reason behind these beneficial effects is its composition. Cranberries contain some chemicals which block bacteria from fixating into the cells which line on the urinary tract, but they have no effect whatsoever if the bacteria has surpassed this line, meaning that they will help with prevention of some urinary conditions, but are ineffective when it comes to their treatment. Just like most of vegetables and fruits, they also feature high quantities of salicylic acid, known for being an important ingredient for aspirin. This is why, by drinking cranberries juice, people will more likely regulate the amounts of salicylic acid found in their body, thus preventing blood clots, reducing swelling, and even developing certain anti-tumorous effects on a cellular level.


Cranberries are regarded as likely safe for most people and, in form of juice and extracts, have been successfully utilized in research. However, consuming products based on cranberries in higher amounts than the daily recommendations may be harmful for the body. For instance, drinking too much juice obtained or featuring cranberries may determine some side-effects which include diarrhea and mild-stomach upset. Additionally, with a regular consumption of a liter daily for longer periods of time, a person may, in fact, increase the chances of developing kidney stones. There is actually some evidence which support the fact that capsules or tablets based on cranberries extracts can boost the amounts of oxalate found in urine for more than forty three percent. Because kidney stones are formed from a mixture between calcium and oxalate, people who use cranberries based products are more exposed to developing this serious medical condition.

Despite the fact that products that contain this ingredient may be consumed by pregnant or nursing females, it is advised to avoid the intake of dietary supplements due to the fact that it is unknown whether they are completely safe. Furthermore, individuals who are allergic to aspirin should avoid its consumption because cranberries possess salicylic acid in pretty high amounts.

There are some minor and moderate interactions with certain medications on consumption of cranberries featuring products. For example Warfarin, a drug used with the purpose of slowing down blood clotting, usually interacts with cranberries. When this happens, the skin will become easier to bruise and bleed. Considering this, when treatment with Warfarin is taken alongside some cranberry remedies, people should be particularly careful and if they notice an increased disposition towards bruising or bleeding, they should consult a personal doctor in order to either modify the dosages or interrupt one of the treatments.


The cranberry shrub is usually cultivated in U. S. states, that include New Jersey, Massachusetts, Washington, Wisconsin, and Oregon as well as some provinces of Canada such as New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, British Columbia, Newfoundland, Quebec, and Prince Edward Island. Nowadays, approximately twenty percent of the world production is obtained in British Columbia, so if people consider eating the fruits raw and fresh, they can take a trip there.

On the other hand, due to the fact that technology is constantly improving, thus transportation is easier, the fruits can be found on the market of countries from Europe and Africa as well. Additionally, because of their beneficial qualities, nutritional businesses have used the extracts as either an additional or a main ingredient for some of their formulas. These natural remedies usually focus on prevention or treatment of certain urinary related infections or as an energy and antioxidant boost. They have also been introduced in some cosmetic products such as perfumes, soaps or body lotions due to the nice smell. One of their most popular usages, though, remains the cranberries juice.