Cranberries are evergreen plants that are native to North America. These dwarf shrub plants are cultivated throughout the States, Canada, and Chile. They are short in height and grow up to 2 meters in height. The thin stems look like a wire with small evergreen leaves. Cranberry flowers are beautiful dark pink in color. The fruits that the plant bears are a small berry that is larger than the leaves of the shrub. The berry is sweet with an acidic taste.
More than 90% of the Cranberries found is grown in the United States, Canada, and Chile alone. It is consumed as juice, jam, or just the ripe berry, fresh, or dried. Cranberry is a plant-based berry that is highly beneficial.
Cranberry has gained its importance in medicines owing to the medicinal qualities it possesses. It is considered to be a superfood with a high nutritional value that it has. Cranberry is a prime antioxidant and has properties of being anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial. Owing to all these properties, the superfood berry is good for many health problems that human beings face.
Cranberries' prime use is to prevent Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) and even cure the infection. In the same line, it is beneficial for kidney health. Cranberry is also a good antibiotic and helps in curing a common cold. The berry juice is good for skin and acts as an anti-aging agent for skin tissues.
There can be a few side effects of overdosing with cranberry. The article provides all the information that you would need before using cranberry as a treatment.
How Did The Word Cranberry Originate?
The word cranberry is derived from the German word “kraanbere," which was used for the same purpose. The mention of the word Cranberry is seen by missionary John Eliot that dates back to 1647. In 1694, Germans and Dutch used the word "cranberry" to speak of flower, stem, calyx, petal, and the head and bill of a crane.
The Europeans used the name “fenberry” for a small red berry growing in fen type of wetland in England.
Historical Use of Cranberry
Being a small berry, cranberry has been used in food from the early times. The Native Americans used it as a staple even in the 1550s. They grew cranberry to be eaten fresh, mashed into jam, and even baked with bread. The berry was used as a survival ration for the months when winter kicked in.
By the 1620s, people outside Native America learned the use of cranberry and started growing it themselves. Within a century, people learned how to make cranberry juice.
American mariners carried cranberry on board and used it to prevent scurvy. During the time of wars, cranberry poultice was brewed. It used to help in taking out the poison that entered the body with arrows. Cranberry tea has been used for ages to calm nerves.
The rich color that the berry gives is a good and lasting dye. Cranberry juice used to use as a fabric dye in early times.
Ayurvedic properties of Cranberries
Cranberries are sour in taste and act as a drying agent. It provides heating energy and has a pungent effect that helps indigestion. Due to the antioxidant that it is, cranberries are often related to balancing the Pitta. However, cranberries have an effect on tri-Dosha. It balances the level of Vata, Kapha, and Pitta in the body. Vata Dosha is balanced due to its drying property. Kapha is balanced because cranberries are heavy and moisturizing and Pitta is balanced due to the heat cranberries provide.
The red color of the cranberry is associated with the red color of the base chakra. Cranberries, thus, activates the base chakra. It helps in curing the problems related to the urinary tract.
Nutritional Value of Cranberries
Half a cup of cranberries has 25 calories and is rich in protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, zinc, vitamins, and folate. It has Vitamin e, Vitamin k, Vitamin A and Vitamin b1 thiamin, Vitamin B2 riboflavin, Vitamin B3 niacin, and Vitamin B6.
Owing to the high nutritional value and low sugar content, cranberries are highly beneficial for human health.
Below mentioned are the several benefits of cranberries as a superfood and Ayurvedic medicine.
Benefits Of Using Cranberry In Ayurvedic Treatment
Cranberry is highly nutritional. Even with 90% water, 1 cup of the superfood or 100 grams of cranberry has 46 calories, 0.1 grams of fat, 0.4 grams of protein, 4 grams of sugar, 4.6 grams of fiber, and 12.2 grams of carbs.
Cranberry is a primary source of carbs and fiber. It is also rich in Vitamin C, which is helpful in keeping your skin, muscles, and bones healthy. Vitamin E and Manganese makeit an anti-oxidant, Vitamin K1 that helps in the clotting of blood.
It has been eaten to prevent Urinary Tract Infection. Cranberries haveA-type proanthocyanidins that help in preventing the risk of stomach cancer. It is also good for heart and kidney health.
The juice of the berry is very good for the skin. It is used to cure infections, prevent wrinkles, and even get rid of hair problems like dandruff. Here is more to it, along with the scientific as well as the Ayurvedic view.
Treating diseases/health problems using Cranberry
Cranberry for Urinary tract Infection (UTI)
Cranberry is an antioxidant and has anti-bacterial properties. It stops the growth of bacteria in the urinary tract and thus also cures the infection that is caused due to the same. Being anti-inflammatory, it also reduces the swelling in the urinary tract, if any.
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) or Mutrakcchra is caused due to imbalance in Pitta Dosha. Consumption of cranberries balances the Pitta and increases the urine flow. The production of urine cures the infection and swelling in the urinary tract.
Cranberry for Common Cold
Being anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and anti-bacterial, Cranberry has been proven to be effective on respiratory tract related problems. It eases up the cough. Not only that, but it has also been used to cure asthma and bronchitis.
Cranberry has been used to cure the Kapha Dosha for ages. Kapha causes cough and problems related to the respiratory tract. It has UshnaVirya, meaning hot potent that helps in controlling cough, asthma, and bronchitis. Cranberry reduces the formation of cough in the throat and hence cures cough and cold.
Cranberry for Helicobacter Pylori Infection
Cranberry is anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory. Due to the same, it helps in curing the ulcers that are caused in the stomach due to excessive heat. The anti-inflammatory reduces the swelling and cures the ulcer and, in turn, cures the Helicobacter pylori (H.Pylori) infection.
Helicobacter pylori (H.Pylori) infection is caused as a result of aggravated Pitta Dosha. Cranberry balances the Pitta Dosha and gives relief to the swelling in the stomach, and cures ulcer.
Cranberry for Skin Aging
Cranberry juice provides moisture that cures dry and broken skin. As a result of being moistures, the skin does not form wrinkles and lines.
Skin wrinkles are caused due to elevated Vata Dosha. Cranberry is used to balance the Vata Dosha in the body. It has Snigdha or oily property that gives moisture to the skin preventing wrinkles. It also promotes healthy and glowing skin.
Cranberry for Dandruff
Cranberry is an anti-oxidant. It is also moisturizing. The moisture content prevents dryness and, thus, also dandruff.
Dandruff is caused due to imbalance in Vata and Pitta Dosha. The imbalance results in dry skin. Cranberry balances Vata and Pitta Dosha. The oily property reduces oiliness and results in removing dandruff.
Forms of Cranberry in Ayurveda
In Ayurveda, cranberry is used in the form of tablets, capsules, powder, and juice. The use of the same has been for ages and has also cured a lot of health problems. These can be used to make different types of herbal tonic and be used in the prescribed amount.
- Cranberry Tablet
Cranberry tablets are available in the market. It is sweet and sour in taste. The capsules can be used once or twice a day after meals.
- Cranberry Capsules
Cranberry capsules are available in the Ayurvedic shops. You can have 1 or 2 capsules twice a day after light meals.
- Cranberry powder
It can be used to make tonics, tea, and juice. Use ¼ to ½ a spoon with water as required. It can be taken twice a day.
- Cranberry Juice
Cranberry juice is an important part of Ayurvedic treatment. You can have 2 to 3 teaspoons of the juice along with water twice a day.
Types of Ayurvedic Care with Cranberry
- Cranberry Syrup
- Take a cup of frozen cranberry and add a cup of water to it in a saucepan.
- Add ¾ cup of sugar to make the syrup sweet.
- Bring it to a boil over medium heat.
- Let it simmer for 15 minutes.
- When the cranberries are liquefied, strain the syrup off small solids.
- Store it in the refrigerator, preferably in an airtight container.
- The syrup stays fresh for up to 2 weeks.
- Cranberry Juice
- Take 2 to 3 teaspoons of cranberry juice and add it to a glass of water.
- You can also add ice.
- Stir well.
- You can have the juice once or twice a day.
- Cranberry Tea
- Add 2 to 3 teaspoons of cranberry powder in a kettle.
- Add a cup of water.
- Add 1 cinnamon stick and 1 or 2 cloves.
- Boil the preparation of the tea on medium heat and reduce it to low heat.
- Once the tea is ready, strain and pour yourself a hot cup of cranberry tea.
- Cranberry bread
- While making the dough, you can add half a cup of cranberry juice for the flavor.
- Chop up some cranberries into small pieces and add them to the dough.
- Bake the dough as usual.
- The juice adds a berry flavor and the small pieces of cranberry add a sweet and sour taste in between.
- Cranberry Shake
- To a glass of milk, add some chopped frozen cranberries in the blender.
- Add 4 to 5 drops of vanilla.
- Use 2 dates after removing the seeds as a sweetener.
- Blend it well till the cranberries are turned to a shake.
- Pour it and enjoy the drink.
Side effects of Cranberry
Cranberries might not suit everyone. Some people might be allergic to cranberries. This can result in nausea and vomiting. If you are allergic to cranberries, it is good to stay away from it. By any chance, if you consume cranberry in any form, visit a doctor immediately for an anti-allergy.
Overdosing with cranberry can also be harmful. It has a hot potent that can upset the stomach and also cause diarrhea. You might suffer from severe stomach pain. Overdosing can also be harmful to kidney stones as well.
Experts in Ayurveda and modern medicine recommend visiting a physician or doctor if you have any reaction to the same.
Precautionary guide while using Cranberry
- Cranberry for Allergy
Cranberry is not good for hypersensitive skin. Some people can develop allergic reactions like rashes, swelling, and redness due to applying cranberry on skin. Consumption of cranberry with an allergy can result in nausea and severe vomiting.
- Cranberry while Pregnancy
Cranberry does not have a side effect for a pregnant woman. It is, in fact, healthy to take fresh cranberries. However, if you mean to take cranberry supplements, it is a good idea to seek your gynecologist's advice beforehand.
- Cranberry while Breastfeeding
When taken in a certain amount, cranberries are safe to be taken while you are breastfeeding. However, it is not recommended to take cranberry tinctures as it contains alcohol. Before taking supplementary forms of cranberries, make sure to seek the advice of your gynecologist.
- Cranberries with diabetes
It is not advised for diabetic patients to consume cranberries. It increases insulin and reduces the blood sugar level of the body. Due to this, cranberries can cause adverse effects on a diabetic patient.
- Cranberries with Medical Interaction
Cranberries can cause side effects when taken along with certain medications. Be sure to ask your doctor for advice before consuming cranberries while on medication.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are raw cranberries good for health?
- Yes, cranberries are a good source of nutrients. Eating the berry raw will provide all the nutrients it has to offer. It is also a good source of fiber and anti-oxidant. You can consume it raw or in a processed form, as you like it.
When can you buy fresh cranberries?
- Fresh cranberries are harvested in the autumn season. It is available during the winters, i.e., from October to December. You can have cranberries all-round the year. Frozen cranberries are preserved and frozen to be used throughout the 12 months. Dried cranberries are also available that stay edible up to 3 or 4 years.
What is the sugar content of cranberries?
- Cranberries have natural sugar. Out of all the berries, it is said to have the lowest amount. There are only 4 grams of sugar in 100 grams of cranberries. As compared to the average of 7 grams in other berries, it is very low.
Why does my cranberry float?
- Cranberries have 4 air pockets inside them. This allows them to float when you put them in water.
Does cranberry cure hypercholesterolemia?
- Hypercholesterolemia or high cholesterol is caused due to impaired digestion. This is a result of the accumulation of Ama or toxins in the body. Cranberries have antioxidants that help in removing the toxins from the body. Due to increased Agni or digestive fire, Ama is discarded from the body. Thus, cranberries help in curing hypercholesterolemia.
Can cranberry cure diabetes?
- Diabetes is caused due to aggravated Vata. This caused a bad digestive system and, thus, also problems of diabetes. Cranberries are rich in flavonoids. This reduces the glucose level in the blood by regulating the emission of the same from the liver. By balancing the Vata due to the properties it shows, cranberries have been proven to help prevent and manage diabetes.
Does cranberry help in weight loss?
- Cranberries increase metabolism and help in curing improper digestion. It removes the toxins from the body, being an antioxidant. Cranberries also make you feel full due to the heaviness that it has. This reduces the snack cravings that you get. Having sugar content also reduces sugar cravings. This, in turn, helps in managing the weight and, thus, promotes weight loss.
How to store cranberries?
- Fresh cranberries can be eaten for 2 to 3 days without going bad. If you cranberries in bulk, you can store it in a plastic bag or airtight box in your refrigerator. This stays fresh for a whole month. Frozen cranberries can be stored in the refrigerator and used for a whole year. Dried cranberries can be stored in room temperature inside the packet it comes in. this can be used for up to two years.
What is the cranberry capital of the world?
- Bandon, Oregon, is said to be the cranberry capital of the world. It has all the climatic necessities for growing cranberries. Cranberries were first commercially grown in Bandon in the 1890s and had all the ideal conditions.
Are cranberries good for the kidney?
- Cranberries are a good source of antioxidants. This helps in removing the toxins from the body. Cranberries also balance the Pitta Dosha, the misbalance of which causes kidney problems. Removing toxins promotes the production of urine in the bladder. Proper flow of urine prevents kidney stones, and thus, cranberries are good for the kidney.
Does cranberry help in psychological health?
- Yes, cranberries are proven to lift the mood. It reduces stress and cures anxiety and depression. Cranberries also improve memories by maintaining the health of the brain.
Can cranberries be consumed when on medication?
- Cranberries can be consumed while on homeopathic medication. It has no side effects. You can also consume cranberries while on the supplement. However, if you are consuming more than one supplement, you must take your physician's advice. It is also advised to consult a doctor if you are to consume cranberries while on western medication because there is not much information with scientific evidence in this field.
Is cranberry good for coronary artery disease?
- Yes, cranberries are used to manage coronary artery disease. Cranberry has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that reduce the level of toxins from the body. It also reduces the inflammation or swelling in the blood vessels and allows the free flow of oxygenated blood throughout the body. This helps in managing coronary artery disease.
Can cranberry cause acidity?
- Cranberries are acidic in effect. With a pH value of 2.72, it can cure indigestion. However, taking cranberries in excess or overdosing with the same can be bad for the stomach. It can cause heating of the stomach's linings, which results in the packing of the excretory system. In turn, it can result in acidity and heartburn.
Can cranberries be used as a detox?
- Yes, cranberries are a good detoxifying agent. With a high amount of antioxidants, it can remove the toxins from the body.