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There are several species of Cranberry in the Ericaceae family. This species known as American Cranberry is native to the Northeastern United States and was a common food source for many Native American tribes including but not limited to the Iroquois, Algonquin, Ojibwa, and Chippewa. It was dried for a winter food source or pressed into dry cakes. Originally named “crane berries” in reference to the large birds that regularly eat them, the cranberry shrub grows in watery bogs and has been a celebrated part of medical and culinary history. Its use among the Iroquois as a blood purifier is well documented throughout early American history though the cranberry is most celebrated for its role in the first American “Thanksgiving”. Playing a large role in the history of the early colonist, Native American tribes taught colonist the method by which to sweeten this unusually bitter fruit as well as techniques


The cranberry fruit is high in antioxidants, particularly in a compound called proanthocyanidins also called “PAC’s”. The “PAC’s” are potent antioxidants that scavenge for damaging particles in the body known as “free radicals”. Cranberries are also a rich source of the bioactive source of vitamin C which supports the overall immune system. It is thought that “PAC’s” play a significant role in the overall wellness of the urinary tract. In fact, some research has suggested that “PAC’s” may help support the body’s ability to support normal immune health of the cell wall of the urinary canal. This aspect of activity has been shown to be an effective technique to maintain normal bacterial levels in the urinary tract and support overall urinary health.

Uses of Cranberry


This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.

Active Constituents

American Cranberry contains Polyphenols, anthocyanosides, proanthocyanosides, quinnic acids, catechins and a host of other antioxidants including a fair amount of vitamin C and small amounts of Lutein and quercetin.

Parts Used

  • Berry

Important precautions

Additional Resources

Di Martino, et Al., J. Chemother. 2005 Oct; 17(5): 563-5.

Howell AB, et Al., Phytochemistry 2005 Sep. 66(18): 2281-91.

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