The plant that saved the first American settlers
It is hard to believe that the fate of such a powerful country today could have been quite different had it not been for these tiny red fruits that enabled the survival of the first colony of European settlers. Cranberry, a small creeping shrub from the heather family (Ericaceae) with small leathery leaves and bright red fruits, grows in the high mountainous areas of North America from Alaska all the way to Virginia. It is mostly cultivated in the area of the states of Massachusetts and Wisconsin.
Of the several related species of plant, the most famous is the American (Vaccinium macrocarpon), then the small (Vaccinium oxycoccus) and mountain or European (Vaccinium vitis idaea), which is widespread in our country in the high mountains of central Bosnia, especially in Vranica.
History of use
The first colony of European settlers in the present-day American state of Massachusetts in 1620 survived thanks to the friendly help of local Indians who taught them how to use the vital fruits of nature. So they found out about these unusual red forest fruits which, in addition to being nutritious, also had exceptional healing properties. They called them “cranberries”, crane-cranes, berries-berries, and concluded that they are especially useful for treating colds, flu and preventing scurvy. The rescue of the first colony of American settlers has since been celebrated as a big Thanksgiving Holiday, and an integral part of the holiday table with the obligatory turkey is this plant, a plant that saved the first American settlers.
How does it work and why is cranberry useful?
This fruits contain proanthocyanidins, vitamin C, benzoic, malic and chlorogenic acid, quercetin, resveratrol, eugenol and plant fibers. It has has antibacterial and antiviral properties, protects the heart and blood vessels by reducing the process of arteriosclerosis, slows down the aging process, prevents tumors and stomach ulcers, reduces blood fats, especially cholesterol and lowers blood pressure.
It is known that American Indians used cranberries to treat urinary tract infections. The real confirmation for this action was given by modern medical research, after which conventional medicine officially began to use cranberry preparations for the treatment of urinary tract infections.
What do the latest medical research say?
Treatment of urinary tract infections
Cranberry contains proanthocyanidins which prevent bacteria from binding to the epithelium of the bladder and urethra, thus stopping the spread of infection. This effect has been proven in clinical studies, so preparations are today an indispensable part of the treatment of urinary tract infections, especially if they are caused by Escherichia coli.
Prevention of gastric ulcer
Cranberry destroys the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, which causes a weakening of the protective layer of the stomach wall, which over time can lead to ulcers and even stomach cancer. Preparations thus prevent the appearance of these diseases.
Flavonoids in this plant act as powerful antioxidants, reducing the risk of arteriosclerosis and heart attack.
Preserving the health of gums and teeth
Proanthocyanidins in plant prevent the accumulation of bacteria such as Streptococcus mutans and Porphyromonas gingivalis. which cause tooth decay. It simultaneously reduces gingivitis caused by the same pathogens.
The high content of vitamin C helps this action.
It contains the antitumor ingredient resveratrol, which works by causing apoptosis or programmed death of tumor cells. Regular intake of cranberries can be an effective prevention of the development of some types of tumors, such as tumors of the breast, pancreas, stomach, lungs and colon.
Slowing down the aging process
Recent research has shown that cranberry antioxidants slow down chronic changes in the brain caused by aging, which have resulted in loss of coordination and memory. By preventing neurological damage to the brain by free radicals, preparations help preserve motor functions and mental health in old age.
In what dosage forms is it used?
Most medical research is based on the application of 100% concentrated cranberry juice and many preparations appear on the market in this form. Cranberry, however, appears on the market in the form of capsules containing 400-500mg of dry cranberry fruit extract. The use of cranberry tea is also quite widespread.
How to dose cranberries?
- Concentrated cranberry juice is taken in an amount of 250 ml divided into two doses.
- Cranberry capsules 2-4 daily for 12 days.
- Cranberry tea is dosed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Is cranberry harmful?
Cranberry belongs to a group of harmless medicinal plants. There are no known contraindications or side effects.
Are there any interactions with any medications?
At normal cranberry dosage, there are no known drug interactions. However, the use of large amounts of concentrated cranberry juice, more than 1 liter per day, increases the effect of the anticoagulant drug Warfarin, which can lead to bleeding.
Can cranberries be taken by pregnant and breastfeeding women?
Cranberry can be freely taken in the prescribed doses throughout pregnancy and during breastfeeding.