Cranberry Extract Guide
Cranberry Extract is – you guessed it – an extract derived from cranberries. Find out everything you need to know about the health benefits, advantages, and uses of cranberry extract today in our guide.
What is Cranberry Extract?
Cranberry is a small, evergreen shrub that grows throughout North America. Native Americans have used cranberry for medicinal purposes for centuries – particularly when treating urinary conditions.
When used as medicine, the juice and extract from the cranberry fruit are used because they contain the most active ingredients.
Today, many people use cranberry to prevent and treat urinary tract infections (UTIs). It has also shown some evidence at treating bladder diseases and other urinary and digestive problems.
There’s even some evidence that Cranberry Extract can treat type 2 diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, scurvy, inflammation of the lung, and cancer. However, most of this evidence is anecdotal and based on personal experiences.
Nevertheless, cranberry has exhibited some genuine medical effects. We’ll learn more about how cranberry works in the next section.
Cranberry extract and cranberry juice is relatively easy to buy. Typically, you can buy cranberry juice, cranberry juice cocktails, cranberry jellies, and cranberry sauces at any grocery store. Cocktails typically contain 26% to 33% pure cranberry juice and are sweetened with sugars.
How Does Cranberry Extract Work?
Scientists don’t fully understand how cranberry extract treats urinary infections. A few decades ago, it was widely believed that cranberry made your urine acidic, which killed any bacteria and made it impossible for bacteria to grow.
Today, it’s believed that cranberry doesn’t actually kill bacteria: it just prevents that bacteria from sticking to your body. Here’s how WebMD.com explains it:
“They now think that some of the chemicals in cranberries keep bacteria from sticking to the cells that line the urinary tract where they can multiply. Cranberry, however, does not seem to have the ability to release bacteria which are already stuck to these cells. This may explain why cranberry is possibly effective in preventing urinary tract infections, but possibly ineffective in treating them.”
How to Use Cranberry Extract
Cranberry extract is purported to have a wide range of benefits. However, in modern scientific testing, the extract has only demonstrated proof of solving urinary tract infections, or UTIs.
Using cranberry extract to treat UTIs is straightforward: most research indicates that drinking cranberry juice or taking certain cranberry extracts can lower the risk of repeated UTIs in some people.
As mentioned above, cranberry hasn’t proven to be very effective at actually treating UTIs, and is better used as a preventative tool. If you find that you’re susceptible to UTIs, for example, then you may wish to start adding cranberry to your diet.
Depending on where you look online, you’ll find people who claim that cranberry can be used to treat all of the following conditions:
In fact, the only condition aside from UTIs that cranberry has been shown to treat (outside of small-scale, anecdotal evidence online) is urine odor. If you have smelly urine, then cranberry might help you treat it.
Drugs.com reports that “a lack of consistency in clinical trials makes dosage guidance difficult.” In studies (especially UTI studies), cranberry juice dosages have ranged from 120 to 4,000 mL per day.
Meanwhile, when using cranberry extract and cranberry concentrates (like in capsule form), 400mg of cranberry extract per day seems to be a popular and effective dose.
How to Buy Cranberry Extract
The easiest way to get your daily dose of cranberry is to buy cranberry juice or cranberry juice cocktail from a grocery store.
However, due to the rise in popularity of cranberry extract, you can now buy cranberry extract supplements from many pharmacies and nutritional supplement retailers.
Holland & Barrett, a UK-based nutritional supplement company, sell Cranberry Concentrate Tablets for £20.99, for example.
Each serving of that supplement contains 255mg of cranberry concentrate. It claims that dose is equivalent to 12,750mg of fresh cranberries.
iHerb.com, on the other hand, sells dozens of cranberry supplements, including all of the following:
— Natural Factors CranRich Super Strength Cranberry ($20.97)
— Now Foods Cranberry Caps ($10.83)
— Azo Cranberry Urinary Tract Health ($8.70)
— Nature’s Bounty Cranberry Plus Vitamin C ($19.22)
These supplements typically work in a similar way: they’re multivitamins with cranberry extract added in. Vitamin C is particularly common with cranberry extract supplements.
Depending on where you live, you may be able to find cranberry growing naturally in your local area. the shrubs are found in a variety of environments across North America – including damp bogs and mountain forests across Canada and the United States – even as far north as Alaska.
Cranberry Extract Side Effects
Cranberry extract is widely recognized as safe. However, there are some reported problems – especially for those with specific conditions.
For example, those prone to kidney stones should talk to their doctor before taking a cranberry productive.
There’s also some evidence that cranberry extract can negatively interact with patients taking warfarin, in which case cranberry juice can increase the risk of severe bleeding and hemorrhage.
When used in food, however, cranberry is widely agreed to be safe. In doses above those found in the average food product, cranberry extract remains largely unstudied. However, there’s some evidence that large doses can produce negative gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea.
There have been no reports of toxicity when using cranberry juice.
Ultimately, cranberry extract is a popular preventative measure for urinary tract infections but has demonstrated little evidence at being able to treat other conditions. Whether you buy it in juice or tablet form, cranberry is a cheap and easy way to reduce your risk of UTIs.