Cranberry and bladder infection

The Cranberry or Cranberry, Latin name Vaccinium macrocarpon or Oxycoccus macrocarpos (Aiton) Pursh originates from the United States where they are widely cultivated for medicinal and culinary purposes. In the Netherlands they mainly grow on Terschelling. These plants probably got there when a load of berries washed ashore. The red, slightly sour berries grow on small shrubs that need a moist sandy or peat-containing soil.

Cystitis – Bladder infection

The medicinal uses of cranberries are very similar to those of other blueberry species; only the American cranberry has become more popular due to the research that has been done in recent decades. These berries contain substances (just like the other Vaccinium species) that efficiently combat bacteria in cystitis or bladder infections.
Cystitis is a typical female condition. One in three women are confronted with it and in half of the women the inflammation regularly returns. This bladder infection is not life-threatening, but it can be painful. The risk of infection can be reduced by taking some simple precautions, such as drinking enough fluids. The main symptoms are frequent, difficult and painful urination, sometimes with lower back pain and abdominal pain, with cloudy or strong-smelling urine and even with blood in the urine .
When the infection is limited to the bladder, fever usually does not occur. But when the kidneys become infected, high fever, nausea, fatigue and severe back pain can result.

Cystitis, a female ailment

The fact that three times as many women than men suffer from this infection is mainly an anatomical issue. The vagina, the exit of the urethra – the urethra that leads to the bladder – and the anus are very close to each other. As a result, the Escherichia coli bacteria, which live in the intestines and promote digestion, enter the vagina and urethra more easily.
The bacteria do little harm in the vagina, lactic acid bacteria create an acidic environment, but they can multiply in the urinary tract and cause an infection. In addition, the female urethra is much shorter than that of the male. The bacteria therefore have to travel less distance to reach the bladder. The occurrence of bacteria in the urine (bacteriuria) therefore does not mean that there is an infection. To achieve this, a tissue reaction must first occur. This happens with a so-called bacterial adhesion. The E. coli bacteria have a kind of projections, called fimbriae or pili, that allow them to attach to the mucous membrane of the bladder wall. These pili produce so-called adhesins, which attach to specific monosaccharide receptors on the urothelial cells. If this happens en masse, an inflammatory reaction and the typical symptoms of a bladder infection occur.

Scientific research Cranberry

Long before Western Europeans set foot in North America, Native Americans used the cranberry for its nutritious and medicinal qualities. The whites also quickly saw the usefulness of the red berry. Because of its richness in vitamin C, it was used as a preventative against scurvy during ship voyages. Long before the discovery of antibiotics, people in the United States used crushed cranberries and cranberry juice to prevent and treat urinary tract infections.
It has long been thought that the beneficial effect lay in the fact that the berries would make the urine more acidic, thus killing bacteria. Until the 1970s, research showed that the urine of subjects who regularly drank cranberry juice was no more acidic than that of people who did not consume juice.
In 1984, researchers from the University of Youngstown published a study showing that the attachment of E. colli bacteria to the cells of the wall of the urinary tract was prevented by the beneficial effect of cranberry juice. In the meantime, there has been an avalanche of research showing that it is mainly the red dyes, proanthocyanidins, from Cranberries that prevent the bacteria from attaching to the bladder wall, allowing them to be removed from the body with the urine. Drinking two glasses of cranberry juice daily can greatly reduce recurring urinary infections.

Other herbs for bladder infections

Especially herbs for the kidneys and urinary tract such as Goldenrod (Solidago species), Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) and Horsetail (Equisetum arvensis). A herbal mixture for daily use: Real goldenrod 50g, Horsetail 25g and Real chamomile 25g, let a tablespoon of this mixture steep for 10 minutes, drink one cup twice a day for 3 weeks for chronic complaints; Drink one cup 4 times a day for 1 week for acute complaints.
For a correct diagnosis, always consult a doctor or other expert.

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