Cranberries are small, dark red berries, and are a member of the same family as blueberries and bilberries. They are highly nutritious and contain many essential antioxidants, which can help to prevent and reverse many diseases and common ailments such as the formation of kidney stones.
Kidney stones are formed from excess calcium, phosphate or oxalate in the urine. They can occur anywhere in the urinary tract or urinary bladder. They are often small enough for you to pass without any pain, but they can also be painful, as they can grow to be as large as a marble. The pain usually occurs in the abdomen area, and urination can also be painful. Other symptoms of kidney stones may include foul-smelling urine, an urge to urinate frequently and nausea and vomiting.
Prevent Kidney Stone Formation
Cranberries contain quinic acid, which helps to break down calcium and helps to prevent substances from binding together in order to form the stones. One study has shown that drinking cranberry juice can reduce the amount of ionized calcium in the urine by 50 percent.
Cranberries also contain citric acid, which helps to prevent kidney stone formation. Citric acid has also shown to be helpful in dissolving and the passing of kidney stones.
Struvite stones (non-calcium), are a type of kidney stones that are most often found in women. They are usually caused by a urinary tract infection. Cranberries have long been touted to help prevent urinary tract infections. Therefore, by consuming cranberries you can not only avoid urinary tract infections, but struvite stones as well.
Cranberries contain many essential nutrients that help to prevent kidney stone formation. These include potassium, magnesium, vitamin B6 and vitamin E, and fresh cranberries also contain vitamin A.
Magnesium can help to prevent calcium-oxalate stones from forming. One study showed that when magnesium was combined with vitamin B6 it reduced the formation by 92 percent. Studies have also shown that a deficiency in vitamin A can cause the formation of kidney stones, and vitamin E can prevent kidney stones from recurring in those who have suffered from them in the past.
On top of that, cranberries have also been shown to reduce the pain associated with kidney stones.
Caution and Tips
If your kidney stones are the result of uric acid, you may not want to drink cranberry juice, as it may contribute to the formation of those stones. Your doctor will be able to advise you on whether or not cranberry juice is right for you. Also, check with your doctor if you are on the drug Warfarin, which is sometimes used to treat blood clots, as cranberries may cause an interference.
Avoid consuming too many cranberries or too much cranberry juice. Too much can actually contribute to the formation of the stones. Drinking two 8-oz. glasses of cranberry juice everyday is enough to prevent kidney stone formation.
For best results make your own juice with fresh cranberries in a juicer or buy unsweetened, 100 percent pure cranberry juice. You can also get cranberries in extracts, teas, capsule or powder forms. Health food stores usually carry several forms for you to choose from.