Tiny Fruit Can Help Ease Prostate Problems
Your supermarket produce section is probably packed with “native” fruit. Washington apples, Florida Oranges, Georgia peaches… so many that it’s easy to take it all for granted.
But did you know only three fruits are native to North America? They are Concord grapes, blueberries… and cranberries.
Native Americans made good use of these fruits – as food, medicine, and more. Cranberries played a big role in the Northeast. Combined with dried deer meat and melted fat, they made a key survival food called pemmican.
The Wampanoags, who befriended the Plymouth settlers, almost certainly brought cranberries to the first Thanksgiving. The settlers quickly adopted the tart little berry. Hardy and late to ripen, cranberries became an important source of nutrition.
Today, the humble cranberry has expanded beyond the Thanksgiving table into the mainstream. It’s still a popular home remedy, too, especially for bladder health.
Generations of country folk have used cranberries for bladder and urinary tract (UT) problems. And though not all studies agree, there seems to be plenty of evidence cranberries do help.
For a long time, herbalists thought they kept your \UT healthy by raising the acidity of your urine. Since cranberries are acidic – and most bacteria don’t like an acid environment – it made sense.
Then, in 2002, a team at Rutgers University discovered cranberries don’t work that way. Instead, unique plant pigments – called proantocyanidins (PACs) – prevent bacteria from holding onto your UT’s lining.1
This discovery got researchers thinking. What else could PACs do? Eventually, they turned their attention to the prostate gland.
Research has been limited, but the results are promising. For instance, several studies show cranberry PACs may help slow or stop abnormal growth of prostate cells.
In this case, PACs seem to trigger a process called “apoptosis” – or programmed cell death – in at least some abnormal prostate cells.2
So far, this has only been done using cultured cells in the lab… but it’s an important first step.
Meanwhile, a recent study with human volunteers offers prostate sufferers immediate relief.
Doctors divided 42 men with prostate issues into two similar groups. They gave cranberry powder to some, but not to others, for 6 months.
The cranberry group showed big improvements. They developed a stronger urine flow, their bladders emptied more readily, and they retained less urine. They also reported an overall quality quality of life
The non-cranberry group didn’t see any meaningful improvments.3
Cranberry doesn’t improve all prostate issues. But it may help with some of the most frustrating. I suggest taking it as part of a nutritional supplement with other proven prostate boosters such as zinc and rye pollen extract.
Yours in continued good health,
Dr Kenneth Woliner, M.D.
1 Howell, A.B., “Cranberry proanthocyanidins and the maintenance of urinary tract health,” Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2002; 42(3 Suppl): 273-278.
2 MacLean, M.A., et al, “North American cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) stimulates apoptotic pathways in DU145 human P.C. cells in vitro,” Nutr Cancer. 2011; 63(1): 109-120.
3 Vidlar, A., et al, “The effectiveness of dried cranberries ( Vaccinium macrocarpon) in men with lower urinary tract symptoms.” Br J Nutr. Oct 2010; 104(8): 1181-1189.