Cranberry Supplements

Cranberry Supplements
Prevent Bladder Infections and More

Cranberry supplements are a great example of how holistic medicine provides a “win-win” for my patients.

Let’s explore why for a moment. Suppose you (or someone you know) have just had yet another bladder infection. You completed the course of antibiotic, and may have a bit of an upset stomach from that, or perhaps even a yeast infection. Then because you have had several of these lately, your doctor recommends that you take a suppressive antibiotic for weeks, maybe months, to keep another infection from coming back.

Should you be concerned about adverse effects of being on antibiotics for that long? Yes! Should you also be concerned about preventing another bladder infection from coming back and perhaps even damaging your kidneys? Absolutely! So what can you do?

Here’s where your herbal medicine friend the cranberry steps in. Of all the health benefits of cranberries, the use of cranberry supplements to prevent bladder infections is perhaps the best known.

Cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon) are actually a close botanical cousin of the blueberry, another Vaccinium species. And because it is a darkly pigmented berry, it shares the characteristics of that family of being a great source of antioxidants and phytochemicals. But it also has the specific benefit for bladder health. How does that work?

Specifically, either the berries or their juice are very effective at preventing bladder infections. Here are some specifics strategies to make sure this strategy works. First, cranberries work to prevent urinary infections, but not to treat them. If you think you already have a bladder infection, it is too late for cranberries. Second, the cranberry compounds must be in contact with the bladder wall almost continually to be effective, so a dose every 12 hours is important. Cranberry juice works, and I suggest cranberry juice (at least 4 ounces of straight juice) every twelve hours. I prefer use of straight juice rather than the juice cocktail because of the added sugar and water, but either works. Most people find the straight cranberry flavor intense.

I am not aware of evidence from studies using the extract in tablet form. It may be helpful, I have just not seen the scientific support.

In addition to prevention of infection, daily use of cranberry is an excellent urinary deodorizer for people with incontinence.

And finally, remember that you can enjoy the health benefits of cranberries, with or without taking cranberry supplements, even if bladder health is not your issue. Because they are a rich source of phytochemicals such as flavonols, catechins (similar to green tea), and anthocyanidin, they can be a part of an overall cancer prevention diet.

Now that you are excited about these tart berry treats, here’s acranberry salad recipe. Just link to the Healthy Recipes page on this web site.



To your health and wellness,



Robert Pendergrast, MD 

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