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Cranberry – (Vaccinium macrocarpon)


While cranberry may make you think of the holiday turkey, it has a long history as food and medicine. A low growing plant related to the blueberry, cranberries have long been a staple in North America. Cranberries are very nutritious. They are high in potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C. Growing requires a cooler climate and slightly acidic soil for best results, they are resonably frost tolerant and in summer will produce fruit in a sunny spot in the garden.


Key Medicinal Uses

Internally – Cranberries are used to fight and prevent urinary tract infections through the ingestion of their juice. Cranberry juice prevents the strands of bacteria from clinging to the walls of the bladder. It has been recently discovered that the juice does the same thing with the teeth, that is it prevents the bacteria from attaching to the surface of the tooth, preventing plaque. It has also been shown to have some anti-cancer qualities. Cranberry extract has been shown to have compounds that may help prevent heart disease. It is also useful in preventing kidney stones and to cleanse the blood. Some promise has also been shown for cranberries to aid the digestion and to reduce pain and inflammation. More studies need to be done to see exactly what benefits in these areas are provided by cranberries.

Externally – The leaves are sometimes used a a treatment over small cuts and open wounds.

Other Uses – Cranberries are eaten fresh or canned in the form of sauce. The fresh berries are also used decoratively on holiday trees when strung into garlands.

Herbs to Combine/Supplement

Cranberry is sometimes combined with asparagus root as a supplement to help with urinary tract infections. The asparagus root helps clear out the sediments in the bladder.

Parts Used

Berries, leaves – The berry is utilized in juice, extracts and tinctures. Historically, the leaves used to be used to treat wounds.


People taking warfarin to thin their blood should be wary of taking in too much cranberry. It will make the warfarin even more effective at thinning the blood. Diabetics should also be aware that it may affect their blood sugar levels. It may also make ulcer or stomach acid medications less effective.

Consuming large quantities of the juice may cause diarrhea and stomach upset in some people.

Preparation and Dosage

A 400 mg capsule of cranberry extract can be taken twice a day. Four to six 16 ounce glasses of unsweetened juice per day is also effective. If you are taking a tincture, take ½ to 1 teaspoon three times per day to reap the best benefits.

Cranberry Herbal Remedies Top