Cranberry

Vaccinium macrocarpon Prevents cystitis

Cranberry is famous for its ability to help prevent cystitis, a bladder infection that causes burning pain on urination. It works by preventing the bacteria E. coli (which causes the vast majority of cystitis cases) from taking hold on the bladder wall and setting up an infection. This herb is particularly useful for women

Cranberry is an effective preventative medicine for cystitis, but once an infection takes hold, you may need to take stronger medicine. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics, or your professionally trained medical herbalist may treat you with urinary antiseptics, such as the herb uva-ursi. Meanwhile, these steps can help.

■ Act quicklv While cystitis is generally a relatively mild and self-limiting condition, if it is left untreated, the infection can spread to the kidneys - with much more serious consequences.

■ Increase your fluid intake Although the intense pain during urination may discourage you from drinking more, it's vital that you do. U the first sign of symptoms, increase your fluids to about I liter per hour, if possible. This helps flush bacteria from the bladder, and can help prevent infections from becoming more serious. Choose water or who experience recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs), as clinical trials indicate that, over a 12-month period, the frequency of UTIs in women taking cranberry is significantly reduced. Other people who are prone to recurrent UTIs -such as the elderly and people with spinal cord injuries - may also benefit from taking cranberry as a prophylactic against cystitis, but there is not as much scientific data available to confirm its efficacy in these groups of people.

sooihing herbal teas (such as marsh mallow), and avoid alcohoi, caffeine and fizzy soft drinks, which may aggravate the problem.

Make sure vour bladder is completely empty every time you go to the toilet. Wait a few moments after urinating, and then try again to expel the last few milliliters of urine from the bladder. Afterwards, women should lake care to wipe from front to back to ensure that bacteria irom the anus aren't accidentally transferred to the urinary tract.

\lkalize your urine Reducing urinary acidity may help to relieve burning symptoms, and can also make it more difficult for bacteria to survive. Avoid acidic foods, such as citrus and tomatoes, and consider taking a commercial urinary alkallzer (available from pharmacies). A home remedy of a teaspoon of baking soda in water is also an effective urinary alkalizer.

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The fruit of the cranberry, shown here at harvest time, follow bell-shaped pink flowers.

The fruit of the cranberry, shown here at harvest time, follow bell-shaped pink flowers.

0 DOS\GI Cranberry can be taken in juice, tablet or capsule form. Many people prefer to take the tablets or capsules, as up to 17» cups (300 ml) per day of pure juice may be required in order to reach therapeutic levels. Few commercial juice products contain 100 percent cranberry juice, so if you do decide to take the juice for medicinal purposes, you'll need to calculate how many glasses of juice you require, depending on the percentage of cranberry that's present in the product. Alternatively, cranberry tablets and capsules are made from concentrated juice, and are generally taken at doses of approximately 30 g (30,000 mg) per day, in divided doses.

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